Would You Be “Lost” Without Your Mac on Vacation?

As you head out the door, you have your tickets, you set the alarm. What did you forget? Unless you’re boarding Oceanic Flight 815, you probably have little to really worry about, but there are a few things that will ease your anxiety and ensure that your trip is as stress-free as possible.

Sometimes you just can’t go back in time

Time Machine makes backups automatic, but your Time Machine drive is probably right next to the computer. You might have a problem with a magnetic disturbance, or you might simply face more mundane issues like floods or electrical storms while you are gone. Before you leave town, make a manual backup of your critical data and take your backup offsite. I keep mine in the glove compartment of my car parked at the airport (password-protected, of course).

If traveling with a laptop, don’t bring your primary Time Machine drive with you. It defeats the purpose of having your computer and backup in the same place; just ask Ed Baig from US Airways Flight 1549 — or some of the passengers of Oceanic Air…They always face disaster.

Be very afraid if Dennis Haysbert shows up on your doorstep

When the unforeseen occurs, are you sure you’re covered? What’s your deductible? Is data recovery included? Will it be excluded because of business purposes? Is it covered when it’s stolen from the car? Spend a few minutes and call your insurance agent so you know how to handle these things should disaster strike. Personally, I have all my computers “scheduled” on my homeowner’s policy. Juliet thought she’d be gone for a few weeks, and it turned out to be much longer. Her agent said it should have been on the business policy and not homeowner’s policy. Ouch. Good to know what your coverage is before disaster.

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Some numbers are easy to remember; others are harder. If the police call saying they’ve retrieved your MacBook, can you prove ownership? It’s hard to even make a police report without the serial number. Time is of the essence, because you never know when you might slip away. Choose “About this Mac” from the Apple Menu and click on the operating system version twice to get your serial number. Keep it in your wallet or at least tell it to a friend you can easily reach, if you can reach them.

Because sometimes having a working phone is vital

If your iPhone dies while out of town, is destroyed by “other” people, or just flakes out on you, do you have time to go to an Apple Store? Is there even one around? No phone while traveling is rough, especially for people like doctors and other professionals. Pop out the SIM card of your iPhone, put it in a disposable GoPhone, and you are, pardon the pun, good to go. I travel with a GoPhone for just this reason. You may not have all your data from your iPhone, but you do have a phone, and can hold tight until you get home.

Can you go back to the beginning?

You are on the road, and now your Mac is acting wonky. Unfortunately, you don’t have a software toolkit. What one disk would you take to a deserted island? Your Mac OS installer DVD. As long as the problem is software and not hardware, you can solve a multitude of woes with this DVD. You can boot off the DVD, repair the hard drive, get online, and even run a backup. In a worst-case scenario ,you do an Archive and Reinstall. You might need to reinstall applications, but on the road, you’ll at least be up and running. Think of it as a do-over without the bright flash of light.

Gosh, I really guess I’m missing TV over this summer break. I might be “lost,” but my Apple stuff isn’t. What tips do you have for traveling with your Mac and iPhone, besides avoiding Oceanic Airline flights over the South Pacific and paying attention to your fellow passengers?