Benefits of a Digital Detox During Summer Travel

(Family Features) Despite your best intentions to take time off for a relaxing getaway, chances are high that you’ll find it difficult to fully unplug from your digital devices. While you probably realize that staying connected prevents you from recharging, you may not be aware that it can also expose you to potential security risks.

In a recent survey by Intel Security, more than half (55 percent) of participants who intended to unplug from their digital devices on vacation were unsuccessful in doing so. The respondents revealed that practical reasons like access to online banking apps and tools, such as maps and search engines, are what keep people tethered to their smartphones.

If you’re like the majority of travelers who take their smartphones with them on vacation, it’s important to remain alert and prepared as pickpockets and thieves can target travelers and take advantage of large crowds and distractions. In addition, cybercriminals count on human and device vulnerabilities to provide them with a point of access to personal data, and summer vacations are often full of distractions and opportunities.

If you’re planning a trip and will have your mobile device on  hand, keep these tips, from the experts at Intel Security, in mind to help protect your personal information and better guard yourself from online risks:

Back-up data: Losing your mobile device or having it stolen can easily happen while on vacation and it’s best to be prepared. Back-up your data to ensure that your personal photos and messages are safe and use a PIN or password to protect your data should it fall into the wrong hands.

Create social walls: Passing time at the airport can lead to posting updates from your mobile device. Whether it’s checking in with your location or posting a silly selfie, criminals can use your social information to monitor when you’re away and at your weakest point to defend against an attack, whether online or at a physical address they know is unoccupied.

Limit Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use: Although it may be tempting to preserve your data plan, switching to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in lieu of your private data network can be a recipe for disaster. Connecting to unprotected Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices can expose your personal information to a cyber-criminal, especially if you’re processing a payment over an unsecure network.

Give yourself a work “time-out”: Accessing work files on unprotected Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks can be risky. Work related files can contain private company information that can jeopardize the digital security of a business. These files should not be accessed on public Wi-Fi, yet 47 percent of survey participants reported doing so while on vacation. If you do tap into Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, make sure you are connecting to a reputable source with the name of the business of where you are located such as “starbuckswifi.”

Check and monitor your accounts: Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your bank account history. This is the only way to react quickly to potential fraud and know if your bank or credit card accounts have been compromised. Be meticulous about keeping track of your account activity to ensure that a criminal can’t use your account without your knowledge.

For more tips and advice to protect the security of your digital devices while traveling, visit Intel Security’s Consumer Blog at blogs.mcafee.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman on computer)

SOURCE:
Intel Security



What to Do?

By Kendall Vogts

What to do? As a teacher, enjoying his or her summer break, that seems to be a question that comes up often and is usually followed by a smile or smirk and glazed over eyes as they wander off into the world of beautiful, student-free possibilities.

From the months of August through May, teachers are busy with everything school, but in June and July, things are different!

Now, as an auntie of young and school-aged children, I understand perfectly, have seen and have experienced summer activities for children. The goal is to keep the kids busy with fun, adventurous, silly, outdoorsy, educational and time-consuming activities. This list might include trips to the pool, the zoo, children’s museums or the park.

Parents or caretakers plan crafts like painting, sidewalk chalk and making your own silly putty. There might even be that carpooling parent, like my oldest sister, who spends time shuttling kids to library time, swimming lessons, dance lessons and gymnastics.

Needless to say, painting a picture of what students do during summer break could be pretty easy.

But what about the educators? What do we do? For some non-educators, I think they picture us sleeping in, shopping, eating out and watching TV. While those things might happen a smidge of the time, there are many other things we enjoy doing or must do in order to prepare for the next school year.

To start out, on our time off, we travel! We plan vacations with our loved ones, and we let loose a bit. My husband and I will be heading to Kansas City to Schlitterbahn with friends and will take an anniversary vacation. We also hop in the car and visit our family members. By the time summer is over, I will have visited my oldest sister and her family in Minnesota. I will have driven south to Oklahoma to visit my middle sister’s family. And I will have made it to my hometown to see all of the family that live there.

Also, we work on our homes. During the school year, there is a lot of time spent away from our houses. I don’t think people realize this, but most days, I spend more time at school than I do my own home! Sometimes, educators are lucky just to make supper for our families and spend a couple hours with them before we head to bed, only to start the routine over again.

So during the summer, we garden, paint walls, re-arrange furniture, finally complete that Pinterest craft we’ve had our eyes on, de-clutter and enjoy being able to live in our own space and not our classrooms.

