Smartphones have become ubiquitous with travelers all around the world. You see them on practically every traveler at the airport and on every tourist abroad. It really puts things in perspective when you think of how much technology has improved over the last 30 years. Travelers in the 1990s had to bring a mobile phone, a 35mm professional camera, and a laptop computer with them to have the same capabilities as today’s smartphones. Another thing to keep in mind is that hotels back then didn’t have internet access, the best you could do is luck out and find an upscale hotel with Telex access.
Travelers today have virtually their entire lives located within their smartphones with sensitive data such as intimate photos, credit card and bank account numbers, and passwords. Cyber fraud and hacking is a constant threat, especially at public internet access points along the way. You must protect yourself at all times against these threats and there are many ways to do this.
Make Your Phone Trackable
This is vital for many reasons as there will be a road map via GPS as to your whereabouts. You can have loved ones back home keep track of where you are during your trip as an extra set of eyes monitoring your safety, we’ll expand on that a bit more later. The biggest reason for using this feature is that you can have the phone remotely locked or even have all the data wiped by your phone carrier in case of theft. This feature is known as “Find My iPhone” on Apple iPhones and “Find My Device” on Google Android smartphones.
Use a VPN Service
As previously mentioned, the biggest threat areas to your phone’s data on a trip abroad is at public internet data points or hotspots. Hotspots are more prevalent overseas than in the States as you can find public hotspots in North America at major fast-food chains, some larger truck stops, and public airports. You can find public hotspots worldwide in major airports as well which is a great place for a phone hacker to hang out in. The best way to combat this is by using a VPN service with your phone’s data. For example, if you find yourself in Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India you can use India VPN to protect your phone’s data as you peruse your smartphone.
Let Your Phone Carrier Know You’re On a Trip
Before you embark on a major trip (international, domestic, etc.) it’s a good idea to contact your carrier to let them know beforehand. This information prepares your carrier in the unforeseen possibility of a data breach or theft of your smartphone. Your carrier will know that you’re not in your home area and will be quick to “kill” your phone (if your tracking is enabled) or reverse any charges that your thief will rack up before the battery is dead. Another great reason to keep your carrier apprised of your location is in emergencies. If your smartphone fails for any reason (you drop it, it breaks, theft, etc.) your carrier can priority ship (sometimes overnight) a new smartphone to your location so that you can have it within a couple of days.
Protect Your Phone From Drops
This one seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised as to how many travelers don’t protect their phones in this way. The chances of an accidental drop or a screen being cracked has increased exponentially as new smartphones have been developed over time. A small drop that wouldn’t have dented a Nokia back in 2005 will most likely spiderweb-crack the entire screen on today’s smartphones. Use a high-quality phone case with an added screen protector built-in to protect your smartphone. High-quality cases will cost a bit of money but peace of mind shouldn’t come with a price tag.
Use Common Sense Abroad
You should use common sense anywhere you are but especially so while on a trip. These are small but useful methods for keeping your smartphone safe. Never put your smartphone in your back pocket for any reason. You could accidentally sit on your phone and crack the screen and render your smartphone useless until you can get an emergency replacement. Another reason is more prevalent overseas than in the States and that’s pickpockets, thieves can easily snatch your phone from your back pocket while you’re distracted by them or in most cases, a second accomplice. It also goes without saying, but you should never leave your phone unattended for any reason or length of time.
Customize Your Lock Screen
You can customize your lock screen to display anything you want and a good tip is to display your contact information, whether that’s where you can be reached or an emergency contact back home. Most people who stumble across a lost phone will want to do the right thing and find the owner and having this information on the lock screen display means that they won’t have to try to guess a password to get into the phone to possibly find this information. Having it on the display makes it easier to be contacted and have a better chance of that outcome (being contacted) of losing your phone.
Back Up Your Phone Often
Employing constant backups every few days ensure that you have all of your photos, applications, and data available to you in the case of going through a lost phone situation or a broken phone. With your data backed up in the Cloud, it’s just a simple matter of restoring your phone from the backup to have all of your important contacts and data on the replacement phone.
Use Additional Layers to Unlock Your Phone
This one also falls under the self-evident tree, but you should never have a smartphone that can be unlocked by just pushing a button or swiping the screen. You need to employ some hurdles to that process so that they need to be Edwin Moses to access your smartphone. Put a password in the process or a unique swipe pattern if you don’t want a password. Newer smartphones have fingerprint readers that can unlock the phone with your fingerprint. The more unique and difficult the process is, the safer your smartphone will be from unwanted intrusions.
Implement Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance already exists for such things as late flights or rescheduled flights and you can also include smartphones into the coverage. Good travel insurance policies will cover your smartphone under such cases as theft, fire, and any damage that’s not caused by negligence on your part. This is a good thing to have as an extra layer of defense while you’re on your trip.
Enable a Tracking Application Before Your Trip
We talked about having your carrier’s tracking service turned on earlier, but what if your spouse or family back home don’t use the same brand of phone that you do? This is where a tracking application can help. For instance, if you have an Android smartphone and your spouse has an iPhone, they can still track your whereabouts with an application that will monitor your location via GPS signals. This can be a great asset if someone walks off with your smartphone as they can be traced and in some cases, the phone’s camera will snap a picture of the thief while they’re trying to access your smartphone via failed password attempts. Different applications will have different features that can help protect yourself.
- Enable Your Carrier GPS Tracking Option
- Use a VPN Service
- Contact Your Carrier Before a Trip
- Protect Your Smartphone From Physical Damage
- Use Common Sense Abroad
- Customize Your Lock Screen
- Back Up Your Smartphone Often
- Employ Fingerprint or Password ID To Unlock Your Smartphone
- Implement Travel Insurance
- Enable Tracking Application Before Your Trip
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