Worried about being robbed when traveling? Well, that’s a very legitimate concern & one clever way to lower the chances of getting your precious devices robbed is to “uglify” them!
What does “uglify” mean?
Make whatever you want to protect look cheap & old (worn out): a sort of camouflage to prevent attracting too much attention.
Get creative, try to think of different ways to hide the value of your gear. Here are a couple I came across:
- Use a cheap-looking protective case
- Get a quality protective case & cover it with tape/stickers
- Cover your gear with a material that you can remove afterwards without damaging your device
I first came across the 3rd concept in this LifeHacker article called “Deter Thieves by Uglifying Your Camera”.
How I protected my laptop
Traveling in Southeast Asia for many months with a MacBook Air sounds like a terrible idea. But so far so good, it’s doing perfectly fine.
What I did to protect my laptop:
- I bought a rigid protective case (amazon.com/dp/B0077EVNY4)
- I covered the case with brown tape – which make the computer look very ugly when closed & when seen from behind
- I bought a laptop sleeve (amazon.com/dp/B00CD8AF48) – so I can put my laptop in any “non special” bag
- I bought waterproof bag that I used when on the road – go for the quality products such as a 10L dry bag from Sealline (amazon.com/dp/B01428OD58), or a Loksak (amazon.com/dp/B0056B1CUA), each type of product as its pros & cons
My MacBook Air did look very bad with all the tape, and I was very glad to get questions like “what happened to your laptop!?”. The alarmed tone of the person asking made me laugh a few times.
How does my uglified laptop look like?
The laptop looks as usual when open from the user’s view.
However, once closed the laptop looks really terrible.
The 2 pictures below shows how it looks from the top & from below.
Watch out ventilation when taping
As pointed out by “Traveling Pup” in the comments: make sure you allow your computer to ventilate.
In my cases, I decided to add holes to the tape in places where the cover had holes too.
For you information: I used my MacBook Air with that uglifying setup for around 1 year & it was just fine.
Other belonging protections
Of course, “uglifying” your gear does not completely prevent it to get stolen nor broken. So you should also consider:
- getting a “personal belonging insurance“, also called “luggage insurance“
- regularly back up your data to the cloud – Dropbox, Google Drive or else
Note that personal belonging insurances often come as part of a whole travel insurance package (i.e. also including health & flight cancellation). However, insurances contract dedicated to personal belongings do exist. Further country-specific research might be needed but here is a post I wrote on that “Luggage-only insurance” topic on Travel.StackExchange.com to get you started.