Next, we prepare for the next school year. While at the beginning of our summer vacation, we want to be as far away from anything school related as possible; however, we eventually have to bite the bullet in order to be fully ready for our next round of kids. We meet with our partner teachers to plan lessons, we set up our classrooms, we copy notes and forms that each student will need, number our books, set up our progress monitoring tools and so much more.

Finally, this year especially and in the state of Kansas, teachers on their summer vacations have worried about their jobs and the future of education. Teaching is my and my husband’s job. We need our jobs to pay off student debt (which will increase because to make gains in this profession, you must continue your education), to pay for our cars, insurance, our new home and the other means by which we live.

I can see how, looking from an outsider’s perspective could be considered selfish. “They are only teaching for the money.” At that I might give a chuckle because of the amount on the paystub I get each month.

But the questions remain: Didn’t I get into education for the kids? To teach them English, as well as how to be contributing, awesome members of society? And the answer to all those question is yes! And that is why as teachers during this summer vacation we are concerned about the future of education in the State of Kansas. We are required to do so much, with students who may or may not even what to be there, with so, so little in the way of support and supplies. Public education is important. School is the safest, most consistent place for a majority of students out there.

Parents and guardians, think about those things while our kids and teachers are on summer vacation.

Regardless of the role — parent, student, or educator — summer vacation is a special time. It gives everyone the opportunity to relax, decompress, make memories and prepare for the upcoming school year.

As you are helping your student get ready for 2016-17 school session, remember their teachers. Their summers are spent doing much more than wondering, “What to do?”.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

Tips ‘n Tricks for surviving summer

SurvingSummerWhether you are planning stay-cations or hitting the road for a longer journey, summer is a time of festivities and gatherings.

When getting together with family and friends, take advantage of these tips and tricks for surviving summer.

Be a Summer Shenanigan Prepper

Admit it…music festivals, backyard barbecues and summer outings can get a little messy.

Fortunately, with just a little preparation, you’ll be ready for whatever you choose to do this summer.

Keep a back-up party kit on hand with necessities like suntan lotion, water, snacks and towels, as well as baby powder to help remove sand from your skin quickly and easily.

Also consider buying a pack of inexpensive white T-shirts so you have a low-cost change of shirts that can easily be turned into a rag if the event and your shirt get too messy.

Reward Yourself for Summer Travel

You should be rewarded for your summer travel.

However, you aren’t a magician, so avoid the smoke and mirrors and don’t fall for points-based rewards programs that create an illusion of loyalty.

Points programs often require complicated redemptions and limited ways to collect.

A simpler way to save is participat- ing in rewards programs that offer cash back and automatic discounts that consistently put money back in your wallet.

For travelers hitting the road this summer, BP’s refreshed Driver Rewards program gives drivers three choices for saving — for every $100 they spend, they can earn .25 cents per gallon on future fill-ups.

Plus, BP allows participants to enter their phone number at the pump to make earning and redeeming rewards easy. Learn more at www.mybpstation.com.

Live Like Locals

Skip the touristy restaurants on the main drag and look for the diners and dives that locals prefer for a real taste of the area.

Make a point to find out what the locals do for fun at night.

Expand the activities you can choose from by inserting yourself in the action for memorable experiences that you can boast about for years to come.

Avoid Letting Money Melt Away

During hot summer days, purchasing multiple bags of ice can melt your money away.

Plus, why waste time on extra store trips?

Avoid the mess by adding salt to ice water.

Doing so will decrease the melting rate of your ice, making it a great way for keeping things cooler longer during road trips or outings.

For the more adventurous, consider using dry ice to keep food and drinks dry and cold for long periods of time.

Eliminate Bugs, Not Cash

Planning a picnic or barbeque at the park or in your backyard?

Rather than buying costly bug sprays or insect repellent gadgets, mix water and soap in a spray bottle and spritz it on a picnic table and clothes to help keep bees away.

There’s no vacation experience quite like a road trip.

Pack your bags (lightly so there’s room for plenty of sou- venirs), embrace the simplicity of a trip that sets your inner explorer free and put it in drive.

Note: All rewards are valid for a single use only, up to 20 gallons. Any unused rewards are forfeited. May not be valid with other offers. Rewards expire 365 days after the end of the month they are earned. Rewards are earned and redeemable at participating locations with operable transaction networks. Not valid where prohibited by law or in AL or CA. See our Terms and Conditions for further details and our Station Finder for participating locations at mybpstation.com.

— Family Features