If there’s one thing that separates regular travellers from expert travellers, it’s their ability to keep precious cargo safe and orderly while on the move. Phones, cameras, computers, tablets, e-readers -- adding up the costs may genuinely make you feel like you’re responsible for a small child. And to be frank, the traveler that can limit the number of “oh...oh please no” moments, is the one that wins in the end. But fret not! From backpacks to gadget insurance and WiFi hacks, here’s a little rundown on the best ways you can protect your valuables while traveling.
Backup Your Data
Backing up your data is arguably the most important thing you can do before leaving for your trip. The physical device is one thing, but everything inside (yes -- inside the computer) like contacts, photos, passwords, notes, and files will probably have more of an impact on your eventual emotional state if things go awry.
It’s 2018, and there’s really no excuse for gadget-wielding travellers who don’t utilise cloud services. Apple’s iCloud gives you 50GB (which should be more than enough) for $0.99 cents per moth. Other services like Dropbox and IDrive are similarly affordable and allow you to access your data from any device, anywhere.
Don’t Skip Out on Insurance
Another thing to consider pre-trip is insurance -- that is, for your technology. Whether or not you decide to invest in health insurance for your travels is one conversation, but we also highly recommend gadget insurance.
It goes without saying that your valuables are most vulnerable while on the move. You’re bouncing in between accommodations, hopping on different forms of transportation, packing and repacking, and perhaps making some questionable decisions come nighttime. Enter gadget insurance. With all the risks inherent in traveling, companies like CoverOnTrip have created a simple online platform where you can get a quote and register your device from anywhere. No long-term contracts, cancel at any time, and bundle to get the most bang for your buck. If you’re the type of person that travels with some ungodly combination of a phone, laptop, e-reader, camera, and tablet (all stashed in the same bag nonetheless), this should be a no-brainer.
Make the Most of Safes and Lockers
We’ve all heard horror stories of hostel raids that leave frugal travellers without their most prized possessions. If you’re traveling with some equipment, another additional thing to do before embarking is to book accommodations that have safes and lockers. Most hotels have safes and most hostels have lockers, but it’s best to make sure before booking.
The next part -- and this is key -- is to actually use them. Whether you’re heading out on a day trip or just out for dinner, take the time to lock up your belongings. Even if you’ve met and established some trust with everyone in your dorm, lock them up.
Be Wary of WiFi and Bluetooth
The savviest travellers are the ones that heed the “Not a secure network” notification. Instead of bypassing this warning when connecting to WiFi, try to hold off until you can connect to a network with password, like the lobby of your hotel or hostel. Hackers are able to use unregulated WiFi networks (like those in most airports) to steal your data. The same goes for bluetooth. If your bluetooth is left open, anyone sitting near you can pick up your signal to break into your devices.
An alternative is to use a VPN. For the uninitiated, a Virtual Private Network provides you with a secure connection in otherwise unsafe places, and it’s as simple as opening an app. Plus it gives you access to the global internet in case services or TV shows are blocked in certain countries.
Only Bring What You Need
Over the last decade, there’s been a discernible surge in the popularity of minimalist travel. In a kind of subtle, unwritten competition of who can do the most with the least, traveling has become more of a science than an art. The most seasoned veterans take a concentrated moment to figure out what exactly they will need for each outing. Does it make sense to bring the tablet? Will photos from your phone suffice? The less you bring, the less risk you assume.
Keep Important Items in Your Carry-on
As a general rule of thumb, the more valuable the gadget, the closer it stays to your body. This isn’t to call luggage attendants or airlines dishonest, but sometimes things happen. Whether you’re boarding a plane, a bus, a train, or a cab, your most important technology goes in your carry-on, and it’s either within reach or at least within sight. The same goes for coffee shops and co-working spaces. That old moral reasoning you used in college to ask a stranger to protect your stuff from another stranger definitely doesn’t fly in the world of travel. There’s no shame in taking your laptop to the toilet -- you might end up getting some work done.
Get Yourself a Theft-Proof Bag
On the topic of carry-ons and minimalist travel, it’s important to think about your luggage in light of potential danger. On one hand you have bags that are just that -- bags -- a few pockets, easy access, no frills. Conjure the image of a tourist with a backpack worn on their chest as they roll their checked luggage behind.
On the other hand, we have bags that were meticulously designed to optimise the travel experience with safety as a priority. Arcido makes some of these bags. Gone are the days of front-facing backpacks, pickpockets, and checking a bag (Is there any feeling better than the pride of walking past baggage claim? No, no there isn’t). Think secret pockets for your passport and phone, protective laptop sleeves, water resistance, and a curated size that makes it genuinely big enough to live out of. Here’s a quick video to get a feeling for what we’re talking about.
Some Final Tips
Consider splitting up your cards and cash -- some in your sock, some in a bag, and some in your pocket. Also, travel with a lock. Whereas most hostels have lockers, some don’t have locks (or charge you for them). You can also use this to lock the zippers of your bags closed. Make sure all your bags are labeled with your contact information on a durable card (or at least the ones provided by the airline). And, for when all things fail, investing in a safety USB bracelet will give you access to all your important documents at any time you may need them.
Written by: Dillon DuBois