First and foremost, I am no technology expert. I tried that route as an undergrad, spending my first year as a programming major. My second C++ programming class combined with Calculus made me quickly change my mind. However, I would say I have a leg up compared to the average computer user. With that said I have a lot to learn myself.
…and now getting back on point…
Unless you plan on traveling like it’s the 1920′s, you should consider spending a little time learning about being tech savvy for your adventure. These are just some tips, however if you are serious about digital safety then you should be following Anil Polat of Foxnomad. He is a travel tech guru, while I have not read his book…yet, The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0, it has received a lot of positive reviews. If you don’t want to fork over the cash, at the very least I recommend reading his blog, like The Traveler’s Guide To Locking Down Your Laptop Part 1, 2, and 3.
Securing Your Files
You really have two options.
Online: There are a lot of various online storage services available. There are companies that deal with file storage, like Carbonite, and those that deal with photos, like Smugmug. Some of these options are free, others may require a yearly subscription, either way make sure to fully research before you commit to an option. Don’t be afraid to ask online to see if anyone you know has personally used the services.
I’ve talked about how I am using one of Google’s free websites to store all of my files and personally I still stand by that decision. It will get tested this December when I set out to see the world. The reason I like this is because I use it for more than just file storage, it also serves as a place where my wife and I can organize our resources like all my cheap flight websites, overseas job sites and more in a very organized fashion. It is linked to my personal google account, and on top of that every PDF that I uploaded has been password protected. This has a double security feature, that while not fool proof does offer some protection.
USB or External Hard Drive: You do have the option of keeping your files on you. However, with the risk of getting your computer hacked/damaged/stolen the best option is not on your laptop but on a USB flash drive. The problem with this is that you still run the risk of loosing your flash drive with all your important information. That is why, I recommend purchasing a password encrypted USB device.
The same can go for an external hard drive, except that they are less likely to come with an encryption program on them so you may need to download or purchase one.
With all your fancy belongings you want to make sure that you have a safe way to store all your belongings so that you are not worried about what you left at the hostel.
Pacsafe: This is a well known company in the area of travel safety. While most people think about money belts and other ways to keep their cash handy. Your tech-gear is a whole other set of worries. I personally am getting ready to purchase their portable-safe. (NOTE: I haven’t tried this product personally but it has been recommended to me by other travelers)
Locks: Regular locks are also a great way to keep things stored in lockers. Also, if your door has a regular lock with a big bulky key, your own personal padlock may be more convenient (I got this tip from Philip Cotsford‘s packing list video). There are also laptop locks, some of you may have received something like this as a going away college gift.
Cases and Covers: having protective covers and cases for your electronics can help you from bumps along the road. Also, you may want to consider dry bags or other water tight safety measures for your electronics. The downside is that often this adds bulk to your supplies. Plan ahead and get form fitting cases and covers – dry bags typically don’t take up too much space and are mulch-functional. This may not protect it if you are bouncing around different temperature but at the least can protect it from dust or sand.
(The largest size of the three piece set linked to did fit my 13″ mac while in its small tight cover)
Surge Protectors: Power surges may not be common at home but when dealing with the rest of the world, that may not remain true. Purchasing an inexpensive power surge protector can save your electronics.
Power Converters: You know that little switch that says 120V and then 220V? Well that is there for a reason. You already made sure to check you have the correct electrical outlet so make sure your device carries both voltage. If it doesn’t say so directly on the device or the plug of the device you may need to purchase a power converter. You can also check your countries voltage compared to your destination(s) to see if a converter is even needed.
Passport: You can find RFID blocking passport holders all over the web, but what are they and is it worth it? I am not sure how common identity theft is attributed to people stealing your info from your passport but it is one of those, better safe than sorry scenarios. If you are cheap, and a bit of a risk taker (seeing that it is illegal to intentionally destroy the RFID chip), you could accidentally drop a hammer on it while hanging pictures.
Using Wifi: Foxnomad has a great simplistic breakdown of tips on how to secure your browsing at internet cafes.
Passwords: It doesn’t hurt to change your passwords once in a while. Bonus points if you have different passwords for your email and your online bank account.
When getting travel insurance make sure to check if your laptop and camera are covered. I’m going to default to Foxnomad once again for helping you to find a good insurance as well as checking to see if it is even needed.
Happy digital travels!
Some of the links provided in this post are affiliate links. Namely, any Amazon link. This means that if you purchase the product a small percentage goes back to me. This does not increase the cost to you, the buyer. Furthermore, MonkeyBrewster.com will not recommend a product that I am not familiar with and would not use myself.