Tips for staying safe on social media while on a trip

Social media is a great way to use the internet to share travel and vacation experiences with family and friends. As such, many travelers use their social media more than usual on trips away from home. However, it is important to keep in mind that maintaining your privacy and the security of your social media accounts is often more difficult when you are traveling. 

Additionally, it will be more important than ever to stay alert, keep an eye on your devices and protect information related to account logins. Savvy travelers will also review information such as privacy, safety and security policies related to their various accounts and devices so that they are aware of their options if they encounter a security issue while traveling.

Luckily, there are many steps that you can personally take in preparation for your trip and throughout the duration of your travels to protect your accounts and avoid scams. As mentioned, it is not only vital to be wary of how you use your social media before and during travel but also how you manage your accounts and devices in general.

Safely share your travel highlights on social media

Keeping your accounts and data safe while on a trip requires both proactive precautions as well as ongoing vigilance throughout the trip. Considerations in both these realms include deciding what platforms you will be sharing information on and securing those platforms. It will also be important to fully understand how these platforms operate. 

Don’t overshare

Social media is accessible to virtually anyone and, therefore, it can be used by bad actors to track your movements and activities. As such, it is not advisable to widely share on social media where you intend to be and when you intend to be there. In addition to individual activities, it is not a good idea to let your wider social media audience know when you are leaving for a trip and when you are intending to be back. 

If many people know when you are going to be at certain places, they could use the opportunity to follow you or keep tabs on you. Additionally, if people know when you are going to be away from home, they could use the opportunity to stake out your home or even find a way to enter your home undetected. When you are traveling, in general, you are typically more susceptible to scams due to a variety of factors such as uncertainty of local norms, increased stress and urgency and greater use of public services and areas. 

Check location settings

Typically, it is best to disable location-reporting settings on social media apps and avoid checking in at specific locations. You will often be able to toggle automatic location reporting using settings on various social media apps. Beyond that, many options that allow you to “check in” require you to manually input the location, so it is best to avoid doing so. As previously mentioned, letting people know where you are going to be and when you are going to be there could allow bad actors to track your movements more easily. 

Don’t tag photos

Another way of inadvertently notifying potential bad actors that you are away on a vacation is through tagging or being tagged in photos. In addition to not tagging your own photos, it is best to configure your social media settings to require a review of all photo tags. You can also ask friends and family not to tag you in photos, but it is best not to entirely rely on this method as it isn’t foolproof. Reviewing all tags is simply an additional precaution that can further reduce the chances that these tags will become public.

Don’t post identifying photos

It is important to keep photos related to identifying documents private. Try not to use them as social media content. By posting photos of passports, plane or train tickets, official identification or other travel documents, you could inadvertently give bad actors the ability to impersonate you through various channels.

Government-issued photos are often used to confirm access to various accounts and services and, therefore, such photos can be used to gain access to sensitive information or illegally utilize services. This can be particularly easy for cyber criminals if there are options to confirm identity digitally, as a human will not need to compare their own face to the offered, stolen identification.

As a result of such interference, you could find your accounts drained, be otherwise defrauded or accidentally abet illegal activities. For similar reasons, it is important to not share any other information from your identifying documentation or travel documents either.

Let trusted people know about your trip

While it is not typically a good idea to let the wider public know when you are going on a trip, it can be very helpful to ensure that trusted family, friends or neighbors are aware of it. Although, you should take care to tell them privately rather than over social media. If a trusted friend or family member is aware of your trip, they can not only attend to things while you are away but also keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Furthermore, if anything alerts you to something suspicious, like a notification about movement in your home, you can ask your friends or family members to check in on the situation.

Remember these important security measures

In addition to specific measures for staying secure on social media, it’s important to keep up with standard smartphone security measures. Remember to:

  • Avoid sharing your personal information.
  • Be wary of bad actors that may be impersonating institutions such as banks or utility companies.
  • Reach out directly to institutions in order to confirm suspicious activity.
  • Use passwords or other authentication measures to protect your phone and accounts.
  • Only download applications from reliable online stores. 
  • Always back up your data.
  • Always log out of payment portals after you have made payments on a website.
  • Be cautious of using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Do your best to rely primarily on trusted internet networks. 
  • Make sure that your device is on a protection plan.

In short, whenever you travel you should be wary of dangers related to device security and take more substantial protective measures. Additionally, if you suspect that you may have been hacked or otherwise exposed to the work of bad actors, you should take appropriate response measures immediately.