Are you planning your next solo, friends, or family vacation? As restrictions begin to lift and we're more able to stretch our wings, so to speak, many people are planning on travelling both within and out of the country.
It's tempting to post all about your trip on social media. After all, we want to share our photos with our friends and tag everyone in their pictures, right?
Unfortunately, in today's world, we need to be careful about what we post online, especially on websites that reveal our identities. Posting everything on social media while travelling isn't always a good idea.
But what are you "allowed" to post, and why are some things best left offline? We want to talk about it so you can keep yourself safe, both on the web and off of it. Keep reading to learn more about what not to post on your social platforms while on vacation.
Your Planning Process
It's tempting to count down the days before your exciting new venture. After all, you're excited and you want to share your excitement with your friends, as well as answer any questions or plan for souveniers.
You should keep the trip countdown to yourself, though. When you count down the days to your vacation, you're letting people know when you're going to be out of your home. They can gauge the day that you'll be gone, as well as how long you'll be out of the house. This gives them an opening if they want to break in.
Even if you don't show an exact date, it's best to not talk about your planning process at all. This includes questions about what to pack from people who already have been on this kind of trip. Keep those messages to the DMs.
You want to share your plans with your friends, and that's okay, but burglaries and home invasions are a real threat. Even though the rate of burglaries is going down in Canada, you need to do what you can to keep your home safe.
Your Fancy New Things
This isn't only a travel-specific thing to keep off of social media, but it applies because you'll be leaving your home. Don't post pictures of fancy new items that you've acquired recently.
We get it. You have a brand new television that you're excited about, or you've invested in a home entertainment system or even an expensive new car.
How many of those things are staying at home while you're on your trip?
When people see that you have valuable items, it isn't impossible that someone comes over to grab a thing or two. It's best to not give anyone the temptation or opportunity.
This also applies after your trip is complete. Later on, we'll talk about when it's appropriate to start posting again, but this doesn't include expensive souvenirs.
Things that you get while travelling are often unique to the area; in other words, they're things that the average person can't get without also travelling on their own.
Someone without access to these items may be tempted to take them from you.
On a simpler note, it's also not polite to brag. Showing off your material goods can be seen as self-centred and impolite.
Any Specific Details of the Vacation
So what about details about the vacation itself? It's best to leave those out as well, at least until you've come home.
If you're going somewhere specific, like a resort or amusement park, your friends and followers will be able to identify it with ease. After all, there are only so many Disney theme parks.
This creates several problems.
The first is related to our previous suggestions. When someone knows how far away you are and what you're doing there, they can gauge how long it will take before you get back home. While a road trip to a nearby town may only last a weekend, a flight to a different country is likely to last much longer.
Keeping the details about the length of time and the activities that you have planned out of social media is the best way to prevent that.
On top of that problem, you may be putting yourself at risk of harm. If someone who intends to hurt you has access to your blog or social media and they know what you're doing, it's that much easier to find you.
Your Specific Location
Let's break this down further.
If you must share where you're going, it's a good idea to keep it vague. Even if people in your comments ask for specifics, refrain from answering them or take it to texts or private messages.
You're safer saying something along the lines of "I'm going on a trip to Scotland" than you are "I'm going on a trip to Edinburgh."
While this doesn't get rid of the problem of people knowing how long you'll be away, thus giving them the opportunity to break into your home, it will remove some of the risks of someone trying to hurt you or your family members.
This also means that you shouldn't use "check-ins" or geotag your photos on Instagram. People usually do this at specific tourist attractions. These attractions are in small areas, making it easy for someone to track you down.
This might seem excessive, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Who You're Traveling With
All of these suggestions that we're giving you to protect yourself? They're all for nothing if you're sharing information about your friends as well.
Your friends have the same risks that you do through social media posts. If you post about how they're going with you, anyone who knows them now knows that they won't be home.
This is especially true if you tag them. That means that people on both your friends list and theirs has access to all of this information.
