Plastic wrap being cut up

Should You Plastic Wrap Your Luggage?

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Traveling by air can be stressful enough, without having to worry about your luggage getting damaged, dirty, or stolen. That’s why some travelers choose to wrap their luggage in plastic before checking it in at the airport.

But is this a good idea? What are the benefits and drawbacks of wrapping your luggage in plastic? And how can you do it yourself if you want to try it?

In this post, we’ll answer these questions and more.

What is Baggage Wrapping?

Wrapping luggage in plastic is a service offered by some companies at airports around the world, such as Seal & Go, TrueStar, and Secure Wrap. They use industrial-strength plastic wrap or cling film to cover your suitcase or backpack in several layers of plastic, creating a tight seal around your bag. The process takes about a minute and costs between $10 to $40 per bag, depending on the size and shape of your luggage.

Why Wrap Your Luggage in Plastic?

There are several reasons why wrapping your luggage in plastic can be beneficial for travelers, such as:

Can Prevent Theft

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can make it harder for thieves to access your belongings or tamper with your locks. It can also discourage them from targeting your bag, as they might prefer an easier target.

Protect Your Bag

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can shield it from dirt, dust, water, and scratches that might occur during handling or transportation. It can also prevent your bag from bursting open if your zipper breaks or gets caught on something.

Easily Identify Your Bag

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can make it easier to spot your bag on the baggage carousel, especially if you use a brightly colored wrap or add some stickers or labels to it.

Trace Your Bag

Bags wrapped by Seal & Go, TrueStar, and Secure Wrap all receive a free sticker that allows the bag to be traced.

Peace of Mind

Probably the most popular reason to use the plastic wrapping service is to have peace of mind while traveling. Knowing that your luggage is protected and secure can make you feel more relaxed and confident.

Save Time

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can also save you some time when packing and unpacking. You don’t have to worry about organizing your items neatly or using packing cubes or bags. You just have to put everything in your suitcase and wrap it up. When you arrive at your destination, you just have to unwrap it and take out what you need.

Preserve Hygiene

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can also help you maintain hygiene and cleanliness during your trip. This has become an increasing concern traveling in a post-pandemic world.

You don’t have to touch other people’s bags or surfaces that might be contaminated with germs or viruses. You also don’t have to expose your bag to insects or vermin that might crawl into it.

What Are the Drawbacks of Wrapping Luggage in Plastic?

While wrapping luggage in plastic can have some advantages, it also has some disadvantages, such as:


Wrapping your luggage in plastic can be expensive, especially if you do it at the airport. Depending on the size and shape of your bag, it can cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per bag. If you do it at home, you will need to buy some stretch wrap or plastic wrap for luggage, which can also add up over time.


Wrapping your luggage in plastic can generate a lot of plastic waste, which is not good for the environment. Some wraps are recyclable, but not all recycling centers accept them. You will also need to dispose of the wrap after each trip, which can be inconvenient and messy.


Wrapping your luggage in plastic can cause some issues with security checks at the airport. Some security agents might ask you to remove the wrap or cut it open to inspect your bag, which can defeat the purpose of wrapping it in the first place.

Hot Tip: Check the Transportation’s Security Administration (TSA), your airline, and your destination’s customs rules (if you’re traveling outside the continental US) for what items aren’t allowed in your baggage. This will decrease the chance of your luggage being chosen for manual inspection.

You might also have to re-wrap your bag after the security check, which can be time-consuming and costly.

However, many luggage wrapping services offer a free rewrapping service if the TSA removes your luggage wrapping to inspect the bag. However, this only applies to carry-on baggage.

No Access to the Contents of Your Luggage

Wrapping your luggage in plastic can also make it harder for you to access your bag when you need to.

For example, if your bag is overweight, you will have to unwrap it and remove some items before checking it in. The same goes if you need to get something from your bag during your trip.

How to Wrap Your Luggage in Plastic at Home

While many airports offer professional luggage-wrapping services, you can also achieve the same results by doing it yourself at home.

Caution: Some airlines won’t accept luggage that was wrapped at home – they will only accept bags that were wrapped by an official wrapping service. Check with your airline before you consider wrapping it yourself.

Materials Needed

Plastic Wrap

Purchase a roll of high-quality, transparent plastic wrap. Look for a durable option that can withstand the rigors of travel.

Your Luggage

Ensure your luggage is clean, and properly packed before wrapping it. Remove any loose straps or accessories that may get tangled during the process.

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Clear the Workspace

Find a clean and spacious area to set up your wrapping station. It could be a table or any other flat surface. Make sure there is enough room to move around your luggage comfortably.

