Whether we’re traveling for business or pleasure, most of us don’t like to leave home without our favorite electronics. But in the process of getting from Point A to B and back, there’s always the chance of theft, loss or damage. Taking these steps can help prevent you from damaging or losing your electronics and ensure that your trip goes smoothly.
- Don’t leave home without setting up security
Your best defense on the home front is a good offense. Set up your security system and put indoor and outdoor lights on a timer to deter would-be thieves when you’re away. Or, consider investing in a system that enables you to do so with your smartphone. Don’t just leave valuables at home—lock them in a safe (Home Depot offers a number of security safes online here). Your best bet is a safe that can stand up to both determined thieves and natural disaster, like a fireproof safe secured with a biometric lock that requires an approved fingerprint to unlock.
- Go light on tech gear
Only take what you really need. For example, you really don’t need a separate camera or GPS unit if you’ve got your smartphone. While you might need your laptop if you’re traveling on business, you can answer emails, access stored files and take calls with your smartphone, too. In fact, what can’t you do with your smartphone? Traveling with fewer devices also means fewer chargers and cords to pack.
- Back up your files
Unless you must have it with you, leave your laptop at home and upload documents to your cloud storage so you can access them from any computer, anywhere. If you do take your laptop, back up your files before leaving home. Protect your laptop by placing it in a laptop sleeve to cushion it from accidental bumps.
- Secure personal access
Got Windows? Setting up your devices to require a PIN to log in adds an extra layer of security. After five unsuccessful attempts, the device will be locked. With 10,000 possible combinations of a four-digit PIN, it’s highly unlikely it will be guessed correctly. A password, on the other hand, may be obtained from a stolen password database or other brute force hack.
Always use strong passwords for your accounts—a different password for each one—and change passwords to sensitive accounts every few months. Safely store passwords with a password keeper app such as LastPass or RoboForm so you won’t have to remember them all. If you use a public computer, be sure to always sign out of your accounts.
- Register valuables
This is something you can do right now, even if you haven’t yet planned your next trip. Register your phone, tablet, laptop and other expensive electronics with the U.S. National Property Register. If a registered item is lost or stolen, report it immediately on the site. Most companies that buy used electronics check against this list before buying a device, so there’s a chance you could get it back.
- Make a packing list
Use a notes app on your smartphone to create a standard packing list that includes devices, chargers, cords, accessories, ear buds, extra batteries and any other electronics gear you typically take with you. Check it both before you leave and when you’re packing up to go home to ensure you don’t leave anything important behind.
- Set up tracking
For iPhones and iPads, activate the “Find My iPhone” feature. If you’ve set up and enabled iCloud on your MacBook, you’ll be able to track it if it’s lost or stolen. Windows can also track a laptop, but only if it’s turned on and connected to the Internet. You may want to install an anti-theft software program as an additional precaution.
If you can, set up an “If found, please call” message to scroll across your phone’s locked screen so that a good Samaritan can call your emergency contact if you misplace your phone. Another option is Foundio.com, a free lost and found service that uses a special identity tag to keep your identity private. Simply label your items with your Foundio ID and short instructions to go to the website to report the item as found.
These simple steps ensure peace of mind and safe travels for both you and your belongings.