How to prepare your mobile for an overseas holiday

Packing your bags, figuring out if you trust anyone enough with your house keys to have your plants watered, panic-studying a new language under the menacing eyes of the Duolingo owl … preparing for an overseas trip comes with a laundry list of things to do.

But one task that may slip your mind is making sure your mobile is travel ready.

While easy to overlook, failing to prepare your phone for an overseas trip could be a headache waiting to happen.

Daniel Markuson, NordVPN digital privacy expert, said a smartphone is more than just a gadget – it’s a “portal to the world”.

“Make sure it’s prepared for your vacation, empowering you to capture memories, navigate new territories, and stay secure throughout your trip,” he said.

Ritesh Chugh, CQUniversity Australia associate professor in information and communication technologies, said people simply need to take a “common sense approach”.

“Unfortunately, because of our often busy lifestyles, we tend to overlook these things,” he said.

“When I’m travelling, I call [my phone] a digital Swiss army knife.

“Smartphones serve as an invaluable travel companion, and equipping them with tools that can help capture and navigate travel seamlessly is important.”

Read on to find the experts’ top tips on how to make sure your mobile is ready for your next adventure.

Clean your mobile out

If you’ve got a couple of years of photos built up, or a stash of apps that you never use, set some time aside before your trip to do a digital spring clean.

Doing so can improve your device’s performance and extend its battery life.

Freeing up some extra storage space will also help ensure your mobile has enough space left to store all the new memories waiting to be made on your journeys in the form of photos and videos, along with the apps you may need to download along the way.

Organise backup

Your mobile faces a myriad of perils while you travel; from a sudden drop due to a careless slip of the hand, being forgotten in a cafe while you walk off suffering a severe case of food coma, to falling victim to a pickpocket or a simple malfunction.

To avoid the emotional damage of losing years worth of photos, videos and documents, make sure everything is backed up on a cloud service and/or a physical hard drive at home.

Dr Chugh said you should also make sure to take photos of your important documents, such as your passport and driver’s licence, and store them on a cloud service in case you lose them during your travels.

Pre-download apps

First things first: Make sure all your apps are up to date, for security if nothing else, as the latest updates often include important security patches and bug fixes.

Next, think about the apps you might need on your travels.

Translation apps like Google Translate could make redundant many of your prepared miming moves, and you could look like a seasoned pro at navigating public transport with a service such as Citymapper.

Dr Chugh also recommended downloading maps and pre-planned routes to be used in case you don’t have access to the internet – along with some movies and shows if you need some offline entertainment.

Be wary of public wi-fi and charging

Although this tip might be best applied during your travels, it’s still good to keep in mind.

Dr Chugh said connecting to public wi-fi is typically fine for scrolling through your social media or using a mapping app.

But you should avoid logging into any banking services, or doing any online shopping, just in case there are some hidden eyes watching.

You should also avoid connecting your device to any public charging ports, as they could introduce malware or monitoring software.

To avoid putting yourself in these iffy situations, you could organise international data roaming or a travel sim card before jetting off, and you could also invest in a portable charger – as well as a travel adapter to keep it juiced up.

Protect your mobile inside and out

Dr Chugh said many people don’t bother installing antivirus software on their phones, but it could provide important protection, especially if regularly updated.

A durable phone case and screen protector could also potentially save you unnecessary stress and hundreds in repair costs if you get too snap-happy and let your phone slip on to some pretty-but-unforgiving European cobblestone streets.

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