Aside from these risks, who needs to know that you're travelling with your friends, especially before the trip? If you must post, stick to first names only and don't use any personal tags.
Speaking of friends, how often do you post photos of them on your social media? Your Facebook and Instagram accounts are full of personal photos, right? Everyone who travels loves to share their experiences and fun pictures so their friends can "travel" right alongside them.
If everyone does it, what's the risk?
Again, you're giving people access to your location. Many people tag their photos with shops, destinations, and resorts to give a clear view of where they are. Some areas let you tag the exact street that you're on.
We like to post these things because they're an important part of our lives. We love our friends and family, and these photos are keepsakes. The days of printing every photo are long behind us, so putting them on social media is how we keep them forever.
As we mentioned, this rule goes for your friends as well. Don't tag photos of your friends, and turn off the function to allow others to tag you. Your friends may not have the same ideas about security as you do, so you're responsible for keeping your own page clean of identifiable information.
Beyond all of this, even if you don't caption your photo with your location, tag it, or give any other indication of where you are, your photos can speak for you.
You're still at risk of transferal of information through metadata.
Have you heard of metadata in the past? Not everyone is aware of what it is, or what it can do to you in regards to your personal security.
Metadata can be stored in your photos. It contains all kinds of identifying information. Even major magazines have had trouble in the past with metadata revealing too much, putting themselves and their subjects at risk.
Metadata can reveal things like what your photo was taken with, and where you were when it was taken, as well as the time that it was taken. If you use a camera, the photo metadata includes the make and model of the camera. If you have a name attached to the camera, the metadata also reveals that name.
Your phone also records certain information based on WiFi and GPS signals. Even without posting your location, an adept would-be criminal is more than capable of finding it out on their own.
As an aside, most people aren't willing to go through the work to parse through your photos and find your personal information through the metadata. That said, it only takes one event to cause a problem.
Personal Identifying Information
This one might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised. There are several forms of personal identifying information that people post before a trip that can get them in trouble.
The first, and the one that many people don't think about, are the tickets for the trip. This happens in all stages of planning because people don't think about how harmful it can be.
Many people start posting from the time they've booked the trip. They'll post the receipt or travel itinerary either for posterity or to ask for suggestions. After all, what harm can that do?
Again, we've run into the problem of people knowing when you'll be leaving and where you're going to be.
Other people wait until it's time to travel. They post pictures of their boarding passes in their excitement to get on the plane or cruise. These passes not only show your location and destination, but they also show your full name. Many people opt not to use their full names on social media, so this defeats that purpose.
What Should I Do Instead?
So now that you know what not to do, what should you do?
You have a few options, some better than others. The first, and least secure, is making sure that the security on your social media is airtight. Your privacy settings should be set to friends only so you're able to control who can see what you post.
If you have a public Instagram or Twitter, consider also having a private one so you can post your pictures to keep them without letting strangers see them.
A better practice is not posting any of these things until you're back from your trip. No one on social media will be upset if you don't post things as they happen. In truth, most of them won't look at your photos at all.
Because of this, posting afterwards is your best bet. You'll be back at home so no one is able to steal from you or cause you harm. In fact, a fun way to relive your trip with even more colour and creativity is to use a tool to like Instagram Story Maker to bring it all together into one memorable and entertaining, interactive album.
It's also a good idea to get insurance in the event that something bad does happen. You can get travel insurance in the event of a problem while you're on your trip, as well as home insurance to protect yourself from theft.
No one is perfect as far as online safety goes, but you can find ways to mitigate the risks.
There are plenty of reasons to put the phone down and avoid using social media while travelling. You need to protect yourself and your friends or family, but you should also try to take this time to live in the moment instead of glued to your phone or computer.
Making these social media posts during travel time is unnecessary. Your photos and statuses can wait until you get back home.
Are you traveling sometime soon? It's time to find the right travel insurance for you. Come visit us at Insurdinary so you can compare travel insurance quotes today.