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best way to ensure luggage security on trains

best way to ensure luggage security on trains

Old Apr 24th, 2003, 01:58 PM
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best way to ensure luggage security on trains

My son will be spending an extended period of time in Europe visiting friends, studying and working so he will have more luggage than the typical traveller, and he is going to have to schlepp it around quite a bit because of the way the logistics are working. Specifically he will have a 26" large wheeled suitcase, a large backpack, and a small day tote. He will also be travelling on his own between cities so he won't have a friend to look out for his luggage. I think his main concern is how to be sure that his luggage won't be stolen or pilfered with while traveling on second class trains. He will be taking the train from the Frankfurt airport to Prague. Then after a month in Prague will be taking the train to Lithuania. Then after a couple of weeks there, back down to Katowice, Poland for a month before he reaches his final destination where he will spend the academic year. We've thought about using a coiled bike lock to at least lock the 2 large pieces together so as to stop an impulsive thief. My guess is he is going to have to stow the large suitcase at the end of the compartment because it won't fit in an overhead rack. What are your tips for luggage security? We can't give him a lot of advice because we always travel in a pair, and have usually ended up renting a car rather than doing a lot of training. I guess we are also a little extra security conscious because our daughter's friend had his tent stolen on a train while traveling through Europe for an extended period of time. Thanks for any advice you have.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 02:48 PM
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I think the most your son can do is lock up the luggage to the rack. If he sees people hanging around the luggage rack he might get up and check it. I did that a few times on certain train stops. Otherwise he can try to get a seat at one end of the car near the racks, if he can get the single seat usually at the ends of cars he can put his luggage next to him.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 05:33 PM
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My brother and I just finished traveling around Europe for 2 months and we took trains everywhere: 13 different cities, the longest ride was 8 hours and the shortest was an hour.
Before we left I bought a steel bike cable and a lock so that I could lock our luggage up on the trains. I was quite worried and stressed out about the possibilty of our luggage being stolen. As it turns out, we never used the lock at all and everything was fine. However, this could have been because we traveled in March and April and while some of our trains were crowded most of them were not.
Except for the Eurostar and Thalys, none of the other trains had luggage racks at the end of the trains. There were overhead racks in the compartments and in the open-seating trains where we put our luggage. My brother had about a 26-30" suitcase and I had about a 36-40" suitcase, as the trip went on our bags got heavier. I joked that I pitied the thief whe tried to steal our bags because he certainly wouldn't get very far. Part of the reason I didn't lock our suitcases on to the luggage rack is that there are many times (more often than not) when you have only a short amount of time to get your luggage and get off the train (between 2 and 5 minutes) and often (especially in Italy) the destination is not announced so you don't know if it's your stop until you get into the station.
My advice is to make sure to put the suitcase and the backpack right above his seat on the train and keep the tote bag with him. If he wants he can lock the backpack to the suitcase, that way he can still grab his bags with enough time to get off of the train. I think that thieves are going to be looking for smaller, easier to steal items so if the backpack and the suitcase are together they'll be too bulky to bother with. Or, if he knows exactly how many stops there are between the departure point and destination then by all means go ahead and lock the luggage to the rack. He should just be sure to give himself enough time to unlock the lock and get his luggage before he has to get off of the train.
I would definitely make sure that all of the zippers on the suicase and backpack are locked together before getting on the train. That will prevent people from going through them. I brought plastic zip ties that I used to keep the zippers shut but locks probably work better.
I hope that this was helpful. Hopefully his experience will be similar to ours and the lock won't be necessary.
p.s. definitely make sure that he can lift all of the bags over his head and on to the luggage racks. I would never have been able to get mine up by myself!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 05:16 AM
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Thanks much for the thoughtful replies. I guess I am totally amazed that a 30" suitcase will fit in an overhead rack--that is a huge suitcase.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 05:38 AM
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Hi
I hadn't thought about the bicycle cable, but there are also thin but sturdy luggage cables with locks, sold by companies like Magellan (which specializes in travel gear)
I've seen usually pretty small overhead luggage racks, but if there are also larger ones, that's great.

I have to advise, despite the length of his trip, that he keep his luggage down to only two items, one large, and one smaller. He can pack a weighs-nothing foldable nylon tote or camera bag or shoulder bag for use as a daybag. He's only got two hands after all, and the logistics of handling three by oneself are mind-boggling (not to mention
really inconvenient--think of rest room visits.) I've traveleled alone, I speak from experience. Male strength doesn't solve the logistics problem.

Perhaps he can store some belongings with friends or work colleagues. Or just do more laundry more often--laundromats are boring, but they are readily available in most places.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 06:20 AM
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Absolutely keep the luggage to a minimum. So important when traveling by train. I agree about doing the laundry at each stop. Get rid of the day tote. The backpack should be sufficient. The other solution is to buy a suitcase that has a smaller zip off suitcase attached. My husband bought one for his dive trips. It is a 26" suitcase for the dive stuff. A smaller duffle bag zips onto it for his clothes. The carry on with his laptop slides over the handle of the big case. He only has to pull one thing. I will check the brand when I get home. Is your son bringing the entire years worth of clothing with him? I wouldnt even attempt that. Let him pack enough for 2 weeks for use while he is traveling. Then he can either buy some clothes for school when he gets there, you can ship him some clothes, or, you now have a reason to visit him when he gets settled. Once you give him his clothes, you will have room in your suitcase for souveniers!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 06:36 AM
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I wonder if it would be possible to ship his luggage 1 or 2 days earlier to the destination that he is going to? That way all he would have to take is his backpack. I've done that in the US using UPS and Fedex 2 day air then all I have to take is a carry-on with me. Just a thought.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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We've wondered about shipping a suitcase too. I don't know about intra-European shipping, but shipping expenses from the US to Europe are pretty prohibitive from my experience. That is why he wants to at least get the stuff over the Atlantic as a part of his plane fare.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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Bike locks would work well, but I have been using a 6 ft. piece of chain that I bought at Lowes and a small padlock.

Total cost $4.00

Works very well.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 10:15 AM
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That is a HUGE amount of luggage for one person to attempt to manage. I go with the suggestions to somehow lighten his load.

Especially traveling solo (I know!) watching your own bags is a problem. What about going to the bathroom for instance? You're going to lug those 3 pieces in with you? Or to a cafe in the train station to eat lunch? Or the bakery to buy a sandwich?

A combination of doing laundry often, buying some new clothes once he is at school, possibly shipping a box direct to the school, or sending stuff home he does not need, etc. could help.

A 26" suitcase plus 'large' backpack plus 'small' daypack is just to much to attempt hopping on and off trains. The least of his worries (I guess) will be theft...

You also might want to check Lonely Planet's BB called Thorn Tree. Aimed at younger, student, backpacker types and full of great advice. www.lonelyplanet.com then on to the Thorn Tree.
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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Another thought... be sure he carries passport, cash, etc. on his person (money belt, neck pouch)... with all those bags to watch after, a pickpocket would be much more likely than someone stealing his suitcase.
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