One of the best features offered in high tech smart luggage is the ability to locate your luggage via inbuilt apps.
It’s not something you need to often do, but being able to locate your bags is a great safety net when the inevitable happens — in 2018 nearly 25 million bags were lost by airlines!
GPS bag tags are a great way to replicate this tracking feature — often only found on the most expensive smart luggage — for a fraction of the price.
This article will look at how these clever luggage tags work, what to watch out for and buying advice, alongside providing an alternative to GPS bag tags.
How do GPS bag tags work?
GPS luggage trackers work in three ways — however the overarching premises are very similar! They all work on triangulation of your position from at least three known points.
The three types of navigation networks:
- GSM Networks
- GPS networks
- Hybrid GPS and GSM
But what does this mean?!
GPS tracking devices utilise a network of at least 24 satellites orbiting the globe to work out exactly where they are placed. Your luggage trackers position is a triangulation from satellites.
The technical details are quite in-depth, but there’s a great overview here:
This is a very accurate system, and can locate your luggage to within 7 meters anywhere in the world.
GSM tracking is a similar concept, except instead of using satellites to triangulate your position, the bag tags use cellular phone masts.
This system is more accurate than GPS tracking in areas with a high density of phone masts, but less accurate overall.
The most accurate gps bag tags will use a hybrid system. These bag tags rely on more accurate GPS signals alongside GSM locating to provide you with the most accurate location.
Buying a GPS bag tag — What to watch out for
An alternative to GPS bag tags
One alternative to GPS smart tags that is growing in popularity are bluetooth bag tags. This new breed of clever luggage tags offer similar features to GPS bag tags but without ongoing network costs.
These luggage tags use bluetooth for position triangulation and to share their location with your phone via a process known as crowdsourced locating.
There are three main drawbacks:
- Location is less accurate
- Only works in high density areas
- Location is not on-demand or realtime
Despite the drawbacks, bluetooth bag tags offer a wealth of benefits and if the ongoing cost of GPS trackers put you off — you should seriously consider them as an alternative.
Summary — GPS trackers and your luggage
GPS smart luggage trackers are a great way to have a piece of mind over your luggage, and can be a lifesaver on occasions when it goes missing.
The ability to track your bags doesn’t just extend to the airport.
With GPS bag tag’s becoming increasingly light and portable, you can ensure your bag, wallet or even keys are always to be found when you are not using your tracker with your smart luggage.
This convenience does come at a cost — in the form of an ongoing monthly contract — which is a disadvantage over bluetooth trackers. However, smart GPS tags come with many advantages in terms of accuracy and real time updating.
Here’s a final roundup of all the things to be aware of when choosing the right GPS bag tag:
- Type: GPS / GSM or Hybrid
- Battery: Rechargeable, multiple power modes, ideally replaceable
- Aircraft compatibility and flight safe compliance
- Value for money: Consider ongoing cellular costs with purchase price
- Brand: Choose a well established and reputable brand
- Overseas coverage of data — especially if you travel to southeast Asia frequently