Why AirTags are the Ultimate Spring Break Travel Companion
The spring break season is in full swing. Whether it’s a trip to an all-inclusive resort with the family, an Airbnb stay with friends in the mountains, or a romantic seaside getaway, spring break is a great time to travel.
To be honest, I’m good at losing things strategically – or rather, losing things in style. (I hope you enjoy the “Toy Story” reference.) So when a product arrives, it’s a perfect way to keep track of my stuff – especially when I’m traveling – I add it to my bag of travel.
I’ve been a big fan of Apple’s $29 item tracker, dubbed AirTag. The long-rumored AirTag product finally launched last spring, and while it’s not the first item tracker to exist, it has two key features that set it apart. from others to make it the ultimate travel companion: access to the Find My network and Precision Find technology.
But what makes it so special? Let’s explain why.
The ultimate travel companion
The Apple AirTag is the perfect tool to take with you on your next trip. Its functionality and size will allow you to never lose track of your bag on the go.
The most important thing to know about the AirTag is that it works on Apple’s Find My network. It’s the same network that powers Find My for all your Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, AirPods and Mac. It’s a tool that makes it easy to locate your device exactly and even emits a tone for easy location.
It is also the sheer size of the network that gives the object tracker an edge. The Find My network is made up of over a billion connected devices. So when you’re walking through an airport and there’s an AirTag in your luggage, it can be pinged by devices that make up that network and locate yours on a map. In our tests, it was more reliable and faster to update than a competing Tile tracker.
Now, in a fairly dense area like an airport – say Newark Liberty International (EWR) or New York-Kennedy (JFK) – having so many devices around allows for frequent updates of your AirTag’s location, allowing for tracking more precise location. The opposite can be said for a rural location in New Jersey compared to New York. The more devices your AirTag can reach, the more accurate and up-to-date the AirTag’s location.
And yes, you need an iPhone to use AirTag. You can set it up by holding it near your iPhone and using the onscreen prompts to name it and link it to your Apple ID. Now, from a privacy perspective, Apple has released updates to address common issues with smart trackers and some of the larger harassment issues with the AirTag.
Currently, you’ll be notified if your iPhone finds an AirTag near you that isn’t registered, as well as a notification if you leave without an AirTag registered to you. Apple is working to speed up these notifications. Later this year, via an over-the-air update, the “Precision Search” feature will locate an unwanted or unregistered AirTag near you. Apple has also released a Tracker Detection app in the Play Store for Android, which can be used to find an AirTag that might be around you without an iPhone. Apple will also make it more apparent when setting up an AirTag that there are negative use cases and ways to report them to authorities.
In my first tests of AirTag, I flew from Newark to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), and it was a very good test. I placed an AirTag in the inside pocket of my suitcase and said goodbye while checking the luggage. I also had one in a leather loop on my backpack.
In the Find My app on my iPhone, I was able to select “Jake’s luggage” and view it on a map. I could see where my luggage was in real time – always in front of Newark airport. And even though I had no physical line of sight to my luggage, I had peace of mind that they were on their way to meet me at my final destination.
And sure enough, when I checked it a bit later at the gate, the luggage was closer to the plane. By the time I boarded and was sitting in my seat cradling a pair of AirPods Max, I could see the luggage was safely below me and a little further in the hold of the plane – it looked like I had a better seat than my suitcase. And although airplane mode was required on the plane, even as we flew over the east coast of the United States, I could see the baggage AirTag updating in real time.
In the end, it’s the peace of mind during the flight that the AirTag gave me, and it’s far more than what I previously got while traveling. Adding $29 AirTag has actually reduced my stress. And when it came time to disembark and make my way through PBI to baggage claim, I kept tabs on my bags in the Find My app. The update was a bit slower as I walked around a fairly quiet terminal, but I could at least understand that my bag was on the ground.
While I was hoping the carousel would have been confusing enough to use Precision Finding, I was able to immediately spot my red Away bag. Precision Finding uses augmented reality, or AR, to give you large directional arrows as well as distances to find your AirTag on an iPhone 11 or newer. It’s pretty awesome and a game-changer for object trackers to deliver such precision.
If you want to supercharge the AirTag as the ultimate travel companion, it’s worth checking to see if your airline offers its own baggage tracking services. For example, Delta will keep tabs on your bag and update you through its app for Android or iOS. In it, you can track the luggage attached to your itinerary as it is scanned at each stage of the journey and work its way through the airport and onto the plane.
From dropping your bag off at check-in until it’s loaded onto the plane and then onto the baggage claim carousel, AirTag combined with an airline’s baggage tracking app feels like a superpower.
The only drawback of the AirTag? There is no built-in key fob hole, like on the Chipolo or Tile tracker, which is a flaw. Keep in mind that while you’re spending $29 on the tracker, then you’ll want to get an accessory specifically to make it travel-friendly.
If you have a pocket or a safe place to store the AirTag in your luggage, you don’t necessarily need an additional accessory. But considering it’ll be strapped to your luggage, we think it’s worth the investment of a keychain or loop accessory. We’ve rounded up a plethora of AirTag accessories, from lanyards to keychains, and even some you can personalize.
One of our favorites is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which physically clamps the AirTag and ensures it won’t fall out. It will cost you around $12.95, which is much cheaper than Apple’s Leather Keychain or Leather Loop.
The perfect AirTag accessory
If you’re traveling with an AirTag, you don’t want to lose it in your luggage. Consider this secure AirTag holder and lock it in place on your bag so it doesn’t get misplaced.
Although I haven’t physically lost my luggage with an AirTag attached, I have used it for a few trips and use one on my keys every day. If you’re good at losing things in style or have a habit of misplacing them – and you have an iPhone – the AirTag makes a lot of sense. And since you’re doing the final packing checks before spring break, it’s worth spending a little extra and getting an AirTag for peace of mind alone.
And if you’re going to see family, you can get four AirTags for $99 if you feel like giving. Otherwise, get one for $29.
AirTags for the whole family
If you want to make sure the whole family is able to track their luggage during spring break, consider a four-pack of AirTags.
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