As a digital nomad you travel around the world with your – sometimes fairly expensive – equipment. Making sure your gear and sensitive data stays safe is absolutely essential. Of course, there will be events that are beyond your control. However, there are a few easy safety tips for digital nomads that you can easily implement and that could protect your gear and potentially save you a lot of money.
1. Reliable VPN Service
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Yes, it is super handy to get free WIFI at airports, shopping malls or coffee shops. But please don’t use them without proper protection.
Get a VPN (virtual private network), which is basically an encrypted tunnel between your device and the external server, which helps save your sensitive data.
As a digital nomad, you will have plenty of data to protect. Just think of things like banking information or personal information about customers or clients. It is your duty and responsibility to make sure this is safe.
Important advantages of a VPN
- Not even people, who are using the same network as you, can see your data.
- Malicious operators can’t tap your information.
- Malicious operators can’t route you to phishing pages.
- Online advertisers have a harder time tracking and profiling you.
- You can access sites that are normally blocked due to government censorships.
VPN Service Provider
Luckily, there are plenty of affordable and reliable VPN services out there. I have been using NordVPN for several years now and it never let me down.
The security and privacy features are top-notch, so is the speed and overall performance. I wrote an extensive review of NordVPN which you should check out. You can also go straight to the NordVPN website to see their very reasonable plans.
No matter which provider you are going for, make sure you always have it activated once you’re locked into a public internet network.
2. Mobile Hotspot
Another way to avoid threats in public WIFI networks is to have your own personal internet connection with you. Yep, that’s possible and super easy.
There are plenty of mobile hotspots out there. The way how most of them work is by inserting a local SIM card with data volume and connecting your devices to it.
That’s totally fine for many casual travelers. However, if you travel a lot and change countries quite frequently, buying new SIM cards all the time gets a bit annoying and impractical.
Is there a better option? Yes, there is! The global hotspot Skyroam operates without you having to buy any local SIM cards at all. The device simply picks a local internet provider itself and hence, gives you a strong connection.
This little device is really super handy and a great backup plan for those moments, when you can’t get any other WIFI connection, e.g. in a train or remote hotel.
3. Data Backup
Since we are talking about data security, we might as well jump to the next safety tip for digital nomads: Do regular data backups!
Your phone might get stolen, your laptop doesn’t like the humidity and breaks or you accidentally drown your camera in the Amazon.
To have your documents, files or photos save no matter what happens to your devices, you should store them at a save place. This can either be an external drive, a simple USD stick, or, even better, an online backup.
A great backup provider is, for example, CrashPlan. It has unlimited storage and unlike many other providers, keeps your files for as long as you want and not only for one or two months. The continuous cloud backup does the job without you needing to do anything. Easy as!
You can get their plan for only 10 USD per month on their CrashPlan website.
4. Password Manager
Let’s be honest: How often do you use the same password for several different websites? I bet most of us have the same or at least similar passwords for their main accounts like emails, shopping or various online tools.
A decent password manager allows you to create a separate and super strong password for everything you want to. No need to memorize long, randomized access details anymore.
On top of that, you can easily share passwords with other people, let’s say your clients, teammates or freelancers who work for you. You don’t have to send those sensitive passwords via email anymore and if you have to change the password you don’t need to inform the entire team because the password manager will adjust it automatically.
The best thing: They are usually very affordable. Take LastPass for instance. You can get a free version or upgrade to Premium for only 2 USD per month. Well worth the few dollars!
Believe it or not: The right backpack can indeed help you keep your digital nomad gear safe. There are certain bags out there that have some incredible safety features.
Let’s look at the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 as an example. Here are some of its best features:
- It is water-resistant.
- The zippers are extremely robust, puncture-resistant and can interlock. No chance for pickpockets.
- It has built-in stainless steel wire mesh in the most vulnerable areas of the bag. Goodbye, slash-and-run thefts!
- It comes with a stainless steel locking cable so you can lock it, for example, to a table in a café.
As you can see, the Venturesafe is like a little mobile vault. Only that it is super lightweight and very comfortable to carry around.
With a backpack like this, you can be sure your equipment is absolutely safe on your back.
6. GPS Tracker
I have to admit: First time I heard about mini GPS trackers I was like “Nah, so unnecessary, you don’t need that!”. But what can I say, after doing a bit more research, I’ve changed my mind.
The two best ways to use a GPS tracker as a digital nomad are:
1. For your gear
Hide it somewhere in your backpack. In case it gets stolen you will be able to track it down. Maybe you are too late and all the equipment inside of the bag is gone. But you never know, you might be lucky. Especially, when you are bringing very expensive stuff with you this could be a great additional safety hack.
2. For yourself
As a digital nomad, you naturally travel a lot and explore new places. Maybe you want to go on that awesome hike in a very remote area? Well, in case something happens and you are unable to call help, a GPS tracker will allow others to find you.
Also, those new devices are really tiny and lightweight. You can easily put it in your pocket and bring it wherever you go. Considering the fact that they are not that expensive, it’s a great little gadget to bring with you.
Note: Some GPS trackers come along with additional features such as microphones. Please be aware that in some countries, e.g. Germany, you might get into legal trouble for using these because of data protection laws. So either go for a very simple version of it or find out what is allowed in your country and what is not.
7. Travel Insurance
I have already written a couple of blog posts on the importance of travel insurance. That’s why I’m not going into detail now. Just a few reasons why you should get one:
- For minor expenses, such as if you are getting sick and need to see a doctor
- For hospital treatments in cases of emergencies, such as allergies or surgeries
- For transportation to a hospital after an accident
- For transportation back to your home country if necessary
- For search, rescue, and transport, such as after an accident in the alps
Don’t underestimate the expenses for that! A treatment, in the worst case, can easily cost a five or six-figure number. Most of us wouldn’t be able to pay that from their pocket money.
But a potential insurance coverage doesn’t stop there. You can also get insurance for your travel gear. In case you lose or break your expensive camera or laptop, you might be able to claim it.
Luckily, there are many insurance providers out there for any budget and need. My two favorite options are World Nomads, because they’ve been successfully around forever and cover your equipment, too, and SafetyWing, a bit of a new kid on the block with very reasonable prices.
Check out my review of World Nomads to get more information about their services.
Stick to those Safety Tips for Digital Nomads
As you can see, there are a few great and easy to implement tips you can use to stay safe on the road and to keep your gear safe, too.
Besides that, always remember:
- don’t bring what you don’t really need
- keep all of your belongings where you can see them (in trains, public spaces, etc.)
- stay conscious and be aware of what’s happening around you
I hope these safety tips help you and give you an idea of how you can protect your digital nomad gear while traveling. If you are looking for tips on how YOU can stay safe while being on the road, check out the linked post!
If you have any additional ideas, please let me know in the comments below!