How to Wrap Luggage in Plastic at Home
Wrapping luggage in plastic is a technique used by many travelers to protect their checked luggage. It can help deter theft, keep your bag clean and dry, and keep your items intact if your zipper happens to fail. Most people with bags wrapped in plastic have it done by a company at the airport but it is possible to do it at home. Be aware that while you can do it yourself, there is a chance it will be removed by security before your bag gets loaded onto your plane.
Choosing a Wrap
Use plastic wrap made for wrapping luggage.There are commercial stretch wraps that are made specifically for wrapping luggage. These rolls of stretch wrap are designed with big handles to make wrapping your luggage easy. Many are also brightly colored, so identifying your bag after your flight is very easy.
- These products are available from online retailers and at select some big box stores.
Purchase large commercial stretch wrap.When wrapping your own luggage, you can also use industrial stretch wrap that is used for wrapping pallets and commercial goods. This cling wrap is stronger than that sold to wrap foods in homes and restaurants and comes in longer rolls.
- Commercial cling wrap is typically available from packaging supply and moving supply companies, as well as from online retailers.
Bring the wrap with you for your return trip.When planning out what to take on your trip, remember to bring your plastic wrap with you if you want to wrap your luggage on your return flight as well. However, the wrap will have to be transported in another piece of luggage, as you can't get it into a piece of luggage after it has been wrapped.
Recycle the plastic after use.Some people are hesitant to wrap their bags in stretch wrap because it wastes a lot of plastic. If you are concerned about the waste but still want to wrap your bag, you can recycle the stretch wrap at a recycling center that deals with that specific type of plastic.
Applying the Wrap
Start wrapping the bag at the center.Place the end of the wrap in the middle of one of the larger sides and wrap the plastic around the bag while you hold the end. When the wrap comes around and touches the end, it will hold the end in place.
- Once the center is wrapped several times you can begin wrapping repeatedly without having to hold the end any longer.
Pull the wrap tight as you can.In order to get a tight seal on your bag, you need to put some tension on the wrap as you move it around your bag. This will ensure that the layers of plastic stick tightly to each other.
Wrap around the sides of the bag.In order to wrap the sides completely, you will need to move the plastic wrap box up and down while you wrap the side of the luggage. Ensure that the entire surface is covered in the plastic.
Wrap the top and bottom of the luggage.Once you have wrapped the bag completely up and down the sides, you should wrap it top to bottom as well. Turn the bag onto its side and wrap around the bag, covering its top and bottom completely.
- When this is done, every surface of the bag should be covered in plastic.
Secure the end of the wrap with tape.Once you have wrapped your whole bag in plastic, you will need to attach the end so the whole thing doesn't unravel. Use a piece of packing tape or duct tape to attach the end to the rest of the plastic wrap.
Cut out holes for the handle and wheels, if your suitcase has them.In order to allow you to move your suitcase easily, cut small slits in the plastic wrap that will allow you to pull up your retractable handle and to roll your wheels. As long as you make the cuts small and only in the areas of the handle and the wheels, the rest of the stretch wrap will stay in place.
- If you have a nice piece of luggage you want to be careful when cutting the wrap. Be sure not to cut or nick the luggage while your are cutting the plastic.
Be prepared to have your wrapping cut off by security.One of the downsides of wrapping your bag at home is that it might be cut off during security screening. If this happens, you will not be able to rewrap it before it is loaded onto your plane the same way that commercial wrapping businesses are allowed to.
- However, there is a good chance that your bag will go through security without being opened. Most bags are simply x-rayed and then allowed to go on because they do not have any detected anomalies.
Protecting Your Luggage in Other Ways
Use a wrapping service.Many airports around the world have wrapping services in them where you can get your bag wrapped in plastic. Once you get to the airport, locate the bag wrapping service, tell an employee that you would like your bag wrapped and pay them for their service.
- If you plan on using one of these services, be sure to give yourself some extra time to find the kiosk and to have your bag wrapped. In a large airport the bag wrapping area can be far away from your airline's check-in desk or security.
- In general, the fee for having your bag wrapped can vary anywhere from a few dollars to (US).
- One of the biggest perks of having your bag wrapped by a company at the airport is that most of them guarantee that your bag will be wrapped again if the plastic needs to be cut off to be inspected.
Put locks on your bag.Instead of plastic wrap, some people choose to put locks on their bags to secure them. This will deter theft by making the bag harder to open. While locks don't make the whole bag harder to take, they do make the bag harder to get into quickly.
- There are TSA-approved locks for luggage that allow security agents to open them but are otherwise locked. These are typically available at travel stores or from online retailers.
Keep an eye on your bags whenever you can.One of the best ways to keep thieves from getting into your bag is to not let it out of your sight. Don't leave it unattended or have a stranger watch it, as this is the perfect time for a thief to get to it.
- Most airports have large bathroom stalls and large aisles in stores to accommodate you bringing your luggage with you wherever you go.
Use a carry-on bag.If you are fearful that your checked bag will get rifled through, consider using a carry-on bag instead. With a carry on you can keep an eye on your bag better and it is less likely to get damaged as well.
- When you put your carry-on bag in the overhead bin, put the zipper opening toward the back side of the bin. This measure with ensure that a thief cannot get into your bag without pulling it out.
- Be sure to board your plane in plenty of time to get the overhead spot right above your seat. Having to place your bag far away from you on a full flight can create an opening for thieves to get into your bag.
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