I am a seasoned travel filmmaker who logs miles and miles on the road each month. Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way how to protect my valuables. From packing strategies to insurance, to device tracking and common sense, here are some of the precautions that I, a professional traveler, use to keep my valuables safe while traveling.
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Minimize what you bring and lock the rest
The safest way to protect your valuables when traveling is to leave them at home. But that’s not always an option.
Try not to draw attention to yourself, flashing high-ticket items like expensive jewelry or large cameras and, when possible, keep your valuables on you, or within sight. Avoid leaving your bag on the beach unattended, or in the backseat of a car in plain view where curious eyes may wander.
Also, lock up your bag in a locker if staying in a hostel, exploring a museum, or embarking on a day outdoors. Remember to use your hotel room’s safe, just so long as you don’t forget to get your things out before you leave.
When out and about, consider a TSA approved lock for your backpack or suitcase or worst case a twist-tie to keep zippers closed. Traveling with a backpack whose main compartment zipper rests against your back is a great way to keep your valuables safe from pickpockets.
Split up and hide your cash and cards when traveling
When it comes to money, split it up. Keep a debit card, one or two credit cards and some cash in your wallet and make a second wallet with a different debit card and a different credit card and some spare cash to hide in a hidden pocket in your luggage so it’s hard to find. An old deodorant tube, makeup case, or feminine pad make for some of the best ways to hide your valuables while traveling.
Your ID and passport are invaluable, and losing them on the road could be complicated. Protect these important items with extreme care by hiding them in a travel waist bag and keep a physical and digital copy for backup just in case.
Protect your valuables by using the tech tracking at your disposal
One of the most important items you’ll want to protect on your travels are your electronic devices. Apple users can use the Find My app to track their devices (iPhone, iPad, AirPod, Mac, etc.), and Android users can install the Google Find My Device app.
In case you discover something missing, you can see your devices on a map or play a sound to find your device. If your electronics get into the wrong hands, you can erase your personal data remotely or lock it down.
Apple users can also attach an AirTag to bags and keys to keep track of where they are. That way, you’ll know if your suitcase missed a connecting flight; if your backpack is where you left it at the restaurant or in the hands of a thief; and you can play a sound to try to locate your keys.
How to keep your camera safe when traveling
Cameras are tricky because you can’t leave them at home – having photos and videos of your travels is how you remember them. Use good judgment and never leave your camera out of your sight if you can help it. As well, keep your gear safe from the elements. Invest in a padded camera bag to protect your gear from bumps along the way, like the Manfrotto Manhattan Mover 50 for a flexible all-in-one pack, which has customizable padded compartments and comes with a dedicated rain cover in case of wet weather.
How to keep your photos and videos safe while traveling
Professional photographers and filmmakers know the rule: Never keep all your photos or footage in one place.
Traveling for a week snapping all your photos on one memory card is a risk – if that one memory card gets lost or corrupted, you’ll lose everything. Before launching your drone or taking your GoPro out for a swim, insert a fresh memory card and put your old memory card in a safe place. That way, if you crash your drone or your GoPro sinks to the bottom of the ocean, you won’t lose your entire trip’s library of memories.
Once you get back to your accommodation, back up your data on two hard drives or more. Save your photos to your computer’s internal hard drive, and then copy the files onto an external drive for backup. Traditional external hard drives like the Lacie 5TB Rugged Drives are good for travel with a rubber bumper, and are a good value for cost and storage space, but solid state hard drives (SSD) like the SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE are safer since they have no mechanical spinning parts and are less likely to fail. If you have solid WiFi, backup your memories to a cloud storage for extra security. Services like OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and Amazon Cloud will sync your photos to the cloud and multiple computers if connected.
Prepare for the worst: Insure your valuables
For peace of mind, make sure you’re covered by insurance to protect your valuables when traveling.
Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to see what’s covered for your personal property. Double check your total coverage amount, the deductible in case you have to file a claim, and the level of protection. For example, natural disasters and theft may be covered under your policy, however, coverage for accidents like dropping your camera may not. Also check the location, domestic travel may be covered differently than international adventures. Sometimes there are special clauses about being in aircrafts or watercraft. You can also look into a valuable personal property policy for specific items like jewelry or cameras and lenses. If you’re traveling for business, consider getting a dedicated policy for business equipment in addition to your business insurance.
For specific items, like your electronics and camera gear, you might look into purchasing insurance at the time of purchase. For example, DJI Care Refresh offers comprehensive protection for DJI products like drones. The policy includes replacements within one or two years for things like collisions and water damage. Apple offers support and repair options via AppleCare+, so whether you break your screen or need a more serious fix, they can help you. B&H Photo Video offers coverage for everyday wear and tear like cracked lenses, liquid damage, LCD Screen failures, broken buttons, SD Card failure, and more. Most camera stores can offer individual insurance for those expensive items.