Be Aware of These Safe Travel Security Tips

Services for Real Estate Pros with Inc

Covid seems to be on the downswing (hopefully). Airlines are reporting record-breaking bookings. There are a number of travel security considerations to be made when traveling domestically and even more when internationally.

Rental Cars

If you are planning an upcoming vacation or a business trip, you might be thinking about renting a car. “Smart Cars” are all the rage, and they connect to the internet. You get Bluetooth, navigation, hands-free calling, live-streaming, and much more. In fact, if you have a fairly new car, yourself, you probably already have some access to these features. You probably connect your devices to your car, too, so that you can stream music, text, make phone calls, etc. This is no issue because it’s your own car, and only you and your family are using it.

Now, think of this. You have your devices, you are on vacation, and you have a rental car. So, you connect, just as you do at home. But what you don’t realize is that your personal information is now on the car, and the next person who rents it might be able to access it.

I travel a lot, and I rent a lot of cars. There has not been one car that I can think of that hasn’t had information about previous renters in it, and that’s pretty scary. I could even access their address book information in some cases.

Even if all you want to do is listen to Pandora or something, connecting to the rental car might still store data onto the car, including where you are driving. This might not seem like a huge deal if you are on vacation, but what if you have a rental car at home? The person who rents the car next can access your home address, your workplace, where you shop, etc.

The vehicle can also store your phone number and your text logs, too. Again, this can get into the hands of the wrong people unless you know how to delete them.

As you can see, there is more to auto safety than simply putting on your seat belt and refraining from texting and driving. If you are connecting to a smart car, the person who drives it next could learn so much from you; information that you certainly don’t want people to know.

Do This, Not That

Here are some tips you can use the next time you rent a car:

  • Don’t use the USB port on a rental car to charge your phone. It can transfer data to the car. Instead, buy a cheap adapter and use the cigarette lighter.
  • Check up on the permission settings of your devices. If the infotainment system allows you to choose what is sent, only give access to things that are necessary.
  • Before you turn the car on, make sure to delete your phone from the car’s system.

Will your identity get stolen as soon as you connect your phone to a smart rental car? Probably not, but by connecting it and not deleting the data, you could run into some security and privacy issues down the road, including identity theft. Be smart, and don’t put yourself in a situation where someone else might get access to your personal information.

Everything Else

Some thieves specialize in hanging around tourist spots to spot the tourists and make them victims of hands-on crimes such as purse snatching or a mugging. But don’t wait till you’re aimlessly wandering the piazza with your face buried in a huge map to take precautions against less violent forms of crime.

  1. Before traveling, make copies of your driver’s license, medical insurance card, etc., and give these to a trusted adult. Have another set of copies in your home. Scan them and email them to yourself.
  2. Never post your travel plans on social media until you return. You never know who’s reading about you.
  3. Before departing from home, make sure your credit card company and bank know of your travel plans.
  4. Clear your smartphone or other devices of personal data that’s not essential for your trip.
  5. Travel on a light wallet. Take two credit cards with you in case one is lost or stolen. Have with you the phone numbers for your bank and credit card company, just in case.
  6. Avoid using Wi-Fi in coffee houses, airports, and other public areas other than just catching up on the news. Use a VPN. Google it.
  7. When traveling internationally, read up on the safety of food and water and get whatever shots you may need.
  8. Never give your credit card number to the hotel staff (or at least, anyone identifying themselves as hotel staff) over the phone in your hotel room. The call could be coming from a thief posing as hotel staff telling you they need your number again.
  9. Never leave anything out in your hotel room that reveals personal information, such as a credit card receipt, passport, checkbook, medical insurance card, etc. If the room does not have a safe, then have these items on you at all times.
  10. Use only an ATM that’s inside a bank, never a free-standing one outdoors somewhere. Cover the keypad with your other hand as you enter the PIN to thwart ATM skimmers.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Comments (19)

Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Apr 16, 2022 05:16 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Robert, for sharing your experience and your advice.

Apr 16, 2022 05:22 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Thank you for the tips Robert!

Apr 16, 2022 05:28 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Terrific advice, Robert. Can't remember the last time I rented a car... but will certainly come back to your post when I next do to refresh my memory. 

Apr 16, 2022 05:44 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:


Very helpful tips for sure.  Hope you have wonderful Easter weekend. bill

Apr 16, 2022 05:59 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information.   Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

Apr 16, 2022 06:36 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Robert,
All great tips! I hadn't thought of the rental car issue but that's good to know.

Apr 16, 2022 10:05 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Robert- this is excellent information, especially since travel is opening up for us all.What you've mentioned is stuff we'd do without using any free-standing ATM. This is information we should read and reread often. 

Apr 16, 2022 06:55 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Apr 16, 2022 07:23 PM
Kathy Streib

Apr 20, 2022 03:18 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Robert. Sage tips on many things I never think about. You opened my eyes. Thanks! Enjoy your day.

Apr 17, 2022 04:56 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Very good tips - especially about connecting our devices to rental cars. I appreciate it!

Apr 17, 2022 05:03 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Robert,

Excellent tips and so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week!

Apr 17, 2022 05:25 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Robert - I bring an adapter for the cigarette lighter but now I will opt for that always.

Apr 17, 2022 06:53 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Lots of great travel tips here, Robert. Thanks for the education...I can think of several people who will be traveling and renting cars that I will share this with!


Apr 17, 2022 11:42 AM
Charita Cadenhead
eXp Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Wonderful, wonderful tips.  I visited my hometown a few months ago and used my sister's car for about 2 weesk.  I did charge my phone using the USB and unbeknowst to me my address book was also uploaded to the car.  While I did not delete it immediately, I did NOT like the idea of my address book being that accessible in someone else's vehicle (not even my sister's). As forgetful as I am sometimes, instinctlively I did remember to delete all of the person info I was aware of before I headed back to Bham.  That was a first time experience for me but I'm ultra aware when it comes to safety.  

Apr 18, 2022 06:22 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Wow Robert this is something that I haven't even thought about.  You can be sure I'll share this with my husband as travel is back on our schedule again. Thank you so much and I look forward to the 2nd class with you next week.

Apr 18, 2022 10:30 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent security information!   Your long list of helpful tips are super helpful!  I've never considered that personal information might leave a trail in a rental car! 

Apr 18, 2022 12:10 PM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

Excellent tips. We have to be so vigilant with our information, as it has become so easy to give it away unknowingly.

Apr 20, 2022 05:21 AM
Willy Red

It's actually important, and if you're planning your first trip, you have to remember about that. I used to have such tips saved on my phone in order not to forget about them, but now I managed to learn everything. Well, I haven't been abroad for a long time, but now that I've got a passport renewal online, I can finally go on a trip to Europe, and you can click this link to learn more about the service I worked with.

Apr 28, 2022 06:01 AM