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Travel in peace with one of these top picks
Long gone are the days of merely crossing your fingers and hoping your checked bag arrives at your destination. Thanks to Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi technology, you can track your luggage at every step of your journey with a luggage tracker.
“I’m obsessed with luggage trackers,” says Kara Harms, CEO of Whimsy Soul, a San Francisco-based lifestyle blog. “I’m a checked bag person, and before I started using trackers, I was a nervous wreck at every baggage carousel, not knowing if my bag would show up or not. Now, I love being able to sit in my lounge and watch my bags be loaded on or off my plane.”
According to Harms, when shopping for luggage trackers, the most important thing to consider is what type of travel you’ll be doing. “Some trackers need to use Bluetooth and rely on pinging off of other tags or phones in order to work. This is easily accomplished in busy airports or cities, but if you are traveling in remote areas, you may need to upgrade to a more robust model.” Phone compatibility, special features, price, and size are also important features Harms recommends considering.
We’ve tested the top luggage trackers to find the best ones fit for your next adventure. Keep reading for our favorite four, plus others we tested, and why they didn't quite make the list.
Best Overall: Eufy SmartTrack Link
The setup was so easy we didn’t need to reference instructions or download an additional app.
We were able to track our luggage throughout the trip with accuracy.
We like how this tracker conveniently integrates with other Apple trackers or devices using the Find My app.
During testing, we found the locator alarm on this tracker on the quieter side.
The tracking feature is only compatible with Apple devices and will not work with Android products.
The Eufy SmartTrack Link is our best overall pick delivering top-notch ease of use and functionality at a great price. To have our most affordable and best-performing tracker in one device is a big win. As this tracker is only compatible with Apple devices, we paired it with an iPhone and were impressed with how quick and easy the setup was. It instantly connected to our iPhone and showed up in Apple’s Find My app (which is automatically downloaded on any Apple device) immediately. We loved how seamlessly this allowed us to track multiple Apple devices and bags in the Find My app.
The accuracy of this tracker proved satisfactory for our travel needs. We did experience some minor lag in just a few areas where we had limited service, like on the tarmac. The location would always eventually update with accuracy, and we found it efficient and easy to use overall. This tracker includes some additional features that set it apart from others when tracking checked luggage. The ability to “ring” your phone from the tracker itself is super helpful. Each tracker also features a QR code on the back that can be scanned if found and includes your contact information.
This tracker features an alarm that can help you find your bag, but we found it to be quieter than we’d like. While the alarm is helpful in many circumstances, it’s a little too faint for our liking if you’re searching for your bag in a loud environment like a busy airport. That aside, we found this tracker on par with Apple’s AirTag at a better price and with additional features. The SmartTrack Link even has a built-in key ring for convenient and secure attachment without having to purchase an additional item like with AirTags. It’s also water-resistant for extra durability. The affordable price makes this tracker a no-brainer for your bags (and all your Apple devices) when traveling.
Price at time of publish: $19.99
Battery: Replaceable metal lithium, up to 1 year of battery life | Subscription: None | Compatibility: iOS | Location Tech: Bluetooth | Size: 1.46 x 1.46 x 0.26 inches
Still Excellent: Apple AirTag
We found the setup easy and intuitive and liked how it immediately paired with our iPhone.
For existing Apple users who are familiar with Find My app, this tracker integrates seamlessly with other Apple devices.
Notifications can be customized through the Find My app, which we appreciated.
During testing, we occasionally received outdated notifications about our bag being left behind, which wasn’t the case.
Those loyal to the Apple brand will love the AirTag. This Apple tracker pairs seamlessly with iOS, and the setup is instant. Just pull the security tag, and it will automatically pair with your iPhone. There's no additional app to download, as it will integrate into the Find My app found on every Apple device. There’s no paid subscription to use this tracker either. In the Find My app, you can easily rename the device, which makes it great if you share the AirTags or use it for more than just luggage when not traveling (like for your laptop or camera). It's even one of our favorite dog GPS trackers, thanks to its light weight and accuracy.
We found the abundance of notifications overwhelming at first (it alerted us every time we left our bag behind, even intentionally), but these settings can be customized easily within the Find My app. You can also trigger a sound via the app that will go off so you can locate your AirTag with better accuracy.
