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Traveling with Technology

 We have some great travel tips for traveling with all of your electronic gear.  With just a bit of preparation, you and your phone, laptop and camera will be ready for just about anything in any country.  We’ll also include security tips on keeping your data secure.  After all, you never know what may happen when you travel.

Phones, smartphone and tablets

We take the view that vacation is vacation and it’s good to remain “disconnected”.  There are occasions when it is handy to have a wireless phone when traveling internationally.  If you think you’ll be taking your phone, before you leave make sure you:

  1. Verify your phone will work outside of the country
    Most foreign countries outside of North America use GSM technology.  Most Smartphones utilize GSM, but many regular cellphones in the US do not.  Check your carriers website and look at your destination’s wireless coverage maps.  You’ll find roaming maps for major US and UK carriers here:  T-mobileSprintVerizonAT&TVodafoneOrange.
     
  2. Make sure your phone is activated to work on international networks
    Most carries levy an extra surcharge for this service and it must be activated before you leave.
     
  3. International cell phone and data roaming can be expensive
    Make sure you check with your carrier and see what roaming rates are at your destination.  Data transfer adds up quickly.  You may want to turn off your email and web browsing capability while outside your home country.
     
  4. Set a device passcode
    Travelers lose or leave behind items every day.  Just in case you forget your phone, make sure to set a passcode on the device.  This will not only protect your phone from being used in a foreign country, but it will also help protect your valuable data stored on the phone. 

Another alternative, based upon your destination, is to purchase a world cellphone or rent a sattelite phone if you’re traveling to extremely remote areas.

Buying SIM cards at your destination can be cumbersome and some phones no longer have SIM cards that you can change.  If you’re going to be in a destination for a month or more, consider just buying a disposable cell phone when you get there with prepaid minutes.

IAH TIP: Mobal Communications is our world cellphone carrier and has reasonable rates for most countries.  You pay no monthly fee, only for the time you use the phone.  They also rent sattelite phones if you’re going to be in remote areas.  We’ve used their service for over 4 years and have been very happy with both the service and call quality. 

Laptops and tablets

If you’re going to be traveling with your laptop or tablet, here’s a few tips:

  1. Backup it up before you leave
     That way if you lose it or it is stolen, you’ll have a current backup of your data
     
  2. Secure it
     Setup a Logon ID and/or passcode.  It’s one extra layer of security that can help protect your data if it is stolen or lost.
     
  3. Setup remote wiping
    If you have the ability to setup remote wiping of your laptop or tablet, enable the functionality before you leave.
     
  4. Plan on alternate protection.
    Hotel safes vary in size.  Sometimes there’s not a safe at all.  Sometimes safes aren’t safe. Plan on an additional way to secure your laptop if necessary.  Pac-Safe gear is one way to protect your electronic equipment if a safe isn’t available.
     
  5. Power supply and adapter.
    Make sure you have the right electrical adapter for your destination country.

Using the internet in other countries

Anytime you use your laptop, tablet or smartphone outside of your home, you should always be aware of keeping your surfing and data secure.  That’s especially true when you’re outside the country.  That hotel your staying in or internet cafe you’ve stopped into, may not take data security as seriously as you do.  Plus, you never know who may be trying to sniff 

 

your data from nearby locations.  To protect yourself, consider getting a personal VPN.  

A personal VPN protects your information once it leaves your computer.  Your firewall and virus protection don’t do that.  When you use an internet connection or hotspot, you don’t know who may be “sniffing” that traffic just looking for personal information, credit card numbers, etc.  Who knows who’s in the hotel room down the hall that’s monitoring your internet traffic on the hotel network.

We’ve used WiTopia for PersonalVPN service for over five years.  It’s extremely reliable and really doesn’t have any affect on internet speed.  It’s very reasonable at around $60 per year and it’s easy to install and use for both Windows and Mac users.  Plus, you can also enable a WiTopia VPN on your tablet or smartphone.

 Leverage “the cloud” when you travel

What happens if you lose your hotel confirmation while you’re on your trip?  Worse yet, what if you lose your passport?  While everyone should always take copies of important documents (like your passport) with you when you travel, as well as copies of itineraries, confirmations, etc., it’s easy to misplace or lose them.

Our backup plan is to use the “cloud”.  There are many different cloud-based services you can use, such as iCloud or Dropbox.  These sites allow you to securely store files in the cloud and then access them from anywhere that you can logon to the internet.  You can store copies of your itineraries, passport, travel insurance documents, visas, etc, then be able to download or print them from wherever you are. Your files are safely stored and accessible only by you.  As an extra measure of precaution, we store all of our files in PDF format and encrypt them with a password.  Even if someone were to find out our login credentials to the site, they’d also need to know the password to the file to open or view it. 

Cameras & video gear 

There’s nothing better than getting back from a trip and reliving your travel experiences with your photos & video footage.  Before you leave on your trip, make sure:

  1. You have plenty of memory cards.
    The last thing you want is to miss out on being able to take photos half way through your trip.

  2. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket
    While it might be more convenient to buy one large capacity memory card, we prefer to use a few smaller capacity cards.  That way if your camera or card are lost, you don’t lose all your photos.
     
  3. Make sure you empty your memory card
    Before you go, make sure your memory card is empty and you’ve downloaded past photos.
     
  4. Make sure your camera’s batteries are charged before you leave
    That way you can hit the ground running and don’t have to worry about charging your batteries right away.
     
  5. Make sure you have the right power adapter for your destination
    You want to make sure you can recharge your batteries once you get to your destination.
     
  6. Lens cloth
    Make sure you take a small lens cloth.  If you get the right one, you won’t even need any lens cleaner and you’ll be ready for any dust, dirt or fingerprints that may get on your lens.

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