Tech Tips for Safe Travels | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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Tech Tips for Safe Travels

Taking a picture out an airplane window

As temperatures rise and vacation dreams beckon, it's time to gear up for summer travel. But before you hit the road, let's talk tech! Keeping your devices safe while traveling is essential for a stress-free and enjoyable journey. From preventing theft to safeguarding electronics from extreme temperatures, here are some easy things you can do to keep your tech in top-notch condition for a hassle-free vacation!

Tech Security and Safety when Traveling

In today's digitally connected world, keeping your technology and data safe is crucial, especially when you're traveling. Whether you're exploring new destinations or navigating bustling airports on the way to familiar haunts, it's essential to protect yourself from potential threats.

Beware of public Wi-Fi and bluetooth connections.

Public wireless networks are convenient, but can pose many security risks. Avoid accessing sensitive information or conducting financial transactions on unsecured public networks, as they are subject to breaches of security. Be sure to use a virtual private network (VPN) when available to encrypt your connection and protect your data from prying eyes. Make sure you’re not connecting to an unsecure network without even realizing it. A classic trick of cybercriminals is to set up shop in a public place, create a hot spot, and wait for an unsuspecting person to accidentally connect. So turn off auto Bluetooth pairing or Wi-Fi connections — better yet, keep your cellphone in Airplane mode when not in use for maximum protection.

Power up safely.

Always ensure you have the necessary power adapters and surge protectors when charging your devices abroad. Do not use unfamiliar charging stations, cords, or USB drives, as they may be infected with malware and pose a risk of data theft. Stick to your own adapters or reputable charging stations.

Personal, battery-operated chargers can be purchased at most airports, but to save a few bucks, purchase one ahead of time. Portable chargers can save you from your battery dying when sightseeing or a long day at the beach, far from an electrical outlet.

Save passwords and valuable information using LastPass.

Saving your passwords in a digital vault such as Pitt Password Manager (LastPass) offers several significant benefits. Not only can you access the passwords to each of your online accounts no matter where you are, you can also add other important data that may be vital while traveling, especially if you lose important documents. You can save driver’s license and passport numbers, plane ticket confirmation numbers, and credit card numbers (put the contact number in the notes area of the payment method entries). Then, if you lose your wallet or an important document, you can use any device to get all of your vital information to get replacements or cancel credit cards.  

Enjoy the moment now, post pics later.

It’s natural to want to share your travel experiences with friends, family, and followers. But wait until you get back. Tagging your location tells hackers in your vacation spot exactly where you are and tells thieves back home that your house is empty. So snap away, and post a photo array when you get back.

If you really feel the need to share your adventures in real time, make sure that you’ve got location settings turned off on your phone so it doesn’t share your exact location. Check the settings for each app — including your camera — to ensure that the location tracking is turned off the post or images aren’t tagged with your whereabouts.

High-Temperature Tech Safety

When summer heat is at its peak, it's crucial to protect your technology from the scorching temperatures that can cause them to overheat and suffer permanent damage. Keeping your technology cool and protected during those blazing summer days to avoid the hot mess.

Stay cool and shady.

You are probably used to keeping your phone with you at all times. But if you’re working or playing outside, consider keeping them tucked away. Avoid leaving your technology in direct sunlight or in hot vehicles for extended periods. Instead, store them in shaded areas or use insulated bags or cases specifically designed to protect against heat.

Don’t forget to protect laptops and e-readers, too. Summer is practically made for sitting outside with a good book. Consider the good old fashioned paper books if you won’t have access to shade or air conditioners. If you’re at the beach with your e-reader, be sure to leave it under a cool beach towel or shady umbrella and to keep it completely powered down (not just asleep) when you’re not using it.

Know the optimal operating temperature.

Be aware of the recommended operating temperature ranges for your devices. Avoid pushing your gadgets beyond their temperature thresholds. If you notice your device becoming excessively hot or displaying warning messages, power it off and allow it to cool down before using it again. If it’s expected to be warmer than 90° F (32° C), keep your device powered down unless you need to use and seek some air conditioning every so often.

Optimal operating temperatures for common tech items:

Give them breathing room.

Overheating can also occur when devices are restricted in tightly packed spaces or when ventilation is obstructed. Give your technology some breathing room by ensuring adequate airflow around them. This includes hot cars with no ventilation. Avoid covering your devices with clothing, blankets, or other materials that may impede heat dissipation while they are powered on. Set laptops on a hard surface rather than on a blanket on your lap, on a grassy surface, or in the sand where the surface will conform to the shape of (and block the vents of) your device.

Happy Travels, Panthers!

As you embark on your summer adventures, prioritize the safety of your technology and your data. By following these tips, you'll safeguard your technology, preserve cherished memories, and stay connected throughout your journey. So go forth, explore with confidence, and let your technology be your trusted companion on your travels!

-- By Claudia Huggins, Pitt IT Student Blogger