The real cost of losing your laptop or smartphone when traveling on business goes way beyond their retail value. Keep your gadgets safe by following these seven tips.

By Monica Burton (Content Manager, SmartSign)

Travel is both one of the biggest perks and one of the biggest risks in modern business. It gives you a chance to see new places and meet new people, but it also opens up new opportunities to lose your valuable company gadgets, whether through simple loss or through theft.

How common is this loss? According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the 300 businesses surveyed lost more than 86,000 laptops, at a cost of around $2.1 billion. When you consider the cost of replacing the laptop, as well as the cost associated with the data risk, you’re looking at a cost of $49,246 per laptop.

That is an amount of money you can’t ignore. Instead, you can follow these seven tips to increase the safety of your gadgets – laptops, smartphones and more – when you are on one of those amazing business trips.

1. Create a List of Your Valuable Items

You can start protecting your gadgets before you even pack. Create an inventory of all the expensive gadgets you will be carrying. Include the color, brand name, make, model and any distinguishing characteristics of each item. Even note which bag each item is going into.

All of this will come in handy when it comes time to repack your bags, because you can treat it like an inventory. If something comes up missing, you’ll have a handy guide that you can give to the insurance company, local police or staff where you are staying when you report the loss. It might be the difference between recovering your item and writing it off.

2. Put Your Name and Some Contact Details on Them

Use a label maker, some tape and a marker or a tracking code like TechTagger to put your name and some contact details on your gadgets. That way, if an honest person finds your gadgets, they can see the label or scan the app to find out who the gadget belongs to and where to send it back.

3. Cover up any Branding and Use Nondescript Bags

Nothing attracts a potential thief’s eye quite like a logo. After all, they are looking for the quickest way to get the most money for the effort, and a logo is like shorthand for how much money they can get for your laptop or phone.

Where possible, use covers, cases and even stickers to conceal the brands of your gadgets. That way, bad guys won’t be able to see how much your gadget will be worth, and that will make it a less desirable target.

4. While Traveling, Keep Your Valuable Gadgets in the Bag You Carry With You

While on the move, you will want to keep your valuable gadgets on you, so you can keep track of them. If you are at an airport, try not to let your laptop and other gadgets out of your sight, even at the security gate. Then double-check your inventory, put the gadgets back where you originally packed them and keep the bag on you.

Don’t check in the bag that holds the gadgets, either. Though you can generally trust airport staff, you can’t guarantee that, while checking bags for security threats, they won’t take out your gadgets and either not put them back or put them in someone else’s bag by accident, like they did with this blogger.

5. Do Not Ever Let That Bag Out of Your Sight

This one is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s also advice that is as old as the dinosaurs. Do not let your bag and the things inside of it out of your sight, even for a few minutes. You do not know who is sitting nearby, waiting for someone to quickly go to the bathroom or to get a drink. That gives them plenty of time to go through a bag and grab whatever they can find.

6. Use Padlocks as Much as Possible

One of the best ways to keep yourself from being a victim of theft is by making yourself look like less of a target. Padlocks aren’t necessarily foolproof ways to prevent people getting into your bag, but they are harder to get through than a zipper or a flap.

That extra bit of effort just won’t make your bag worth it, since they will be able to find less secured bags around somewhere.

7. Make Use of the Hotel’s Safe

Pickpockets are incredibly stealthy, so as a general rule, don’t carry anything expensive when you are out and about on a business trip, if you can help it at all. Instead, keep your valuable items in the hotel safe.

Like at airports, you can usually trust the staff at the hotel where you are staying, but that doesn’t mean nothing bad can happen. Take extra precautions by locking up your valuable things in the safe in your room or in the hotel’s own safe.

Just remember if you’re locking it in a shared safe that you double check your items against your inventory, to be sure you haven’t accidentally swapped laptops with another traveler!

Keeping your gadgets safe while you are on a business trip is pretty simple. Keep your items nondescript. Make sure your bag is not an easy target. Finally, keep track of what you brought, so you can know straight away if you lost it. If you keep these guidelines in mind, you will be able to travel easily, knowing that your valuable gadgets – and the invaluable information on them – are safe.

Do you have other gadget safety tips to share?