I can feel it, can’t you? Spring is coming! We’ve reset our clocks, had the official first day of spring and I’ve even seen a few tulips blooming in the front yard. For some of you lucky folks, that might also mean you have some family travel coming up for Spring Break. Whether you’re headed for beach fun, snow slopes or a city break – and whether you’re going with friends, family or on your own – a little research and some preparation can make traveling with your technology a breeze.
For me and for my family, we’re packing a lot more technology than ever before. We have our smartphones and tablets, music players and laptops, camera memory cards and portable Wi-Fi routers. Yeesh! And I hate to pack them in suitcases where they might not make it to our destination at the same time as us, so my carry-on bag is quite heavy! But, it’s a burden well worth bearing as technology can make life on the road much more enjoyable for everyone -- it’s proven to be useful so many times.
For example, we’ve snagged reservations to museum exhibits via online systems that would have been tricky without translation programs and high-speed connections. We use online check-in and electronic boarding passes on our phones to simplify airline travel. And our children can be completely occupied and entertained on long flights with videos, films and books they download to their devices.
Recently, we rented apartments during a family vacation in Italy – allowing us to stay in city centers, use local transportation and save a lot of money. We were also able to pick up a local SIM card for my portable router, enabling all the family devices to share a low-cost and password-protected Internet connection for a fraction of hotel Internet fees.
It also gave us the ability to set up our own Wi-Fi network helped my family avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots, a notoriously low-security way to get online when you travel – one of the many digital dangers people unwittingly face when they travel.
Here are several other digital dangers to look out for and some tips to stay safe for maximum travel fun:
Be wary of email or social networking scams offering free airline tickets and hotel discounts, phishing emails around frequent flyer mileage, or offers for discounted excursions. Also, look for “trust seals” like the Norton Secured seal verifying the site’s security before making your purchases.
Consider a portable router to create your own Wi-Fi hotspot for your family’s devices. Many popular models allow up to five devices on one secured connection. You’ll need a local SIM data card, usually available from an airport kiosk.
Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi, whether in an airport or local café. According to the 2012 Norton Cybercrime report, over two-thirds of online adults use free or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can spy on your connection, capturing your login details and any credit card info you type in. So when you are using public Wi-Fi, keep your information safe by using personal protection like Norton Hotspot Privacy – which keeps your signal safe and anonymous. Or, wait until you’re on a private network before conducting any potentially sensitive activities online.
Maximize your smart phone’s charge by turning off services you don’t need like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and data roaming. Disable or remove apps you won’t be using that might be pinging the server unnecessarily, causing you to pay for data costs and running your battery down.
As you travel, don’t leave anything behind. I’ve found iPads in airline seat pockets. Use bright colored device covers, attach ribbons or other attention getting items. Make sure all devices are labeled with your name and secured with a password. Install security software like Norton 360 Multi-Device before you hit the road, so if your device is lost or stolen, you can remotely locate and temporarily lock it to prevent anyone from accessing it.
Checking in via your smartphone? Take a screen capture of the boarding pass to avoid having to reload it when you’re in the queue. I’ve had trouble getting a good phone connection in the airport and having it saved as an image is a lifesaver! And multiple family members on the same flight means you’ll swipe from image to image easily!
Using social media when you travel can be a great way to share your family’s adventure. But remember, checking in or posting photos can alert someone with bad intentions that your house is vacant. Make sure you set your house alarm, hire a house sitter or delay those posts until you are safely back at home.
For those on college Spring Break, review your social media privacy settings. Don’t let anyone post to your account or tag you without your consent in all those cra-a-a-azy photos and videos.
Wishing my readers a safe and relaxing Spring Break!