2. Prepare the Luggage

Before wrapping, make sure your luggage is ready for the process. Remove any loose straps, tags, or accessories that could hinder the wrapping or potentially damage the plastic wrap.

3. Start at the Center

Place the end of the wrap in the middle of one of the larger sides of your bag and wrap it around while holding the end. When the wrap comes around and touches the end, it will stick to it and hold it in place.

4. Pull Tight

As you wrap your bag, pull the wrap tight as you can to create a snug seal on your bag. This will ensure that the layers of plastic stick together and don’t come loose.

5. Wrap in Layers

Move downwards wrapping the luggage in overlapping layers of plastic wrap. The layers should be tight and secure, without being overly constricting. Avoid leaving any gaps or loose sections that could compromise the overall protection.

Do the same with the upper half of your luggage.

5. Pay Attention to Corners and Edges

When wrapping corners or edges, take extra care to ensure the plastic wrap is snugly secured. Press the plastic wrap against the corners and fold it neatly to create a tight seal.

6. Secure the Handles

If your luggage has handles, reinforce them by wrapping additional layers of plastic wrap around them. This will provide extra protection against accidental damage or snags during transportation.

7. Repeat the Process

Continue wrapping your luggage in layers until you have covered the entire surface. Make sure the plastic wrap extends to the bottom of the luggage, effectively sealing it from all sides.

8. Seal the Loose End

Once you have wrapped the entire luggage, secure the loose end of the plastic wrap by tucking it under one of the layers or using a small piece of tape. This will prevent the plastic wrap from unraveling during transit.

9. Inspect the Wrapped Luggage

Take a few moments to inspect your wrapped luggage. Ensure there are no gaps, loose sections, or areas where the plastic wrap could easily tear or become undone. Make any necessary adjustments to reinforce the wrapping.

10. Label Your Luggage

Before you head to the airport, remember to label your luggage with your name and contact information. This will help identify your luggage and assist in its retrieval if misplaced.

Alternatives to Plastic Wrap

Wrapping your luggage in plastic wrap isn’t very eco-friendly, as it creates a lot of plastic waste.

Also, plastic wrapping can be expensive and time-consuming, and it does not guarantee that your luggage will be safe from damage or loss.

So, what are some alternatives to plastic wrapping your luggage? Here are some ideas:

Use a Luggage Cover

A luggage cover is a reusable fabric sleeve that fits over your suitcase and zips up. It can protect your luggage from dirt and scratches, and it can also make it easier to identify your luggage on the baggage carousel.

Some luggage covers also have locks or straps to prevent theft or tampering. You can buy a luggage cover online or at travel stores, or you can make your own by sewing an old pillowcase or a t-shirt.

Use a Hard-Shell Suitcase

A hard-shell suitcase is made of durable materials such as polycarbonate or aluminum that can withstand impacts and abrasions. It can also protect your belongings from water and dust.

Read: Amazon Basics 30-Inch Hardside Spinner Review

A hard-shell suitcase can be more expensive and heavier than a soft-shell one, but it can last longer and save you money and hassle in the long run.

Use a Luggage Lock

A luggage lock can secure the zippers of your suitcase and discourage thieves from opening it.

However, be aware that some airports may require you to open your suitcase for inspection, so you should use a TSA-approved lock that can be easily opened by security staff.

Use Stickers or Luggage Tags

Stickers or luggage tags can personalize your luggage and make it stand out from the crowd. You can use stickers or tags that reflect your personality, interests, hobbies, or destinations.

More importantly, you can use stickers or tags that have your name and contact details in case your luggage gets lost or misplaced.

Use Biodegradable Plastic Wrap

Biodegradable plastic wrap is a type of plastic film that can decompose naturally in the environment without leaving harmful residues. It can offer the same benefits as regular plastic wrap, such as protecting your luggage from dirt and damage, but with less environmental impact.

You can buy biodegradable plastic wrap online or at eco-friendly stores, or you can look for airport services that offer this option.

Wrapping Up

Wrapping your luggage in plastic is a personal choice that depends on your preferences, budget, and travel needs. It can offer some protection and security for your bag, but it can also have some drawbacks and environmental impacts. You can weigh the pros and cons of this technique and decide whether it is worth it for you. Alternatively, you can explore other ways to protect your luggage without using plastic wrap.

Personally, I’ve never wrapped my luggage in plastic wrap, but I can understand why people choose to. As mentioned within the post, probably the most important reason why people choose to is for peace of mind. And that can’t be underestimated. Flying is stressful enough without having to worry about your luggage.


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