UK Holidaymakers Warned Not To Take This 1 Picture

It could put your personal security in danger.
Woman arriving at a holiday resort for her summer vacation and using smart phone
valentinrussanov via Getty Images
Woman arriving at a holiday resort for her summer vacation and using smart phone

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t think I’d so much as step on a plane if I didn’t think I’d get some decent snaps of the trip. I know, it sounds shallow, but given that the average adult takes 14 selfies a day on holiday, at least I can rest assured that I’m not alone.

With that said, recent warnings have caused me to at least reconsider my camera usage abroad. First came the news that posting holiday pics of any kind could increase your risk of burglary (yes, really). And now, it turns out that snapping a shot of your boarding pass, even if it’s barely in the frame or far away in the pic, could place you in further danger.

As privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald told Condé Nast Traveller, the code on the ticket is more than enough to tell thieves all “about you and your stuff and where you’re going.”

Here’s how to protect yourself while you’re on holiday, including what else to avoid posting on your time off.

Barcodes reveal much more than you might think

Fitzgerald revealed that, because you share your passport details and driver’s licence info with the airport when you book your ticket, it’s possible that scammers could find that info just by scanning the code.

In fact, he recommends being extremely careful with barcodes in general. “If you have a barcode on something, you should not be throwing that into the trash unless you want somebody to get it,” he shared. “And you should definitely never be posting it on social media.”

Sounds a bit intense? Well, Aussie PM Tony Abbott had his details hacked from a boarding pass pic in 2020 within just 45 minutes ― though luckily, the hacker only did it to prove how unsafe the post was.

So how can I stay safe?

First of all, it’s a good idea to make your social media accounts private ― especially if you’re not using them for work. And avoid posting private information, like your passport, driving licence, address, or even the front door of that new house you’re so excited to share.

There are also basic online safety rules, like making your passwords as complicated and varied as possible and only signing in to trusted WiFi hotspots, which of course apply while travelling too.

The University of Missouri also recommends following certain holiday-specific advice while travelling too, like:

  • Updating your devices before you leave home so they have the highest level of security,
  • Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use, because they are all “potential attack routes”, and
  • Only use public computers for public browsing; don’t share personal information on them.

Fine, fine, I’ll put the selfie stick away...