40 Life-Saving Tech Tips Every Traveler Should Know
Take care of your tech.
To be a savvy traveler is to be a tech-savvy traveler. From using GPS to navigate unknown territory to scouring apps for the best local restaurants to taking photos on multiple devices to document your travels, tech is important in almost every aspect of travel. Read some of our top tips on how to pack, protect and fix your tech, and then browse the photo galleries to see all 40. Trust me, they'll come in handy.
Think about your packing strategy so you’ll know where everything is when you need it.
Invest in a quality bag so everything can have a place. We love Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger bag and all its many compartments.
Toiletries and tech don’t mix, so use bags like this Travel Flex bag to keep your liquid toiletries sealed and prevent any chance your shampoo could explode on a new camera lens.
Use packing cubes to make sure everything has a place. Tortuga has some great options. If you’re on a budget, try recycling those heavy duty plastic bags used to store bed linens instead.
A cracked screen or lost phone is frustrating in and of itself, but imagine dealing with that while in an unfamiliar place. Not fun.
Use a screen protector for your smartphone. Everyone knows the feeling you experience in the .05 seconds after dropping your phone and picking it up to see if the cherished device is ruined. With a screen protector, you may see cracks when you flip the phone over, but it'll most likely only be the screen protector and not the screen itself.
Protect devices from extreme temperatures. To avoid sun damage, try to use a light-colored case and keep your devices in the shade. Temperatures below 32 degrees can also have adverse effects on phones like causing the battery to drain or die. Limit using a phone in very cold temperatures, and keep it in a pocket the rest of the time.
If a tech tragedy does strike, here are some on-the-go tips for fixing a phone.
In the event of water damage, power off the phone (if it didn't automatically) and place it in a sealed bag of rice for two days.
MCGeorge & BLACK CAT Photography
For a cracked phone screen, place a screen cover or even clear packing tape to cover minor cracks. If the screen is completely shattered, place the phone in a plastic bag until you can get it fixed. Replacing a smartphone screen will cost about $100 at most repair stores.
To address an overheated phone, turn off any applications that are running in the background or simply turn it off. Removing a protective case and placing your phone in a cool (but not cold) environment can also help.
37 More Tech Travel Tips:
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