By Krissa Cavouras
So far, the twenty-first century has been all about connectivity — your mobile is now smarter than you are, your clunky computer got replaced with a sleek tablet, and you can’t leave home without either. So when you go on holiday, an ounce of prevention is worth a thousand quid of cure. (And if you’re traveling with your smart phone, a tablet and a decent camera, that’s probably how much your tech is worth!)
Before you board
If you bought travellers’ insurance for the trip, make sure it covers your gadgets or buy specific coverage for mobile devices. And we should all back up our data regularly, but this is particularly important before travelling.
At the hotel
Even if you travel with your laptop or tablet you probably won’t take it sightseeing, so store it in the room or concierge safe. If there isn’t a safe, lock any valuables in your luggage and take the key with you. Remember, if you hide your iPad under the mattress, you might just leave it there forever.
Out and about in the city
When you’re travelling, you’re constantly pulling your smart phone out of your pocket or handbag to help you navigate, so invest in a sturdy case to protect it from drops. You should always use your camera’s wrist strap when shooting, but consider getting a wrist strap for your phone as well — while you’re mapping the route to Sagrada Familia (hey, Barcelona has a reputation for pickpockets), an enterprising thief can pinch that phone right out of your hands.
Make your mark
Back at home, you may have a well established routine of shops, bars and restaurants so it’s easier to retrace your steps or hope the newsagent remembers you. You’re in an unfamiliar environment while abroad, and a recent survey found that 25% of all travellers who lost their phones did so during sightseeing. But you can improve your chances of getting it back:
- On your camera, take a photo of the hotel stationery with your name and contact details, and write “If found, please return here” in the local language.
- On your smart phone or tablet, change the lock screen to display a message with local contact details and your email address. There’s even an app for that.
- Order some sturdy aluminium tags embossed with your contact details — this is especially useful if the gadget loses power, making the lock screen message irrelevant.
What if it’s stolen?
Unfortunately, a lock screen message won’t compel a thief to do the right thing. All hope is not quite lost though:
- There are plenty of tracking apps for Android and Apple devices, including some security services that can track the phone even if the thief removes your SIM card.
- If you’re tech-savvy, you can set up an IFTTT (“if this, then that”) command that will monitor a particular website (e.g. eBay) based on your keywords; if the thief tries to sell it on, you can get a notification even months later that an item matching your keywords is for sale there.
- File a police report for the theft. You might well need it for insurance claims, and you never know what the local police will turn up.
Hopefully with some planning and precautions, you and your gadgets will make it home safely. Now, put down your phone and enjoy your holiday!
Krissa Cavouras is the knowledge manager for MyAssetTag.com, which creates asset labels and tags for inventory and security, making audits and tracking easy.