Smart GPS luggage trackers are super popular right now and for a good reason. Who wants to lose their luggage and be at the mercy of the airline!
With so much tech available to us today, there are a lot of smart luggage trackers out there that can help us keep our luggage safe and put the power back in our hands. After all, you don’t want to lose all your clothes, or an expensive travel laptop (if you checked it in that is). After all, you are not out on a survival expedition with your backpack and tent!
At A Glance: Our Favorite Luggage Trackers
But you might be asking yourself how do these luggage trackers work and which one is the best?
So, with those questions in mind, this post will show you the technology available and in use in luggage trackers and which one is best for you!
Note: If you want to understand how the tech works, scroll all the way to the end of the review section where I go into details.
For Frequent Travelers
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Best Bluetooth Tracker
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Bluetooth & QR Tracker
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Luggage Tag QR Tracker
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
It comes with the GSM tracker and a mobile app that you need to download to either your iPhone or Android device. Then, once you are registered, you are good to go.
It also combines Bluetooth technology to help with location accuracy when you are near your luggage. Not a bad idea at all, especially since GSM tracking is not as accurate as GPS.
They have also smartly combined an automatic on/off feature to keep the device FAA/TSA/FCC compliant. Why? Because it uses cell phone tech, so cannot really be running while on a plane.
Another issue to be aware of with such trackers is you often need to “subscribe” to their service because it uses the mobile/cell network. These guys offer a free 30 days upon purchase, and then either monthly ($4.99) 6 monthly ($19.99), or yearly ($29.99) after that.
All in all not a bad device, but with some shortcomings you can check out in the PROs section below.
The second serious contender, Trakdot is quite similar to Lugloc, but with some differences worth noting too.
It is also a mobile/GSM tracker with a mobile app that you need to download to your iPhone or Android phone.
It also comes with Bluetooth capability so can help you hone in on where exactly your hard-side luggage is. And it also has a cool vibrate mode that tells you if you are getting closer or not.
Again, the all-important smart flight mode is included, which turns off while the aircraft is in the air, and on again when it has landed.
An added bonus of this guy is that it sends you a message (email or SMS) when your luggage is located by the device. So, while you are waiting for your luggage to arrive, a message arrives to tell you everything is ok!
Again, you need to sign up for their service after the initial free period, and in this case, it is either $20 a year or $50 for a lifetime. Check with them before buying though as this can easily change between now and when you read this!
Compared to the LugLoc the battery life of this device is very low. It should be 48 hours (enough for a long-haul flight) but some amazon reviews I read reported less than 24. Compared with the super-long life of LugLoc this is a potential issue.
This is a great little luggage location device with a messaging service that can help you know what is going on when you land. If that is what you are after, this is a great option. And with the yearly or lifetime service fee, a great option for frequent travelers.
When Apple designs something, you know it is going to work and work well!
I bought my air tags to track a bunch of things (bike, campervan, luggage) and it is one of the best solutions for a luggage tracker for a variety of reasons.
It is super compact and can fit and hide almost anywhere. It is always on (once activated) and the battery lasts for a very very long time (some claim over a year). And when it does go flat, you just have to replace it with a standard CR2032 battery, not something fancy or expensive.
Air Tags are also super affordable and reliable.
They work by “pinging” any Apple device they see via Bluetooth. So, if your luggage passes another passenger, or airline worker with an iPhone (or iPad or Macbook) it will register its location. This is done anonymously, but its power is the network of Apple devices around the world!
The downside is limited accuracy in terms of “where” it is (until you go looking for it with a modern iPhone). This is something the more expensive trackers help with by using both GPS, Bluetooth and cellphone towers.
However, an Air Tag does not require any subscription or yearly fee either. Just buy it, activate it and you are good to go.
They also come with some other useful features like alerting you when you leave something behind – which is not what you want with luggage, but might work with your carry-on!
If you want a solution that is cheap and simple, this is the one.
The Tile Pro was not built as a luggage tracker but it’s so small and versatile it can certainly be used as one.
It only uses Bluetooth technology so you need to be quite close to the device to find it – 150m or 400ft. However, they do allow you to make use of the “tile network” which means that other tile users can anonymously tell if when they are near your device. So, even if your luggage goes “wild” you might still be able to find it. This is the functionality Apple more or less copied for the Air Tag.
This is more of a “specific location” device and not so much of a “did my luggage arrive” device like the others above. In that way, it really depends on what you want a tracker for.
Or, you could use this as a bit of extra security to the Trakdot above which does not come with Bluetooth. Especially since Tiles are pretty cheap (around $20-30).
