Keep the pushers, priers, and predators away.
There's some special attention that is very welcome when you travel - perhaps when a hotel clerk seeks you out for an upgrade or an airline staffer selects you to sit in first class (or so I'm told!) But not all attention feels so good. It's hard to seamlessly blend in when you travel to a new destination and sometimes you feel like a lightening rod, drawing in attention when all you want to do is fade away. From pesky sales touts to more dangerous harassers, it can be exhausting to always feel like you're on your guard. Fortunately, when it comes to protecting your privacy from these unwanted eyes, there's a lot you can do in advance to stay safe and enjoy your trip.
Forget the personalized luggage and tags: You don't need to spell out your full name, address, and social insurance number on your bags - just a first initial, a last name, and one point of contact will suffice. Bonus points: put this info on the inside of the bag as well. Most lost luggage is delayed when tags get ripped off and there's no contact information inside.
Ask the hotel clerk to write down your room number, not announce it. A sure sign of a quality hotel is one where your number is written down on your key card holder, not shouted out for all to hear.
And ask to keep your room number private. Simply say "I'll be doing considerable work and don't want any disturbances. Please see that my room number is kept private." In the unlikely case that a hopeful Casanova follows you back, the staff know you as a serious business person and are less likely to be charmed into giving away your information.
In room or bathroom sharing situations, such as a hostel or small bed and breakfast, ask the staff what times of day the bathrooms get busiest. Sometimes the easiest way to avoid running into people apres-shower is simply to pick an off-peak time. I always ask for extra towels so nothing feels skimpy and I bring along my sarong for extra coverage.
Speaking of extra coverage - that same sarong can turn a lower bunk bed into a private oasis in a large hostel room. In a pinch, ask the staff for an extra sheet. Simply explain that you've had a long trip and would love to turn your bunk into a quiet retreat. Never hurts to ask!
Ask that your guest registration information is never shared with others, including third party advertisers. Write "no mailing lists" on every registration form you fill out. Consider having an email address just for travel reservations.
Keep your travel details private on social media. An easy way to maintain your security while still sharing the fun details of your trip with friends and family is to delay everything by 24 hours. Share pics from last night's meal, not the one you're eating right now. Thank your hotel for the wonderful visit, not the warm welcome.
Balance your desires to connect with new friends and have conversations with locals with your need for privacy. When I'm happy to have company in a safe, public place, I have no problem sharing my day with others. When I want more privacy or feel the need to guard my safety and whereabouts more closely, I'm deliberately vague or make excuses about work.
What do you do when all these new friends want to keep in touch but you're not sure you want your new best friend of 12 hours to be able to write, phone, and Facebook you? Create an email account just for travel friends. If you're on multiple social media platforms, make a decision about what networks will be closed for just friends and family and which will be more open.
Remember: your personal life, your marital status, your religion, and your beliefs are nobody's business but your own. But in a world of cultural differences (and plain ol' nosy parkers), you'll likely be asked about things that are just a tad too personal for your taste. There's nothing at all wrong with creative backstories (just ask my imaginary husband, Pedros). And for the ultimate privacy and luxury - with no one snooping around and everyone respecting your privacy - you can treat yourself to an upscale travel experience and travel via private jet. There's a reason this option is so popular - complete comfort and zero invasion of privacy (especially nice when you sleep on the plane).
Use a secure internet connection.I recently shared how little thought I gave to the security of public Wi-Fi networks - I just cared that I could find them! And I learned that it's exactly this kind of attitude that hackers (both professionals and amateurs) thrive on. Even if you don't consider yourself a phone addict, it's inevitable that you'll be using it in an insecure location.
I'm absolutely in love with F-Secure Freedome's Virtual Private Network (VPN) that transforms my public connections into private ones. The thought of having my privacy violated by a hacker -whether they are after my (non-existent) money or just after a bit of mischief - is my worst nightmare. But since using Freedome, I've realized it's not just the hackers who are after my information. It's advertisers and data collection companies as well!
My record amount of tracks blocked by Freedome is 220 attempts in ONE HOUR. (If you really want to freak yourself out, do a fake search for a hotel using a third party booker and watch the tracking attempts pour in at the same time!) (PS: Readers of TurnipseedTravel.com can use Freedome for FREE for 90 days: Click HERE and use code: qsf257).
Many of you probably know a lot about my life. You know where I travel and you know when. You've seen my bedrooms around the world and you know what I've eaten for breakfast. I've shared my highs, my lows, and a whole lot of silly indifferent moments in between. On one hand, you could say that I'm not a very private person. But privacy isn't about how much people know about you - it's about much you choose to share and how well you protect that information you you hold back. Protecting my privacy, on my terms, is just one way I make my travel experience more comfortable and secure - and I hope this helps you to do the same.
Share your best tips for staying safe and protecting your privacy when you travel!
If you enjoyed this piece, you'll also like:
Blogging, Hacking, and Online Privacy
How to Always Get a Great Hotel Deal
Readers Want to Know: Do I Really Need Luggage Tags
I am a compensated Freedome Ambassador and this post contains a sponsored link from a proud blog supporter All writing, research, and opinions remain my own.
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