Plastic Wrap Luggage – To Wrap Or Not To Wrap?

Plastic Wrap Luggage – To Wrap Or Not To Wrap?

We’ve probably all seen it at least once or twice when at the airport, people with their luggage covered in plastic; and you might ask yourself: should you or should you not plastic wrap luggage?

Read through the following pros and cons in terms of wrapping your luggage in plastic.

Potential Damage Protection

Especially great for new luggage and luggage you want to keep looking new for longer, ultra-resistant industrial strength plastic wraps around your luggage and ensures to keep it in the same great condition and will therefore prolong the life of your luggage.

The risk for damage during transit is greatly reduced, as the plastic warp buffers against rough handling.

The wrap protects against scuff marks, scratches and dents.

Deter Opportunistic Thieves

Where there’s opportunity, there’ll be thieves. Unfortunately we have to always be on our toes and reduce the opportunity for thieves.

Wrapping your luggage will deter thieves and protect your belongings. You will also know whether your luggage has been tampered with.

On the other hand wrapping your luggage might also call out to potential thieves that this is an item worth wrapping, i.e. it’s worth something and might therefore have the opposite effect.

Reduces Access To Your Luggage

Not only does the plastic wrap protect against thieves, it also reduces access to your luggage, i.e. it makes it harder for anyone to tamper with it or to put foreign, illegal or unauthorised items into your luggage.

This way you can make sure that you only have your belongings in your bag.

Protection Against Weather/Dirt

The plastic wrap is waterproof and protects against rain, snow, monsoon and humidity. Your luggage will be kept dry in the hold of the aircraft as well as during transport to and from.

Your luggage will also be protected against any kind of dirt or spillage.

Identify Your Luggage Easily

You know what it’s like to wait for your luggage at the baggage carousel, don’t you? Well, the brightly coloured plastic wrapping will make it so much easier for you to identify your luggage.

It will stand out from all the same looking luggage and will make it so much easier to spot it when it comes onto the carousel. Less stress for you!

Should there be lots of wrapped luggage on a particular flight, you will still be able to identify your luggage through extra labeling as well as your own luggage tag.

Luggage Won’t Burst Open

Especially hardsided luggage can burst open if it has been over packed or sometimes even if it’s being handled too roughly at the airport or during transit.

The plastic wrap stops overloaded suitcases from breaking and bursting open.

You don’t have to worry about zippers breaking and all of your contents falling out.

This is also a great solution for broken luggage that needs to sealed temporarily, i.e. to get it back home to you safely.

Great For Sports Equipment

Plastic wrapping is also an easy and cost-effective way to protect expensive sports equipment. It will also keep separate items together, such as golf clubs.

It will protect your sports equipment against rough handling as well as mishandling.

Any oversized item can also be plastic wrapped for extra protection.

Want Extra Protection On Top?

If that’s not enough protection you can have your plastic wrapped luggage packed securely in boxes. This is also a great idea for ski equipment or golf clubs, as it makes it harder to identify what’s inside and will deter thieves.

What Can Be Wrapped?

Suitcases in any size, bags, sports equipment, prams, wheelchairs or any odd shaped item, such as guitars.

Any luggage that’s deemed normal for an airline can be machine-wrapped, other items will be hand-wrapped.

The following video shows one of the luggage wrapping companies at their job:

DIY Plastic Wrap At Home?

Sure. Your household cling wrap will do the trick just fine. It is of course not as thick as the industrial strength plastic wrapping, but it will still offer a good amount of protection.

You can also purchase special luggage wrapping plastic.

Other options such as using duct tape will also provide protection. Some people swear by it. It will help repair, seal, hide and secure items.

Remember to bring the wrap (or duct tape) with you for the return-trip.

How To Wrap Your Luggage At Home

Begin in the center of the bag and wrap around it several times. You will have to hold the ends in place at first, so if someone can help you with the wrapping, it will be much easier.

Remember to pull the wrap tightly to get a tight seal.

After you have wrapped around the center several times, wrap the plastic around the sides, starting on the top going diagonally over the center to the bottom.

Finally wrap the bottom and the top of the bag. When you’re finished, every surface should be covered in plastic. Secure the ends with packing or duct tape.

The last thing you’ll need to do is cut out holes for handles and wheels for easy maneuvering.

Be sure not to accidentally cut your luggage in the process.

What about the Environment?

Most wrapping companies use non-toxic, environmentally-friendly plastic that’s 100% recyclable. To help out the environment you can unwrap your luggage and recycle the wrapping at the airport (where there are wrapping companies).

If you want extra protection with less impact on the environment, you could opt for a protective cover or have your luggage boxed (many times the wrapping companies also box items).

Where Can You Get Your Luggage Wrapped?

You can basically get your luggage wrapped at any major international airport (note that in the US there are only three airports that offer this service – Miami, Houston and New York). Many times the wrapping companies offer a pick up service should you have several items.

Are There Alternatives?

Yes. A great alternative to wrapping your luggage would be buying luggage that is of great quality, not over packing it, using luggage locks (TSA approved), using luggage belts and also protective covers.

What Happens If Security Opens Luggage?

