You should always ensure that you utilize the best privacy practices while traveling. This doesn’t mean checking to see if a suspicious person is peeking over your shoulder spying on your airplane ticket to see your next destination. It also doesn’t mean being aware of that person sitting in the next row to you overhearing your conversation. Then again, this is exactly what being private (and not public) is all about in the real world. It is about protecting our personal world from others. Although most of us have been taught to have our regular privacy in check as kids, our digital privacy is often lacking in society.
On the other hand, the problem is that most of us are not up-to-scratch with our digital privacy best practices i.e. how we configure and use the multitude of devices that we own (the devices that our entire lives flow through). This is what is meant by best privacy practices in the modern world. The term ‘best privacy practices’ refers to how you use and configure your devices, particularly concerning your online privacy, in the best way possible. Best practices is an industry-standard term.
For these reasons, we need to understand what best privacy practices are when you travel. We’ll separate that into three categories; privacy tools and common sense habits.
What is digital privacy
There are five billion of us out there connected to the internet practically almost every second of every day. Hundreds, if not thousands of gigabytes of data flow to and from our devices each year. That is an unfathomable amount of data. This data includes practically everything about you, your interest, your private accounts, as well as your family and friends. The issue is that we have become so used to using devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, and more, that we have forgotten just how much information we put out there.
Another thing we often forget to question is: to whom does this data go? Who can see this data, and what can they do with this data? It is often said that Google knows more about us than our closest family members, and this is often the case.
How to ensure maximum privacy while traveling
Now, when most of us travel, we are focused on one thing and that is: well, traveling itself. Rarely do we think about our digital privacy or our digital security. People are probably more focused on not forgetting their passport or other documents while they travel than the level of privacy they’re at. There simply is not enough time with all of the rushing, airports, taxis, connecting flights, and whatnot. What is more, our nerves are frayed and we are often tired when we travel. The focus on digital privacy is usually thrown away completely. We rely on the thought that the devices we have paid our hard-earned cash for will do a successful job of protecting our personal data and data transmissions at all times. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is not the devices themselves or the internet, or the institutions that track us that are at fault. It is a fact that we need privacy awareness and we need to know how to set up our devices for maximum privacy.
Remember, even the latest generation Samsung S22 or iPhone 13 smartphones still require that you set them up for better privacy and security out-of-the-box (the manufacturer won’t bother with these features as these are personal preferences in their view). Secondly, websites generate revenue through ads (which means tracking you). This is just how the internet works these days and it is up to you to circumvent it.
So, how do we go about doing all of the above to ensure maximum privacy on our devices? It certainly isn’t a very simple, quick, or straightforward process. It will also require you to shell out a few dollars a month for premium software, and it will take time for you to educate yourself about best privacy practices. However, all in all, this should not take you more than a few days to grasp.
Now, let’s tackle privacy awareness first. While traveling, you need to be aware of the fact that an unconfigured device will not keep your data or your transactions private. You will be geo-located, your searches will be logged, and the internet will remember your travel preferences. The thing is when you use a modern smartphone, most diagnostics, location, and tracking features are left on by default. These features will not do you any good. Not only that, but you could be compromising your security by using public WiFi hotspots at airports or other travel complexes. What about your social media privacy settings? Have you ever had a look at those?
Secondly, let’s talk about the best privacy tools out there for you. This means using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a good privacy-conscious web browser. Why do you need a VPN? Anonymization and connection encryption. What’s the point of a privacy browser? To reduce your digital footprint, as well as aggressively block ads and cookies. For instance, go ahead and grab yourself a VPN such as PIA or NordVPN and a privacy browser such as Brave or Mozilla. Try to avoid Google products in general (like Chrome or Google’s search engine), as it is no secret that they track every move you make. You could also benefit from opting out of ad tracking online by entering the same into the search box.
Third, you need to employ common sense privacy best practice principles. This means not oversharing information about yourself ever, online. The more data you share about yourself on social media and internet platforms, the more information can be pieced together about you. At the end of the day, the internet has become an enormous, artificial intelligence data-gathering monster. It is ultimately your choice if you want to join the growing army of privacy-conscious netizens around the world.