America’s Favorite Travel Companion: Mobile Devices


With the summer travel season in full swing, many Americans are packing their vacation bags to start maxing and relaxing – and are double-checking to make sure they have all of their favorite gadgets for the trip.

Photo credit: Nico Kaiser on Flickr

According to a recent survey released by the Intel Corporation, Americans are so focused on sharing their experiences real-time and staying connected with friends and family via their mobile devices that almost half are willing to sacrifice personal comfort, hygiene and appearance to keep their smartphone or tablet close and charged up.

But wait, there’s more! The study found that many Americans experience anxiety when they travel without their favorite device, and have more of an emotional connection with their devices than with silly (not!) sentimental items like their wedding rings. Researchers also found that most Americans are annoyed by the nosey habits of their fellow travelers, and worry about the security of their favorite smartphone or tablet and their personal information.

Survey highlights include:

  • Nearly half (44 percent) of all U.S. travelers experience anxiety when traveling without their mobile device.
  • The majority of young adults (87 percent of 18-29 year olds) reported feeling happier when they traveled with their devices.
  • Survey respondents reported that losing their wedding ring would be less stressful than losing their mobile device (55 percent vs. 77 percent).
  • Today’s travelers are concerned about security: Half of American travelers are annoyed by “Peeping Tech” behavior, including someone glancing at their screen.
  • Despite their security concerns, more than a quarter of Americans fail to take basic security precautions and admit to security risks including using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, entering credit card details in public, and viewing sensitive documents on their device.

Fortunately, the last bullet is relatively easy to rectify.  Travelers can reduce their device anxiety while traveling this summer by taking some easy steps to protect themselves:

  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network): VPNs create a secure tunnel for information, encrypting all the communications from the user’s computer to a server elsewhere on the Internet. This is a good idea on public networks. Boingo’s Wi-Finder app for iOS users includes a free personal VPN service that’s one-click simple.
  • Secure connections: Most mobile devices can be configured to connect to the most common services, like Twitter and Google, using a secure method (can you say HTTPS?). Be sure to explore the security settings of your favorite online tools before heading out for vacation.
  • Use a trusted Wi-Fi provider: When traveling, connecting to a trusted network that’s maintained and managed by a known provider – such as Boingo, or a venue’s official Wi-Fi provider – will help mitigate security exploits. Resist the urge to connect to “Free Public Wi-Fi” and other SSIDs with similarly vague names – these could be computer-to-computer connections masquerading as a network.
  • Update your passwords: Security experts recommend using “long and strong” passwords, featuring a variety of numbers, symbols and letters. You can also create temporary trip passwords and change these every few days while traveling.
  • Surf smart: When possible, avoid logging into financial, healthcare and other personal sites in public places to avoid “Peeping Techs” from seeing your password and your personal information.

Be sure to check out our security whitepaper for more tips on how to protect your information while on the go. The whitepaper can be downloaded here.

About Katie

Katie is a corporate communications manager for Boingo Wireless. When Katie is not talking Wi-Fi with media, you’re likely to find her doing her best imitation of a culture vulture at concerts, comedy shows, movies and museums. She’s a pop culture factoid collector, a proud USC Trojan, and enjoys indoor sports like board games and air hockey.
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