Anyone who has traveled with any regularity will most likely have experienced one of the worst feelings to ever happen while on the road.
It’s that horrible sinking feeling you get when you know your gear has gone missing.
I think we can all agree that the particular stomach churn that happens when the bag carousel makes another empty pass and you’re still waiting for your stuff is something you wouldn’t wish on your own worst enemy!
Hey, losing your luggage (or having it stolen) is almost guaranteed to happen at some point – especially if you’re a long-term traveler.
And it can happen anywhere – an airline can lose your bags, they go missing from a hostel dorm room, they’re sent somewhere else entirely or you could leave them in the back of a cab.
It happens to the best of us – and will continue to happen for as long as we continue to explore the world.
The question is, what can you do about it?
Well, plenty, to be precise!
We can all take extra care not to allow our precious belongings to go walkabout, but even with the best will in the world, they’ll go for a wander eventually.
What I genuinely don’t get though, is why everyone isn’t already using a luggage tracker?!
C’mon – we live in the 21st-century people!
If you’re serious about protecting your stuff and keeping your blood pressure low, you’ll be wanting to get hold of the best luggage tracker you can.
Lucky for you, here’s our handy guide to what’s available on the market for 2020 and what to look out for when making your purchase.
- What Does it Do?
- So, What is the Best Luggage Tracking Device Available in 2020?
- All Trackered Out!
What Does it Do?
You might think that using the traditional method of slapping your name and address somewhere on your luggage will guarantee that it finds its way back to you – but this isn’t always the case.
We all know airline staff can seriously mess up at times (they’re only human) and what if your bags have been stolen?
This is where a luggage tracking device could potentially prevent a monumental headache.
They work by using a variety of technological tricks such as GPS, Bluetooth or GSM, to attempt to locate your luggage’s last known whereabouts.
They each have their limitations, so let’s examine them, and everything else you need to look out for when choosing the best luggage tracking device for you.
A GPS tracker (Global Position System) works by pinpointing your luggage using satellite technology to accurately ping their location to your handheld device or computer.
Its main advantage is that you don’t need to be anywhere near your belongings – even if you’re not in the vicinity you’ll still be able to get a bead on it.
Particularly handy if your gear is still on the other side of the world.
However, GPS is limited when you’re in a building, which is where your luggage is likely to be most of the time.
The signal can be blocked if the tracker doesn’t have a clear view of the sky, so even a little tree coverage could potentially cause it a few problems.
The Global System for Mobile communication is the most common digital cellular system in operation today. This is how your mobile phone works in most regions of the world.
A GSM tracker works by using the closest cell towers to its current location. It’ll then send you a notification once it’s been picked up.
The advantage over GPS is that (much like making a phone call indoors) you can still be inside a building for the signal to get through.
The trade-off is that you’ll need a SIM card for it to work and there are a few countries around the world where the technology isn’t operational. You’ll need to pay subscription fees too.
Generally speaking, GSM is also the least accurate tech when it comes to tracking your luggage.
You’ll be familiar with Bluetooth if you’ve ever shared files with other phones when you’re within range.
Bluetooth trackers work the same way, but the disadvantage is you’ll need to be no further than 50-150 feet from your missing stuff.
With that in mind, Bluetooth trackers are better for home and office use, and they can be a godsend if you’ve misplaced your keys down the back of the couch.
Still useful as a backup option.
Always a top priority to consider as – just like mobile phones and other such devices – trackers can vary wildly when it comes to how long the battery will last.
Some trackers will come with a built-in battery you can charge from a USB or wall socket, while others will contain a power source that needs to be replaced from time to time.
There’s even the option of trackers with a battery that lasts a few years, but you need to buy a brand-new device when it finally gives out.
With many GPS or GSM trackers, operators will be wanting a yearly or monthly subscription fee from you for their services.
It’s up to you to weight up the cost-effectiveness of such a choice.
The best advice here would be to figure out how often you’re going to be using it.
Subscription fees for a quality service you use regularly can be a significant investment in the long run, so take that into consideration when you’re choosing the best luggage tracker for you.
Useful if you’re tracking more important things than luggage – like people for example!
Size & Durability
Trackers come in all shapes and sizes, but obviously, some are a little heavier duty than others.
Any tracker worth its salt will be sturdy and well made because it will most likely need to stand up to some rugged handling from time to time.
Consider the tracker’s coating too – especially if you’re traveling in damper climates. Many come with a waterproof exterior as standard.
It’s usually just down to personal preference, but for me, the smaller the tracker the better.
Many are built to be discreet and super lightweight anyway, but it’s still another point to consider when researching the best luggage tracking devices 2020.
Again, like any electronic device, retail price can range from breaking the bank to the no-frills, super budget, savers option.
High-end models will set you back around $150-200, but the average price on the market seems to be in the region of the more manageable $30-70 ball-park.
Don’t forget about those subscription fees though – if you choose to go down that route – it all adds up.
So, What is the Best Luggage Tracking Device Available in 2020?
Now that you’ve got a little more knowledge in your locker on what makes the best luggage tracker, let’s take a look at my top nine picks.
As ever, I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of many devices and made an informed decision on what to include, based on my own experiences or on that ever-useful gut instinct!
If you’re in the market for one of these extremely useful gadgets, I suggest you look no further.
In this selection (I hope) you’ll find the best luggage tracker 2020!
Trakdot Luggage Tracker
First up we’ve got the Trakdot, a popular luggage tracker that uses GSM technology to locate your belongings.
You’ll need to download the app to your phone, which is compatible with both iOS and Android.
It’s also a subscription service – and I recommend checking their current rates before going further.
