Why in the world would you lock your carry on bag when you have it with you while traveling? There are actually several times when you don’t have complete control of your bag. Those are the times when a thief can gain access to your valuables. I always lock my bag in the situations described below.
Airport security is always filled with chaos. Statistics show that an enormous amount of theft takes place at the security checkpoint. I usually stop at a quiet place right before I reach security and take off any sweaters, packable jackets, and loose gear. They all get stored in the carry on. I also put my purse in my carry on bag if possible. I’ll put my liquids bag and computer in the outside pockets of the bag and secure the main compartment with a security approved luggage lock. If Security needs to gain access to the bag then I’m the one in control of the access. After I’m through the checkpoint I’ll find a quiet spot and rearrange my gear. It’s a small hassle but I stay in control.
In the Overhead Bin on the Plane
Most people put their carry on bags in the bin over their head. That means that you can’t actually see your bags. You have no idea if someone is going through your stuff if you fall asleep on the plane. Keep your comfort kit, water bottle, and a sweater in your personal bag stored at your feet. If your airline only allows one bag then have your personal bag stored in the big bag. Slip your little bag out as you take your seat and then lock the big bag. A little hassle but a lot of prevention.
On the train / subway
Trains and subways are known places where thieves gather. Travelers are disoriented, people are bumping and shoving, and thieves have plenty of opportunities to slip away at any rail stop. Lock your bag before you leave the secure airport area and don’t open it again until you get to your hotel room. Keep your needed gear in your day bag, which is also secured.
At the hotel
It’s not just housekeeping that has access to your hotel room. The front desk, service people, and others all have the means to enter your room. I’m not worried about my clothes or toiletries. I’m more worried about petty theft of my chargers, flashlight, and other tech gear. If you are storing your bag or leaving for the day then it’s no big deal to lock your bags. I usually travel with a soft bag so I’ll take an extra step and stuff it in a dresser drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
As light travelers we can’t afford to lose any gear because it is all we have with us. I would rather save time and money by practicing simple prevention techniques. A small lock is well worth any inconvenience it causes.