The Tile system is quite simple and again comes with an accompanying app to help you locate the “thing” it is used with. Its accuracy varies depending on who you talk to, but it’s a good addition to your luggage security, especially if you have expensive equipment. (Think camera gear, drones, skis, surfboard, etc).
Because it is meant to be used as a phone, keys, or pet tracker it also comes with an alert sound that you can activate to help you find what you have placed the Tile on.
The battery lasts about a year and is replaceable – they use a CR2032 battery, which is a standard size you can get almost anywhere.
You can also get them in 1, 2 or 4 packs, or if you want to spend a little less, you can get the standard model which has less range (around 200ft).
They also have a QR code like the Dyno Tag (more on that below) so if you hang it on your luggage tag, you have two ways it can be found!
The LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker is another option people often buy, but for me, it is not ideal for air travel.
First, it does not turn off when you are flying, which is often against airline rules.
Second, it has a strong magnet which is not something you want around other electronics, especially when you travel.
It is actually designed to track things on the ground and certainly works well, but it is not the luggage tracker of choice.
The DynoTag, is more of an old-school method. Like a luggage tag, only a lot more reliable. Luxury luggage brands like Tumi actually use this kind of thing on their luggage to help their customers find their luggage.
The DynoTag is not connected to the web/GPS – instead, it requires someone to find your bag, scan the code, and then you can see where it is online. So, not really a luggage tracker, but rather a way for anyone to register your bag as found.
This is of course the least you can do to ensure your luggage does not get lost, but you are still left waiting. I would combine it with an Air Tag or Tile given how cheap they are.
There are a few different technologies to consider when looking at smart luggage trackers and they are:
Most luggage trackers use one or two of these technologies and they each have their pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at each one so you know what to be on the lookout for.
GPS luggage trackers might seem one of the best options because they include a GPS chip and can be tracked anywhere in the world.
GPS works almost anywhere and is incredibly accurate, but it does have a downside – it can be blocked quite easily by natural objects (trees, mountains etc) and also by buildings.
And this is where the major disadvantage of GPS luggage trackers comes in…
When you need your tracker to work you are probably standing in the airport terminal wondering where your luggage is.
So, you are in a building. And, unfortunately, you might not be able to track your luggage because of poor GPS coverage!
The upside is that GPS is not dependent on any local technology (ie. whether your tracker works in the country you are in) or on proximity (like with Bluetooth – more on that below).
Mobile or GSM luggage trackers get around the GPS coverage problem by using the local mobile network to help track your luggage.
The same way the FBI can pinpoint a criminal via cell towers (triangulation), these devices can be found when they are in the range of mobile towers.
And, it will work inside the airport terminal – just like your phone does!
The downside is that the country you are in has to support the SIM chip in the device (usually a GSM-based chip).
Currently, two countries that don’t support GSM are:
The rest of the world should not be a problem!
Some trackers use only these technologies or use them in combination with Mobile to try to give you more options and accuracy.
Bluetooth typically only works within 30 meters (100 feet) of your phone, although some devices have ways to boost this.
So this is a great option when you are close to your luggage but trying to pinpoint it. When GSM or GPS is not accurate enough, this is a great addition.
However, most Bluetooth trackers are only that, and are really meant to be used at home to find your phone or lost keys. I would not use them alone to keep track of my luggage!
Depending on which of the three main technologies your tracker has, they all operate a little differently. In most cases though, they are meant to be used in combo with a tracker-specific app on your phone so you can track them on an app.
The accuracy of the location depends on the tech used and in the case of Bluetooth, how close you are to the tracker.
GSM trackers use mobile towers to locate the device, so are not super accurate.
GPS trackers are far more accurate (with GPS being capable of insane accuracy) but it depends on the software and tech involved.
Yes, there are other products and options on the market, but from what I have been able to find, nothing really worth adding to this review since I wrote it a year ago (today is April 2018).
Various companies have come out with trackers, but there are too many bad reviews – Victorinox & 1st Anti-Theft Tracker. I am surprised that Victorinox was unable to come up with something good as they are well-known here (in Switzerland where I am) and around the world for their quality knives and products.
You could also try something like a GPS tracker that is not specifically designed for luggage tracking. They are relatively cheap and do the job, they just don’t have the extra features like proximity tracking (Bluetooth) and Airplane mode to put it to sleep until you land.
Here is an example, the LOC8ING:
Both these devices are only meant to keep approximate track of your luggage and not follow it like the FBI in the movies. Keep that in mind.
However, for simple peace of mind, especially when dealing with lost luggage or expensive items (golf clubs, ski bags, etc) it might be worth the investment. And, you can always throw in a Tile or Air Tag to give you a little more security using their Bluetooth app!