How to Protect Your Personal Data While Traveling
Reduce your risk of getting hacked or having your identity stolen with these tips from the pros.
Change PasswordsKevin Emert, chief information security officer of Scripps Network Interactive (Travel Channel's parent company), especially recommends this step for international travel. Change passwords before you leave and again when you return home for the accounts you know you’ll use while traveling. 960 1280
Ensure Security on Your Devices is Up to DateCheck that antivirus, malware and operating systems are up to date with security patches and features, says Emert. Password-protecting your devices is also another layer of security in case they're stolen. 960 1280
Be Vigilant Against TheftWhile it’s important to take precautions against cyber hacking, Emert notes the most common problem while traveling with devices is theft. “Leaving it unattended for a matter of seconds could potentially lead to theft,” he says. Emert also cautions being mindful of those around you, since someone might be watching as you enter passwords. 960 1280
Don’t Use USB Chargers in Public Spaces
Emert warns there’s a growing trend of “juice jacking,” where criminals can gain access to information on your device via the USB cable since it contains two wires—one for power, and one for data transfer.
Criminals can also use the USB cable to install ransomware, which allows them to hold your device ransom in exchange for money. Instead of using a USB port, Emert suggests using the AC power brick that plugs into a power outlet.960 1280
Don’t Trust Public Wi-FiThis includes airports, hotels, trains and public spaces, regardless if the network is free, paid or password-protected. “If you’re on it, so is a would-be criminal,” says Emert. He also strongly cautions against connecting to financial institutions over a Wi-Fi network, particularly when abroad, whether through an app on your device or directly from the institution’s website. “You should assume that someone is probably watching you,” he says. 960 1280
Use a Personal Hotspot ConnectionA personal hotspot is a secure way to connect to the Internet via your wireless carrier's data plan if you lack Wi-Fi access—which is often the case when traveling. “Where a hotspot through a trusted carrier is available, that is a more secure method than choosing a public available wireless network,” says Emert.
Turn Off Wireless Features You Don’t NeedTraveling to a remote location isn't the only reason why you would turn off wireless capabilities. Emert says that services such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are designed to connect to available networks unless you have security features enabled. “Criminals can use those wireless connections to track your movement through an airport.” 960 1280
Use Your Debit Card as a Credit CardCyber security also pertains to debit and credit cards. Emert says it’s safer to select the credit card option when making a purchase with a debit card since it requires a signature instead of a PIN number. It’s still debited from your account, but the signature requires a three-day waiting period before charging the purchase, whereas debit is instantaneous. The credit card feature is also insured in case an unauthorized purchase is made, and Emert notes it’s easier to recoup those losses from a credit card company than from your local bank. However, the safest method is a credit card with chip technology combined with your signature.
The exception would be using your debit card at an airport ATM, especially if it’s with a well-known banking institution. “The risk of your information being compromised at that ATM are relatively low.” 960 1280
Leave Your Devices (and Non-Essential Personal Identification) at HomeFinally, if you can manage without your laptop, phone or tablet, Emert says the safest place for them is at home. He also advises leaving behind any personal identification you don’t need, such as additional credit cards. Or if you’re traveling abroad, there’s no need to carry a driver’s license in addition to your passport. “When you’re traveling, assume, from a personal identification standpoint … that it’s not a safe environment,” says Emert. 960 1280
Running TogetherDick Hoyt pushes his son Rick as they compete in the Boston Marathon. Rick -- a Boston University grad -- was born with cerebral palsy, and his father (now 71!) has pushed him all the way to the finish line in 29 Boston Marathons. Dick and Rick -- who have become local celebrities -- run to raise money for the Team Hoyt Foundation, whose catch phrase appropriately is “Yes, You Can!” 960 1280
Halfway Done!Downtown Wellesley marks the marathon’s halfway point, but before the runners reach the 13-mile mark, they get a significant boost in morale from the students at Wellesley College (pictured here). Thousands of Wellesley women pack the streets by the campus, creating the famous “Scream Tunnel.” Runners have claimed that they can hear the women’s screams of support a mile away. 960 1280
Born to WanderI was lucky to grow up in a family where I was encouraged to explore. So, when I decided to quit my job in 2008 to roam around the country with my dog, it wasn’t something I feared. I get many questions from people on how to do it. Truth is, I really had no idea what I was doing or what my purpose would be on the road. I just had this idea that I wanted to roam around and see the country. I had a teardrop trailer at the time and spent the majority of the year living in it. It was quite the learning experience and to this day, I consider the first year the most challenging. The following year, I sold the teardrop and traveled with a tent. About four years ago, I upgraded to a camper van. During these years, I have learned a lot about myself and being on the road. Here are a few tips that I wanted to share if you’re thinking of hitting the road solo, too. 960 1280
How to BudgetTake half the amount of clothes you think you’ll need and budget twice the amount of money. On my first year, I took almost my entire wardrobe and ended up wearing the same shorts, pants and jacket. It was a waste to fill up all of the extra space I had with clothes. Take only the essentials and invest in a warm jacket, rain jacket, quick drying pants, good socks and comfortable shoes. Everything else you can pick up anywhere. Budget more than you think because you will be surprised on how much it adds up and having some padding helps in case you have unexpected problems with your vehicle, get sick, or just want to treat yourself to something. 960 1280
Follow Your InstinctsTrust your gut. I usually make up the trip as I go along so most of the days that I travel, I don’t have plans on where I will be sleeping that night. I don’t make reservations until the last minute, if at all. That helps me to be free to go wherever I want and not be on a schedule. The downside is that I might be turned away at popular spots but I am happier when it’s not overrun with people anyway so it works out. Because I travel this way, I have stopped to camp at some places that didn’t feel safe. Early on, I would camp anyway and be up all night wondering ifsomething bad will happen. Now I just move along if something isn’t quite right. A good night’s sleep is worth the extra drive. 960 1280
Do Your ResearchKnow what to expect. If you are going somewhere, do a little bit of research to know if you will be staying at a camp without facilities, or if there have been problems in the area in the past. Google the campsite, town name, or general area to get a better sense of what to expect. If you know you won’t have reception, plan on it and let someone know that you’ll be there without reception. 960 1280
Keep Style SimpleLeave vanity at home. I wear the same puffy vest, pants, shorts, jacket, shoes, and beanie hats. Think about putting all of your clothes in a bag that you will have to put on your back for the entire trip. It will change what you pack. Nobody cares how you look or what you’re wearing. Traveling is about seeing what is out there and experiencing the moment. That is what you will remember. 960 1280
Document Your TripJournal and take photographs. It won’t last forever. That is so true when it comes to traveling. Soak up the moment but remember to snap a photo and write down some notes of what you love the most about each day. Being thankful and in the moment helps to keep your mind on the positive.
Remember, you will be traveling with you. Get to love your travel companion before you set out. 960 1280