Every summer, I get the travel itch. Before you head out, make sure your home is locked down. The bad news is security cameras, from video doorbells to a full-fledged security system, aren’t always hack-proof out of the box.
Tap or click here for the steps to make sure only you can access your security and video doorbell camera’s feed. It’s an important step whether you’re traveling or not.
Speaking of cameras, best check your rental for any hidden cameras. It happened to me. Tap or click here for steps to spot a hidden camera.
Now, let’s jump into the essential steps before you hit the road to save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress.
1. Take photos of all your important documents
Of course, you always need to carry identification when traveling, but it’s wise to have a digital backup, too. Worst case scenario, you lose your wallet. It will be a lot smoother getting home if you have photos of all your important documents with you.
The easiest way to do that on an iPhone is to use the handy document scanner built into the native Notes app.
• Open Notes and tap the compose icon at the bottom right of the screen.
• Above the keyboard, tap on the + sign and then the camera icon.
• There, you can choose a photo you’ve already taken, take a new photo or scan documents. Easy!
The Notes app for iPhone is surprisingly powerful. Tap or click here for more secrets for this pre-installed app, including using it as a full-fledged document scanner.
On an Android, snap some photos and mark them as favorites in your picture gallery. That will make finding your documents easy, no matter where you are.
Pro Tip: I also recommend saving your identifying documents as PDF files and saving a copy to your iOS Books, Android e-book app, or even sending to your Kindle. This way, you can access them offline. Send a copy to your travel partner, too, if you feel safe doing so.
2. Get your digital driver’s license
Pictures are great, but what about an actual digital driver’s license? You can use a digital driver’s license for any transaction or situation where ID is required. Think of it as a supplement to your physical ID as various jurisdictions figure out how to implement its use.
A digital license can be updated quickly with new information, such as a change of address. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely wipe the digital ID before getting a new one.
What’s the catch? Right now, digital licenses are only available in some states, including Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.
Getting a digital version of your license varies from state to state. For example, Arizona launched its version in March in partnership with identity management firm IDEMIA and its “Mobile ID” platform. That company also provides digital driver’s licenses to Oklahoma and Delaware residents. All you have to do is download the state-specific app on iOS or Android to get started.
For others on the list above, check your state’s official state government websites or run a search with your state name and “digital driver’s license” for more on how to apply.
Staying closer to home? Tap or click for the best apps for camping, RV travel and road trips.
3. Keep track of your belongings
Losing your stuff is terrible at home and much worse when you’re in a different state or country. Digital trackers can help you keep an eye on your valuables and track them if you lose anything.
You can use these neat little gadgets to find your phone, laptop, tablet, wallet, luggage, backpack, and other essentials.
• The Tile Essentials 4-pack comes with various tags for your keys, wallet, luggage, or whatever else you want to try.
• Apple’s AirTags are ideal if you have an iPhone, Mac, or iPad.
4. Don’t rely on a paper boarding pass
If you’ve never taken advantage of digital boarding passes, you’re missing out. Losing a slip of paper is easy if you’re carrying around lots of bags and searching for your boarding gate.
To access the digital version, you can log in to the airline’s website and have them email your boarding pass. You can also download your airline’s app to access it. From there, you can add it to your phone’s digital wallet.
• If you get your boarding pass through email, Apple Mail can automatically add it to your wallet. Otherwise, open the email attachment and tap Add to Apple Wallet > Add.
• Use an Android? You can sync your Google Pay and Gmail accounts to add emailed boarding passes to the Pay app. Open Google Pay and tap the three bars, then Settings > General, then toggle on Gmail imports and tap Connect to Gmail.
Gmail tips and tricks: 10 buried features and settings to try
5. Be wary of scammers
Scammers try to hit people at their most vulnerable. What better time when you’re searching for the best prices, at the airport worried about making your flight or in a new city? Travel scams are growing as more and more people are leaving home again.
Here are some of the hottest scams going on right now:
• Vacation rental scams: Use caution if you’re booking through Airbnb, VRBO, or another rental site. Individuals can create false home profiles only for guests to show up to a home much dirtier, smaller, or run down than in the photos. Last-minute cancellations force desperate guests to book a much more expensive option with the same host. Tricky! Tap or click here for red flags to watch for.
• Fake websites: Scammers know how to manipulate Google search results. The first answer to your query might not take you to an official website. It’s best to type the web address to official pages directly into your web browser instead of clicking links from search results.
• Scammy ads: Cybercriminals often create fake online ads for destinations at unbelievable rates. These listings generally require you to pay upfront. Proceed with extreme caution and ensure that the company you are dealing with is legitimate.
• Vaccine passport apps: Scammers are targeting victims with fake vaccine passport apps and websites. You don’t need one of these digital documents to travel, and the U.S. government has authorized none, so watch out. Tap or click here for all the details.
ARE YOUR PHOTOS A MESS?
In one episode, I dive into the best ways to get rid of all the junk and duplicates – like memes and screenshots – hiding the important pictures you want to keep. Plus, how to backup and store your collection for easy browsing and long-term storage.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.