How to Keep Your Gadgets Safe During Travel

stk164454rkeBy:Abby Clark

These days, few people go on vacation without their phones and tablets and various other electronic gadgets. Aside from providing entertainment on flights and train trips, and a means of posting those urgent Facebook and Instagram updates, devices often contain maps and/or helpful travel apps. Any internet-enabled device can provide travelers with key information (such as the number to a cab company or their home country’s embassy) where and when they need it. In short, many people feel the advantages of travelling with gadgets outweigh those of leaving them behind.

But keeping your gadgets safe is an important consideration. Laptops, phones, tablets, eBooks and digital cameras are theft magnets back home, and that’s also the case abroad. Many devices are expensive, and some are difficult to replace. Computers and iDevices likely contain personal information.

Keep the following tips in mind when traveling with your tech gear:

Store devices close to your body
Whether it’s a phone in your inside breast pocket or an iPad in a bag tucked under your arm, keeping your device close to your body makes it infinitely more difficult for a pickpocket to access. Loose jacket pockets and wide-open bags are relatively easier for a thief to rummage through undetected.

Secure your bag
Even minor obstacles deter thieves. A bag at your side instead of at your feet. A zipper or buckle done up instead of flapping open. Don’t wave your gadgets under their noses!

Pick your moments – keep them out of sight.
When out and about you’ll likely want to take out your camera a lot, possibly even keep it around your neck. And you may enjoy (or be unable to abstain from) posting frequent social media updates from your phone. But for devices like laptop computers and tablets, why advertise that you’re carrying them?
Using gadgets in your hotel room and in establishments you trust (like well-lit, well-populated cafés) is probably fine, but taking them out and fiddling with them in rough neighborhoods at 2am is probably a bad idea. By picking your moments, you’ll create a situation where few people will even know you’re carrying expensive tech.

Store devices in your hotel room’s safe
If you’re concerned about staff with sticky fingers or balcony-scaling bandits, use your room’s safe to store your expensive tech when you don’t need it, along with passports and important paperwork. If your room isn’t equipped with a safe, the front desk will likely agree to store valuables safely for you.

Watch out for fake, free Wi-Fi
Increasingly, free public Wi-Fi is offered to travelers and guests in hotels, airports, and other places. But occasionally, fake Wi-Fi hotspots are set up by hackers, looking to scrape the airwaves for personal information.

Legitimate public Wi-Fi access usually requires clicking through some sort of public wireless management software (you’ll probably recognize these interfaces, which are now very common. Typically they prompt users to click through a user agreement before web access is unlocked).

Networks which require password login are generally a safer bet than free, unsecured networks. In many places (I’ve found this particularly to be the case in Mexico), the in-house Wi-Fi network is generally locked, but if you simply ask, your server or a staffer will freely give you the password.

If the network name is something generic like “free public Wi-Fi” (often a characteristic of fake Wi-Fi) or if you are in doubt for any reason, ask an employee.

In crowds, stay clear of commotions
Commotions (such as something being dropped, someone shouting, or an altercation) can be smokescreens for pickpockets.

Wherever it is packed and incidental contact with other people is inevitable (when you have to elbow and nudge your way through crowds), pickpockets lurk.

Don’t walk around frightened, but take reasonable precautions and be mindful. Again, zip up those pockets and bags.

Stick to safe places and just generally be careful
It’s almost too simple to count as a “tip”… but simply by sleeping in hotels and hostels and eating in establishments that don’t have a suspicious atmosphere, and taking basic precautions which you might deem unnecessary at a familiar coffee shop back home (such as never setting your phone down on the table beside you), you’ll reduce the risk of losing your gadgets to practically zero.

Theft vs. just losing things
Remember that statistically you’re more likely to lose your valuables than have them stolen. Travelers frequently leave bags on the overhead racks of buses and on the backs of restaurant chairs, or drop small expensive items like phones and tablets while rummaging through backpacks.

These things can occur back home as well, of course, but when you’re travelling, the loss of belongings is just a bigger pain. Nobody wants to spend two days of a seven-day vacation on the phone with an insurance company and shopping for replacement items. Developing “don’t lose it” routines, such as always scanning the table and the floor before you leave, is a great idea.

About the author: Abby Clark is fond of exploring well-known as well as remote little corners around the world. Abby also writes blogs and guest blogs for Best Quote Travel Insurance—a company which offers Super Visa Insurance for travel.

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