For better or for worse, we are all but dependent on our devices nowadays. Losing your phone even for a week, can cause surprisingly major disruptions to your life.
With summer just around the corner, many of us are planning family vacations, and naturally our devices are coming along for the ride. Whether you’re taking flight to a new locale, hitting up the closest beach, or just exploring Richmond, you’ll want to document your adventures—and keep your tech safe. Here are a few simple steps you can take to protect your phone from sand, water, cramped overhead compartments, ninjas, and theft.
If you do nothing else, do this one! Backing up your photos, music and important documents is a good idea anyway; you never know what’s in store for your phone. Most phones and laptops are easy to back up on the cloud (on iCloud with Apple and Google Drive with Android). Many apps also automatically sync with servers.
For digital cameras, you may wish to buy a new SD card for your trip, and leave your previous one at home. It’s also a good idea to snap photos of your Passport, driver license, and any other important documents, just in case you lose them while you travel.
In most cases, this will be your smart phone, as it can play the role of camera, navigation system, web browser, and maybe even as a telephone. Not only is this the most foolproof way of ensuring that your other devices aren’t lost or stolen, you’ll also lighten your load and have to spend less time finagling cords and finding power outlets.
If you have a very fancy phone, you might consider buying a cheaper prepaid burner phone just for your trip, especially if you are venturing into areas where theft or damage is a higher risk.
On vacation, you’ll likely be outside a lot more than usual, whether that’s lounging on the beach or strolling through the streets of Prague, and you might not be able to save an unshielded device in a sudden downpour.
Your best bet is to get a hard shell waterproof case, such as the OtterBox Defender, which will keep water out and will keep your phone from breaking even if you drop it off a second story balcony. It might set you back $30 or more, but that’s a lot cheaper than replacing a drowned phone. At the very least carry your phone around in a zip lock bag to keep the rain out and buy time if your phone falls in the swimming pool for a few seconds.
If you’re carrying a laptop on your trip, invest in a high quality, padded bag, preferably one that’s lockable and waterproof.
Overheating can be dangerous for people, pets, and devices too! Unless your summer vacation is in Iceland, don’t assume your phone, tablet, or laptop will be okay left in the car. Extreme heat can damage the battery and more, rendering the device useless. To prevent overheating, keep your apps up to date, use an appropriate charger, and keep your phone out of direct sunlight.
If your phone feels like it’s overheating, DO NOT put it in the fridge or freezer. The abrupt temperature change can cause even worse damage. Instead, remove the case (which can trap in heat), turn it off to conserve its energy, and place it next to a fan at room temperature.
Say you are vacationing in Iceland—beware of excess cold. While cold temperatures alone are not likely to cause permanent damage, they will cause your battery to drain faster, and there is a risk of condensation damage to a device when you bring it in from the cold.
When you’re enjoying a day at the beach, the last thing you want is to feel trapped to your towel for fear of sticky fingers snatching your valuables. One tactic to help prevent theft is to hide your phone, keys, and other items in containers that look like nothing special, such as an empty shampoo or sunscreen bottle. You’ll get the added bonus of extra protection from sand and water.
Anti-theft apps such as Prey allow you to lock your devices, report them as missing, and track their location remotely, using another device (such as your spouse’s phone). Some programs will even let you wipe data from a missing phone. Expect a small monthly fee, but this can be worth it for the peace of mind of knowing there’s much less risk of your sensitive info getting into a nefarious stranger’s hands.
It’s logical to assume that a Fitbit (or any fitness tracking wristband) would be waterproof, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Most fitness trackers can handle some sweat or a splash from the sink, but only certain models are designed to withstand full submersion. To find out, look up the model you have and check its water resistance rating. Those with a rating of 30 meters are more should be fine in most situations that do not involve deep sea scuba diving.
I hope you find some of these tips useful; they’ve sure saved my family a tablet or two over the years. If you have any tech-protection tips of your own, please share them in the comments. Have a great summer!