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Shop TODAY editors and travel experts swear by these anti-theft products while traveling

From backpacks with invisible zippers to rear-loading compartments, these products are trusted.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

The heart-dropping, stomach-sinking moment in "Home Alone" when the McCallister family realizes Kevin was forgotten isn't one that many can relate to. However, while traveling, many of us can relate to the head-scratching moments when we ask ourselves, "Did I leave something behind?"

What's even worse than forgetting to pack certain valuables is having them stolen from right under your nose and having nothing to blame but your easy-to-access bag or luggage. The best anti-theft products employ various protective features and aim to resolve these problems while helping you keep better track of your belongings.

Shop TODAY spoke with Mitra Amirzadeh and Katie Jackson, two seasoned travelers, to get their insight on what anti-theft products they trust to keep their valuables safe (and what you should be looking out for when shopping).

What are anti-theft features? | What should shoppers keep in mind? | Editor-recommended anti-theft products | Expert-recommended anti-theft products | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop Today Snapshot

Best anti-theft travel products

What do anti-theft features look like?

Anti-theft features might not always be obvious (for example, a subtle combination lock on a suitcase). They're worth it, though. Here are a few examples of some anti-theft characteristics in backpacks, luggage and more:

  • Zippers: Zippers on anti-theft bags might be hidden, such as a backpack with a zipper in the back rather than the front. There are also hard-to-find zippers that tuck into the bag itself, making them difficult to access.
  • Pockets: Amirzadeh appreciates a backpack with a rear-loading pocket rather than a traditional front compartment, as it makes it harder to pickpocket.
  • Bluetooth trackers: Both Jackson and Amirzadeh put their trust in Bluetooth trackers that they add to luggage, which they are able to access from their phones. The Apple AirTag was rated as one of the best travel accessories during Shop TODAY's Travel Awards in 2023, making it one that both Shop TODAY editors and travel experts trust.

What should consumers keep in mind when shopping for anti-theft products?

In order to stay one step ahead, Jackson assumes the position and mindset of a thief when shopping for these products.

She says, "What would you look for if you were going to steal a bag or its contents? Then, shop for a bag that doesn’t have those blind spots." Jackson continues, "If your bag is slightly inconvenient for you to open, that may be annoying, but in the long run it’s worth it if it prevents a thief from stealing your valuables."

This is one of the reasons why Jackson bought the Cotopaxi Allpa pack: because the zippers tuck into a loop.

Additionally, Amirzadeh has noticed an uptick in passengers carrying hip packs across the front of their bodies to clearly see and access their items. Plus, keeping your valuables in front of you helps reduce the likeliness that a thief will unzip your bag from behind.

"I think carrying your passport, your cellphone and your wallet in a hip bag that is towards the front of you, or a crossbody bag that you’re wearing across your chest, is a really good idea; you’re less likely to get your stuff stolen that way," she says.

Editor-loved anti-theft products

Ytonet Laptop Backpack 

What we like
  • Extremely roomy
  • Opens from the top
  • Many hidden pockets inside
Something to note
  • Zippers aren't hidden

According to Amanda Fama, a commerce editor at Shop TODAY, this one "extremely roomy" backpack. It has a unique design that opens from the top, and the handles above can be secured together. Plus, there are various pockets throughout the interior.

"I used this backpack often for traveling and commuting with my laptop, and I always felt confident that my items were secure," She says. "Plus, it's roomy enough to fit clothes and shoes for weekend trips."

INICAT Crossbody Leather Bag

What we like
  • "Functional and secure"
  • Won't give off tourist vibes
Something to note
  • Logo is visible

This crossbody bag features two zippered pouches in the front and one in the back, which is why associate editor Shannon Garlin trusted it with her go-to's when traveling abroad.

"This large (but not too large) crossbody bag has become the star of my latest trip abroad," she says. "Not only did I get tons of compliments from friends, but also it fit everything I needed for a day exploring a foreign city, all while feeling secure!"

Quince Check-In Hard Shell Suitcase

What we like
  • Rolls well
  • Chic design
Something to note
  • Can scuff quickly

Usually we associate Quince with affordable luxury fabrics and basics, but did you know they make travel products as well? From packing cubes to duffel bags and more, the brand is proving to be more than a go-to for reasonably priced clothing items.

Associate editor Allie Wise owns this hard shell suitcase, that's available in four different carry-on sizes and five colors.

"I received a sample of this suitcase in tan and I have not traveled with any other suitcase since," she says. "I absolutely love how well it rolls through the airport- almost too good! It also has a TSA-approved lock to safely store all your valuables."

Samsonite Outline Pro Medium Spinner

What we like
  • The lock is easy to set up
  • Holds a lot, easy to clean
Something to note
  • None to note at this time

Well-loved by Shop TODAY editors during our Travel Awards in 2023, this medium-sized suitcase was the first time that associate editor Kamari Stewart had used one that included anti-theft features.

"This suitcase is my tried-and-true favorite," she says. "I bought it two years ago and I take it literally everywhere. Aside from the massive amount of stuff that fits in what they call a 'medium,' I love the TSA-safe lock it has."

This 360-degree roller has a three-digit lock that you can use to secure your items.

"It was super easy to set up and has been a breeze to use ever since," she says. "It definitely provides me with peace of mind on longer/farther trips where I’m always scared of it getting stolen."

Expert-recommended anti-theft products

Apple AirTag

What we like
  • "Game-changer"
  • Affordable, reasonably priced
Something to note
  • Audio alert is quiet

Both Jackson and Amirzadeh swear by Apple AirTags to help keep track of their items, whether they’re in the overhead bins above them or stowed away under the carriage.

“While they won’t deter theft, they provide some semblance of hope that if our bags do go missing, they’ll at least be trackable,” Jackson says.

They’re available individually or in four-packs, which is convenient if you have multiple bags or family members with things to keep track of.

“I like knowing that if I accidentally walk away from my backpack or luggage that my phone’s going to go off, because where do we go without our phone? Absolutely nowhere. I like that it tells me ‘Hey, you might have left this item behind,’” says Amirzadeh.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

What we like
  • Super spacious
Something to note
  • Can be bulky

Jackson purchased this multi-tasking pack after nearly getting pickpocketed abroad and praises its zippers, a quality that is often overlooked in luggage.

“The zippers don’t lock, per se, but they tuck away, so you can’t open them unless you’re at the right angle and they take several seconds to undo,” she says.

This pack opens up like a suitcase, with zippered mesh compartments on each side that can fit a week or two weeks’ worth of clothing and items. Plus, it has loops on either side of the compartments to tuck your zipper into so they’re harder to access.

ThinkTank BackStory Backpack

What we like
  • Rear loading compartment
  • Spacious
Something to note
  • Is bulky, but holds equipment

This is Amirzadeh’s choice when it comes to carting her camera equipment around. With a rear-loading compartment that includes 15 panels to store cameras and accessories, she’s able to travel from country to country without fear of her items getting stolen.

“All of my gear goes in the reverse panels and I fill the backpack from behind, so all the zippers are up against my back, instead of out there where you could be behind me in line and unzip it,” she says.

How we chose

As a team of editors who are always on the go, the Shop TODAY staff pitched protective products that they depend on while traveling. We also included the preferred travel bags and accessories from a flight attendant and a travel writer. Many of the items included have anti-theft features such as hidden zippers, rear-loading designs and more.

Meet the experts