Protect Your Identity and Avoid Travel Headaches with One Easy Change

Here's how to ensure your personal information doesn't get left behind on your next trip.

One time, when I was traveling through Europe, I got a notification that my debit card was used trying to make a purchase of four computers on the other side of the continent. At first I just laughed, because I had $17 to my name and had subsisted off of a baguette for the last three days. This was back in 2015, and I was much less aware of just how easy it was for someone to hijack my financial information. Now, most of us are dodging spam texts three times a day asking for our social security number and our mother's maiden name.

To protect your travel documents and avoid identity theft while you are traveling, there are few precautions to take. One of the easiest ways for your information to get taken is through loose travel documents like itineraries or hotel confirmations. When you share them, you should make sure the information is protected—and not just your physical copies. Digitally shared information is especially vulnerable to hackers.

Experts at Adobe Acrobat shared with Thrillist some ways to make password-protected PDFs, which is one way to keep digital files safe when you are sharing them. This guide might be especially helpful for those family members you've got who are still struggling with opening PDFs to begin with. Here are the instructions from Adobe on creating a password-protected PDF:

1. Once you are on the Adobe Acrobat online tool, click the "Select a file" button or drag and drop a PDF into the drop zone on
2. Enter a strong password, then retype it to confirm the password. Avoid personal information or commonly guessed words, and try to include random letters and numbers.
3. Click "Set password," and you're done!

There are other ways to password protect important documents. The Department of Customs and Border Protection has its very own guide on password protecting digital documents. Anything that has personal information, travel details, or financial information shouldn't be shared without protecting the documents first.

It might feel tedious now, but it's not as tedious as trying to contact your bank in the middle of what was supposed to be your relaxing vacation because someone with an IP address in the middle of the ocean used your identity to try and purchase a bulk supply of Beanie Babies.

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.