28 travel safety tips (both online and offline security)

Last updated by   Douglas Mabiria
Disclosure
This detailed guide features a list of critical travel safety tips that will allow you to keep yourself protected both online and offline.

Traveling can be thrilling since it has to do with exploring and change of environment. It could either be for work purposes or an exciting getaway vacation where you can have time to bask in the sun while enjoying the beauty of a new destination.

Even if your trip is strictly on a budget, traveling appetite springs its own threats. We have put together this article with lots of helpful tips on how to stay safe, happy, and secured during your trip.

Pick a pen and paper or layback comfortably and read through all the tips you need to know as you set out (or are on the go already).  There are a few threats that we feel everyone should look out for while planning a trip. But we cover them later in this article; first, let’s get to the crazy spiky part of all this.

We all know that the world is slowly getting increasingly insecure, and there is danger lurking everywhere. That is solely due to the prominence of hackers and identity thieves out there. Unfortunately, not everyone puts that into consideration. Most people are totally clueless about all the bad things that could happen in this digital era.

Being aware of all the security threats is not enough. How you handle them is what matters. Remember, there is always trouble lurking in the shadows; it’s imperative to protect yourself.

When you are away, both physical security and cybersecurity are critical.

But given the ever-evolving online security threats, digital safety tips are of high priority. Also, while most people tend to take care of their physical security on the go, they on the other side, have no idea how to protect privacy online.

That begs us the need to cover travel security digital tips first because you want to keep yourself protected online before you have reached a new destination. So, we’ll be covering them first and then move to offline security when traveling. Let’s get started:

20 online security tips to ensure travel safety

These are 20 effective travel safety tips for your digital security to prevent you from getting cyberbullied, hacked, or getting your identity stolen while on the go:

1. Be mindful of your social media updates

It can be fascinating and somewhat thrilling to update beautiful moments on your social profiles continually. You would love to let your friends know all the thrills and fun of your adventure.

That’s nice, but honestly, just as your friends are viewing your moments, thieves and hackers may also be getting updated.

Most people today update their activities on their social media, but very few people understand the risk involved in doing so. Criminals continually snoop the internet to pick out their crime victims.

That is largely because most people let off their personal information through social media. If you are the type that doesn’t mind the show, then you’re at a high risk of being at the center light of a serious criminal operation. 

These crimes may range from home burglary to hacking and even identity theft. Criminals will always look for ways to get through to you and scam you financially. Your attractive destinations, dresses, and assets can be a serious contributing factor to this. 

Updating your boarding passes, passports, or travel details can also contribute to victimizing yourself.

Fraudsters would go to any length to use this information against you. It could either be by victimizing you, setting you up, manipulating your travel plans, stealing your identity, or creating other major havocs.

Releasing your information on social media may not only adversely affect you but can also be catastrophic for your friends and families. That can create lots of problems by making them vulnerable to being scammed or hacked.

2. Always turn off your location

Always turn off your location
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Sometimes, you may not need to post about your trip to let people know that you’re away. The location tracker is a dead giveaway.

You always have to remember to configure your device settings. Turn off your location to keep off the public eye.

Most of the smartphones today automatically store locations. If you don’t turn this off, you will be exposing yourself to risk.

It’s important to understand that not all social media platforms have automatic location turn-offs. Check your social media security settings thoroughly and disable location tracking there. As per our security research, updating pictures while on a trip is very unsafe and should be frowned upon.  No matter how beautiful it may seem, all pictures should be updated after you return.

Even though the feeling may not be  as thrilling as earlier, or when the pictures were taken, your security is assured.

3. Be mindful of your picture background

The internet has become so advanced that tracking isn’t as tedious as it used to be. It’s important to scan your surroundings carefully before taking a photo. Avoid standing in front of obvious figures, billboards, address boards, or navigation boards.

This tip does not only apply to travels but is very important daily.

A hacker or thief can get to know vital information such as your residence, workplace, or favorite spot just by this. It’s easy for a hacker to connect the dots and get research on who exactly resides where and how those locations relate to you.

You won’t only be putting yourself at risk but those related to you.

4. Avoid pre-trip updates

Social media goes beyond what we see. Your travel plans should not be anyone’s concern except yours and your family’s. Broadcasting your upcoming business or personal trips may seem really cool, but in a real sense, it isn’t.

