Laptop tips to help ensure you keep your laptop secure and avoid problems dealing with Security and/or Customs. You are the first line of defence for your laptop when traveling and its important to keep these laptop tips in mind to save time and prevent aggravation.
1. Carry your Laptop or Pack It Away?Keep it with you at all times. It goes with you on the flight as carry-on baggage. Do not store it in the overhead storage area; it could get knocked around by someone else. Absolutely do not put your laptop in with your other baggage. Baggage handlers arent expecting expensive electronics to be in the stored baggage areas and you cant expect it to be treated as a fragile object.
2. Visual Inspection (Hand checking)You may be required to remove your laptop from its carrying case and turn it on to demonstrate to Security/Customs that the laptop is exactly that a functioning computer. A good way to save time if you anticipate this happening is to turn on your laptop earlier and leave it in suspend mode. This is a good reason to ensure that your laptop battery is kept charged. When your laptop is examined in this manner it is often called hand checking.
3. Should You X-Ray Your Laptop?Letting your laptop go through the x-ray equipment will not harm your laptop. The magnetic field which is generated is not enough to cause harm to your hard drive or cause damage to your data. Metal detectors on the other hand, can cause damage and request politely that Security/Customs do not use the metal detector but do a hand check instead.
4. Carry Proper DocumentsIts very important when returning to your country of origin, that you have the correct Customs documentation or original receipts. These show that the laptop and other mobile gear is what you left the country with. The onus is on you to prove that you already own the equipment and did not purchase it while traveling. You will have to pay duty and taxes on items purchased while traveling if you cant provide proof of ownership.
5. Keep a Low ProfileDont draw attention to yourself while waiting for your flight or while in-flight. While waiting for your flight and using your laptop, pick an area where you will have some privacy and dont have to worry about someone looking over your shoulder. If its too crowded, dont use your laptop, and waiting for a time when its less crowded. If someone is curious about your laptop, be brief but polite and pack it in. They could be looking for a laptop to steal.
6. Don't Let Your Laptop Out of SightIf you let your laptop get out of sight even for a few minutes, it could be gone. If you have to use the facilities in an airport, take your laptop bag with you. The only exception is if you are traveling with someone you know and trust, but remind them to not leave your laptop unattended. While going through the Security/Customs screening keep a close view of your laptop if you are required to set it down for any reason.
7. Fact or Fiction - The Airport Laptop ScamWhile there have been no recorded incidents of this type of theft its still wise to keep this scenario in mind. Two people will get in line ahead of you at the security area. You have placed your laptop on the conveyor belt and it has moved ahead. The first person goes through with no problems but the second has many difficulties. While you and Security/Customs are distracted, the first takes off with your laptop. Always wait until the last moment to put your laptop on the conveyor belt.
8. Keep Your Laptop Case LockedIn order to prevent someone from helping themselves to your other mobile gear and documents, keep your laptop bag locked. If you have it sitting on the floor by your feet it is possible for someone to get access to it unless it has been locked. Another reason for keeping your laptop case locked is so that someone is not able to put anything extra in your laptop case. An open case could be a tempting location for someone to drop an item into, then later take the case to get the item.