Making a Travel Emergency Flash Drive

inspired by this gizmodo article, i now have a travel companion that, as a solo traveler, will come in handy in situations that i hope will never happen. i’ve been lucky so far, *knock on wood*, to never have lost my wallet or gotten mugged (though i did once fear for my safety in fes, but that’s another story for another day), and i certainly don’t plan on anything happening, but sometimes i worry that my adventurous spirit will outpace precautions we as travelers undertake.

my mom was pickpocketed in prague (luckily my dad and i were there with our cards and cash, so vacation was not ruined), my brother (and cousin and friends) got all of his belongings stolen in spain (pamplona? san sebastian?), a lady from my first tour of continental europe (1998, with my family) got pickpocketed, and i remember that there was a rash of theft at a trade show i was working at in buenos aires. whatever the cause or wherever you are, it’s a real pain to deal with the consequences, and i’m hoping this flash drive will help.

i’m using a 4gb verbatim tuff ‘n tiny that i got for $6 on amazon (with free shipping thanks to prime). some reviews state that it’s not a very reliable drive, so i’m going to keep my eye on it and try it every now and then before my big trip in a couple weeks to make sure it didn’t break, but for the price, you can’t go wrong for this sort of experiment (the way i see it, the chance of having data on you is better than not being prepared at all). the packaging says it’s “rugged and sealed against water, dust, damage” — i put it on a chain necklace so as long as it can hold up against the sweat of my chest (what a pleasant thought), i’ll be good.

what’s on it? well, there are two sections:

  • encrypted (for private information, encrypted in case someone steals the drive)
    the drive came with an application on it called easylock, which purports to use military grade (256-bit AES, i think it was) encryption to secure your files (and will erase your files if someone attempts 10 times to unlock with the wrong password, meaning brute force attacks will likely be unsuccessful). i like this solution better than the one listed in the gizmodo article because truecrypt requires you to have administrator access in order to unlock your files, which may not be possible at say, an internet cafe. if i’m stuck on a mac, i’m out of luck since it didn’t come with a mac version of easylock, but i also put these files into an encrypted RAR archive that i placed in my dropbox for access from anywhere with an internet connection.

    the encrypted files include: bank account and debit/credit card numbers, a scan of the front and back my cards (credit/debit, health and dental insurance) and scans of my license and passport.
  • unencrypted (for emergency personnel and quick reference)
    • there are four main files here, three of the most important ones in emergencies with filenames in english, chinese, and russian (i hope google translate didn’t steer me wrong).
      • !!!!!! EMERGENCY 急 аварийный
        contains my name, address, passport number, and other information, as well as contact information (phone number and email address) for my mom, boyfriend, and boss. i think i’m going to stick with leaving the chinese, russian, and spanish translations there; i included turkish because i will be traveling to turkey  in a couple weeks.
      • Credit Card Contact Information
        phone numbers for my bank and credit card institutions (not the card numbers themselves), both the domestic toll-free and international collect call numbers. basically anyone i would need to call in case my wallet got stolen.
      • Insurance Card 保险卡 страховой полис (front and back)
        photographs of my medical and dental insurance cards

it’s going to take some getting used to, since i don’t normally wear jewelry, but i figure better safe than sorry. i hope i never have to use this drive, but i like that it’s there in case i do.

suggestions for additions or removals?

2 Comments on "Making a Travel Emergency Flash Drive"

  1. really great idea!
    I know quite a few people who sadly have been pick pocketed in Central Europe. Especially in squares. its all planned by the thieves 🙁

    will be something worth knowing in future for me! Also if you are a EU citizen its worth having the European Health Insurance Card details on it as you travel around Europe as you get the same healthcare benefits as your country of origin.

  2. ah good point re the insurance card! i still have mine from germany but alas, it expired in 2011 😛 (says the card; i’m sure it expired in the summer of 2007 when i left lol)

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