The 7 Best Luggage Trackers
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Do you trust the airlines to always send your checked bags to the right place? Neither do we. But you can keep tabs on your stuff with one of these luggage trackers. They use various technologies, including Bluetooth and 3G, to help you find your belongings anywhere in the world. Some of these locators can also be used on other items, such as keys and wallets, giving you more bang for your buck. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 02, 2019:
Unfortunately, we have had to remove several options at this time due to the FAA's ban on lithium batteries in checked bags, including the Spy Tec Mini Portable. We've also opted not to include the Trakdot Palm-Size, as it uses 2G technology that has basically become obsolete. As an alternative, we've added the Gego GSM Locator, which uses 3G. Keep in mind that 3G will also be phased out in the future, making this item not the best for very long term use.
We have kept a range of Bluetooth trackers and key finders, as well, which can help you find a lost bag with the help of other users (rather than sending an exact location to your phone). Top picks for these devices are popular Tile models, including the Tile Mate and Tile Pro. The latter has a 400-foot range, which is double that of the former's 200-foot range. Both have been updated to include a replaceable battery, a big improvement over previous iterations. We did add one similar option with a non-replaceable battery, the Chipolo Ultra Thin. It isn't terribly pricey and is simple enough to use.
Finally, we selected a couple of non-electronic tags, including the ReturnMe Smart ID Tag. It allows anyone who finds your lost bag to quickly get in contact, but without having any access to your personal information, such as your address.
It's In The Bag
When you get to your room and open the bag, you find a nightmare waiting for you: it's not your luggage.
You just landed the job opportunity of a lifetime. You're going to deliver an address to a roomful of people who can make or break your career, who are all primed and excited to hear you speak. You fly into Hawaii and head straight to the convention center in Honolulu, looking forward to your two hours in the spotlight and your two subsequent weeks in paradise.
You have to rush, though, because the baby held by the mother next to you on the airplane spit up on your suit, and you have just enough time to run up to your hotel room and change before heading to your speaking engagement.
You grab your generic-looking luggage from the baggage carousel, and you dash off to the Marriott. When you get to your room and open the bag, you find a nightmare waiting for you: it's not your luggage. Instead, it's full of old newspaper clippings and cheap women's undergarments.
You go back to the airport, but whoever got your bag is certainly not interested in returning thousands of dollars worth of suits for the junk in the case you picked up. How will you find your bag? A luggage tracker could be the answer, though it most definitely would have prevented this mishap in the first place.
Luggage trackers use a number of different technologies to help you track and identify your bags, from GPS location to simple, close-range radio frequencies. They work like transmitters that you put in your suitcase, like the kind that cops put in bags of ransom money to track criminals in action films.
A few brands use dedicated receivers to catch the signal that your bag puts out, but many also use cellular signals to send text and email alerts, as well as tracking data, directly to your phone. And, depending on the size of the transmitter, you could theoretically use these devices for more than just your luggage. They can be ideal for keeping tabs on a passport or following the movements of an ex-lover who spurned you (disclaimer: please don't do that).
Find What's Lost
I've always maintained that I may be forgetful, but I'm not irresponsible. I won't remember turning off the stove, locking the door, etc. but I'll always have done it. For someone like me, a luggage tracker that's designed for use on multiple items is preferable.
A couple of the trackers on our list are small enough and conveniently designed enough to attach to pets, fit inside of a wallet, or fasten to the inside of your passport. I won't put my passport anywhere dangerous, but I will forget exactly where I put it. Like I said, forgetful, but not irresponsible.
I won't put my passport anywhere dangerous, but I will forget exactly where I put it.
If you can't find your passport in your hotel room and you're due to check out in five minutes, you can fire up your phone or whatever receiver unit will lead you to its exact location, and you can zero in on it in no time. If someone steals your passport, a good tracker can help you get it back.
Of course, for the less forgetful, more irresponsible crowd–who might leave their passports and other important items, including bags, subject to theft or misplacement–a good luggage tracker is equally important. In these cases, however, it might be more beneficial to get your hands on a larger model that will hold a charge for a longer period of time, especially if your bags get shipped to the wrong terminal or even the wrong city.
Another variable in selecting from among the trackers on our list is the receiver format. A tracker that utilizes a cell signal in the transmitter to provide GPS location comes with a built-in cost, usually a monthly one.
If you're more worried about finding your bag at baggage claim, or locating a lost wallet before you leave the house, you can work with a simple radio transmitter and receiver instead. You won't get text and email alerts whenever your bags behave as though they've gone missing, but you also won't have to pay any extra fees to keep your stuff close by.
When Paper Doesn't Cut It
Before electronic luggage tracking became the norm, there was the simple bag tag. A Canadian man named John Michael Lyons patented the first luggage tag in 1882, which carried a pair of consecutive numbers on either side of a perforation.
A Canadian man named John Michael Lyons patented the first luggage tag in 1882, which carried a pair of consecutive numbers on either side of a perforation.
Train or ship passengers would keep their half of the ticket, and the other half attached to the bags. Porters would reunite the tag halves to verify that they'd handed the luggage off to its rightful owner.
In today's airports and train stations, computers handle all of the baggage tracking, and corresponding bar codes now represent each item the way that a consecutive number once did. Somehow, despite this gargantuan effort at modernization, bags still go missing with tremendous ease.
With no trustworthy system in place, the market produced these additional devices for the organization and protection of passengers' luggage, eventually employing the cellular and GPS technologies that have carried us into the 21st century.