We found the accuracy of this tracker impressive throughout most of our testing process. We were able to track our luggage moving throughout the airport with notable accuracy. However, occasionally when taking off for our flights, we received notifications that our luggage was left behind. Thankfully, that was not the case, and our luggage arrived with us, but it was initially a concern.
The design of the AirTag reflects the minimalistic aesthetic of Apple products. The white and silver exterior is bright and easy to see amongst the mostly black trackers we tested. (Proof that tech can be cute.) The AirTag’s small size (a little larger than a quarter) makes it super portable and easy to tuck away in any size bag. This tracker is durable and even waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. The AirTag is also one of the more affordable trackers among our top picks, although our Best Overall is a tad cheaper.
Another thing we love about the AirTag? You can even purchase accessories in various colors to track your belongings in style. For standard keychain tags, Amazon has some great options, but companies like Rifle Paper Co. also offer some more stylish AirTag accessories.
Price at time of publish: $28.99
Battery: Replaceable coin cell, over 1-year battery life | Subscription: None | Compatibility: iOS | Location Tech: Bluetooth 5.0 | Size: 1.26 x 0.31 inches
Best for Both iPhone and Android Users: Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
We found the alarm on this tracker loud and easy to locate during testing.
The free version of the accompanying app includes a 24-hour tracking history and a pinging feature to set off an alarm to help locate your bag, which we enjoyed.
There were several premium features we weren’t able to access without paying for the subscription.
The Tile Pro is compatible with iOS and Android, so it’s great for families with different devices who might share the tracker. This tracker comes with an accompanying app which we found more difficult to navigate at first compared to other ones we tested. Once set up, we found the basic features of the app helpful and easy to use. The 24-hour tracking history feature allowed us to see past locations of our bag. We also enjoyed being able to ping our bag and set off an alarm so we could locate it by sound. The alarm on this tracker was much louder than the others we tested, which is notable. The Tile Pro also has additional premium features with a subscription.
We did experience some lags in connection, so our location wasn’t always updated throughout our journey. Eventually, once we regained better cell service or were on WiFi, our tracker's location updated accurately. We were even able to easily track our bag's location once we boarded the plane, which gave us peace of mind. The design of this tracker is super functional with the built-in keychain hole attachment and slim design that fit easily into various-sized bags, pockets, and even our wallet. The Tile Pro tracker also comes in several colorways for an added personal and stylish touch.
Price at time of publish: $34.99
Battery: Replaceable battery, up to 1-year battery life | Subscription: Yes — free and premium versions | Compatibility: iOS, Android | Location Tech: Bluetooth | Size: 2.3 x 1.3 x .3 inches
Other Luggage Trackers We Tried
Dynotag Brushed Stainless Steel Smart Tag: Although not technically a tracker, this $23 ID tag features a scannable QR code that displays your contact info for anyone who finds your lost bag. No app is required to use this tag, and you are notified whenever your QR code is scanned. It has a durable and sleek design that works well for an amplified ID tag, but it does not include any tracking technology to help you locate your luggage.
LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker: This $29 tracker uses GPS technology which can be helpful when traveling internationally and to more remote areas. The setup for this tracker was more complicated than others we tested and required a paid subscription for an app. The app allows for easy sharing of the location of your bag. You can also set up a virtual fence, so you can be notified when your bags leave the designated area, but we felt the location wasn’t as accurate compared to other trackers we tested. Plus, the bulkier size and shape felt more cumbersome to pack.
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+: The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+ delivered standard features like location tracking and a slim design for portability. It’s compatible with Android devices only and requires downloading an app to use. We found the app less intuitive for customizing notifications and location updates. With a higher price tag than any other tracker we tested at $72, this tracker might not fit everyone’s budget.
Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker: In addition to location tracking, this $25 minimalist tracker delivered a lot of great special features through its app. You can access different ringtones, location history, various alerts, Siri shortcuts (you can ask Siri "Hey Siri, Find my Elise's Checked Luggage"), Find Your Phone (pressing the Tile device will activate a sound on your phone), and unlimited sharing (Tile allows another user to see the device's location in their app). It’s also compatible with both iOS and Android devices. We had some issues with connectivity and location updating at airports which could prove a nuisance for those using trackers exclusively for luggage when traveling. The $99 subscription fee after the first year, which is free, may also be a deal breaker for some.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Luggage Tracker
Type of Travel
Kara Harms recommends every traveler consider “what type of travel they most often engage with” when choosing the right luggage tracker. Certain luggage trackers rely on pinging off other Bluetooth devices to work, which can provide accurate tracking in heavily populated areas like cities.
