Travel season is here: 7 tips and tricks from a tech and traveling pro

I’ve been to 32 different countries, and let me tell you, travel can be stressful. But a little know-how and planning can make your getaway more relaxing than worrisome. 

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Stick to sites you know and trust

I’M A TECH EXPERT AND YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE TECH CHANGES NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Crooks are great at creating fake travel apps and sites to rip you off — and AI tools make it even easier to whip them up. Fortunately, there are signs to watch for that can help you avoid them.

Speaking of, I recently took a fantastic trip to Japan. Watch my travel tips on YouTube. You’ll definitely want to put this on your bucket list!

Keep track of your bag

Lost luggage can ruin your trip. Many major airlines (including United, American, Delta and Air New Zealand) allow you to track your luggage in real time through the airline’s official app, so download it before you hit the road.

Pro tip: Searching the app stores can lead you to copycats. Go to your airline’s official website and look for a link to the app in the header or footer.

I throw an Apple AirTag in checked bags for extra peace of mind.

Set your Gmail and Drive to offline mode.

Sometimes, the connection is so bad you can’t even load your inbox. Lucky you, you can still get your replies all queued up if you plan.

In Gmail on your desktop:

FIX AUTOCORRECT IF IT’S DRIVING YOU DUCKING CRAZY

Now, do the same for your most-used documents in Google Drive. You need to do this for each document, so be sure to take care of it ahead of time.

First, enable the setting:

Depending on your storage, recent files will be automatically saved offline. To manually select files:

Score, in-flight Wi-Fi! Before you start browsing …

Most of us see a network name that looks about right and click it without much thought. That’s what hackers are banking on! Crooks can create fake Wi-Fi networks with almost identical names to the airline’s. If you’re not careful, you could plug into a copycat network instead of the legit one.

If multiple options look similar, ask a member of the airline staff which network is the right one. Hey, they may even give an in-air PSA if you spot a fake.

Oh, and switch on a VPN

Normally, what you do on the internet is open for anyone with the right know-how to peek in on. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your data — acting as a shield from prying eyes. VPNs aren’t quite as reliable in the air, but it’s still worth switching on. 

Not optional if you’re visiting any site that contains financial or other identifying, important information.

Double-check your AirDrop settings

I got a strange picture sent to my phone at the airport once. I looked around and saw the snickering teenagers. Yeah, it was funny — but not every prank is innocent.

Keyloggers keep track of every single thing you type, and criminals love to pass them along using Apple’s AirDrop feature. Don’t accept drops from strangers in flight. 

On your iPhone: 

CHARGING AND TRAVEL: 5 MALWARE MISTAKES MOST PEOPLE MAKE

You can set your phone to reject all AirDrop requests, only allow them from contacts or allow from everyone. (That last one is not the best idea for travel.)

On a Mac:

Your phone is worth a lot

It’s way more valuable than just the amount someone could sell it for. (Though that’s a pretty enticing amount if you have a newer phone.)  Think about all the accounts connected to it: your bank and other financial apps, email inbox and private text messages containing who knows what.

Get tech-smarter on your schedule

Award-winning host Kim Komando is your secret weapon for navigating tech.

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