5 Apple AirTag Tips To Keep Your Stuff Safe When You Travel

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The holiday season is upon us. Schools are getting ready to wind down for the year and even the Scroogiest of offices are preparing to close up shop for the long holiday weekend. That means that soon airports and roads will be clogged with travelers.

Which also means bag thieves will be on the lookout as well.

The easiest way to make sure that you and your stuff stay together, or are reunited, is with Apple AirTags. These handy little locator tags integrate easily into iOS and are super-simple to use. Activate them, then stick them in whatever you want to track.

AirTags are nothing new at this point. In fact, you probably have a few already: attached to keychains, maybe shoved into the pocket of a backpack. But here are a few tips I’ve adopted over the past couple of years to ensure that they’re always ready and working when I need them.

Add AirTags to Everything

There was a time when this was a ridiculous suggestion, but now there are deals on the regular where you can pick up a 4-pack of AirTags for less than $80. At $20 per device, it’s completely reasonable to put an AirTag in your backpack or purse, your carry-on, your checked luggage, even your toiletry bag.

Just make sure that you label them well when you set them up. I’ll admit that I have three AirTags called “Anthony’s Luggage.” In order for me to figure out which is which, I have to activate each one. Which brings me to my next tip.

Check That They’re Working

Even if you’ve had AirTags for a while, you’ll want to open up the Find My app and go to the Items tab. There you’ll see all the AirTags that you’ve associated with your Apple ID. If they’re currently functional, they should refresh their location after a few seconds.

If, however, the battery’s run out, they won’t report a location at all (or will show their last location before shutting down). You’ll need to hunt those AirTags down and reactivate them. And since you’ve already got a fresh pack of batteries…

Replace the Batteries Anyway

Maybe not if you’ve just activated your AirTags but putting fresh batteries in your AirTags on a regular basis is a good way to ensure that they work properly when you’re away from home (and can’t easily replace them).

Apple used to have a battery life indicator on the AirTag menu but removed it in iOS 15.6. Now, you’ll only get a low battery indicator message, along with an icon on the AirTag’s menu in the Find My app. Both are easily missable (which is why I’ve got two bags that aren’t reporting a location).

It’s an easy process to replace your AirTag batteries. So rather than be surprised unpleasantly on the road, do it while you’re thinking about it.

Do a Test Run

Got the batteries replaced and your bags labeled properly? Great! Now’s the fun part. Activate each one and get used to finding them. Stick your bag on the other side of the house and click the Play Sound button or Find button if you want your iPhone to lead you to your “lost” bag.

Now’s a good time to get familiar with the other options in the AirTag menu, like enabling Lost mode—which lets you add a message to the AirTag information in case someone finds it and checks. Which is asking a lot, since most people don’t know that you can identify an AirTag that you find with the Find My app…but there’s always hope it’ll fall into the hands of someone tech savvy.

Upgrade Your Bags

You’re rolling your eyes, I know you are, but hear me out. The AirTag shoved into a sock in your shoe in your bag isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. You lose track of where you put them at best and at worst bury them so far in your luggage that it can barely get a signal out.

What you need is a bag with a dedicated AirTag pocket right that’s tucked away, but also easy to access, and that doesn’t impede its signal. Some companies have a dedicated AirTag window…but that just gives thieves a convenient place to target when they want to disable your tracker.

My favorite new bags are from Ridge, mainly because they’ve got an extremely clear spot on both their carry-on and their backpack for your AirTag. Plus, they come in the most eye-searing orange you’ve ever seen. You’re going to have to actively work to lose these bags.

Plus, they’ve got some seriously nice features. The Carry-On luggage and Commuter backpack are weatherproof and waterproof, made from tough polycarbonate and ballistic nylon, respectively. The Carry-On has tons of room, with a telescoping handle and smooth-rolling wheels. The Commuter backpack has padded pockets for your tech as well as a hidden RFID-blocking pocket.

Both bags have hidden pockets just for tracking devices like Apple AirTags (incidentally, I just discovered that my favorite backpack from Mous has one as well…forgot to mention that in the review). Just make sure that you rip off the tear-away tags that mark them. There are other nice features in the Commuter backpack, especially, like a removable interior shelf and two-way access so that you can get to the main compartment from the top or front.

Both also come in Base Camp Orange, a pleasingly vibrant tone that’ll ensure you can pick your bag out in a sea of black and silver luggage. They’re currently on sale as a set for $430. Ridge also has packing cubes, matching toiletry bags, and tons of other EDC accessories (like their metal wallets).

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