I would like to thank Pete for publishing this article. His site is a great place with tips and tricks that all digital nomads can benefit from. After reading this, be sure to head over to his post on the best digital nomad hotspots around the world!
The digital nomad lifestyle is the dream for many: being able to live on the road, going wherever you want, whenever you want, with nothing to stop you. However, there’s a lot more to this seemingly glamorous lifestyle than first meets the eye. Traveling full time and working on-the-go demands a lot of hard work, planning and careful consideration. Balancing the life of a traveler with that of someone with a full time job requires careful moderation and can be a disaster if it goes wrong.
While most digital nomads have perfected the practical side of the lifestyle, there’s one element that is often overlooked. Neglecting your security practices when on the road opens you up to be the target of many physical and virtual crimes, which would be a nightmare to deal with if you were to fall victim.
Why is it Important?
Working remotely online means that you’re constantly traveling with many more valuables that your generic casual backpacker. This necessary evil, although it provides you with a basic income and allows you to keep traveling, puts you at much higher risk than any of your associates. Not only would losing your equipment to theft be costly and time-consuming, it could also cost you your main source of income.
If this were to happen, then life on the road would undoubtedly become very difficult; no-one wants to be stranded in a foreign country with no money and no way of making any. Although being stringent about your security protocols may seem like a frustrating pursuit for the paranoid, preparing for the worst-case scenario could be essential for ensuring your life as a digital nomad continues without problems.
- Protect Your Connection
By far one of the most important elements to consider when working on the internet is your online security. Cybercrime is an ever-growing, every-changing threat that continues to rise all around the world. Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new, innovative ways to intercept your data and use it for their own monetary game.
Whether they manage to empty your bank account or simply use your details to commit fraud, falling victim to a cyberattack is a surefire disaster. This is particularly poignant for digital nomads as they spend so much of their time connected to public WiFi. These public networks are notoriously insecure as they allow your data to fly around unencrypted and visible to all malicious onlookers.
Luckily, getting around this is simple. Installing a good Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to create a secure initial connection and encrypt your data so you can access and use these public networks safely and securely. There are many brands of this product on the market that vary in price, quality and location, so make sure you find the best one for you!
- Protect Your Backpack
Once you’ve protected yourself virtually, you also have increase your physical security. As a full-time traveler, it’s likely that your only real form of storage is the backpack or suitcase that you carry with you everywhere. Unfortunately, this means that the only thing protecting your valuables is a thin piece of canvas or plastic and a zipper. As you rely so heavily on your technology for your career and income, keeping the equipment you use safe is paramount. Particularly because you spend so much time away from you backpack—e.g. when going through airports or asleep and unable to keep a close eye on it.
There are some simple tips that will increase your security, such as using hidden inside pockets to store valuables or attaching straps to chairs or table legs, or even your own legs, if you’re going to nap on public transport. You can also invest in some cheap security additions such as padlocks to put on zippers when you’re on public transport or zip-ties to close up pockets that will give thieves easy access when you’re out and about. However, if you want to make your backpack super secure, Pacsafe is a great company who specializes in security solutions for travelers.
- Don’t Attract Attention
Although customizing your backpack with security solutions is a good way to improve security, there’s one step you can take that’s probably even more sensible. Avoiding attracting attention to the fact you’re carrying around valuables is the best way to deter thieves. We’ve all seen the travelers who walk around with their shiny, new, top-of-the-range backpacks, laptop bag over arm and expensive camera hung around their neck. If we can pick these people out of the crowd, then so can the thieves.
Try not to advertise your technology by keeping it in your all-purpose backpack rather than having a bag specifically, and obviously, designed for it. Sticking to worn out, second hand backpacks makes it much less desirable to a thief, and avoiding getting out all of your expensive equipment until you’re in a safe place makes you much less of a target for a hit-and-run mugging. This doesn’t mean you should never take your camera or laptop out with you, just be sure that you only have it on show when you really need it! It’s also wise to find covers and cases that don’t draw attention to your expensive products.
- Protect Your Data From Physical Theft
Unfortunately, no matter how vigilantly you try to avoid physical theft, there is always a possibility that it will happen. The lifestyle of a digital nomad makes you very vulnerable, and while there’s no reason to spend all your time worrying about this, it is sensible to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Having the technology you work with stolen from you means that, not only will you lose your work equipment, you’ll also lose all the work and personal information that was stored on it.
Fortunately, by putting a few pre-cautionary systems in place, you can avoid the latter of these situations becoming too much as a disaster. First, backing all your work and data up in cloud storage is an essential practice. This means that all you have to do to continue your work is find a new laptop, and you’re good to go. Once you’ve done this, many devices offer a remote wipe option, which means that if thieves ever did intercept your equipment, they won’t be able to access any of your data or commit identity theft.
Life as a digital nomad can be risky, but by taking a few simple steps to secure yourself, you can continue on your epic adventure without having to worry! If you have any more tips for fellow travelers who work remotely, then be sure to leave a comment below.