It also has Bluetooth capability as a nice backup, so long as you’re within 30 feet.
- In flight mode switches the device off when you’re in the air.
- Sends you an email when you’ve landed to confirm your luggage location.
- Palm-sized and lightweight.
- Battery life isn’t the best.
- Timestamping has been known to be inaccurate.
GLCON Luggage Tracker
The GLCON entry is a Bluetooth luggage tracker that works in conjunction with the “Swiftfinder” app.
Attach the tag to anything you might lose, be it luggage, keys, a wallet or a child!
The app and the tracker will notify you if you go out of range – which is around 165 feet.
- It’s one of the best Bluetooth tracker devices for the money.
- Super loud alarm to help you find what you might have lost.
- Really good range.
- Battery lasts five years…
- …You’ll need to buy a new one after five years!
- Not useful if your luggage happens to be in another country.
Spy Tec STI GL300 GPS Tracker
Moving into some next level Batman gadgetry is the aptly named Spy Tec GPS tracker. Perfect if you want to keep tabs on more than just your luggage.
It’s a subscription service with a selection of plans to suit your budget and needs – depending on what you’re tracking and how often you need a location update.
Multi-use to cover a variety of situations and circumstances, you’ll be notified as soon as whatever you’re tracking moves anywhere.
- Use it to track anything – straight to your google maps.
- Compact and discreet.
- You get notified with an email or text when someone or something leaves an area.
- GPS might have its limitations inside buildings.
Don’t let the name of this little device put you off – the Tile Mate Key-Finder can be used to find anything.
It’s currently the world’s best-selling Bluetooth tracker, and that’s little wonder considering the size and the price.
Has a decent range of 100 feet but the company do boast this interesting concept of the “tile network.” If you do happen to really lose your stuff out of range, you can anonymously enlist the help of millions of other tile users to help find your missing items.
The free app remembers the last time and place it saw your gear – making it easy to retrace your steps if need be.
- Slim, smart and compact.
- Water resistant.
- Comes in different versions/multi-packs – choose the right tile for you.
- Loud ringing notification to find your things nearby.
- Not useful or accurate in pinpointing the location of your belongings.
Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker
Another tracker utilizing GPS technology is this offering from Optimus. It’s a subscription service, but the plans are transparent and suited to your budget and needs.
Used in conjunction with an iPhone or Android app.
At only 3 inches long you can easily drop it into the corner of your suitcase or in a backpack pocket.
- The device will hold a charge for a week and is easy to set up.
- Geofence technology – you’re notified if your belongings move from a particular area. Also useful for tracking people.
- It appears the subscription is limited to the US, Canada, and Mexico only. Not useful if you’re traveling further afield.
The Smart Unit Black
Out of all the devices I reviewed, I think this one is certainly the best looking. Aesthetics really shouldn’t be a concern so long as it does the job it’s meant to do – but the Smart Unit Black is very smart indeed.
The price you pay includes the service plan for one or two years – so it’s a little on the expensive side, to begin with.
Uses GSM technology to locate your gear in real time and incorporates a really useful anti-theft function. It’ll let you know if your bags have been opened – and that’s really clever stuff.
- Looks beautiful.
- GSM, GPS, and Bluetooth – it’s covering all the bases.
- Works worldwide.
- A little on the expensive side – and make sure you’re careful when entering into any subscription contracts.
Hangang Mini GPS Tracker
When they said this was a mini tracker – they weren’t joking!
The Hangang offering is a little bigger than a sim card – that’s because that is pretty much all that’s in it! The size makes it really easy to hide.
- Built-in long-life battery – 200 hours on standby.
- GPS positioning is accurate to within 16 feet.
- It’s TINY! This is something James Bond could fit into his shoe!
- Geo-fence technology included.
- It would be ironic if you lost a luggage tracker because it was so small.
- It’s a new-ish product. Like the Smart Unit above, it needs some serious testing before a real opinion can be formed.
This Bluetooth tracker has the great addition of a motion sensor – if you use it for that function, it will set off an alarm whenever it’s moved. That’s an extremely versatile and useful function.
Has a solid 50 to 80-foot range outdoors, 32-50 feet indoors. It’s perfect for home and office use.
Operates on iPhone and Android – in spite of the name.
- The motion sensor is a real selling point.
- Will track your items to their last recorded location.
- Comes in a pack of two.
- It can only be used for 12-18 months at best. Then you would need to replace it.
Dynotag Smart Luggage Recovery Tag
I’ve included this little number because it’s not actually a luggage tracker at all – it’s a luggage recovery service.
If you’re not wanting to pay high prices, worry about battery life, subscription fees, and cell phone coverage – this option could be for you.
It’s a sturdy, waterproof, visible tag that fastens securely to your property. If your luggage ever goes missing, all someone has to do is scan the code on the back of the tag and you’ll be notified of its whereabouts.
Lifetime subscription to the service comes as standard – you can also store sensitive and important information on the tag and only you will ever be able to gain access to it.
- A cheaper alternative to electronic devices and with zero maintenance.
- Offers a cash reward to whoever finds your belongings and reports it.
- Not actually a luggage tracker – you’d need to rely on someone scanning the tag to actually locate your stuff.
All Trackered Out!
That’s all folks!
I hope the confusing world of luggage trackers is a little clearer for you all now – it certainly seems to be a minefield of options, fees, and services. In the end, though, I’d always like to remind you to consider what you intend to use the product for and what it is you’re going to be protecting.
There’s not much sense in buying a $100 gadget for a gym bag filled with sweaty socks.
Unless those sweaty socks mean the world to you of course.
Feel free to comment on your experiences below and let me know which of these devices you’d choose.
Your input just might sway my decision too!
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