Ignorance is….bliss?

So I thought that after traveling this summer, I’d post a bit about tracking our luggage and why, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Let’s start with the fact that this summer was a bit of a mess when it comes to flying. There were flight cancellations galore, eternity-long waits to get through security (and customs/immigration), and innumerable amounts of lost suitcases, but we’ll be focusing on the lost luggage bit.

Someone somewhere threw out an idea on Twitter or some such place on the internet of throwing an Apple AirTag into your suitcase to keep track of it. AirTags have gone through a few rises and a few falls after discovering that people were being absolutely disgusting and creepy and slipping them into women’s coats, purses, cars, etc. to be able to follow them (Apple has apparently addressed this as you’re supposed to receive an update that there’s an unknown AirTag with you, but I’m not sure how well it really works in practice).

Yet aside from knowing where my car keys are or wallet or purse, throwing one of these little tags into a suitcase helped someone realize they could track their luggage better than the airlines themselves. You’re given more information than you would normally ever have. Using AirTags even helped someone in Florida recover their luggage after it was discovered an airline employee was stealing bags and taking them home to pilfer through and take any valuables.

I decided to try this myself as we embarked on a trip to, around, and from Europe and the US. And yes! It worked! I was able to see exactly where my bags were and while AirTags don’t update every second (more on this later) I had a great idea of where my bags were and could see they were following me through airport terminals and from city to city. It gave me great peace of mind knowing that at least if the airlines lost my luggage, I’d know where it was and be able to offer that information to them to get it back to me.

The United States Postal Service has a feature, which is quite handy, called “Informed Delivery”. What it does is send you an email each morning containing the scanned contents of what you will be receiving in your mailbox that day. This is a wonderful feature when you are expecting something important or from a family member or just generally like to know what to expect. I enrolled in this program some years ago and found that I enjoyed it until one day, at work, I checked the email to see I was receiving something from the IRS, something I was not expecting. What was it? Was I being audited? Had I forgotten to file my taxes and they were letting me know in mid-October? Had I accidentally committed a crime? I spent the entire day trying to teach my students wondering what I had done to receive something from the IRS. It turns out I had logged into my account and they were letting me know, but this happened more than once with other agencies or accounts, and each time it caused undue stress. I was given both too much and too little information regarding my mail thus ruining my day. Though I still use this service, on those kinds of days, ignorance is certainly bliss.

I suppose you’re wondering how this relates to travel. Well, I quickly discovered that, like Informed Delivery, using AirTags in my luggage provided both too much and too little information and could certainly be useful but could also stress me out to no end. As I mentioned above, AirTags do not update every second, but rather about every 30-60 minutes meaning there can be a real delay between where they are and what you see on your phone. You’ll also receive notifications when they are “left behind”.

All of this led to my incessant checking of where the bags were and when say, I arrived in O’Hare and whilst standing and baggage claim received a notification telling me my luggage was found in Lisbon, Portugal, I naturally lost my mind and went into full stress mode. It was no longer, “great I know where my luggage is and I can help the airlines to retrieve it”, but instead “oh god, now I have to deal with this” and “what if they can’t it get back to me” or “what if they actually lose it?”. I was being given too much and too little information via the AirTags. This happened more than once and each time, luckily, the AirTags simply needed to update their location, but overall it caused a bit more stress than I would have liked during an already stressful travel season.

To paraphrase Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great stress”. I still absolutely advocate for using AirTags when traveling. It did, in the grand scheme of it all, give me peace of mind and comfort. I don’t, however, advocate for incessantly checking your app to see where your luggage is. Know that checking won’t help the airlines retain your luggage to your final destination, but instead give you the power to help retrieve it should they not make it. Let ignorance be blissful.

Use the AirTags (or other trackers) in your bags and like Ron Popeil’s infomercial of the mid-90’s, just “set it and forget it”.

Published by Team McGregor

Living and teaching in the Middle East - previously in China, South Korea, and Hawaii (US). This is our blog dedicated to our travels and life living abroad...as well as some other fun stuff!

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