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The 3 best luggage trackers, according to frequent travelers

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For all the fun and adventure it offers, there are still some hassles that are inherent to travel — jet lag and lost luggage being chief among them. Interestingly, scientists have run experiments to try to minimize jet lag on flights by timing snacks and setting in-cabin lighting cues that encourage wakefulness and sleep at certain intervals while in the air. Finding a lost bag, however, is a little less complicated, thanks to the best luggage trackers, which use GPS, Bluetooth, or other technology to help you keep tabs on your suitcase from your smartphone. These trackers also offer adequate battery life, so you can be sure they'll last you through your journey.

Most luggage trackers use one or more types of location technology, and they all have different strengths:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers use satellite technology to precisely pinpoint locations, and while they’re generally very accurate, there’s a chance the device may have trouble collecting info in dense areas (think: tall buildings). Another downside: They tend to eat up a lot of battery, so you'll need to recharge fairly regularly.
  • Global system for mobile communication (GSM) trackers connect to mobile network base stations (like cell towers) and although their location tracking is less precise than GPS, they can maintain their tracking power in dense areas.
  • Bluetooth trackers are used for tracking within a few hundred feet — so they’re great if you’ve simply misplaced your bag in the airport — and some can crowd-source the location of your lost luggage if you’re out of the Bluetooth range. The big benefit? Bluetooth boasts a long battery life.

Another consideration: Most GPS and GSM trackers require a monthly subscription, much like your cell phone, so you’ll want to factor that into the purchase price. Want to save money? The Bluetooth tracker on this list operates without a subscription. So if you're ready to add some peace of mind to your next trip, read on for the best luggage trackers on Amazon to help you keep an eye on your bags — and get them back in a hurry.

1. The most comprehensive tracker

Subscription required: Yes (starting at $9.95 per month)

Location technology: GPS, GSM, Bluetooth

What makes it great: The affordable Tracki real-time GPS tracker is a best-seller on Amazon, and the brand has earned rave reviews for its customer service. The compact, lightweight device is discreet enough to stash anywhere in your luggage, and the tracker uses four kinds of technology: GPS for precise satellite tracking, GSM to cut through any dense areas (with a SIM card that works worldwide), Wi-Fi for indoor tracking (which is helpful if cell service is spotty), and Bluetooth for the last 100 feet.

Tracki’s customizable smartphone app lets you keep tabs on luggage, and you can opt to receive notifications via the app, SMS message, or email. The one drawback: The rechargeable battery has a fairly short life, lasting only two or three days when tracking in real-time, or about a month when tracking intermittently. Nonetheless, it may be worth it, given this option's impressive coverage. The tracker is compliant with federal regulations for use on commercial airlines, and a bag clip and magnet are included.

According to a reviewer: “I did a lot of holiday air travel and placed this in my luggage...just in case. I was able to pinpoint my luggage at any given time and place. Service prices are reasonable and the device is intuitive. Good purchase!”

2. A tracker with a low-cost subscription

Subscription required: Yes (starting at $6.33 per month after a one-week trial)

Location technology: GSM, Bluetooth

What makes it great: If you're a frequent flyer who wants GSM tracking without high subscription fees, it may be worth spending a little more upfront for this global luggage tracker. It tracks in real-time using GSM (international SIM card included), Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi — which is helpful if you're out of cell range but have Wi-Fi access. The smartphone app lets you track the location on a map, and you'll receive instant notifications if your suitcase travels outside your "safe zone." The compact tracker is about the size of a credit card and compliant with air travel regulations, so you should have no trouble placing it inside your luggage. The rechargeable battery lasts 10 to 20 days at a time, depending on usage, but keep in mind that you won't be getting the pinpoint accuracy of GPS technology. This option complies with local and federal air travel regulations, according to the brand.

According to a reviewer: “Very easy to use and works as described. Bought it to track my luggage for a business trip next week. The app works great. Tracking accuracy is on point and I was very impressed by the battery life.”

3. The best Bluetooth tracker

Subscription required: No (but you can upgrade to Premium for extra features)

Location technology: Bluetooth

What makes it great: The Tile Pro is a cult-favorite Bluetooth tracker that allows you to use your phone to ring the device when it’s within 400 feet. When outside of the Bluetooth range, you can use the smartphone app to view your Tile’s last known location on a map. Keep in mind, though, once you're out of Bluetooth range, you won't get any real-time tracking info the way you would with GPS or GSM, and if your luggage truly gets lost, you'll need to rely on the app's crowd-finding feature in order to locate it, which is only effective if there are other Tile users in the vicinity of your suitcase. But once your suitcase is within Bluetooth range, you can easily locate it by using your phone to ring the Tile. One more thing to note: You won't get notifications if you leave your item behind, unless you sign up for Tile Premium — their upgraded subscription service.

The Tile Pro is super slim and easy to stash in your luggage, and it also has a built-in loop, so you can attach it to a bag or keyring. The battery lasts about one year (perfect for anyone who doesn't want to deal with remembering to recharge), and it's replaceable at a low cost. There's no low-battery alert, but Tile will notify you via the app when the tracker is approaching its year of service life.

While the device is TSA-compliant and Bluetooth devices are allowed on most airlines, Tile recommends checking with your airline to avoid complications. Choose from packs of one, two, or four, so you have a Tile for every piece of luggage.

According to a reviewer: “These are great! They are easy to set up and slim enough to put everywhere. I have one on my keys, two on my luggage and another in my passport case. They're loud and work every time.”

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