I’m not exactly a calm, cool, or collected traveler.
It’s not for lack of trying: I always try breezing through the airport as if I know exactly where I’m supposed to go. I download my boarding pass to my phone like a real millennial, and I kick off my shoes and jacket as quickly as humanly possible while going through security so as not to hold up the line.
But the truth is, my first airplane ride was at 17 when I went on a school trip to Washington, D.C., and I didn’t fly again until I was 21 and going to California for the first time.
All of this to say: I am not a traveling pro by any stretch of the imagination, so I eagerly accept any little little hacks that can make traveling easier.
So when luggage startup Away offered to let me try a new high-tech luggage tag it created in partnership with Bluetooth tracking company Tile, I decided to give it a shot. The tag looks like any other luggage tag, but it has a narrow slot in the back for a Tile Slim. For anyone with an Away suitcase, the new tag looks almost identical, but it’s a bit bigger and a bit heavier duty.
I tested the new tag on a recent trip to Los Angeles. While I was lucky to snag a non-stop flight last-minute, I had a problem: Because I chose United’s new Basic Economy fair, I was required to check a bag.
This was a frightening proposition for two reasons: I never check bags because that adds to the hassle of finding it once I disembark, plus it adds time waiting around at the airport. I’m not a seasoned traveler, so I’d rather just keep my suitcase with me at all times and avoid an added layer of confusion, even if it means dealing with tiny liquids.
My other worry was a thought everyone has when checking a bag: What if the airline loses it?
Thanks to this new Tile tag, though, that fear quickly dissipated. All I needed to do was download the Tile app, activate my device, and pair it with my iPhone. My phone communicated with the Tile using Bluetooth: If my bag was too far away from me, I got a push alert as soon my phone couldn’t find my luggage. I could also open the app and locate the last-known location of my suitcase.
The tag works both ways, too. If I had my luggage but couldn’t find my phone, all I had to do was squeeze the Tile and it would cause my phone to ring loudly.
There’s only one downside of Tile, and other Bluetooth trackers like it: Since the tracking capabilities rely on Bluetooth technology, it’s dependent on you having access to the app and having Bluetooth turned on. If your phone is inside your suitcase and you lose your suitcase, you’re out of luck until you can get on the app on another device. Still, having any type of tracking device is better than nothing.
The tag could be attached to any other bag or backpack you’d like to keep tabs on, and you can also slide the Tile out of the tag and place it inside a wallet or purse. The Tile should last for about a year without needing to be charged.
Away x Tile costs $30. You can learn more on Away’s website.