Avoid broadcasting your daily life on social media. It’s not necessary to keep everyone posted.  Broadcasting your trips before time can only create more avenues for people to trail you. If you do so, you are putting yourself up for victimization.

5. Be mindful of those you tag in pictures

Be mindful of those you tag on travel pictures
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If you really can’t help updating your traveling experiences while at it, then this is for you.

Avoid tagging people in your travel pictures. Most social media platforms are configured to allow friends of a person you are tagging to also view your post. 

This can only mean that tagging someone to your picture exposes it to people who might be unknown to you.

Review your social media accounts’ settings and make sure to tweak your privacy settings there to receive maximum protection. If your friends decide to make your pictures viral, urge them to put them down.

6. Avoid using public WiFi

You should avoid giving away your information by making sure to turn off your WiFi.

The importance of avoiding public WiFi has been the most emphasized tip in the book. Using free WiFi may feel good, but you’re exposing your identity to being shared in actuality.

If you’re being tracked or monitored, jumping onto a public WiFi is a perfect giveaway. A public WiFi leaves your device vulnerable to being hacked. Not all apps on your device use encrypted transmission. If such apps exist in your device, connection to public WiFi becomes even more dangerous.

7. Use a VPN

Use a VPN
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We specialize in effective tips for protecting oneself with a VPN and top VPNs to use to ensure your security. And there is a reason why we keep getting ‘thank you’ emails from our readers for recommending them to use VPNs.

A VPN helps encrypt your information when you’re connected to an unencrypted network. It helps ghost your presence, making it difficult for your location to be traced.

That means when you have a VPN connection turned on; you are fully secure and good to do even the sensitive activities while traveling. Such activities can range from shopping online to doing banking transactions, etc.

8. Logout from your accounts when no longer in use

Some travel destinations offer smart TV services with movie apps that customers can connect to. This luxury offering ensures their customers feel at home as it prevents them from missing out on their favorite shows.

We emphasized the importance of avoiding the use of public WiFi earlier. Smart TVs make use of precisely this type of connection. We highly recommend you avoid using such services.

But if you decide to opt for the service, ensure to logout your from your accounts before you set off.

9. Avoid swiping your ATM into just about any payment machine

Carrying cash on a trip may sound exhausting, but it’s indispensable. Using cash for some purchases while on a trip can protect you from cases of skimmed ATM. Skimmed ATM is a serious security threat that can be avoided by controlled ATM usage.

In essence, avoid inserting your ATM into just about any payment machine available.

If you still do not feel comfortable carrying cash, opt for payment apps. Make use of popular payment apps such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc., to ensure your financial security.

10. Install anti-theft apps on your devices

Most anti-theft applications are versatile as they don’t only track your device. They can also help erase your documents and password in case of theft or misplacement.

Getting an anti-theft app installed on your device will give you security assurance if you lose your device for any reason. Fortunately, most of the internet-connected devices out there today boast tracking services.

Also, many third-party anti-theft apps are available on Google and Apple Store. It’s recommended that you either activate such services or opt for trusted third-party apps. That will give you an edge should you encounter any unfortunate event.

11. Turn on 2-factor authentication

Check out for any of your online account that offers this and turn it on. Some of the services that offer 2FA (two-factor authentication) today include the following:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Lastpass and Dashlane (password managers)
  • Facebook
  • Dropbox
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

It could be a bit tacky for beginners, but it’s totally worth it. Although this doesn’t offer total security, it goes a long way in securing your accounts.

12. Be extremely mindful of sites you use

Look out for websites that do not have SSL certification. Fortunately, most of the modern browsers today tell you if a website you’re visiting is not secure. Also, knowing if a site is SSL certified is a straightforward task.

For those that don’t know what an SSL certificate means, don’t worry; we will give you a quick rundown.

SSL stands for secure socket layer. This is a security protocol assigned to websites to enable encrypted information transmission. Therefore, if a website is SSL certified, all the activities on that site are totally encrypted and hence are kept out of hackers’ radar.

One simple step to if a website is secure is to look at its address. If you see the extra “S” ahead of HTTP in its address, that website is safe to use.

13. Turn off email tracers

If you haven’t turned off/disabled this, then you need to right now. Email tracers, just like pictures, put your location out there for hackers to assess.

