Our phones link most of the aspects of our lives together. For the business traveler, a phone is more than a collection of numbers and appointments; it’s your connection to home. It can tell you if your gate has changed before the airport does and let you know the wait times to get through TSA so you can decide if it’s worth it to grab a coffee for your Uber ride to the airport.
With our reliance on this technology, it’s even more important to know how to handle the unthinkable. What if your phone dies?
There’s two primary ways phones “die.” They can run out of battery—a likely situation when we use them from the moment we wake up, since most of us use our phones as an alarm. Or, phones can just stop working. Maybe you accidentally dropped it. Maybe your six-year-old poured some milk on your iPhone when she was aiming for the Cap’n Crunch. Then there’s the unthinkable third option—your phone is lost or stolen.
The key to surviving a phone disaster? Preparation.
Back-up your phone regularly. There are apps and cloud-based data solutions that make it easy to keep your information backed-up and up-to-date. Both iPhones and Android-based phones have auto-backup features. If you would prefer a secondary method of back up, try out Dropbox and Dropsync. While Dropsync is not an official product of Dropbox, it does a great job of syncing your local information and its remote equivalent.
Have an extra battery option. I keep a phone charger in my purse, at home and at work. You can’t always find an outlet when you’re traveling, though. Consider a portable battery. Before being forced to go camping last summer, I bought myself a portable battery in case I needed to recharge my phone or Kindle while in the wild. My specific spare battery is a little heavy for the business traveler who packs light, but there are many lightweight options to choose from. If a clunky external battery isn’t your thing, charging cases are increasingly helpful and stylish.
Write down important numbers. When your phone dies, with it goes access to your most important contacts. Before you’re able to replace your phone and download those contacts from the cloud, you might need to get ahold of your assistant, travel counselor or baby sitter. Have those numbers ready.
Consider cell phone insurance on top of travel insurance. If you lose your phone at home, there’s a good chance you have a spare lying around that will get you through. But when you’re traveling, your options are limited. Many cell phone carriers offer insurance that will replace or fix your phone for a small deductible. If you have a corporate phone, contact your company’s telecommunications department to find out what your options are. (You should add their contact information to your list of numbers.)
No matter how much you prepare, you can still lose access to your phone. If that happens to you, stay calm.
If your phone has been stolen, you will want to make a police report. Contact your company if it’s a corporate phone or your network provider if it’s your personal phone. They will be able to talk you through your options and, more importantly, cut off your phone so no one else can use it. If you have an app that allows you to remotely delete data off your phone, like Find My iPhone or Android Device Manager, set that in motion! Both can help you wipe sensitive personal or financial data from your phone. In addition, your employer will likely be able to remotely wipe your company-issued phone to ensure that their data is safe.
When your phone is lost or stolen, it’s not just hardware that’s at risk—your data is in danger as well. We keep our lives on our phones. We carry personal information, financial information, potentially sensitive company information, photos and much, much more on these devices. Since your phone houses more than your top score in Candy Crush, it’s essential to turn on your security features. All phones offer a passcode or PIN entry for secure access. Some offer pattern recognition. The latest models from Apple, Samsung, LG and HTC even offer fingerprint scanners.
If you have your phone, but it’s broken beyond repair, call your network provider for options (including expedited shipping of a new cell!).
How do you stay prepared when traveling? Let us know in the comments!