If you're often traveling internationally, Katherine Parker-Magyar, travel writer and member of the Society of American Travel Writers, recommends checking out GPS trackers as “they can give you real-time updates, regardless of WiFi or Bluetooth connection.”
“Make sure that your luggage tracker is designed especially for your phone — some work better for iPhone, others for Android,” advises Parker-Magyar. She recommends the TilePro, which is compatible with both iOS and Android.
Functionality and Features
The best luggage tracker is one that you enjoy using, and you’ll use over and over again. Easy, seamless set-up is one way to ensure adding a luggage tracker to your travel experience eases anxiety and doesn’t promote it. Certain trackers like Apple AirTag and Eufy SmartTrack Link pair and begin tracking instantly. Others require an additional app to download, but some of these apps offer special features like pinging your luggage to trigger an alarm so you can locate it by sound, navigation to help find your tracker, and more. “Some trackers have a geofence feature which can be handy if travelers are frequently leaving their bags behind places and they want to make sure their luggage stays where they left it,” according to Harms.
Something to consider is how many bags or devices you want to track. If you’re hoping to track luggage for a family of four, you’ll want a more affordable tracker. The luggage trackers we tested ranged in price from $19.99 to $69. Paying more for a luggage tracker doesn’t necessarily equate to better performance as our most affordable tracker, the Eufy SmartTrack Link, is also our best overall pick.
How We Tested
We researched the most popular luggage trackers for iPhone and Android users as well as GPS trackers. We selected the top contenders and sent them off to be put to the test in the real world. Our PEOPLE Tested team used our selections to track their bags on domestic and international flights for both checked and carry-on luggage. Our testers observed each tracker’s performance during their trip for accuracy. Any additional features were also tested and evaluated.
After compiling our observations, we reviewed the data and rated each tracker on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the following attributes: ease of setup, accuracy, functionality, and design. Our top picks featured in this article are the luggage trackers that scored the highest averages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to put a luggage tracker?
“I like to put the tracker on the inside of my hard-sided luggage. Don't put it on the exterior, as it's more likely to fall off on a trip (I speak from experience).” shared Parker-Magyar. Harms seconds this advice adding, “I’ve seen folks at airports put trackers on their luggage tag, which can easily be ripped off by a person or accidentally fall off during the shuffle of travel.“
What is the range of AirTags?
Apple has not disclosed the exact Bluetooth range of its AirTag trackers, but it states that a third-party Bluetooth device can connect to an iPhone within 33 feet. The Find My app on iPhones offers location tracking by bouncing Bluetooth signals off other Apple devices in the area which greatly expands the possible range of an AirTag. As long as there are Apple devices in the general vicinity of your AirTag, you should be able to track its location.
Are luggage trackers worth it?
Luggage trackers are an affordable way to gain a little more peace of mind when traveling. Harms shares a story about relying on a tracker to locate her bag in the middle of the Schiphol Amsterdam Airport strike. “There was a point where we were about to board our plane, but our suitcases weren’t anywhere near our side of the airport. I was able to talk to the flight attendants, and they helped make sure our luggage made it over. I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t have a tracker in place.” She finds it handy for situations where hotels or other third parties are storing her luggage. If you travel with valuable items like cameras or laptops, trackers can alleviate a lot of anxiety. Harms also enjoys how luggage tags help the baggage claim process go a lot more smoothly. “Instead of frantically looking at every bag popping out of the chute, I calmly sit off to the side and wait until my suitcase pings that’s very close to me. Then I know It’s time to elbow my way to the carousel, “ she shares. Plus, trackers can be used for more than just luggage. It can be used to keep tabs on your keys or even your pet.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
L.A. Hubilla is a freelance commerce writer for PEOPLE, an anxious traveler, and forever a checked-bag person. She swears by her Apple AirTag. She’s tested products for various digital platforms, including PEOPLE, InStyle, Byrdie, and Travel + Leisure.
For this article, she surveyed the data collected from the People Tested team and paired it with expert insight from travel writers Kara Harms, founder and CEO of Whimsy Soul, a San Francisco-based lifestyle blog, and Katherine Parker-Magyar, a New York-based travel writer who has visited seven continents, 78 countries, and all 50 states in pursuit of a good story, to select the best-performing luggage tags.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.