Technology has become such an everyday part of our lives that we’re traveling with more than ever before. From phones to digital camera, tablets, laptops, and kindles, tech is something that every traveler packs.
Losing or damaging your tech is a worst nightmare, especially when you’re traveling, and unable to replace or fix it, being so far away from home. But every year thousands of smart phones alone are lost, stolen, or damaged while on vacation.
Considering the expense of personal technology, the inconvenience of losing your boarding passes, photos, and contacts, and the security risks of having your personal data and information available for hack, it’s imperative to protect your tech and electronics.
Here are some very simple steps. Basic? Yes. But we’ve found that the most basic tips are those that travelers most often forget (or take for granted).
The Best Ways to Protect Your Tech (While Traveling)
#1 Get a Case
One of the most obvious steps to keeping your technology safe while traveling should be buying a case. Because I am yet to meet a human being who hasn’t dropped their phone, their iPad, or their camera.
Dropping and breaking devices is all too common when traveling. From the journey itself to sightseeing once you get there, there are dozens of potential moments for tech to slip out of your hands and crash to the ground.
The smart way to protect your devices during the hustle and bustle of your journey is to invest in a case. And there’s no excuse, because there are cases now for everything. From kindles to hard-drives, and laptops, a huge variety of protective hardware exists.
Accessories like stunning Samsung Galaxy S10E cases or multi-functional laptop bags are some of the available options out there you can choose from. While it won’t completely protect your devices in all scenarios, they’re a great first layer of protective barrier against the majority of accidents.
#2 Track Your Tech
If you have more than one piece of technology, odds are that you can track their location from the other. Dozens of tracker apps have become popular alternatives for those of us who regularly or accidentally lose our tech.
Installing the app allows you to track a device from your phone, laptop, or tablet, just by visiting the app’s website. But physical trackers, like Tile, are also rising in popularity.
The physical trackers also use an app installed on your device, and track items they are attached to. This tracker is normally used for non-tech devices, like your keys, however, it can be a great option to keep track of a camera or bag of camera accessories.
Most of the time, it’s just the fact that you’ve lost it – travel can be hectic and distracting, and it’s all too common for people to leave something behind, maybe it slipped out in the plane overhead locker as you were disembarking.
That said, theft is a big business all around the world, and vulnerable tourists are often the main target. Having a tracking app can successfully aid police in recovering your items.
#3 Back Up EVERYTHING
If your device is lost, stolen, or damaged for good, don’t lose your data on top of your physical device. While a back-up can’t protect the functionality or condition of your tech, most of the time it’s what we have on them that is the most valuable to us.
Regularly back-up your tech so that in the case of an accident, you can still retrieve the pictures, writings, contacts and documents you have saved. These backups can be stored on cloud platforms or physical devices like an external hard drive or USB.
Once you get a new device, you can upload your old data, or just keep it safe in your backups for future use. We recommend traveling with a backup of important documents on a USB, even if you leave your main backup system at home.
Remember that when traveling you won’t always have access to a WiFi connection, so if you find yourself disconnected and your documents are all backed up on the cloud, a USB can come in very handy.
#4 Insure EVERYTHING
While the cost of travel may already be weighing on your pockets, travel insurance is well worth the extra expense. Each policy is different, but most offer an option that protects your personal belongings.
When you consider that cameras are worth thousands of dollars, phones equally as much, laptops probably double that, the $40 or $50 you’ll spend on travel insurance is always worth it!
Coverage ranges from accidents, loss, or theft, and some policies even bundle that protection with health insurance abroad. We recommend insurance with World Nomads.
Insurance with World Nomads covers the most complete range of adventure activities of any other insurer, so even if your tech is smashed while you’re bungee jumping, sailing, or skiing (click here for a full range of activities they cover) you’ll be adequately covered.
#5 Protect Your Data With a VPN
While the physical safety of your devices is important, it’s equally as important to protect the data you have stored on it; everything from your passwords, to credit cards numbers, and bank account details.
Travelers are more susceptible to malicious attacks and identity theft because we constantly connect to open WiFi networks. Whether at the airport, a hotel, or a café, unprotected networks tempt us at every step of the way, and our mobile phones are usually the easiest to connect.
But when you connect to an unprotected network (one that doesn’t require a password), it’s very easy for hackers to intercept your connection and access your phone data. In some cases, people set up an open network just to snare unsuspecting travelers.
A high-quality VPN is one of the most useful tools you can have to keep your information secure when logged onto public WiFi. It encrypts your traffic so that criminals using the same network won’t be able to access your information, or even detect your presence.
VPN’s like Hotspot Shield allow multiple downloads for simultaneous use on your desktop, phone and iPad, so this is by far the best VPN we can recommend for traveling.
#6 Don’t Leave Your Devices Unattended
How many times have you heard airport security bark instructions not to leave your bags unattended? The same logic applies to your devices, everywhere you go.
Never lay your phone on a restaurant table; it’s rude to your dining partners, but also an excellent way for someone to stroll by and grab it. After you’ve finished taking photos of your food, put it away.
Don’t leave your camera lying around in your hotel room, or if you do, make sure it’s locked safely in the hotel safe. Ideally, even if you don’t think you’ll need it for the day, you should be able to turn it off and carry it with you where you can keep an eye on it.
Similarly, don’t leave your GPS on your car dashboard, seat or console. It’s very easy to forget it, especially if you’ve been using it to navigate during a road-trip, but leaving it out in the open like that is just asking for someone to break into your car, meaning you now have to deal with a smashed window too.
#7 Activate Passwords / Biometric Protection
About a third of the world’s tech users don’t use a password to protect their devices. Which is a big mistake. Password protection is security 101, and the first line of defense to protect your data if your tech is lost or stolen.
Better yet, most modern phones and laptops now have biometric identification like a fingerprint swipe, which makes it even tougher for other people to get in.
Not only does this protect your data from crimes like identity theft, it also means you have a higher chance of finding or recovering the device after it’s lost or stolen. If someone grabs your tech and realizes they can’t use it, they’re likely to discard it and try again for an easier target.
Make sure passwords you use are unusual, by using a combination of letters, numbers and / or special characters. A strong password is considered to be 8 characters or more. Use acronyms for things instead of full words, and change your password frequently – at least once every 6 months.
Checklist: Before You Travel, Make Sure You
➡ Buy a case for each of your devices
➡ Install tracking apps
➡ Back everything up, and copy it to a USB you pack
➡ Organize travel insurance: Worldnomads.com
➡ Download a VPN: Hotspotshield.com
➡ Activate strong passwords