7 Critical Tech Checks Before Travelling
So, that’s close.
Way too close.
The spray is washing up on your face as the boat bumps its way forward over the rapids. Up close, the Rhine Falls are spectacular. Water rushing down over the rock wall and the sheer power of the Falls makes you feel uneasy.
The boat continues to tack around the base. You feel nervous. But you know they say, live in the moment. So you’re snapping away, even diving into the long exposure trick on your new iPhone – getting those milky waterfall photos you always see on Instagram.
Then it happens.
The boat hits a small, surprisingly powerful, rogue wave. The hull bounces up and thunders back down, forcing water to rush into the boat.
And all your see is your iPhone slip from your hands, sinking into the whitewash under the boat.
It was gone in the blink of an eye.
Annoying yes. You want to avoid buying a new iPhone, especially in Switzerland. But you hadn’t backed up your photos and data in months to the cloud. Let alone the first 4 weeks of this trip.
These accidents and incidents happen every day to everyone.
But by using our pre-departure guide, you can ensure that your memories and data are secure even if the phone takes a swim.
1. Check Your Apps
Now, the walk from the long-term car park at Melbourne Aiport is legendary (of course, catching the Skybus shuttle makes more sense). But equally as lengthy is the far gates in the international terminal built for the Airbus A380.
So you don’t want to have cleared security and immigration and walked out to the gate to wonder why is no one else here? And then you discover that the gate has changed, and you didn’t know, leaving to grab your carry-on bags and hurry to the other concourse, hoping you don’t miss the boarding call.
You might wonder how come everyone else knew. Well, they likely downloaded the airline’s app and received a notification.
Before you leave home, download any apps you think you will need. That way, you’re not relying on patching WiFi at the airport. Or worst, you forget.
We suggest the following apps be loaded on your smartphone before departure:
- Airline (Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar or your international carrier)
- Rail (Eurail, DB, TfL Go or your destination(s) country rail provider)
- Hotel or accommodation booking site
- Theme park
- Camping ground app
- Weather (BOM, AccuWeather, The Weather Channel)
- City tourism
- Apple or Google Wallet or to store your international Covid-19 vaccination certificate
2. Check your cables and adapters
You’ve probably seen it. iPhone chargers are still plugged into airport power points in gate lounges. Is there anything more synonymous with travel than a white Apple cable? Unfortunately, every day around the world, people accidentally leave their chargers, cables and adapters behind. Pack an additional charger for your laptop, tablet, or phone to avoid this. Otherwise, you may be paying a hefty price for a new charger in a gift shop or at a duty-free store.
3. Do you have the power?
A small charging power bank is a fantastic way to connect and access power. Many local retailers in Melbourne and online sell them. They are small blocks that hold a charge and can power up a smartphone quickly.
And crucially, by carrying your own power bank, you avoid the potential hacking of your devices by juice-jacking ports. These are fake or compromised public USB charging ports that cybercrooks use to steal your data.
4. Can you phone home?
When travelling overseas, you must review your existing mobile phone plan. Depending on your telco, you may need access to call or text internationally on your plan. So don’t automatically assume you do without checking. Telstra, Optus and other Australian carriers can easily include international options. Of course, you should check what’s included in the upgrade and the cost. If you intend on making long calls or using a heavy amount of internet data, a better alternative is VoIP (Zoom Phone).
With Zoom Phone, you can make calls and send text messages to your loved ones, friends and colleagues (remember you need a WiFi connection).
5. Consider a VPN (virtual private network)
Cafes, hotel lobbies, and many cities offer free WiFi to help you stay connected. But be warned; public WiFi can expose you to hacking. It’s easy for a hacker to access your connection and data with public WiFi. To guard against this, consider purchasing a virtual private network (VPN) to keep you safe on the road. With a VPN, your saved data is encrypted, no matter the connection. If you ever wanted to watch some of your favourite TV shows unavailable to stream in Australia, you can do that too. Or when you’re overseas, take advantage of those shows from back home.
6. Back up your devices before boarding
Sometimes things go wrong, like leaving your phone onboard in the seat’s back pocket. Or the airline loses your luggage. And worst still, you get mugged boarding a train in Milan. 10% of all laptop thefts happen in crowded airports. So don’t lose all your data and memories. You must back up your devices to the cloud or local storage before leaving for your trip. That way, you can travel confidently, knowing your data is secure, and you won’t need to consider using the remote “wipe my device” command.
7. How secure are your devices?
Wandering around Brooklyn looking for a slice of pizza or hiking a trail through the Swiss Alps, you don’t want to be worried about your devices being hacked. And while you’re enjoying the moment, you let your guard down. As a result, you may not think twice about clicking a link that doesn’t look suspicious.
Before you leave home, ensure all your devices are protected:
- DNS filtering
- Screen lock with passcode
- Sharing features turned off
- VPN application
- Find-My-Device feature turned on
Bonus…have someone check your checks
In other words, have a family member, friend, or colleague check you have all your devices when you leave a plane, train or automobile. And if you’re travelling alone, ask someone back home to check in with you by text. Did you remember to pack your charger when you left the hotel? Have you turned on your VPN? It seems simple but will ensure you enjoy the experience and avoid coming home with travel horror stories.
Now is the best time to secure your devices
Don’t leave your devices exposed to hackers when travelling. You want to avoid being caught in London, Seoul or Auckland without access to your data or online banking app. Let us help you review your devices for potential security breaches.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.