Laptop Travel Security: How to travel safely with your device

Going on a business trip or holiday with your laptop in tow can feel a bit daunting. With airport security, foreign electricity outlets and constant threat of theft: no wonder you’re feeling on edge. After years of travelling with our devices to (exotic) places such as Finland and South Africa, we’ve acquired plenty of practical information on laptop travel security. Follow our advice below to travel safely with your laptop.

Invest in a QUALITY laptop bag

Whether you are travelling by air, rail or sea, your laptop is in for some rough and ready times. We’ve all seen how luggage gets thrown about, and even if you clutch your laptop like it’s your prized possession; there’s no guarantee it will surface completely unscathed. The trick is to get a quality laptop bag that keeps your laptop safe, giving it the best chance of emerging unharmed.

Some different laptop bag styles to choose from:

  • Laptop backpacks: these are robust and good for your back if designed with the right ergonomics
  • Classic rolling case: handy to drag around and great for frequent business travel
  • Messenger bag: the stylish option, but often lacking in security
  • Laptop sleeves: only advisable if they are durable and will be transported inside another bag (hand luggage only)

Don’t just think about the design, look into the material as well: bags are made from a wide range of material, from nylon and neoprene, to canvas and polyester. Make sure you go for something durable with substantial internal padding.

Top tip: If flying, take your handbag with you as carry-on. This is much safer than checking it in as luggage.

Get the right adapter for your laptop

Power outlets change from country to country, so make sure you get the right adapter before you travel. Don’t get caught out (I did once, and ended up frantically dashing around a market in Chile hunting for a European adapter…)

There’s not only the right hardware to tackle, but some countries also use different electrical currents. Check out this global plug and socket guide to help you buy the right kit.

Don’t leave it lying around

This might seem obvious, but the amount of people who leave their laptop bag lying about as they ‘nip’ to the restroom or talk on the phone, proves that we still haven’t learnt. Do not EVER leave your laptop unsupervised abroad, and don’t trust ‘friendly’ strangers with it as you dash out for something. Pack it up and take it with you.

Top tip: In certain parts of the world, flashing your tech is asking for trouble. Wrap it in towels and carry it in a discreet bag if you have to bring it along.

Remember: Laptops don’t like direct sunlight or the cold.


How safe is your hotel safe?

There’s been plenty of research done into this: hotel safes are only safe if you trust the hotel, and the safe itself is bolted down securely. If the safe is installed in a flimsy wooden wardrobe, forget it. Safes might also be more obvious targets in a grab and go theft, so hide your valuables somewhere in the room instead.

Do regular back-ups

You should back your laptop up on an external hard-drive regularly, but certainly make sure you do a full back-up of your laptop before leaving on holiday. Backing up your whole system might take a few hours, so don’t leave it too late.

Top tip: Never travel with your laptop and your external hard-drive at the same time (unless you have two), as then you stand to lose it all if something goes wrong.

Laptop insurance

Whether it’s for business or private use, it’s always a good idea to insure your laptop. You can either get a comprehensive laptop cover, or a flexible ‘protect my bubble’ type solution. Travelling with your device is often not included in the standard plan, so make sure you upgrade before a big trip.

Top tip: Insurance companies often need records of a police callout or statement if you make a claim, so always report a crime or a theft. You can get original documents translated later.

In-built laptop security

You may laugh at the idea of a self-destructing hard drive, but trust us: some industries need this level of security. Never travel with sensitive business data that is un-encrypted. Use remote desk-topping and cloud solutions as much as you can.  For personal users, losing a laptop is a huge personal loss and breach of privacy. Having backups will make the whole ordeal a lot less traumatic, but it’s still not nice to have strangers pawing your personal stuff. To keep people from accessing your data, a hard-to-crack password is a good place to start.  Check out this video on how to create good passwords.

Have you ever had a travel mishap with your laptop? Tell us what you did below.

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