When I finally reach my apartment after a long flight, I usually drop all my stuff off, look around my new digs for a little bit, and then take off to grab a bite to eat.

But the moment I’m about to step out the door, a nagging feeling hits me. How easy is it to break into my place? Do local burglars know that this apartment accommodates tourists, therefore making me easy pickings for their next heist?

I usually turn back and hide my laptop, along with some cash and other valuables in a less obvious place than it was in before. But let’s be honest, after a few days of staying at that new place, I eventually got comfortable leaving things out in the open. Part of that is because I follow these tips that I’m about to share with you to help me prevent my electronics from getting stolen.

How To Prepare For The Worst

The more you think about this now, the better prepared you will be later, and the more you can set your mind at ease in the future. Here’s what I recommend doing.

Regular Backups

Look, I’m guilty of forgetting backups too, I constantly exceed my storage limit on my phone when I’m taking pictures. That said, when it comes to work-related things, I’ve always got my stuff backed up on the cloud.

Cloud services like Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox offer convenient and accessible platforms for storing data online, ensuring it’s safe yet accessible from any device with an internet connection. Additionally, physical backups, such as external hard drives or USB flash drives, provide a reliable and tangible alternative. These can be especially useful for large files or sensitive data that you might not want to store in the cloud. 

Use Tracking Software

When you’re on the road so much, installing tracking software on your devices is an essential security measure. Tracking software, such as ‘Find My iPhone’ for iOS devices or ‘Find My Device’ for Android, helps locate lost or stolen devices by showing their real-time or last known locations on a map. It’s important to familiarize oneself with these services before an unfortunate event occurs. This involves not just installing the software but also understanding its features, such as remotely locking the device, displaying a message on the lock screen, or even erasing data in case it’s irretrievable. Provide clear instructions on how to activate and use these features, emphasizing that immediate action can significantly increase the chances of recovering a lost device.

Use Secure Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication

Strong, unique passwords are the first line of defense in protecting digital accounts and personal data. Encourage readers to create complex passwords that are difficult to guess and to avoid using the same password across multiple sites or services. Password managers can be a great aid in generating and storing these passwords securely. Additionally, two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security. This method requires not only a password and username but also something the user has on them, typically a mobile device. With 2FA, even if a password is compromised, unauthorized users are unlikely to gain access to an account. 

Get Nomad Insurance

All the other advice I’ve given you can help you reduce the risk of something bad happening, but only insurance can give you true peace of mind with regards to the cost of replacement. 

Personally, even before SafetyWing introduced Nomad Insurance 2.0, I saw them as pretty much the only travel medical insurance option that I felt was tailored to my digital nomad lifestyle. Now that they’ve updated their policy to cover up to US$1,000 per stolen electronic, I’m fairly satisfied that I won’t feel a huge financial hit should one of my devices get stolen. Note that this coverage includes laptops, phones, cameras, and any other electronics.

Thankfully, getting started with SafetyWing is really easy. There isn’t a bunch of annoying bureaucratic paperwork, and I like that they’ve made their claims process a lot more streamlined with their latest update. Click the link to get covered.

If you are a US resident, please be aware that this product is currently unavailable. However, we anticipate its availability in the coming months.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When I’m in a foreign country, I’m usually a lot more vigilant. However, I’m aware that street theft is practically an art form in some locales, so I might not be able to beat them. The general rule of thumb is that if other locals have their devices out on a particular street or in a particular cafe, then you can too. That said, I wouldn’t leave my device alone when I go to the bathroom unless I’m already familiar with the cafe, and the people who work there, and I’ve seen others leave their belongings alone myself.

digital thief
Thieves can show up in the most unexpected places

Educate Yourself About Common Scams

Every destination has its own unique scams. You should take a look at the types of thievery practices that are common before you arrive at your destination. That way, you can minimize the chances of putting yourself into a scenario where theft is highly probable.

What To Do When The Worst Actually Happens

If you get your electronics stolen, you basically don’t have any time to lose. I would recommend messaging anyone you have commitments with about your situation as soon as possible. Afterward, take a deep breath, stay calm, and get to work rectifying the situation with the following tips. 

Change Passwords

If your electronic device is lost or stolen, one of your first actions should be to change the passwords of all accounts accessed through the device. This is crucial for preventing unauthorized access to your personal and sensitive information. Prioritize changing passwords for the most critical accounts first, such as your email, banking apps, and social media profiles. 

Use strong, unique passwords for each account, and consider using a password manager to keep track of them. If available, enable two-factor authentication for an added layer of security. This process not only protects your accounts but also helps minimize the potential damage in case your device falls into the wrong hands.

Should You Notify The Authorities?

To be honest, the police in some countries won’t be very helpful. That said, you should definitely file a report with the proper authorities just to cover your bases. Your insurance provider might demand such evidence if you make a claim as well.

You could also notify your service provider, but again, I understand that contacting such people in a foreign country can be more challenging than it is back home.

Replacing Your Device In A Foreign Country

So, while I’ve been fortunate enough to never have my devices stolen (fingers-crossed), I have inadvertently broken my laptop while I was thousands of kilometers away from home. I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t looking forward to buying a new laptop and my screen was only slightly cracked initially. I wanted to delay the inevitable as much as possible so I’m well aware that buying a new laptop in a foreign land isn’t a prospect anyone looks forward to. In fact, I held off on buying until I got to a country where I could at least speak the local language.

Of course, if your electronics are stolen, you’re not in a position to delay things at all.

My advice is to figure out as quickly as possible what local websites are most popular for electronics in the country you’re staying in. Then, go to the website, search for laptops, and then translate the page that comes up. Take a look at the filters (trying to interpret the translation as best you can) and adjust them to meet your needs. 

New Laptop

Generally speaking, I try to buy the exact same brand as I had before, and preferably, the same model. Either way, copy-paste the model names that you find on the local website and then search it on Google, you should see a variety of reviews and prices on different websites like Amazon. That should give you a sense of what the fair price is for the laptop in question, and whether it’s reliable. Of course, prices will vary from country to country based on taxes, but at least make sure that they’re in the same ballpark.

Once you’re confident in the store and the laptop you’re buying, my recommendation is not to order it online, but to find a store near you and go directly there to purchase it. It’s best to get the laptop in your hands ASAP if you can, and you never know what can happen when you order something online in another country. Especially if you’ve already been broken into!

Final Thoughts

The feelings of insecurity that you have following your electronics getting stolen will be hard to bear with. At the very least, you should do everything you can ahead of time to protect yourself. Following the advice in this article should have you feeling a lot calmer next time you switch locations and enter an unfamiliar security environment.

For more advice and tips on digital nomadding, including lifestyle tips and advice on particular destinations, subscribe to the Big Nomads Newsletter below and keep reading our blog.


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