Travel 101: Tips for Traveling Internationally With Electronics

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Laptop and smartphone by swimming pool.A view of a swimming pool with a laptop, smartphone, and sunglasses in the foreground.
Ekaterina Simonova/Dreamstime

Choosing the right adapter, packing safely, and protecting devices and data doesn’t have to be complicated. Here, what you need to know before heading to the airport.

We’ve come to rely on our electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and other gadgets, to help ensure a great travel experience. How else would we capture beautiful images and fun videos of our trip, stay in touch with friends and family, and share brag-worthy moments on social media? But as helpful as those devices can be, making sure you can transport and use them when traveling internationally can seem like a challenge.

We’re here to take the mystery out of traveling internationally with electronics. From voltage, adapters, cords, packing, security, and more, consider this your ultimate go-to guide.

Choose the Right Adapter

When you’re planning an international trip, be sure to educate yourself about the power outlets you’ll be using at your destination. And we don’t mean google it the night before you fly. In fact, as soon as your airline tickets and hotel reservations are booked, find out what kind of outlet your destination uses and be sure to travel with a reliable adapter that will allow you to plug in your U.S.-purchased device in a foreign outlet that may be shaped differently and offer a different voltage from the one at home.

One of the most versatile options is Ceptics World Travel Adapter Kit, which includes 2 USB ports, 2 U.S. outlets, and 6 adapters. Basically, this kit, available for $22.99 is one-stop shopping for most international destinations, including North America, the U.K., most of Europe, Australia, Japan, some African nations, the Middle East, most of Asia, China, and other countries. The kit comes equipped with a grounded adapter, surge protection, and a “smart voltage” indicator to take the mystery out of the sometimes complex issue of outlet voltage.

If you happen to be traveling to one of the few regions in which the World Travel Adapter Kit is not compatible, such as Botswana or South Africa, Ceptics offers nation specific adapters for $14.99 each.

For more in-depth information about foreign outlets and adapter options, visit ceptics.com.

Pack Electronics for Efficient Travel

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Let’s talk about airport security. The words may send a chill up your spine, especially if you’re traveling with an array of devices, cords, and accessories, until you learn the basic packing protocols recommended by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):

Pack valuable items, including laptops and tablets, in your carry-on instead of in checked bags.

Label your carry-on bags and laptop case with your name, address, and phone number, and include a tag with the same information inside each carry-on as well.

To streamline your trip through airport security, pack clothing at the bottom of your carry-on and place electronics and toiletries on top, with electronic cords stored in ziploc bags. This will make it easier for security agents to assess your bag. If you’re traveling with a laptop, remove it from your carry-on before you get to the X-ray machine.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the electronics you’re traveling with, be sure to review the TSA Prohibited Items List or download the MyTSA app.

Keep Devices and Data Safe

When it comes to traveling internationally with electronic devices, there are two security concerns: Keeping the device itself safe, and protecting your personal data such as passwords and other information that can put you at risk for identity theft.

To protect your devices, a TSA-recognized lock is essential, such as Captics TSA-Approved Combination Lock Set, available for $14.99, with a resettable combination lock. A TSA-recognized lock allows TSA officers to open a locked bag when it’s necessary for them to physically inspect a locked piece of baggage using a universal “master” key, so that no damage occurs to the lock or to the bag.

To protect your data and passwords: When using public or hotel Wi-Fi, always opt for a “secured” connection, which is encrypted and protects you from hackers. Other ways to protect data include creating a mobile hotspot from your smartphone or buying a secure portable hotspot from your mobile carrier. Always turn off your device’s wireless signal when not in use, and install the latest antivirus software on all electronic devices.

Don't Forget These Helpful "Extras"

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While the following suggestions are not as essential as those referenced above, these “extras” can provide additional security and comfort at a reasonable price:

A portable charger, ranging from a small device the size of a lipstick to a bag that can hold a laptop or tablet, provides some freedom from electrical outlets. You charge the portable charger before leaving your home or hotel, then use it to charge your device’s battery when you’re, say, hiking in the woods or skiing down a mountain, where electrical outlets are, we hope, the last thing on your mind.

Noise-canceling headphones are by no means necessary, but they can improve your enjoyment of streaming music and video on the road, and by blocking out up to 90 percent of ambient noise, they can enhance your ability to catch some sleep on a plane or during a long airport layover.

A portable bag scale is small, roughly the size of a luggage tag, but it can save you big money on overweight checked bags. Hook it under your bag’s handle and lift it up, and the scale will tell you exactly how much your bag weighs.

Traveling with a power strip can turn one available outlet into several, allowing you to charge multiple devices at the same time and providing surge protection.

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