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  • Writer's pictureLaura Peters

Tracking Lost Devices While Traveling

Before I leave on a trip of any length I upgrade to the newest operating system and I confirm that all my apps are up to date on each of my Apple devices - iPad, iPhone, watch, ear buds and Mac Air laptop. Then I back up each to the Cloud. Good thing too, considering what happened last December. 

I don't know how it happened, but I left my iPad in the United Airline Lounge at Dulles Airport before a Friday night flight to Frankfurt. On Sunday, well after my arrival in Germany, I looked in my backpack for the iPad, but it wasn’t there. After looking through everything I brought, that sinking feeling that I didn't have the iPad began to set in. I opened “Find My” in my iPhone Settings. My fear was confirmed. My iPad was - unbelievably - still in Dulles, 3,989 miles from where I was. I could see the location on a map in the app (see photo to the left). Using my laptop, I immediately completed the form to report a lost item to United. Luckily, I have receipts for my Apple devices in my email and was able to locate the serial number, as well as the iPad's color and year - facts required by United to identify the device. From my iPhone, I set up the iPad so that the data would be erased should anyone attempt to access it, and I was able to change the welcome screen to include a message saying “Lost iPad, This iPad has been lost, please call me at (phone number).”  Within 24 hours I received a notice via text and email from United that my iPad had been located. I paid FedEx to ship it to my house in San Francisco. I could see it moving across the country using “Find My.” (See images)

What I learned from this experience: 

  • Even as a person who “never loses anything," I did.

  • Having my phone number and email address on my Lock Screen might have helped someone get in touch with me faster. 

  • Putting address labels on my iPad and its keyboard would be a good idea.

  • Setting up and using “Find My” in the Apple ecosystem is a really good thing!

  • That I could erase my iPad remotely was comforting. I didn't have to actually go through with the erasure because it was packaged and returned so quickly.  

  • Having the serial numbers for any devices I carry with me is also a really good idea. 

And there’s this:

In April 2015 I switched from an iPhone to a Pixel phone so I could use Google Project Fi as my phone carrier because it worked internationally at no extra cost. In 2023, I realized I wanted to move back to an iPhone and I could use Fi on it, but the service did not work as well on an iPhone as it did on a Pixel. That’s when I switched carriers to T-Mobile, which I used during this trip to Germany in December 2023. If you travel frequently to far off places and pay for your phone out of your own pocket (i.e., you don’t have a business phone), you might want to consider switching to T-Mobile. It worked well and cost me no more than if I stayed home.

If I had still been using a Pixel phone, locating and dealing with the lost iPad might have been more difficult. 

So, many lessons were learned on my recent trip to Germany. Fortunately, not the hard way. Or at least, not the irredeemably hard way.


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1 Comment

Lara Weiss
Lara Weiss
Jan 24

So glad it worked out! Just shared this post with my mom 😊

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