8 Free or Cheap Cybersecurity Tips for Travelers

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Most of us look forward to vacations, and we’re taking more and more technology items with us when we travel: smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming devices and other gear. Criminals know this and target travelers.

Our devices contain a ton of personal information. If a thief steals these items or they are lost, it can be disastrous, potentially leading to the theft of sensitive personal and financial information.

Cybersecurity Tips for Travelers

Let’s talk about how you should prepare for vacation and what steps you can take to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

Make Lists and Copies

Make a list of everything you are taking with you. If loss or theft happens, you will need to know exactly what you had in order to report the loss.

Before leaving home, make copies of everything that has personal information that you intend to carry with you including credit cards, driver’s license, passports and anything else of value. Copy of the front and back of each item. You can also scan them to your computer so that you have digital copies. If one or more of those items is lost or stolen, you will need the information to report the loss and apply for new ones.

Bonus tip: Back up your data before you leave. If a device is lost or stolen, you will want a recent version so that you can recover (at least most of ) your data.

Pack Only Essentials

Do you really need to take your laptop? How about your tablet? Our smartphones can be used for almost everything. If you don’t need to take a device, leave it at home. It’s one less thing to worry about during your trip.

Also, take only the credit cards you absolutely need and don’t carry a debit card. They do not offer the same protections credit cards do in the event of theft or fraudulent charges.

Try a New Cell Phone Plan

Consider using a cheap, pre-paid cell phone when traveling and leave your personal phone at home. There are several international phone plans that work in numerous countries around the world.

Google Fi, for example, starts at $20 per month for talk and text on one line (data is $10/GB). The service works in more than 200 destinations, and the price is the same in each of those places. Plus, you can cancel without any penalties after one month of service.


Protect Your Devices

Be sure that any electronic devices you take along are protected with a password or passcode, and consider using a password manager on your devices.

Don’t save your user name, password or other sensitive information in your web browser.

Secure Bags

Think about the bags you will carry with you on daily outings. Purses and wallets are prime targets for thieves. Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket; secure it instead in a front or inside pocket that has a zipper.

Backpacks are not a good choice because they are on your back and an easy target for thieves. You might also consider getting an anti-theft purse, bag or wallet. Here are some examples on Amazon.

Make a “Just In Case” Plan

If your items are stolen, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure thieves can’t access your information.

Encrypt the data on your smartphone and other devices. Encryption ensures your data cannot be read or used if your device is lost or stolen.

Enable apps (several available for Android and iPhones) that will help you locate your device.

You might also consider enabling a feature that will remotely wipe your devices of personal information if they turn up missing.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Anything you do over public Wi-Fi is open to hackers and thieves.

If you must connect to public Wi-Fi, do not use it for anything confidential such as banking, bill payments or email. Connect using your data plan instead. If you do not have an unlimited data plan, consider purchasing extra data for the trip. Or contact your carrier and inquire about a mobile hotspot to take along.


Many hotels offer business centers where you can log into a computer or connect to Wi-Fi. It is best to avoid using these but if you must, never use a public computer for anything confidential even email or online shopping. Data is easily compromised on public computers, and they can contain malware and keyloggers used to steal your personal information.

Wait To Post Pictures

Don’t post your travel plans or photos on social media. Thieves scan social media sites, and if you’re advertising that your home will be unoccupied, it’s just an invitation to criminals.

Final Thought

Vacations should be fun. If you prepare ahead of time and take safety precautions, you can avoid unnecessary problems.


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