We know that traveling by plane or car is one of the most exciting and most stressful travel experiences.
You want to make it out with your laptop safe and sound so you can finish watching your favorite movie or get back home safely.
To help you understand how to keep your laptop safe when traveling, we’ve put together some helpful tips for you.
Know What to Expect through Security
When you first enter security, you’ll be instructed to take off your shoes and your coat, and remove anything metal from your pocket.
But what if you’re traveling with a laptop? The security guard may ask that you take it out of its case and place it in a separate container. You should keep your laptop on standby, because sometimes the security officer will ask you to turn it on.
TSA is bringing new 3D security scanners nationwide, which means that travelers will be able to leave your laptop and liquids in carry-ons in the future.
An extra tip: Keep an eye on your laptop at all times, because the X-ray machine is a popular spot for thieves!
Protect it with a Padded Laptop Case
You can buy a cheap padded laptop sleeve or bag online for under $20. Major department stores also sell cases near the purse and luggage department.
They come in all styles ranging from professional leather to fun prints; some even come in waterproof material. Just make sure the material is durable and padded; not only do you want to prevent overheating, but you also want to minimize jostling.
Always Carry On, Never Check
You should always carry your laptop on the plane to protect it from damage, but also for security reasons. Especially for international trips, there is no guarantee that everything in your checked baggage will arrive safely at its destination.
Place your laptop securely in its case, and keep it in front of you while walking around the airport. Because laptops are valuable and an easy target for seasoned airport pickpockets, be especially careful when using the restroom.
Those traveling with a laptop are easily identifiable, so bring all carry-on items with you in the bathroom stall.
Check the Power Adapter
Have you ever seen that scene in “Just Married” where the newlywed couple blows a fuse in their European hotel? This is an extreme example, but don’t let this be you!
If you’re using your laptop at an international airport, don’t forget that electrical outlets might be different from the ones we use in the US. Most laptops will still function with the use of a plug adapter, which you can buy online or at any hardware store.
Buy a USB Flash Drive
Even if you follow every rule for traveling with your laptop, there are no guarantees. If you don’t have an external hard drive to back up your data, you should at least buy a flash drive.
It’s a great investment; not only is it very affordable, but it’s portable and fits on your key-chain. If there are important documents on your laptop that you couldn’t live without, save them on a USB flash drive and you won’t regret it.
Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, you should handle your laptop with care at the airport. You don’t need the added stress of a hardware malfunction, theft, or the wrong plug adapter to ruin your trip.
Exercise extra caution, and you shouldn’t have any problems flying with your laptop.
Hide it in your luggage.
Your laptop is valuable, both for its parts as well as any personal data you might have stored on it.
It is not always possible to have your laptop on your person when you are travelling, so keeping it well hidden in your hotel room is a good way to keep it from being pilfered.
Hiding it under your clothes in your suitcase, underneath your hotel bed, or ideally in a safe locked box that some hotel rooms have.
Regardless of where you stash your laptop, make sure it is out of sight when entering the room.
Use a VPN.
Public Wi-Fi is fraught with dangers, both from roaming malware as well as more direct means of privacy invasion via hacking.
VPNs encrypt all incoming and outgoing data on your device, protecting it and your data if you need to use an unsecured connection.
You can also make use of private servers that allow you to access content that might not be available in your region of the world, such as certain shows on Netflix.
Most good VPNs cost money on a subscription basis, with a discount if you sign up yearly. NordVPN and SurfShark are two good VPN options.
Use antivirus software.
As a follow up to the previous tip, strong antivirus software is also a good investment if you are connecting to unfamiliar networks often.
Avoid making sensitive transactions on public Wi-Fi if possible, as this reduces the risk even further, should your antivirus of choice have an unknown fault.
If you need to make a transaction over public Wi-Fi, make sure the website you are using is secure. You can tell if this is the case by looking at the URL. Ones that start with ‘https’ and have a small padlock symbol are usually safe.
Make sure your antivirus software is up to date as well. The nature of hacking/malware and defense against such actions is constantly evolving as new security flaws are exploited and patched on a near constant basis.
Get a cable lock.
This device is similar in function to a bike chain or a padlock, allowing you to secure your laptop in one location and protect it from theft.
These devices attach to the laptop and can be connected to another object to keep it safe and secure, giving you peace of mind if you need to step away from your laptop for any reason.
