It’s our goal at Smart Social to keep your kids safe online – at home, school, and even on family vacations. We asked some experts for their best safe travel hacks for families. Here are their top ten ways to use technology to your advantage before you leave and while you’re traveling.
Don’t post social media updates with your exact location
Shannon Serpette, Chief Editor at Mom Loves Best
Shannon Serpette at MomLovesBest.com tells us she makes sure her two teens understand how dangerous it could be to post status updates about traveling that could show bad guys their exact location. It could also give criminals in your city a heads up that you’re not home.
“We didn’t post photos on our social media accounts until we had left the prior location,” she said. “I think having frank, and even scary, discussions are the best bet for educating everyone going on a trip and making them all understand that any seemingly innocent posts can have disastrous consequences.”
Safeguard your family’s vehicles wherever they are parked
Erica Jabali at I Spy Fabulous
Erica Jabali at ISpyFabulous.com recommends never leaving your garage remotes in your car because they can be stolen and used to break into your home while you are away.
“When people travel, their cars are just sitting there with all the personal information someone needs to steal your identity or burglarize your home,” she explained. She also says it’s a good idea to make copies of all your documents and black out the personal information on the copies with a Sharpie. Keep the originals with you and leave only blacked out copies in the car.
Bring a cigarette lighter adapter when you rent a car
James Goepel at Fathom Cyber
James Goepel at FathomCyber.com warns families not to use the USB ports in rental cars to charge their devices or play music. Instead, he recommends carrying your own USB car adapter.
“Criminals know that they can modify the USB port on a rental car and gain access to or infect your device,” he explained. “Rental car USB adapters also take more abuse than most personal vehicle adapters and thus are more likely to suffer electrical issues that can damage your device.”
Consider getting a privacy screen protector for your personal devices
Alayna Okerlund Content Manager for BestCompany.com
If you plan on using your laptop or smartphone on your family vacation, Alayna Okerlund at BestCompany.com says to consider investing in privacy screen protectors.
“When you travel, you may not think twice about the person next to you on the bus, on the plane, or even in shops, stores, and malls. What you may not realize, however, is that the person next to you has the opportunity to see what you’re doing on your phone/other personal devices,” she explained.
Always bring a portable charger for your devices
Kate Sullivan Head of Experience at Otis Travel Group
Criminals can target travelers that use a random USB cable or USB wall receptacle on public chargers at places like the airport, according to Kate Sullivan who is the Head of Experience at the Otis Travel Group.
“Crooks can replace or alter one of these USB stations in under 5 minutes, installing a chip that can force malicious apps onto your phone,” Sullivan explained. “Most of the time, this won’t affect you in a way you notice immediately – they’ll install an app that, say, forces your phone to click ads, thus making the scammer money in the background while slowing down your phone. However, these same scam techniques can also steal your passwords and financial information, especially if you use Apple Pay or Google Wallet. It’s just not worth the risk!”
Be careful with public internet connections
Kenny Trinh Managing Editor of Netbooknews
Kenny Trinh at NetbookNews.com recommends using a VPN or your own phone’s cellular connection for social media browsing or online purchases while on the go,
“Public wifis, like those in local cafes and hotel lobbies, are a hacker’s playground as they are unsecured and unencrypted,” he explained. “Your sensitive data, such as passwords and credit card information, could easily be stolen.”
Use an app to detail your belongings
Diane Hamilton of Home Inventory
What would you do if your luggage was lost or stolen? Travel experts recommend always making a detailed list of your belongings before you leave. There’s an app, called Home Inventory, which makes it easy to save details about your items in your checked luggage including photos and receipts in case you have to file a police report or insurance claim.
“Without it, you have no proof of possession, condition, or value to file a claim and you are at the mercy of the airline,” explained Home Inventory Cofounder Diane Hamilton. “[Also] make sure to have an updated home inventory for the items in your home.”
Install a home doorbell security camera
Emily Mandagie of The Mandagies // Travel + Adventure Blog
Emily Mandagie at The Mandagies Travel blog finds comfort while traveling by using an app for her home security camera.
“This way you can monitor your home’s entry points at any time of day, and even set motion alerts when visitors show up,” she explained. “Additionally, if your system has chat capabilities, never let people know you aren’t home – you just simply ‘can’t come to the door at the moment.’”
Trick would-be intruders with automated home controls
Veruska Anconitano, Travel Writer
Make it look like someone is home, even when your family is on vacation. Travel writer Veruska Anconitano says travelers can use their smartphones to control their lights and even TVs while they are away.
“You’ve got to play smart: make sure that indoor lights go on and off in different rooms and create a schedule based on time of day that replicates human actions,” she explained. “Once your home is all automated, you can then control it with your smartphone. We’re never 100% safe when we travel and leave our house unattended, but we can use technology to our advantage.”
Back up your travel memories
Emily Mandagie of The Mandagies // Travel + Adventure Blog
“Getting stuff stolen is the worst, and even worse when it’s your phone with 2+ years of photos and memories on it,” says Emily Mandagie at The Mandagies Travel blog.
She recommends keeping your family’s memories secure by backing up your files on your home computer before leaving for your trip. While traveling, you can back up your new photos on a portable hard drive in case you lose your phone or camera on your trip.