To avoid your emails from getting tracked, you basically need to disable auto image loading. Most of the major desktop and mobile email apps (such as Gmail and MS Outlook) allow doing so via their respective Settings.

You can also find extensions such as PixelBlock and Ugly Mail to block trackers on Firefox and Chrome respectively. Better yet, it would be best if you could switch to secure email providers.

14. Disable Bluetooth

Leaving your Bluetooth turned-on is a security risk, especially in public areas. If your Bluetooth is left open, anyone in the connectivity radius can gain access to your device and pick up your information.

Bluetooth hacks can be done easily without a trace. Take out time to turn off your Bluetooth to avoid unnecessary stress or threat while on your trip.

15. Avoid ATMs that swallow cards quickly

Avoid swiping your ATM into just about any payment machine
(Unsplash)

Most people do not see this coming. Have you ever noticed that some ATM machines swallow cards at higher speeds than others?

Well, that can have some security implications as a card owner.

ATMs that have low swallow speed are more secure than those that quickly swallow cards.

If your ATM card takes a longer period to get swallowed, don’t panic. You’re in safe hands.

Stand back and wait for your card to be swallowed before you proceed.

16. Notify your bank before going on a trip

It’s important to keep your bank informed when going on a trip so your transactions would be closely monitored.

Skim through security procedures in case of emergency. That includes making inquiries relating to security threats, e.g., if your ATM card gets stolen and the fastest way to reach your bank for aid.

Get your identity documents registered with the bank to help verify your identity if any unfortunate case arises. Also, make sure to add some security questions, too, in your account to further strengthen your bank security.

If you haven’t done any of this, this is the best time to get to it.

17. Password-protect your devices

Leaving your phones, laptops, or any other device without password protection is a risky affair even at home. Imagine how dangerous that can be while away. Not having passwords on your device will expose your device not only to online but offline data theft.

Here, we would also recommend not to use a password you already used on your device. If you truly care about your security, you should avoid reusing passwords.

Generating new passwords for each of your accounts goes a long way in ensuring security. If your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and mobile device have the same password, you’re at high risk of getting your security breached on all if only one of them gets compromised.

18. Avoid receiving physical mails when on trips

Apart from an image geo-tracker or email tracers, piling mails in your mailbox can be an easy indication of your unavailability at home. Before you go on a trip, endeavor to visit your local mail office to opt-out of mail services.

If this isn’t available in your country, you could ask your family and friends to help pick up your mails to prevent them from piling. 

19. Remove / backup sensitive information on your device

Before you even begin your trip, it’s crucial to backup your data. That will help in case you encounter data loss or damage problems during the trip. If needed, delete any sensitive files from your device.

One best approach you can adapt here is backing up your data onto encrypted cloud storage to ensure the security of all your personal and work information.

20. Clear unnecessary apps

Clear unnecessary apps
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Some apps create avenues for your device to get hacked. Before your tour begins, skim through your apps, rate them based on their importance and uses.

Delete all those apps you won’t use while on the trip.

The lesser apps you have, the greater your security. With several apps on your device (especially unnecessary ones), it may be hard to know which can become a security threat to you.

21. Update your device security

Make sure your system/device apps, especially security applications such as antivirus and antimalware, are always updated. Updated software ensures your device protection is at its maximum-possible level, which, in return, reduces exposure to malware and hacking.

22. Avoid using just about any USB device

Do not use any USB device that someone else gives to you. Impersonators can use USB devices as secret channels through which they can steal your private information right under your nose.

It also applies to charging booths. Their services can be really tempting as most of them appear when you need them. Except for it, there really isn’t any need to use a charging booth. USB devices don’t only charge your device on a normal but also have some data-sharing features.

There is every possibility that those charging boots can secretly steal your information. We recommended you avoid them no matter how tempting they may seem. If you feel you may need to charge away from your residence, carry a power bank with you.

6 offline security tips to ensure a safe travel experience

Online tips can only protect you from potential dangers in the cyber world. But it isn’t enough to keep you safe from possible dangers. Here are some tips you need to apply offline to ensure safer traveling.

7 Offline security tips to ensure a safe travel experience
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1. Be alert

Don’t let your guard down around strangers.

