Technology and traveling are inseparable these days. No matter where you go, technology makes research, booking and navigation a lot easier – think about the times you’ve read a travel article online, booked a last-minute flight and found your way through a foreign city with just your phone. But convenience always comes with a cost, and in this case, in hidden charges and cyber threats. We’ve rounded up some key issues and challenges that travelers face to help you avoid digital pitfalls.
Research Your Destination Online
Travel and lifestyle blogs are among the most popular online content and a must-read before traveling to any destination. By reading up on your favorite destinations from bloggers with similar interests or lifestyle habits to yours, you will have a much easier time when you arrive at your destination. From cultural faux pas to the best sights, all of this are things you can find out ahead of time.
For example, I decided to book a car for my trip to Zurich instead of taking the cab as I usually do after finding out how expensive Taxis are in Switzerland on Tripfore.
Watch out for cookies when booking and researching online
When it comes to planning a trip, travelers spend days, even months, hunting down the best deals or simply finding ideas for the best trips. Watch out if you have a habit of visiting a site multiple times before checking out, you might very well be subjected to ‘dynamic pricing’.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi
Upon arriving at a new destination, free Wi-Fi might be one of the first things that cross your mind. Once you find coverage, it’s tempting to hop on for a quick WhatsApp message or an Instagram scroll, but using unsecured networks puts you at risk of personal information theft and tracking.
Threats on public Wi-Fi are multi-layered. Hackers in proximity may pry into your phone through the unsecured network in what’s known as a Man-In-The-Middle attack. At the same time, your network provider (the airport, restaurant chain or cafe) might be monitoring, tracking, or even collecting your data in your expense. Both pose a grave danger to your privacy and security, so remember to wait until you’re at your hotel’s secure network to get online.
So what can you do if you need connectivity 24/7, but cannot rely on Wi-Fi? One solution is simply bringing along a portable Wi-Fi router or getting a local sim card.
Compared to sim cards, Wi-Fi routers are more versatile and hence preferable if you have a few devices. With 1 single router, you can upload images from your laptop, scroll through Instagram on your phone, and watch Netflix on your iPad all at once. On a more practical note, multiple connectivities allow both you and your friend to go online for the price of 1 device’s rental. If you are interested in other alternatives (and read French), check out this resource on staying connected while traveling.
Bring your favorite shows with you
There’s no better time to catch up on Netflix programs than while waiting for transportation. Depending on the location, you might not be able to access the same programs on Netflix or the entire app altogether. This is because of geo-restrictions. You can look into ways to change your IP address and spoof your location such as a proxy or a VPN. Don’t be caught off guard right before the season finale!
Go for a GPS-equipped rental car
If you’re planning a road trip in a foreign land, always look for rental cars with a built-in GPS or a GPS plug-in. Why is a GPS car-system more preferable than Google maps on your phone? GPS car-systems function by communicating directly with satellites and does not require mobile signals. This makes them much more reliable than apps especially in remote areas such as the vicinity of Death Valley in the USA, where mobile coverage might be out for 2 to 3 hours on the road. Before you leave for your trip, either prepare yourself for an extended period without a navigation system or rent the right gears to do the job.
Take the best photos with your phone
The days of lugging around a big camera are long gone. With today’s technology, you can take high-quality photos with just your phone. Mobile photography also makes the uploading process a lot more efficient – just point, snap and share on social media. Always keep your camera clean and grease-free, and avoid digital zoom as much as you could. These are two simple tips to help you take better quality photos. When composing photos, apply the rule of thirds to give the image a better sense of motion and space. It works wonders balancing the subject and its surroundings. Whether you’re taking a group shot, snapping your food or even taking a selfie, remember these hacks and you’ll be racking up those Instagram likes in no time!
Keep your devices charged
When travelling, make sure that your electrical devices stay charged, especially your phone. There is nothing worse than arriving upon your destination unable to find your way to your hotel. Most airlines provide power outlets now, but you should always bring your own power bank to be sure. If you need to charge a variety of devices, get a multi-charging cable for extra connectivity. Also, if your phone is not in use for navigation, set it to flight mode as much as possible to save battery. Bright screens also take up a lot of power, so turn the brightness down, and if you read a lot on the Kindle app, inverting the display colors (using white text against a black background) helps too.
Device Water Protection
Trips to warm destinations and beautiful beaches remain one of the most popular holidays, but dropping your phone into the pool or even getting it wet in the rain can spell instant tragedy, so save yourself the stress and slip your devices in individual sealable plastic bags before heading out. These waterproof cases usually come with strings to hang the device around your neck, so you won’t have to worry about misplacing them. They come in a range of sizes, so you’re bound to find one for your tablet or even the DSLR camera.
Email a copy of your travel documents to yourself
You never know what personal information might be required while traveling. From your passport number to the address of your stay, keep information and numbers in an email to yourself to access easily and securely. This also applies for travel documents like passport copies or your visa, just in case you happen to misplace the original.
This wraps up our 9 travel tips for 2019. Follow these simple and effective technology tips to keep your devices and information safe wherever you go, so you can focus on enjoying yourself and experiencing all that the world has to offer!