These days, it's not just business travelers who require the use of a laptop on their trips. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, laptops are a great tool for communicating with others, finding in-town hotspots, storing multimedia files, or just catching up on work. With increased travel comes increased risks; due to their portability laptops are susceptible to theft and damage. The following are some tips for traveling with a laptop which can hopefully save you time, money, and worry.

Preparing for Travel

  • Backup your computer before you leave and store the backups in a safe place at home or at work.
  • Protect your data by setting a login password for your laptop.
  • Charge up your battery fully to make sure you have enough battery life to turn on the computer at the airport security checkpoint.
  • For international travel, purchase the appropriate power converter for your laptop (check with your laptop manufacturer).
  • Call your destination hotel to see if there is internet access in your room.
  • Pack your laptop in a padded bag specially designed for carrying laptops.

At the Airport/In-Flight

  • Do not check your laptop in with baggage, as there is no guarantee it will be handled with care.
  • Keep your laptop with you at all times, making sure it is easily accessible for security inspection.
  • Make sure to send your laptop through the x-ray machine instead of the metal detector. X-rays are  not harmful to your computer, but metal detectors may cause damage. You can try to request that Security do a hand-check of your laptop instead of a metal detector check.
  • Keep all Customs documentation to prove that your laptop was brought with you from your country of origin, and not purchased while traveling.
  • Do not store your laptop in the overhead bin as other luggage may be placed on top of it.
  • Adjust your power settings to conserve battery life when using the laptop in-flight.
  • Keep your laptop stowed away during flight take-off/landing until notified by flight crew that it is safe to turn on electronic devices.

At your Destination

  • Use the power adapter with the appropriate voltage for the country you are visiting; plugging your laptop into an outlet without the proper power adapter will damage the device.
  • When away, store the laptop in the hotel safe.
  • Do not take your laptop to places with excessive sand or moisture.
Wherever you are, in the event that your laptop is stolen, quickly notify the proper authorities (i.e. airport security, hotel security) and report the theft to the police. If you have a lost or damaged laptop and you believe that TSA (Transport Security Administration) was responsible, you should file a claim with the TSA Claims Management Office.