www.tidewaterreview.com/features/travel/la-tr-money-tips-to-protect-data-and-dollars-from-thieves-20140413,0,7095607.story

tidewaterreview.com

Tips to protect data and dollars from thieves

More for Your Money: Awareness of electronic risks is as important as secure pockets, pouches and bags.

By Myscha Theriault

10:30 AM EDT, April 11, 2014

Advertisement

Any traveler can get distracted — in fact, it's the rare traveler who doesn't. But when your attention is focused on other things, you may be leaving yourself wide open to theft and data breaches. From stashing your cash to selecting luggage, here are some of my favorite security solutions.

How to carry cash: Carrying limited currency and keeping it in multiple locations keep your theft risk manageable. The storage strategies are as varied as the types of currencies you could carry, but a few stand out as being particularly secure.

Frequent traveler Elizabeth Houck secures her spare dollars in an emptied cardboard tampon tube. Storing it this way and carrying it in her cosmetics bag provide cost-effective camouflage. "Nobody ever looks there!" Houck says.

Products with hidden security pockets abound, including stylish caps, men's sport coats, zip-up fleece tops for running and even khaki dress pants with hidden front pockets. Other options include pinning a small, closeable pouch to the inside of your bra or buying a zippered money belt (or a pocket that can be looped over a belt loop and worn inside your pants).

Keeping baggage theft-proof: At the most basic level, security is all about access. Small day pouches and messenger bags with cross-body straps allow you to carry your belongings in front of you, where they can be seen at all times. Totes with a top zipper rather than open access help prevent grab-and-go theft of such items as loosely packed tablets or identification documents. And of course, safety pins and miniature travel padlocks are popular go-to solutions for securing zipper tabs together.

If you're planning a lot of travel, you may want to explore performance gear with built-in security measures. Pacsafe is one company that produces such luggage and accessories. Its slash-proof expandable cable nets have long been a favorite of backpackers needing to stow their belongings, and the company now makes stealth security items for adventure and business travelers.

Features include knife-resistant mesh hidden in the fabric, interlocking zipper pulls and tote straps reinforced with stainless steel cables. Options start at less than $100 and increase according to storage capacity and functionality. The company's shoulder bags and wheeled carry-ons make a great deal of sense for frequent business travelers, but day trippers can likely get by with a tablet handbag, sling pack or smaller cross-body bag. Info: http://www.pacsafe.com

Keeping information safe: It's never a good idea to advertise that you're on vacation by posting on social media that you're away from home. Itinerary details and personal data can put you at risk if they fall into the wrong hands. If someone is guarding the house, it's still not a great idea to mention where you are. Solotravelgirl.com's Jennifer Huber helps manage this risk through delayed social media postings. Rather than share where she's staying during her time at a particular venue, says Huber, "I wait until the morning I've checked out."

Leaking electronic data can be just as risky. Although not everyone believes that Radio Frequency ID blocking is necessary, if you're not wanting to tempt fate, it's easy enough to find RFID-blocking technology, especially in products for women. It's not as easy for men.

For international travel, check out Allett's passport wallet (www.lat.ms/1emSZhK). Besides room for your passport, it allows space for any size international currency, a significant number of cards and several forms of identification. The threaded RFID security fabric is used on all faces of the wallet, providing close-encounter data protection.

The need for secure back-up copies of critical documents also has increased. Nora Dunn of TheProfessionalHobo.com has lived on the road full time for several years now. Her solution involves the use of a free application called KeePassX, which she uses on her computer and on a USB stick to create an encrypted database. This database helps her to manage her passwords, but it also can store scans and additional notes associated with each item.

Dunn has digital copies of all the cards and forms of identification in her wallet, along with passwords, account numbers and even emergency contact information encrypted on a single thumb drive she wears underneath her clothing at all times. Info: http://www.keepassx.org/

This secure storage of her personal information provides serious peace of mind. "If something awful happens and I'm stripped of everything," she says, "I can wander into the nearest consulate with my trusty USB stick and start the process of reinstating my ID, canceling stolen cards and getting on with my life."

travel@latimes.com