American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Protecting Your Gadgets from Airport Security
Last week, I shared a few helpful hints for avoiding hidden airline fees while traveling on domestic flights. In keeping with this theme, I thought I'd share another frustrating aspect of airline travel: airport X-ray machines.
As John Christopher, a senior data recovery engineer with DriveSavers, recently said, “Summertime travel means long lines at airport security checkpoints, which might give you time to ponder the question, 'Can X-ray machines erase my hard drive or camera memory cards?'” Given the increased number of people traveling with their electronic devices (such as smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, and image storage cards) these days, it only seems natural that there would be, according to John, “an equal increase in the concern for losing important data during the screening process.”
Luckily, he's offered a few commonsensical tips for ensuring the safety of your data while traveling:
ᴥ Request a Hand Inspection: According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, neither airport X-ray machines nor other screening equipment create a magnetic impulse that could harm digital equipment; however, the TSA does state that the X-ray screening equipment may damage film with an ASA/ISO of 800 or higher. So, in order to keep your film safe, remember to never place undeveloped film in your checked baggage. Be sure to secure your film in your carry-on bag and request a hand inspection prior to the screening.
ᴥ When in Doubt, Ask Questions: Current state-of-the-art scanners seem to be fairly safe, but what about older scanners that may be in use in smaller or less up-to-date airports? When in doubt, ask a TSA agent or request an inspection by hand as you go through the screening line. After all, you can never be too safe with your hardware.
ᴥ Be Prepared and Backup: While you can rest assured that your digital storage devices won't be affected by newer airport screening machines, there's no guarantee that you won't lose data should your laptop suffer damage from rough handling (such as getting dropped by a screener or falling off the moving conveyor belt while going into the screening machine). Your best bet is to always backup your data before you head for the airport.
While John's tips might seem pretty simplistic, they can actually go a long way in protecting your electronic gadgets on future flights. Of course, the TSA (despite its understandably negative coverage throughout America's local and national news outlets) offers a slew of even more helpful advice on its website, regarding such concerns as ID requirements, baggage locks, liquid rules, prohibited items, checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, and traveling with children. So, be sure to consult the website before your next domestic or international flight in the United States.
In the meantime, do you have any additional tips to share regarding airport security?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo courtesy of Carl & Peggy Backes / Text © 2012 Laura Martone