Thanks to my life choices and work I have had the privilege to work in over 24 countries and around most of the United States. Different times require different people and no matter if I was there as a fox or a hedgehog, I was there. In most cases I’ve found something to love in each journey. Travel is something that should be embraced even when it’s done on someone else’s orders. You can fight the process but once you’re there if you decide to sit in your hotel and be miserable it’s on you. No good adventure ever started with sitting in a room and refusing to leave out of fear or self-loathing. The good news is the world if full of people and only some of them want to kill you.
Power Management – Don’t plug into things you don’t know. To start with let’s talk about carrying enough power for your trip with you. Depending on what you’re taking and how long I tend to carry a Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W with 60W PD Charger. If I can’t make it without charging, I charge the PowerCore and then charge my phone.
If I chose to charge my devices and I don’t have my PowerCore with me I use a USB Data Blocker. This little protection device lacks the data pin found in most USBs and is therefore not capable of sending data. Even if I was dumb enough to plug into a dirty port the Data Blocker prevents the transfer of anything malicious to my devices. This is handy for flights and airport use when you don’t expect to be able to hit another source for a good amount of time.
Always use your own cord and maintain control of your cord. Id personally recommend marking your cords in a manner that makes them easy to identify and hard to duplicate. More so that you don’t easily get separated from your items but even with my cords I use a Data Blocker since I don’t need to transfer data to my devices just power.
RFID Protection – Marketing, security, and targeting for consumer habits as well as the ease of usage has inspired RFID functionality in a lot of things from passports to credit cards. Recently on a trip while trying to engage public transportation they lacked the ability to take anything but RFID cards or cash and cash was last loaded on the transport. Needless to say, these steps will continue to move forward no matter if you like it or not. I’m big on RFID blocking items including my wallet, passport sleeves, card sleeves, and even a few faraday bags. I see no reason to make it easy for my identity to be stolen and I also acknowledge that freely broadcasting information is likely to be collected.
Secure Communications –Wire, Signal, Wickr Me, and others offer free encrypted messaging and thanks to privacy awareness on the uptick they don’t immediately flag as questionable. What I will not use with any expectation of privacy is the ever-popular WhatsApp. If you send it out on that you should expect it to be unsecure. Also take a look at what apps you use and don’t use. If you don’t use an app for 90 days, I would recommend deleting it. There is no use in leaving the possible exploit open if you’re not receiving any benefit. I’m not going to get into my exact routines because each person should build their own.
Web Usage – VPN, VPN, and VPN. Use one and preferably not a free one because if its free than you are in some way the product. There is no incentive for anything to be free and if it is free you should immediately be skeptical. I personally have PIA, Proton, and Nord VPNs on both my phone and laptop. Each one has pros and cons that I encourage you to investigate. If you’re trying to catch the Mandalorian outside the states I would tell you Nord can make it happen but that’s because I have personal requirements.
Additionally, I also use extensions on my web browser such as Ghosterly, Privacy Badger, NoScript, and HTTPS Everywhere. I am by far not the net expert but again I’m really going for easy wins here that allow me protect myself without making doing anything a huge chore. If you suspect your credit card data may be compromised but need to make online purchases consider a Privacy account. As always though if you have to log into something its likely tracking your activity.
Hotel Room – This area, is as with all thing’s privacy or security related, is very personality driven. What makes an easy exit also makes an easy entrance. Getting off the first floor makes it harder to exfiltrate you but also harder for you to do the same for yourself if the need arrives. Staying on the bottom floor makes it easy for others to grab you but also an easy escape if needed. You don’t have to be a special person to be targeted for kidnapping or larceny. Remember that human trafficking is a global problem with huge profits that touch almost anywhere you can imagine. In recent tragedies we see that safety is not always paramount to profits when it comes to fire safety. Thinking of these issues as only for certain people is simply not thinking.
If I don’t intend to use it, I unplug it. That goes for the alarm clock and other things that just don’t meet my needs. Should I need to power something the same rules as above apply. If you take a nice steamy shower and there’s a particular spot of the mirror where fog doesn’t gather it could mean you’re on candid camera. Though anything you don’t control can be used against you there are now public accounts of cameras in Airbnb’s as well as hotels and apartments. Some are placed by the owners and others are placed by outside parties. If you suspect your hotel room doesn’t need three smoke detectors it may not. Wiring and pipes tend to run in straight line so if all the sudden something is out of line there may be a reason. What you do about these things is up to you. Sometimes an indication of knowledge depicts prior training in a clear light and not everyone has the same training.
Up next we will talk about etiquette and embracing travel.