Tips for international travel during a DHS electronics ban

A few months ago the Department of Homeland Security announced a ban on any electronics bigger than a phone on certain US-bound international flights. Since then the UK has enacted a similar ban. For a while there was talk about a potential ban on ALL US-bound international flights. This seems to have died down, but as noted by The Wandering Aramean there are still those who fully expect such a ban to take place, and soon.

I see a number of possible concerns. First of all, as a business traveler it is hard to imagine an international trip without a tablet or computer! 15 hours without working? The horror! Additionally, I fear that being separated from my laptop will increase the likelihood of theft. Also, if such a ban does happen, there is no telling when it would go into effect. It could even be while you are already out of the country! And finally, at this point we don’t know the exact parameters of what would be banned. What about my Kindle Paperwhite that is not a tablet, but is certainly bigger than a phone?

I’m traveling to Manila in a few weeks so this potential ban is very much on my mind. Here are some ways I am planning for it, just to be safe.

Assume you will have to check your bag. If you’re like me, you never, ever check your suitcase even on international trips. Unfortunately if you aren’t allowed to bring your laptop into the cabin you may need to pack it into your suitcase and check it. Make sure to leave enough space in your bag so it’s not squished. Wrap it in clothing, or bring a cushioned laptop sleeve. Also, just like any time you check your bag, make sure you have any medication, glasses, keys, paperwork, and IDs in your personal item.

Work without your laptop. When the existing ban was first announced I shared some ways to work around it. One of those ways is to leave your laptop at home all together and borrow a computer from your office once you arrive. Another thought is to bring a portable keyboard that you use to do work on your phone, although it’s unknown if those devices would be too large.

Bring backup entertainment. I haven’t carried a paperback on an international flight in many years. However, just in case your Kindle is too big, make sure you have some backup entertainment. You can also download the Kindle app onto your phone, along with any books you’ve purchased or borrowed. I also plan to download a few movies to my phone, in case the in-flight entertainment is not enticing.

Take security precautions. The Travel Insider wrote a great article about this, with some fantastic advice. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but the highlights are: encrypt your hard drive, back-up your data, and password protect everything you can.

Readers, do you plan to take any steps in anticipation of an electronics ban on all international US-bound flights?

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