As someone who has travelled extensively on business, protecting your possessions from theft is a constant challenge.
And with the longer queues, slower processing, and more complex security requirements, becoming separated from your valuables is easy.
So what to do?
This blog post from Flying With Fish provides some very good advice for air travellers. It is well worth a read.
I never release my carry-on trays through the x-ray machine until I am ready to cross through the metal detectors. I have heard and read about too many instances of people going through the scanning process to find their laptops, briefcases, etc., long gone.
A favorite trick is to have two thieves. One goes through the check cleanly and waits for his luggage to be scanned and returned through the conveyor belt. The second thief manages to forget that he has keys, then coins, and so on, in his pockets. With each beep, he has to stop, check his pockets, and return through the metal detector. Normally, those passengers right behind have already sent their gear through the conveyor belt. While thief two is being processed, thief one has his choice of two or three passengers’ bags.
So do not let your belongings out of your hands and eyes until the last possible moment.
And, yes, I realize that airport security always tells you to put the stuff through early and gets annoyed if you do not. No sense arguing with them. Instead, simply putter with your carry-ons as if you are rearranging things and are not ready to release them through the x-ray. Rather than harassing you, airport security will just think you are a fool that does not know how to fly and leave you alone.
I also like to store my valuables in my carry-ons before I get in the security queue. That way potential thieves cannot see what you have and where you have put it.
And I like to physically link my gear if possible. So if they grab my laptop, they may find a pair of shoes hanging from the handle as they try to walk away. Something that gets noticed by other passengers and airport staff.
It is not just the security checkpoint that can cause theft concerns. Washrooms, sitting in an airport cafe, and even at the boarding gate can all be prime locations for thieves.
Over the years I have migrated to Pacsafe travel products when on the road. While not perfect, they do make travelling more secure and have many additional uses outside air travel.
For example, they are of good use when staying in hotels or hostels that lack in room safes. They are also quite helpful when travelling by train.
I suggest you use something similar when you are travelling. Especially when you are alone and have no one else to keep an eye on things with you.