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Tips for Traveling with Electronics

Electronics are as much a part of travel as suitcases or sun block. Four pros share their secrets to make sure your trip doesn’t get derailed by your gadgets.

Make sure your trip isn’t derailed by a tech mishap. Follow these expert tips for traveling with electronics:

1. Set a limit on the number of gadgets each person brings. The fewer there are, the fewer chances you have of losing one of them.

2. Many smartphones and tablets have a feature that allows you to erase their contents if they’re lost or stolen. Be sure to turn on this function before you leave.

3. Use a label maker or permanent marker to add your contact information to your electronics. “There are plenty of honest people still out there, so label and tag your electronics so someone could return them to you if they found them,” says Brenda Prinzavalli, professional organizer and owner of Balanced Organizing Solutions.

4. Taking a brand-new gadget on vacation? Avoid frustration by packing the instructions, reminds Prinzavalli.

5. Pack your charger. “There’s a spot in my bag where my chargers go, and nothing else goes there,” says Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView, which produced an app for tracking airplane arrivals and departures. Benjamin says this trick prevents him from leaving key accessories behind.

6. Password-protect your devices. “It’s probably the most important thing you can do,” says Jeffrey Goldberg, security expert with AgileBits, which created 1Password, a password manager for computers and smartphones.

“If you’ve left a computer on in your hotel room, a stranger is not going to be able to immediately access what’s on it.”

7. Back up important data to external hard drives and websites. Goldberg also puts a backup disk in his car when he leaves on vacation. “If the house gets robbed, my data is not all in the same place,” he says.

8. Write down the manufacturer, model, cost and serial number of any big-ticket electronics, reminds Goldberg. This will make filing an insurance claim and police report quicker and easier. Use this free database from the Insurance Information Institute.

9. Kids’ handheld video games can gobble up batteries, so pack extras.

10. When you are putting items on the belt to go through an airport X-ray screening machine, put the bag holding your electronics through last. That way, says Benjamin, the time you are separated from your electronics is minimized.

11. When traveling by plane, keep your electronics in your carry-on bags, says Benjamin. Because they’re fragile—and valuable—it’s safer than putting them in checked luggage.

12. Move electronics away from liquids on bumpy flights. “When I was a flight attendant, we’d hit turbulence, and the next thing you know, someone’s computer is covered in beer or juice,” says Beth Blair, a blogger at

13. Use the hotel safe. “If you’re going to be river rafting, you don’t need to bring cell phones,” says Prinzavalli. Leave electronics where they won’t get stolen—or waterlogged.

14. Store electronics in plastic bags. “One of the most inexpensive and practical ways to keep electronic items safe from liquid or sand is a large zip-close bag,” says Blair. “My kids are each issued one for our road and air trips to keep their electronic games safe.”

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