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When you’re on the road, feeling safe and secure is everything. I’ve spent countless nights on crowded buses or in terminals, anxiously keeping myself awake out of fear of my bags being stolen. After losing lots of sleep, I’ve established these two methods for keeping things secure and giving me peace of mind, whether I’m alone or traveling with others.

1. Secure your bag to a stationary item with a double-sided cable lock. 

This double sided-cable lock is a must for traveling. Use the short end to lock the zipper pulls of your bag together so the bag can’t be opened. A standard combination lock may not always work for this – sometimes zipper pulls are too small to fit the metal shackle.

Next lock the longer cable through something stationary, making it impossible for someone to pick up your bag and go. On a long bus ride, this could be your seat or the luggage rack. I’ve secured my bag to a fence while I’ve gone swimming in the ocean.

This deters people from rummaging through your bag or just running off with it. With enough time and the right tools, a thief could still cut your bag, but this is a great deterrence and prevents quick incidents.

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I bought my cable lock from REI, but they don’t sell it anymore. You can find the same thing on Amazon.

You May Also Like: The “Just In Case” Things You Should Take On Every Trip 

2. Secure bags together with a combination lock and a cable. 

When you have a big backpack with many pockets, there’s no way to put a lock on every single zipper. This is where a combination lock with a cable can be very handy. I use this method when my fiancé and I have to leave our bags at a dodgy hostel for the day, or we’re spending the night sleeping somewhere open (such as a bus terminal or airport).

Put the packs together, front to front (where the bulk of the pockets are). Take the cable and wrap it around the packs, going through zipper pulls or handles to make sure it’s actually connected and not fed through a strap that unbuckles.

The cable doesn’t have to completely circumnavigate the two bags, just connect them. Put the ends of the cable on the shackle of the combination lock and close it.

For extra discretion, I put a raincoat over the bags. If someone came over while we were sleeping, the sound of pulling the jacket off alone would probably wake us, but there’d be no way to quickly take off with two huge packs tethered together.

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I bought my cable lock from REI, or you can find the same thing on Amazon.


These little techniques help me to feel secure. Some travelers would probably find this to be overcautious, but I’ve had my hotel room rummaged through and robbed before so I have a habit of trusting no one and playing it safe when it comes to my valuables on the road.

What tricks do you have for keeping your bags safe while traveling? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Instagram at @kayla_ih.

You May Also Like: The 4 Things To Pack If You’re Nervous About Overnight Amtrak Or Bus Travel 

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Posted by:Kayla

<span style="font-weight: 400">Hello, friend! I'm Kayla. I help people shrink their footprint on the Earth and find freedom in owning less. On Writing From Nowhere, I share ideas on living more intentionally and sustainably.  </span>

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