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“Going on a big #trip for two weeks! Hello #Cancun” might seem like something cool to post to your social media feeds, but in reality it opens you up to some real risks. Broadcasting the fact that you won’t be home for a specific amount of time could increase the chances of someone vandalizing your house while you’re away. Likewise, revealing exactly where you will be located might open you up to location-specific scams.
It’s unwise to reveal sensitive details about your travel plans on social media.
These types of dangers are worth keeping in mind as travel season ramps up for the summer. The Airlines for America trade group predicted a record-setting number of air travelers for summer 2019, while AAA also estimated one of the largest ever volumes of Memorial Day vacationers. If you’re among the many people planning some travel in the near future, keep our tips for a safer journey in mind:
Perform any updates or backups before you leave
While you’re still at home with a familiar and trusted internet connection, you should update all of your operating systems and applications to the most recent versions. Since these updates are often fairly large, they might not be feasible to perform while you’re on the go with only a relatively slow cellular connection. Also create backups in case something gets lost on your trip. You can use either local backup to a hard drive or other media or a cloud-based solution or, best of all, a combination of the two.
Don’t disclose your plans or whereabouts on publicly accessible social media
As we noted in our intro, it’s unwise to reveal sensitive details about your travel plans on social media. If you feel that you must make this information known, consider setting the account in question to private so that only trusted contacts can see it. While you’re at it, avoid geotagging your posts or allowing a social media app to access your location, as this will disclose your whereabouts even if you don’t explicitly put them into writing.
Avoid public Wi-Fi and disable auto-connections
Public Wi-Fi is ubiquitous. However, it can be dangerous to use, as you can never be assured that your connection is 100% secure and that someone isn’t monitoring your activity on the other end. If possible, don’t use it at all. If you have no other choice, then consider having a virtual private network (VPN) client installed on your device. A VPN will encrypt your connection to keep your activity safe from prying eyes. Also, make sure to turn off Wi-Fi unless you need it, as doing so will help you avoid auto-connecting to any public and potentially unsafe networks.
Encrypt your hard drives
If you’re bringing a laptop with you on your trip, it’s prudent to encrypt its hard drive so that if it ever gets lost or stolen the data on it can’t be read. Both Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS contain built-in utilities for encrypting the full disk.