When planning a trip to an exotic locale for, say, Spring Break (yes, even if you’re a full-time working adult), you often spend a lot of time planning the sights, what you’re going to wear and where you’re going to dine — the fun stuff. What’s less fun to think about is all the tedious steps you have to take before you travel. Second to packing your passport, the technology that accompanies you on your trip — like your smartphone, your camera, your laptop — can be crucially important. And don’t forget your chic new laptop bag that’s easy to get through security. We compiled a list of eight super common tech mistakes people commit when they’re traveling. Next time you’re booking your international vacay, double-check this list to make sure you have all your bases covered.
1. Not checking voltage in different countries: Did you know? North American outlets will give you 120 volts of power at 60 Hz, but outlets in Europe are 230 volts at 50 Hz. The rest of the world also varies with how much juice their outlets provide. Most laptops now are created to handle the range of voltage (because tech is pretty smart these days), and all you’ll need is an adaptor, though you’ll want to read the fine print to be sure. For other gadgets, specifically your hair dryer or curling iron, you’re going to need a converter to make sure you don’t burn out your heating tool.
2. Forgetting an adaptor: Luckily you can pick adaptors up pretty easily at an airport or travel shops, but before you head to a new country, you should always check first if you need one. The last thing you want is to show up somewhere and realize your tech doesn’t fit in to any of the plugs. If you’re traveling with only tech that can automatically convert voltages, like most tablets, smartphones and computers, you can forgo the heavier convertor and just bring along an adaptor instead.
3. Not checking roaming rates for you phone: The last thing you want after coming back from a trip is to get slapped with a massive phone bill for all the roaming charges you accrued. Check your roaming rates before you go overseas and talk to your wireless service about tacking on a temporary international travel plan that will possibly save you cash in the long run. Another option is to purchase a SIM card in the country you’re heading to and just swapping it in for your US SIM card. If you choose to go this route, make sure you’re buying the right kind of SIM card and also check that your phone is unlocked so that you can actually use a SIM from somewhere else. Or you could go with choice number three and set your phone on Airplane Mode for the duration of your trip so you don’t get charged for the random text your friend decides to send you.
4. Not letting your bank know you’re going to be in a different country: There’s nothing worse than traveling to a foreign country and having your credit card lock up. This can easily be remedied by signing onto your accounts and setting a travel notification, which most major banks allow you to do online now. Or you could do it the old-fashioned way and give your bank a call.
5. Not being cautious about public WiFi: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Connecting to public WiFi can be dangerous, with viruses, snoops and potential honeypot traps waiting to steal your personal information. Therefore, invest in a VPN service before you go or try to avoid public WiFi altogether.
6. Placing your tech in your carry-on luggage and not your handheld carry-on: You never know when you’ll get to your connecting flight and they’ve run out of overhead space, and you have to gate check your luggage. It’s important to keep your tech in a handheld personal item that can go with you on the plane. Of course, this rule also applies to other indispensable things you need for your trip, like your cash and passport.
7. Not having hard copies of important docs: Sometimes technology will fail you — your phone dies, your laptop gets stolen or you’ve lost your bag and all your tech with it. Whatever happens, it’s good to have a copy of your itinerary and a photograph of your passport on your person just to be safe.
8. Not using your debit card for cash: Most major banks have partners in different parts of the world that allow you to withdraw cash with minimal if any fees. Rather than traveling with a massive amount of money on you (and making yourself a prime target for pick-pockets), find out from your bank where you can withdraw. Another option is to sign up with a bank that will refund all your ATM withdrawal fees, like Charles Schwab — yes, even your international ones.
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(Photos via Getty)