It’s easy to slide into habits with your tech; maybe you use a tablet for browsing while you relax, your phone throughout the day for calls and various apps, and your laptop for working on the go. These habits can be good and keep your productivity high, as well as help you keep your devices physically secure. When you travel (especially abroad), you can’t rely on your daily habits to help you find your charger, or keep your laptop charged, etc. Today, we’ll show you our list for traveling with your tech so you can keep your data safe and get good value while you’re out of the country.
1. Take the Right Power Converters or Plugs
When traveling to other parts of the world, it’s important to remember that the power plugs are different in many countries. While the Type A and B plugs that we use in the U.S. work for Canada and Mexico as well, other countries have different plugs. That doesn’t mean that the power that they supply is incompatible with your device, but you need something to plug it into the wall in the first place. Getting a powerstrip with built-in USB charging can be an easy way to manage your connections, instead of expecting to easily find the local version of your phone’s charging cable.
When you land at the airport, the language barrier may not be that big of an issue, but you’ll be at the mercy of the airport shops for what they have and what the prices are. Remember, you’ll likely need to charge your phone within the first day, so having the problem solved before you get there can make your arrival just a little bit smoother and simpler.
2. Know how to Convert Money
If you live near a border then you see a lot of places to exchange currency. How they set the rate and surcharge might not be very scrupulous, though, since they are trying to maximize their profit in the exchange. One way to get a fair rate is to go to a bank to do the exchange instead of using a money changer at the airport. If you plan in advance and are comfortable carrying some cash on you, your bank at home can probably set you up with what you need too; just be warned that carrying large amounts of cash is risky and if you’re over a certain amount you’ll need to declare it at customs.
3. Use a VPN to Access Services like you’re at Home
One of the advantages of VPN providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN is their ability to control your IP’s location. This means when you are connected from another country, you could still appear like you’re in the U.S. If you’re abroad and want to watch a show on your favorite streaming service, you might find that it’s not available based on the country you’re in. In fact, most services have completely different catalogs based on which country you are in at the time. More importantly, if you use any services or platforms that don’t allow IPs from certain parts of the world, or lock accounts when they’re accessed from abroad, then you’ll need a VPN service to make you appear like you’re still at home.
4. Grab a Firewall Device to Keep Your Connection Secure Anywhere
A new line of firewall devices has popped up that give you great firewall and security features anywhere you take it. The Firewalla Purple, for instance, works as a WiFi HotSpot that gives you advanced firewall and router features and makes a trusted WiFi network for you and your companions. It helps stop intrusion onto your device when connected to a public or hotel WiFi, monitors your use for abnormal behavior, and can even be set up to use a VPN service or your own VPN. This would let you encrypt traffic and DNS requests, meaning that only your VPN provider can see what you’re doing online even when you’re on a public connection. When you’re at home, the Purple can be used to help set up your IoT network and segment it away from your sensitive data in case of compromises.
5. Setup Disk Encryption Before your Trip
It’s important to plan for the worst with your devices and data, because by the time a device is lost or stolen it’s likely too late to do much about protecting the data on it. On laptops, it’s important to use a disk encryptor like Microsoft’s BitLocker, which can effectively make a stolen disk drive useless for anyone who ends up with it. The data on a stolen drive will be secured with a cryptographic key so that it cannot be accessed by just pulling the drive out of the computer and plugging it into another one. BitLocker doesn’t get you your laptop back, but it protects your data and stops bad actors from using your data to impersonate you or access your files.
6. Make Use of AirTags in your Luggage
Apple’s AirTags can be used to keep an eye on anything you stick it on. This means that you can have one in your luggage to know where it is at all times. When you drop an AirTag in your bag and check it with the airline, you’ll see if your bag made it onto your plane immediately. Since Apple has constructed the Find My network, you’ll be able to see if your bag appears to just be walking away and you’ll know exactly where it’s going. The AirTag is more feature-rich than the Tile, which is geared toward knowing when you don’t have your keys or wallet with you.
7. Bring Multiple Devices “Just in Case”
If any of your devices do get lost or stolen, you’ll still need some means of communicating with people while you’re in another country. A stolen phone isn’t quite so bad if you still have a tablet or laptop you can make calls on and emails from. If you rely on just one device, you might lose access to your banking information or be unable to log in to any of your providers (depending on how you manage your passwords). Make sure to keep the devices physically separated enough so that it is less likely that someone could swipe all of them together.
-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team