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Decent-performing entry-level laptops hover around $300, and most travelers don’t think twice about protecting these laptops from damage or theft. Why would you when you’re on vacation and want to binge-watch Netflix with a pina colada on the side? 

But what if your laptop costs over $2,000?

For many business travelers, digital nomads, and digital creators, this is the case; laptops are expensive, and they need to be protected from damage and being stolen.

Unless you want to rely on a travel god, here are 7 ways to protect your laptop from damage and being stolen.

1. Use a Laptop Case and Sleeve

pink laptop case for macbook

Packing your laptop into a secure case is your first line of defense against the inevitable bumps and scrapes of the travel process. 

Ensure the case you choose is not only cushioned but also fits your laptop snugly. Remember, traveling often subjects your devices to environmental stressors, such as shocks, which a good case can effectively mitigate.

Pick the Right Material

For frequent flyers and those expecting rugged terrains, opt for a hardshell case with a weatherproof exterior. This will not only protect your laptop against rain or accidental spills but also provide a sturdy defense against crushing impacts.

Extra Protection

Pair your case with a soft sleeve for an extra layer of protection, especially if you foresee your laptop being stowed in various compartments. Sleeves are great for those quick cafe-to-cafe transitions, slipping your device out with ease while working.

Unfortunately, bulletproof-type cases or sleeves are pretty bulky and will make your laptop lose its aesthetic look. They also take up more space in your laptop bag, which is annoying during air travel.

Related: Do Laptop Bags Count as a Carry-on?

Furthermore, there is no such protection from damage if you drop an open laptop on an angle. The screen or laptop chassis will break. And if you spill your coffee on your laptop, the case will offer no protection.

Sorry, the keyboard covers don’t cover the speakers and slow down the typing speed.

For this reason, I recommend purchasing accidental-damage protection through the manufacturer such as AppleCare+ or Microsoft Complete. These add-ons seem like a crash grab, and in reality, most people don’t need them, but for high-end laptops that are traveling from location to location, the added cost will give you peace of mind.

Moreover, I had a 27-inch iMac, and of course, I wasn’t worried about accidental damage. But the screen gave out within the first year warranty period, and it was replaced by Apple for free (it would have cost me about $700). I was offered to buy AppleCare+ at a lower cost after the screen was replaced, which I purchased and used as an incentive when I later sold my iMac.

The point: your laptop can malfunction or be damaged anytime. Get the added accidental damage protection with the extended warranty.

2. Invest in a Carry-on with a Laptop Compartment

laptop carry-on abstract photo

Gone are the days when your laptop was a mere accessory in your large carry-on. Modern carry-on bags come with designated, padded laptop compartments with secure fastenings. The right carry-on bag should keep your laptop snug and protected while offering airport security-friendly features for a smooth travel experience.

Laptop carry-ons come in suitcase and backpack styles. So, there will be a design for you.

Related: Best Carry-on Luggage with a Laptop Compartment

Features to Look For

Aim for a carry-on that opens flat or can lay it flat with the laptop section separate for easy and precise scanning at security checkpoints. Look for bags with anti-theft measures such as cut-proof straps and RFID-blocking pockets. 

Size Matters

Ensure your chosen carry-on complies with airline regulations regarding size and weight to avoid potential issues or additional fees at the airport. A carry-on that’s too large or heavy may also pose a strain on your back while you navigate through the terminal.

3. Pay Attention when Traveling from the Airport to your Hotel

ride sharing app

The journey from the airport to your hotel is a critical phase in protecting your laptop, wallet, and passport. Vigilance shields your belongings from the grips of opportunistic thieves.

Stick to Official Taxis or Uber

Taking the local bus from the airport or train station to your accommodation is economical but poses a higher risk of your gear being stolen in developing countries where you don’t speak the local language.

It’s better to stick to an official taxi; even better is Uber since the driver’s information will be recorded, and you’ll avoid the usual taxi scam. Though it comes at a premium, most hotels and some Airbnbs offer an airport transfer.