If you’re traveling for business purposes, avoid inviting your clients to your residence. Opt to meet up in public places such as restaurants or open meeting spaces.

Avoid getting drunk, and be extremely mindful of what you consume. Security measures should also be observed when relating to new friends or people you’re not really close to.

Ensure to keep your room number private. Be observant and take note of the body language of those around you.

2. Avoid standing out

Avoid standing out
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Avoid looking like a tourist! Try your best to avoid giving up your vulnerability even if you’re lost and totally confused.

Try not to look too flashy and avoid inappropriate dresses. Avoid staring and taking pictures everywhere. Keep your conversation on a low, especially if you’re conversing in a foreign language.

Even if you can’t figure out your location, be calm. Use a map discreetly and avoid having to look at your phone constantly, as this can be a severe giveaway.

3. Avoid flaunting your valuables

Wearing branded items can be really cool, but it, at the same time, can hit back at your security. The way you dress can attract thieves, which begs the need to avoid flaunting. Avoid showing off your cash.

Discreetly pull out the money you need for purchase from your wallet.

Avoid pulling out more cash than needed to prevent people’s attention. Adopt an ‘on budget look’ while traveling to protect yourself.

4. Make extra copies of all your travel documents

Make extra copies of all your travel details
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Nobody wants to lose anything during a trip, but accidents do happen.

You should not only have hard copies but making digital copies of your documents must be practiced, too.

Losing a passport can be very stressful as it requires a lot of time and resources. Get digital copies of all your travel documents in case such accidents occur.

5. Read about the place you intend to travel to

Having a little knowledge of the place you’re about to visit can save you a lot of stress. Just like there are dos and don’t in your locality, other places might have them.

Get to understand their law regarding dressing, for example. Understand appropriate dress codes for each event and penalties attached to breaking them.

Get to understand some gestures that are not allowed in public, e.g., PDA. Also, read about common gestures allowed in public. Read through their food laws, religion, restrictions, daily life guides, traditions, festivals, and the rest.

Other than hard drugs, some drugs, and food items are banned in some areas. Sometimes, blogs may not carry all the vital information needed. Skim through social media forums. Pay keen interest to details regarding the proposed location. Could you take note of all of them?

Understand things that happen in such environments, such as; natural disaster occurrences. It would also help if you may take into consideration other factors such as dangerous animals to avoid.

Remember, ignorance hardly gets pardoned in countries with strict laws.

6. Your hotel rooms can have hidden cameras

While it’s illegal to do, some hotels take advantage of their customers by planting hidden cameras in their rooms.

Shocked, right?

Tell if Someone Has Hacked your Laptop Camera
(Flickr)

Well, this is not just a rumor, as some travelers have given verbal confirmation of this. Having surveillance cameras in your room can be very creepy and discomforting.

To protect yourself from this, check the room thoroughly for hidden cameras.

Looking alone with your eyes may not be enough; so, you might want to employ some mobile camera detectors.

Although this method is handy, 100% camera detection is not assured. You can also do to detect spy cams in your hotel room to use your device to connect to the host server for getting a rundown of connected devices. Devices’ names can give you helpful hints sometimes if you pay enough attention.

Signs of travel threat you should look out for

Signs of travel threats cut across offline and online safety. Besides having cases of a pickpocket, there are other huge red lights to be mindful of. Be alert at all times. A new destination doesn’t assure security. If you have a feeling of being trailed or monitored, don’t think twice to file a complaint with local authorities.

If you encounter cases of break-in, raise the alarm and get the situation investigated. Ensure to check your bank transactions on a daily basis. If any suspicious transaction is noticed, call your bank immediately.

If you suddenly can’t log into your social media accounts, take appropriate actions beyond recovering your passwords. Get all your friends and family notified.

Final word

As a traveler, security is paramount.

Take note of every single one of these tips. These tips will ensure optimum travel safety.

Try to apply them daily even after your tour is over until you become habitual. They may seem overwhelming, but there is nothing as important as your security and privacy.

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About the author

Douglas Mabiria
Douglas Mabiria

Douglas is a freelance writer with over six years of experience in article and blog writing who has written in almost every industry with cybersecurity being his primary interest. Mabiria is an advocate for internet privacy, sustainable development, and a green environment. He is very social and enjoys trying new sports as well as implementing new ideas.

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