10 Tips for Traveling with Your Tech

Stay Connected for the Long Haul

Traveling with technology is evolving—from browsing the Internet in-flight to being your own hotspot on the road. If you are headed out for summer travel with your cell phone, laptop, e-reader or tablet, here are the top 10 ways to avoid hassles and stay connected and secure.

1. Breeze Through Security:
If you’re traveling by air, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations say you might be required to power up anything with a battery. While this is a rare occurrence, it is a good idea to have your device charged before going through security. Fortunately, airports have increased the volume of outlets and charging stations to meet device demands. Laptops need to be out of the bag, unless it is in a TSA approved case. Personal devices—your phone, tablet or e-reader—can be left in your carry on, but these should be packed on top in case you are asked to take them out.

2. Pack Smart:
Don’t be forced to check a bag that contains your laptop because it won’t fit into an overhead bin or under your seat on an airplane. Even if your carry-on is an approved size, some aircraft servicing smaller regional airports have extremely small storage bins, and airline personnel will ask you to check your bag at the gate if they determine it is too large. To be safe, carry your laptop in its own case; even a large-screen model with its charger and cords can fit in a small bin.

3. You and Your Phone can be as Close as Ever:
You no longer have to turn off your phone for take-off. You can now snap seat selfies and play with apps on your phone or other personal devices during flight takeoff, as long as they are in airplane mode.

4. Try In-Flight WiFi:
A significant change in air travel is the ability to access the Internet from your device in-flight. Airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada are offering internet access on some or all of their flights. Some carriers offer free service, some have a fee based on the length of flight. In-flight WiFi can drop out entirely over the ocean, so hopefully these services will improve over time.

5. Free In-Flight Entertainment:
It seems carriers are racing to improve personal device entertainment options. Most include some selection of free TV and movies, with some paid features like first-run movies. Check out your carrier’s in-flight options before leaving home. You may just want to bring your tablet or laptop to whittle away flight hours with free on-board entertainment.

6. Be Safe on the Fly:
Use caution when accessing the Internet while traveling just as you would using any public network at home. Don’t tap into a network that is not officially part of the airport, airline or hotel network. Avoid using banking and other high-security passwords or making credit card transactions. Don’t walk away from your device or leave it on a charging station to use the restroom or view flight monitors; thieves prey on weary travelers.

7. Cancel Out Background Noise:
While earbuds are popular because they are lightweight and portable, sound quality and noise cancelling are far better on over-the-ear headphones. If you want to have great cinematic sound watching a movie or block out engine noise, crying babies and cabin chatter, invest in a good active-noise-cancelling headset. Decent budget-friendly models will run you $60 to $80. Professional headphones with top noise cancelling and sound quality will start around $200 and up.

8. Don’t Run Out of Juice
If you’re on the road and not sure whether you’ll be able to easily recharge your cell phone or device, you can buy an emergency charger and bring it with you. Emergency chargers are battery-powered and can give you several hours of cell phone use, even if you’re far from an electrical outlet. A decent one will run you about $20. When comparison shopping, look for length of time to fully charge your device and how many devices can be charged at once.

9. Be Your Own Hot Spot
Want to take your WiFi-enabled tablet, laptop or gaming device on a trip but don’t have a data connection? You can buy a hot spot that extends Internet access to all your devices. There are two ways to approach hot spots—either buy the hotspot device and as much data as you think you will need for your journey, or add a hot spot device to your cellular plan. Talk to your wireless provider to explore your options.

10. Tap Into More Power:
Extremely handy for long car trips, an inverter will convert DC power from your car battery via the cigarette lighter to an AC outlet so you can plug in your device. Inverters are typically not great for fast charging, but can provide consistent power for your co-pilot to operate a laptop or other device. and how many devices can be charged at once.

Whether you’re hopping on a plane, riding the rails or freewheeling it on the road, be safe and have fun out there traveling with all your devices.

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