Of course, it can happen that security or the TSA will open your luggage. Should your luggage be opened for any reason before you start your travel, many times the wrapping companies offer complimentary re-wrapping of your luggage.

Unfortunately it can happen that the TSA might open your luggage at other times and no, they won’t wrap it up again.

To Wrap Or Not To Wrap

Wrapping your luggage is definitely a great option for protecting it. The only reasons against it would be the extra cost each time (about $15 – $20 per item) as well as the hassle of recycling the wrapping afterwards.

And also, it might just make people aware that there might be something of worth in your bag (if it’s not the bag itself).

But the main reason not to wrap your plastic, is the one that sticks out the most, i.e. the amount of plastic used, which is recyclable, yes, but might not end up being recycled.

I will therefore opt for protective covers you can re-use every time you go somewhere.

They offer good protection against scuff marks and scratches. They look cute or funny or classy, whatever you choose really. They are the same cost as wrapping one piece of luggage once.

On top of that I always use locks and good quality luggage and I don’t over pack (I’d rather take an extra bag than have one of my suitcases break of my own fault).

Additionally you can use luggage belts to keep the suitcase from accidentally bursting open.

I usually don’t carry fragile items so I don’t have to worry about anything breaking or spilling inside my suitcase. I wrap things in my suitcase, or use packing boxes or laundry bags.

Well, there you have it. I’m a proclaimed non-wrapper.

14 Replies to “Plastic Wrap Luggage – To Wrap Or Not To Wrap?”

  1. When I travel, I see people who put their luggage in wrap, I feel its just something they want to do, I learnt it has benefits and here I am. Well, I think wrapping luggage’s is really cool. A very good security idea. So many pros to this one and since one can do it at home, its very awesome. The only thing I don’t like is it bad for environment. 

    1. Yes, it certainly has its benefits, but the damage to the environment is a really big problem. Have a look at protective covers instead. They look really nice and last forever and don’t cost a lot. 

  2. I am strongly against such excessive use of plastcs. First, it’s questionable whether you need extra protection for your luggage as luggage are itself a protection for items inside. Second, plastic only provides extra protection against light accidents like scratchesc etc. Should your bag be dropped or ran over by something, plastc is of no use.

    Third point is environmental. Plastic foil isn’t profitable to recycle and is a big problem for all the recycling companies.

    1. Yes, I’m absolutely with you on the topic of plastic! In terms of protection for you luggage, yes, there are bags that will break for some reason or other and you can do lots of things to protect them from it, apart from using plastic wrapping. 

  3. The last time I travelled by air, I came across an instance at the airport where a passenger was denying claims concerning a contraband that was found in his bag. Before I left, it was discovered that someone had torn the polyester material to put the material inside. To avoid such situations, its better to put forth better safety precautions and this plastic wrap for luggage is an excellent suggestion. For what is worth, it is an excellent addition and definitely has a lot of qualities. Thanks

    1. Those are exactly the reasons to consider wrapping it, or, if you want to do something for the environment, choose a hardsided suitcase or protective covers for your suitcase. 

  4. This is such a great article, thank you for this! I have had to wrap my luggage several times on my travels; once when I went to Bali, because it was a very long trip and had several stops along the way, and I was so worried about it being tampered with. The second time was when I went to Europe, because they broke my suitcase on the way there, and the only thing I could find to replace it was a soft bag, that I didn’t want getting damaged or broken into. Each time, it was SO expensive to wrap, I think I paid £12 for each item. I didn’t know you could get protective covers, so I might invest in one of those for next time, so I don’t get caught out!

    1. Yes, I think that’s a good idea, considering the price of wrapping each item each way. The protective covers do a good job and some of them are real eye-catchers!

  5. I can’t agree more with your points here, especially with the point that plastic-wrapping bags help to deter thieves from making an opportunist attempt open your bag and then look inside. If it occurs that the wrapping has to be removed first, then most thieves will move on to a much easier bag they can open. 

    I believe the reason why you won’t find many people using it is because it can’t be recycled which you have rightly stated. But then when I look at it’s advantages, I still opt for the plastic wrapping bag.

    Nice write-up.


  6. It’s absolutely a good idea to wrap for the extra protection it gives although I am a proclaimed non wrapper as well. It’s something good to put into consideration next time I will be traveling. Perhaps different weather conditions and season of the year would determine how important it is to wrap at the time.

    Also, the type of luggage can also demand whether to wrap or not. And yes the issue of security having to unwrap it every time can pose a great challenge to travelers. I like your witty style of writing, Petra. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome and thanks for the compliment. I think you’re right, there’s a place and time to wrap. Maybe in case of a broken piece of luggage to get it back home in one piece…

  7. This is amazing post and this plastic wrap luggage information comes in handy before traveling somewhere. 

    Like you have pointed out correctly in your post, by wrapping luggage at least it is most probable that thieves are not able to target the wrapped luggage at ease. 

    However doing wrap or not doing all generally depends on the situation, but I personally either wrap them or lock them up, as it is hassle and stress free traveling for me. I appreciate your informative blog  

    1. Locking is always a good idea anyway, in case someone has to take the wrapping off and can’t get it re-wrapped. I personally opt for secure luggage options and choose protective covers. 

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