Newer versions of these devices can even make alarm sounds, alerting you to thefts in progress that you can then attempt to prevent or get to safety if you do not want to confront the thief.
This can even be used in public if you need to step away to use the restroom, and do not want to bring your laptop into the restroom with you.
Invest in theft recovery software.
This sort of software is meant for when the other options at protecting your laptop has failed and it is now in the hands of someone who it does not belong to.
You can track the location of your stolen device, allowing local authorities to find it and potentially the perpetrator.
This software can work even when the laptop has been wiped clean, and even after a new OS has been installed.
Alternatively, if you fear the worst, this software can also scrub the data from your laptop and make it more difficult for criminals to extract data from it.
Get travel insurance.
Insurance is always a good thing to have when dealing with expensive objects, as it allows you to recoup the monetary value that you might have lost.
It is important to look over the details of your insurance plan to make sure it covers replacing expensive items such as laptops or other expensive devices.
Needing to use travel insurance can be a hassle, but it is better than the alternative of just finding yourself out of luck if your items get lost or stolen. Protect your items and get insurance.
Use strong passwords.
If your laptop is taken by nefarious individuals, then a strong password can prevent or delay them from breaching the security of your laptop.
This means that the chance of your information being stolen increases dramatically, as breaking passwords becomes much more time consuming as the complexity of the password increases.
Long passwords are best, as well as mixing in numbers and symbols to further increase its complexity. Some devices even have options to lock out after a certain number of failed attempts, or even to wipe all data as well.
Protecting your data is important, so strong passwords are essential.
Encrypt sensitive data.
VPNs only encrypt data that is traveling to and from your computer, but it does not place encryptions on files that simply exist on your computer.
There are several options for encryption, allowing you to either lock all your data behind another password, or you can select certain files to encrypt.
These files should be ones that contain personal information, or information related to baking such as card numbers and pins. Strong passwords are required here as well since an encryption is worthless if it is easily broken.
Backup your data.
If your laptop is the only place where you store certain types of information, make a backup of any information you cannot afford to lose and leave it at home or store it in the cloud.
You can save documents to Google Drive for safekeeping, and this will also allow you to access these files from another computer if you become separated from your own.
You can also secure documents in a separate hard drive, and then store that in a safe location either in your home or with a professional security group, though these copies will not be as easy to access if you are far from home.
Be vigilant and Aware
Always be on the lookout when traveling, as you never know when someone is going to try and make a snatch and grab, or if someone is watching to see what combination you key into your cable chain.
Keep your surroundings in mind when entering your passwords as well, in case someone might be watching, either directly or with a recording device.
Do not leave your laptop alone if you cannot help it, you might even be able to ask the staff at certain locations to keep an eye on or hold your device for you in case you feel unsafe leaving it in your hotel room or unattended when you must step away.
How do I pack my laptop for a road trip?
Place the laptop inside a sleeve to protect its casing. Place the clothes in the middle of the padded clothing to keep the system secure. Carry-on bags are usually more secure than checked bags. They can also protect your device from theft.
Can I use my laptop while flying?
laptops are allowed on airplanes. In most cases, they are free to use mid-flight. Also, many airlines offer optional Wi-Fi. If you’re planning on creating a blog, then carrying a laptop is a no-brainer. However, if you’re planning on traveling the world, then carrying a laptop is probably the least necessary component of your trip.
Is it safe to leave laptop in hotel room?
If the room has a safe that fits to carry a laptop, then put it in there along with other valuables. Doing so is a safe option, especially if you plan on carrying it with you everywhere you go. The Transportation Security Administration advises travelers to carry their laptops in their carry-on luggage when they’re flying. Doing so will allow authorities to access them more safely.
Where should I hide my laptop in my car?
Put your laptop in the trunk of a car. It’s a good idea to hide it in the trunk or cover it and lock the doors. Never leave it in plain sight. Use a case that can be carried as a briefcase or a shoulder bag. It should be made well and has padded pockets. Ideally, keep your laptop inside while traveling.
Does a laptop count as a carry-on?
If you’re planning on taking another laptop with you on your flight, the TSA advises that you pack it in its own bag and not carry it on. The aviation regulator has asked passengers not to carry 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops on board following its safety hazard classification.
What is the best way to carry a laptop?
Backpacks are the best way to carry all of your gadgets. Some laptop safes are made of fire-retardant material to protect their contents.