No matter how hard we try, technology always finds a way to follow us when we travel. Most of us don’t even travel beyond the front door without our phones these days. When you leave on a trip, not having your technology available when you need it can ruin your entire time away.
Become a smarter traveller, while keeping your tech secure by doing these key checks before you go. You can use the below tech travel checklist to help speed the process up, and it can save you from common follies such as missing chargers, lost devices, data breaches and more.
1. Download Key Travel Apps
Ever find yourself at your gate in the airport, wondering where everyone else was? Only to realize your gate changed when they started announcing your name over the PA system? Between the embarrassment and blood pressure spikes, it’s just not an enjoyable experience.
How were you the only fool who didn’t get the gate change memo? The answer is probably that your fellow passengers had the app for the airline, and were notified of the change.
Before you leave for your next trip, make sure to download any apps related to the journey. Trying to use most airports’ free Wi-Fi is about as enjoyable as TSA screenings, so unless you have a great data plan, try to download them before leaving home on Wi-Fi
Some of the apps you may want to grab or update (for the specific carriers you’re travelling with) before your trip are:
2. Check Your Charging Cords & Adapters
Who hasn’t forgotten a charging cable? Or even worse, the adapter for the wall plug! That’s even assuming your wall plug is the same as the destination’s standard… They litter hotels, messy bedrooms, airports, train stations, and restaurants world-wide. Make sure to bring a backup charger for your laptop, tablet, phone, and any other electronic device you’ll bring. Even better is to pack a charge bank, which can hold enough charge to get you through a whole week depending on the model. Otherwise, you may find yourself parting with a spare kidney for a crappy kiosk charger which always seems to break before you go home, or an arm and both legs if you’re unfortunate enough to forget a laptop adapter.
3. Check Your Battery Charges
As mentioned above, we cannot overstate the utility and convenience of a simple charge bank. They can hold anywhere from the mid-1,000s to >20,000 mAh of juice. For reference, iPhones typically hold 2,000-3,000 mAh, meaning you can often get by without ever having to use a wall plug for most trips.
Having this extra backup also helps you avoid compromised “free charging stations” you’ll find in public. Just like how Credit Card skimmers can modify the hardware of an ATM or card reader to skim your banking information, modern day hackers can now also steal your data via modifying the free charging stations scattered in public areas.
4. Confirm Your Mobile Plan
If you’re travelling out of the country, you’ll want to check with your carrier and decide on what to do about your mobile plan. If you don’t have the ability to call internationally, or it’s too expensive, then you should disable cellular services to avoid charges. For short-medium length trips, ask your carrier about “Roam like Home” plans, where you are charged a flat daily fee to use your plan like normal while abroad. Otherwise, it is HIGHLY recommended that you disable data services to avoid 4-figure bills upon return.
Carriers can add international riders to your plan, but again you should confirm the pricing before going with it. It can get expensive if you’re on long calls or using mobile data, unless you have that “Roam like Home”-esque plan. An alternative is to set up a VoIP app you can use with your office, friends, or family while you’re travelling. These enable both calls and SMS, but you do need an internet connection. Wi-Fi is often the cheapest method to handle this, and many just use Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Facetime etc. to act as their communication line with home.
5. Consider Using A VPN
Free Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, and completely unregulated. They often have a ton of bloat, are excessively slow, and worst of all, are often fronts for insidious activity. You don’t know who else is using that Wi-Fi, and often who even set it up. A hacker hanging out on the connection can easily steal your data if you’re not protected.
It’s better to use either your mobile carrier connection or a virtual private network (VPN) app. VPN plans are inexpensive and will keep your data encrypted, even if you’re on public Wi-Fi.
6. Check Your Backups
Unfortunately, mishaps occur when travelling. You may leave your phone behind on a boat you were just on, or maybe the ocean floor if you’re really unlucky. Your luggage could be lost, or a pickpocket eyes it in a crowded area.
It’s not just cities either; 10% of all laptop thefts happen in airports!
As we’ve discussed, this can often lead to the equivalent of losing your entire family photo album if you aren’t prepared. Make sure to back it up before this happens, as a sentimental loss of that magnitude can haunt you for years to come. You also won’t have to think twice about enacting a remote “wipe my device” command if necessary.
7. Secure Your Devices
Make your devices aren’t inviting anyone to take them before hitting the road. If a lapse in judgment leaves your laptop open in the airport lounge for example, enterprising individuals will pass it over if it is locked behind a password. Making sure your lockout time is set to a few minutes when on the road is a perfect way to dissuade opportunists, as they know a locked electronic is valueless to them. Even beyond physical theft, the basics like checking your antivirus or avoiding suspicious phishing links can’t be neglected.
Secure your devices before you go via:
8. Double-Check EVERYTHING
What do we mean by double-checking? Use the buddy system as a fallback. When the family is getting off a plane for example, each needs to check with the other that they have all their electronics and other belongings.
If you’re travelling alone, have someone message you to confirm safe arrival, and act as your buddy for double-checks. Did you grab your chargers? Is your Find-My-Device turned on? etc.
Little reminders like that go a long way towards avoiding digital travel nightmares.
Improve Your Device Security While You Still Can
Don’t leave your devices unprotected. This could mean a breach of your banking app or personal data. Contact us for device security solutions to reduce your risk