Travel like a Pro – LCM 47 Summer 2017

Travel Like a Pro

Expert advice on how to protect yourself and your
privacy—before you even land

By Ashley Alvarado

It’s hard to think of any two words more magical than “summer vacation.” Whether you’re a kindergarten student or a CEO, a busy mom or a college coed, this is your chance to break free from the doldrums, to explore new territory, or maybe catch up on some much needed sleep…in paradise.

Wherever your travels may take you this summer, it’s important to keep your safety and privacy top of mind. To that end, we’ve consulted with experts and assembled a list of travel tips that will have you ready to conquer the world—like a pro. Los Cabos is an excellent destination, of course, but these tips apply wherever you’re wanting to fly.

It’s easy to let headlines get inside your head, and newspapers are full of scary news these days about many of our favorite global destinations. That said, we always start any international travel planning by consulting the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website: Here you’ll find information about not only U.S. passports but also alerts and warnings about potentially dangerous destinations. It’s worth noting that while the State Department warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of México, there are no concerns regarding Los Cabos listed in its report.

The U.S. State Department website also includes resources so that U.S. citizens can receive help during an emergency abroad and laying out the agency’s role in a crisis. You may also want to check out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ( and World Health Organization ( tries/en); both provide vaccination recommendations and other travel health precautions.

Already know where you’re planning to visit? If it’s an international destination, check out the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It’s a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Through the program, you’ll receive important information about safety conditions in your destination country and make it easier for the embassy, friends, and family to reach you in case of an emergency.

If traveling with medications, make sure you have a letter from your prescribing doctor. Some countries have strict laws, even when it comes to what we consider over-the-counter medications. The State Department also recommends checking that your health insurance will cover you while abroad.

And for those traveling with children, you will likely want to bring along custody documents or written consent from the other parent.

You’ll also want to make sure your bank knows about your travel dates and destinations; this will help ensure your cards are working and that any suspicious activity can be flagged right away.
Last but not least, always make two photocopies of all your travel documents. Take one with you (just keep it separate from where you keep your actual passport), and leave the other with a family member or friend in the United States.

Now that you’ve checked off the pre-travel list, it’s time to consider what you can do while traveling…and that starts at the airport.

Don’t leave your laptop, tablet, phone, or other personal materials (like your suitcase) unattended—ever. Make sure all of your devices are password protected; these should be complex passwords. “ChangeMe” and “12345678” just don’t cut it. Once on the plane, try to avoid placing anything in the seat pockets.

Public Wi-Fi is insecure; that includes what you’ll likely have on your flight and in the airport. Pierluigi Stella, chief technical officer for Network Box USA, told USA Today many people end up using fake Wi-Fi hotspots in airports. Stella told the paper: ”Say you are in the San Francisco airport and your wireless shows SFAIrport, no password, free connection. How many people do you think have the skills or even the mindset to question the legitimacy of that wireless connection? And wonder if that’s nothing more than a hacker’s device lurking around? You connect, you browse, you email, and all the while, he’s logging all your data and hacking your computer.”

If you do decide to use free Wi-Fi, be sure it’s legitimate and that you are up to date on all firewall and virus protections, and use VPN if at all possible. And once you’re off the plane, be sure to destroy any unneeded travel documents; these contain personal information you don’t want in others’ hands.

Why do all this? Because you ought to be spending your vacation worried about tan lines, not hackers.