In the interest of advancing the University of Colorado Boulder, it is understood that members of the community must engage in travel to varying international destinations. The following are some considerations to protect those travelers and the university's interests.  

It is recommended that you only take items that are of absolute necessity to your role while travelling. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep track of all your personal electronic devices. Do not leave your devices unattended and ensure that your devices are password-protected and encrypted if capable.  

High Risk Countries

Travel to certain high-risk countries requires special consideration and preparation. There are a range of recommended preparations that are listed starting with the most secure and moving to preparations that require minimal actions. Check with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) or the Export Controls Administrators office to determine if your destination is on the list of countries of concern. Either office will provide you with background on your destination as well as travel advisories and the current political environment. 


  • Best: Travel Light  

For persons travelling to countries of concern we strongly recommend that you leave your current devices here and travel with university-provided loaner equipment. You can borrow a kit by submitting a request to OIT Desktop Support. Loaner devices are provided to travelers whose destination includes at least one of the countries of concern. Use the loaner device instead of your laptop; it will allow you to manage email, view your calendar, run presentations, edit documents, and connect to university web sites. The device is set up specifically for your use and wiped back to factory settings when you return. The device uses the campus encryption service to encrypt the device and provides you with a secure platform for the duration of your travel.  

  • Good: Travel With Less Data 

If you feel your needs will not be met by a loaner laptop, another option is to take a new or freshly rebuilt machine and load only the data you’ll need for the trip. You’ll need to make sure that the machine is encrypted using the university's encryption service before you go. Consult with our help desk for assistance. Whenever possible, leave USB drives at home. These are easily lost and easily corrupted. If you must travel with a USB device, be sure that it’s encrypted.  

  • Minimum: Travel Encrypted 

If you are not able to use a loaner device and have specific business requirements that make use of your current workstation necessary while traveling, please contact OIT or the Export Controls Administrators office. They will assist in making accommodations are possible to facilitate your needs.

At a minimum, you may need to accomplish the following steps prior to travel: 

  • Verify that your computer software is current by requesting a vulnerability scan (  
  • Make sure your computer is fully backed up and encrypted.  
  • Request an Identity Finder scan be run to help track down documents with non-public data (e.g. Social Security Numbers and Credit Card Numbers) and remove those documents from your computer.  
  • Remove from your computer any documents containing highly confidential, confidential, and data subject to compliance regulations. 
  • When you return, save the documents you created while traveling to another device, completely wipe your computer, and restore it from the backup made before your travel. 

Be aware that this process may require up to two weeks to accomplish. So please allow sufficient time to complete the necessary functions.

Mobile Phones  

  • Best: Go Without  

The first thing to consider is whether or not you really need a mobile phone, and if so, do you need your personal device. Are you going to make calls? Can you get by with Wi-Fi calling on your loaner laptop? Can you get by without a phone for a short trip? We’re really tied to our phones these days, but perhaps you can go without.  

  • Better: Use a loaner 

The university in partnership with Verizon can provide you with a loaner phone for the duration of your travel. 

  • Good: Get It There  

The best thing to do is to use a device you don’t need to use again. This can be a loaner phone borrowed in-country, an unlocked phone with a local SIM card, or a phone you buy or rent at the airport or hotel when you arrive.  

  • Minimum: Have a plan  

If you must use your own phone: 

  • Back it up before you leave.  
  • Enroll it in an international rate plan to avoid incurring exorbitant roaming charges, and  
  • Save your data, reset to factory defaults, and restore your backup when you return. 

Planning ahead will protect your privacy and the university's data, and save a lot of money and frustration later. 

Additional Information  

If you brought your computer, save any documents you created while traveling to an external drive and restore from your pre-departure backup.  

China: A special travel situation  

Travelers to the People's Republic of China have experienced a range of issues. 

  • Access to services that we take for granted like Gmail and Google Apps, Wikipedia, and Yahoo WebMail are often blocked altogether or filtered.   
  • Skype connections are monitored by the government.  
  • Wi-Fi users reported that their connections dropped frequently.  
  • Those using VPNs reported that they are often cut off for hours at a time.  
  • Hotel staff and government officials can access hotel room safes. So don't expect that a computer or mobile device left in a hotel safe will be secure.

These occurrences are part of the normal experience in China.