4. Avoid Leaving Your Laptop Unattended

remote workers, laptops at cafe

A seemingly innocent trip to the restroom or grabbing a quick snack can lead to your laptop’s disappearance at the cafe. A few moments unattended is all it takes for a seasoned thief. Always keep your eye on your property, and if you must leave it, ensure others are present to guard it.

Utilize Lockable Compartments

If your accommodation offers lockers or safes, utilize them when you’re not in your room. These not only protect against theft but also hotel staff with malicious intent.

There is also an abundance of laptop cable locks in case you need to use the washroom at Starbucks. Remember, other patrons are not responsible for your laptop.

Partner Up

If traveling with a companion, take turns minding your belongings while the other takes care of menial tasks. Traveling solo? Make friends with fellow travelers in public spaces; they often share the same security concerns, and it’s always good to have someone watching your back — or laptop.

5. Enable Find My Device Features

find my laptop when stolen

Most modern laptops come equipped with features that allow you to track their location, such as Apple’s Find My Mac or Microsoft’s Find My Device. These can be lifesavers in the event of loss or theft, providing up-to-date coordinates of your machine. This is only useful if law enforcement is willing to follow up.

Staying Connected

For these services to work, your laptop needs to connect to the internet or have Bluetooth enabled. Enabling automatic connections to known and secure networks while disabling automatic connections to unknown networks can be a security strategy to keep in mind.

Regularly Update Your System

Ensure your system and security software are both up to date, including the Find My Device app or service. Also, make sure these are configured correctly to avoid any hiccups in functionality.

If you don’t have such a find-my-device service turned on, you may be able to find your stolen laptop on the Facebook marketplace. Yes, thieves are dumb.

6. Use a VPN and Backup Data Regularly

cloud storage in case of theft to back up laptop

Laptops often contain not just costly hardware but a treasure trove of data as well. Protecting your information is as crucial as shielding your laptop from physical harm. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection, providing a secure way to work on public Wi-Fi networks.

Choose a Reliable VPN

Invest in a trusted VPN service that offers fast connection speeds and an extensive network of secure servers across the globe, making it ideal for travelers who need to work remotely.

Backup, Backup, Backup

Regularly back up your laptop’s data using an external hard drive or cloud storage service. In the unfortunate event of theft, your backup ensures you lose only your laptop, not your valuable data. Dropbox and Sync work well.

7. Consider Laptop Insurance for Added Protection

travel insurance for laptops

Despite your best prevention efforts, accidents happen, and laptops can still go missing or get damaged. Laptop insurance can provide peace of mind against these eventualities, covering repairs or replacement in case of theft, damage, or loss.

Checking Your Existing Policies

Before purchasing a new insurance policy, check if your laptop is already covered by an existing home or travel insurance policy. Some credit cards also offer insurance for electronics if the purchase was made with the card, so it’s worth reviewing any benefits you might already have.

Travel Insurance

Several travel insurance policies include theft of equipment. So, when searching for policies, make sure the benefit is included. Popular global travel insurance SafetyWing and World Nomads both offer insurance in case of stolen laptops up to a certain dollar amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a laptop be tracked after a factory reset?

A laptop can potentially be tracked after a factory reset; the success of doing so depends on various factors like the presence of identifiable hardware, enabled location services, activated Computrace features, software-based tracking applications, and BIOS compatibility.

Should I bring my laptop on vacation?

If you want to maximize your vacation and actually feel like you’re on vacation, then don’t bring your laptop. In fact, disconnect from the internet where possible.

On the other hand, if you have to do some remote work, then you’ll have no choice but to bring your laptop.

Vincent Croos
About the Author: Vincent Croos

Hola Parceros,

I’m the founder of Aperlust. I enjoy web development and SEO and am into snowboarding and linguistics. In my spare time, you can find me destroying my opponents in chess across the globe.

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