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10 Clever Tactics for the Tech-Savvy Traveler

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You’re packed and ready for your big trip. But is your tech ready too? Before traveling overseas, you should load your devices with the right apps for the trip and take steps to defend them against theft, accidents and hacking. Here are our best tips.

1. Download key travel apps before you leave.

The TravelSmart app from Allianz Global Assistance is one of the best free travel apps out there. Not only can you use it to access 24-Hour Hotline Assistance or file a claim, but the app can also track flights, contact local emergency services and more. But make sure to download the app while you’re in the U.S. — if you try to download it when you’re in Paris, you can only access the French version.

2. Research the apps and platforms most commonly used in your destination.

You can hail an Uber in many countries. But in some Asian nations, such as Sri Lanka and India, the preferred ridesharing platform is Ola.1 And while Yelp is a leading restaurant review site in the U.S., Zomato is hugely popular in countries like South Africa, Lebanon, and the Philippines.2 Long story short, you can’t assume your regular slate of apps will work for you overseas.

3. Look for travel apps that enrich your experience.

Chances are you already have all the standard apps for trip planning and navigation, such as TripIt, Kayak, Waze and Google Translate. Now, step up your game by seeking out lesser-known apps that have the potential to actually transform your trip. One example is EatWith, which lets you sign up for one-of-a-kind food experiences. Have dinner on a houseboat in Amsterdam, or experience a traditional South African braai in Johannesburg. A less glamorous but still life-changing app is Sit or Squat, which identifies the closest and cleanest restrooms near you (in select cities).

4. Buy travel insurance with baggage benefits.

If you’re traveling with pricey devices, be sure to review your Certificate of Insurance/Policy as high-value sublimits under your baggage coverage apply. For example, our OneTrip Premier plan has a benefit limit of $2,000 for baggage loss/theft/damage, but a $500 sublimit on high-value items.

One of the best annual travel insurance plans for business travelers is the AllTrips Executive plan. Not only do you get a $1,000 limit on baggage loss/theft/damage, but it also includes up to $1,000 for the reasonable replacement or repair of covered business equipment that has been lost, stolen, damaged or delayed by a common carrier plus up to $1,000 in business equipment rental benefits. Again, check your Certificate of Insurance/Policy for details or ask one of our customer service representatives.

5. Understand how your travel insurance can — and can’t — protect your tech.

The baggage loss/theft/damage benefit in your travel insurance plan can offer invaluable protection for your devices — but it can’t cover every possible scenario.

In order to file a claim, these conditions must apply:      

  • You’ve taken reasonable steps to keep your baggage safe and intact and to recover it
  • You’ve filed a report giving a description of the property and its value with the appropriate local authorities, travel carrier, hotel, or tour operator within 24 hours of discovering the loss
  • You must provide original receipts for the lost items. For items without an original receipt, insurance can cover up to 75% of the actual cash value
  • High-value items are covered up to the maximum benefit for high-value items stated in your plan.

So, for instance, if your phone is stolen from your locked hotel room, that loss could be covered (as long as you report the loss within 24 hours of discovery). But if you drop your camera into the Trevi Fountain, that loss would not be covered. Review your Certificate of Insurance/Policy to see what your benefits are.

6. Lock down your personal data.

If you’re going overseas, change passwords for frequently used accounts before you leave and when you return home.3 Back up and encrypt your data before you go. Also remove any sensitive information stored on your devices, such as tax returns, financial statements or password lists.

7. Beware of public Wi-Fi networks and charging stations.

When you’re traveling, disable the autoconnect function on your phone, so you don’t accidentally connect to a compromised Wi-Fi network. It’s smart to disable Bluetooth too.4 Never log onto financial sites or other sites with sensitive information when you’re on a public network. If you must access your bank account, it’s better to use a cellular network or a hard-wired connection.5

Also, avoid public USB chargers! While these can be wonderfully convenient when you’re stuck in a train station, bus station or airport, they can also be used to inject malware into your phone. If you must use one of these charging stations, ThreatBrief advises, deny hackers access by turning off your phone before plugging it in.6

8. Defend your tech against theft.

Tablets, phones and laptops are attractive targets for thieves, but you can make them think twice if you affix a STOP security plate to your laptop. It warns thieves that the device’s ownership is monitored — and if someone tries to take off the sticker, a red STOLEN PROPERTY label is revealed. Or, you can go low-key and camouflage your device with stickers or a beat-up case. Shiny new tech is valuable. Old, battered devices, not so much.

9. Don’t trust your tech completely.

Mobile devices are the best travel companions — until the battery dies, the connection fails, or the screen shatters. We advise always carrying paper copies of your most crucial travel documents: your passport, your itinerary, your travel insurance plan documents, credit card numbers and bank information, prescriptions and medical directives.

10. Turn off your device for a while.

When’s the last time you wandered? Next time you’re in an unfamiliar city, consider putting away your phone and simply exploring (being sure to stay in safe areas, of course). Rediscover the thrill of turning a corner and finding something completely unexpected: a cozy café, a tree-lined plaza or an intriguing boutique.

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