Phone/laptop for overseas trip

Hi. I have an overseas holiday coming up and (obviously) I don’t want to travel with my primary devices. My main concern is being randomly selected to have my devices searched on entry to my destination country (Canada) and on return to my home country (Australia). Although I’ve done this trip many times before and never had an issue, I have developed a concern for privacy since my last trip and want to take more care in future. And neither of these countries have a great reputation for being respectful of privacy.

At home I use a mac laptop (yeah I know) and a pixel running graphene. I was planning to buy a cheap thinkpad and run linux mint(I despise windows), and another pixel running graphene.
I do wonder though, if I was selected to have my devices searched, if running linux and graphene would attract extra scrutiny? I wonder if I’m better to buy a “cheap” macbook air and iphone. Obviously apple products have their own issues so far as privacy goes, and it would be more expensive, but I think at least it may give me the appearance of a “normie”.
If they did get searched I could wipe them and sell them, and at least get some of my money back. If not, I could just put them aside for my next trip.

As long as you aren’t:

  • Brown
  • An IT professional
  • Look nervous while going through customs

you almost certainly won’t get your devices searched.

That said, just making sure to not have any private stuff on the devices you do take with you is a good idea though I doubt they’d be extra curious about you for having linux and they likely wouldn’t even notice that you’re using graphene since it looks like stock android anyway.


I don’t think running Linux would invite any scrutiny. GrapheneOS, maybe. It apparently does in the Netherlands (I think that was the country, and apparently lots of criminals have used GOS, so you’d more likely attract attention there). If you wanted to make sure your data was safe on any device, create a passphrase on the iPhone/Pixel with GOS that is at least 8 words long as this will protect the device even if the Secure Enclave’s/Ttitan M’s rate limiting is bypassed by using an exploit (though no exploits are currently known). Also make sure the devices are in the Before First Unlock (BFU) state, that is, either shut down or restarted but never unlocked.

Nothing wrong with a macOS. It is one of the more secure desktop operating systems. Sure, it is less private (though you can use it without signing into an Apple Account) but way more secure.

Guarantee that a person with more melanin in their skin will not attract attention if they don’t look nervous while going through customs. Likewise, a person with less melanin in their skin will attract attention if they look nervous while going through customs. If you look like you’re doing something illegal, you’re more likely to be selected for a search. How much melanin someone has in their skin doesn’t matter.

Are you denying the existence of racial profiling by customs officers? Really?


Not entirely, no. I just don’t believe everything should be turned into race vs race. Of course there are racists in the world. There’s white supremacists, black supremacists, Asian supremacists, etc., and they are just as bad as each other. No doubt that people who travel internationally are more likely to be searched or be closely watched than someone traveling domestically, especially if they are coming from a nation that is hostile to the nation they are entering.

It would just be better to forget about white, black, asian, etc., as that just divides people. There are many people who dislike the whole selecting your race on forms.

“Are you black, white/Caucasian, hispanic, asian?”
“Well, My father is white (which doesn’t really narrow it down, Germans are quite a bit different to Irish) and my mother is black (also doesn’t narrow it down either, Indigenous Australian or African? And they all had different practices and beliefs depending where they are from exactly). Go back a bit further and I had an asian great, great grandmother. Idk, you tell me”. (Not true for me, just an example).

Not denying that there are people that do care about skin color, or that people traveling internationally are more likely to be searched, just that the whole race thing is dumb. There is literally only one human species left. All the rest died out. And we will one day too.

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Consider the value of a decoy device and social engineering.

Edit: This is one of my small annoyances of GOS. I wish the boot screen was a standard non-descript boot screen.

I would advise not installing Graphene. I can’t find the source at the moment but I did see some posts in the PG Matrix room about Danish authorities finding that criminals used GrapheneOS 90% of the time on their phones and the rest were iPhones. Using GrapheneOS might be a suspicious factor to airport security.

While you are going to Canada, I would advise just using Pixel stock OS. Nothing stops you from flashing after entering Canada.

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I don’t think the laptop brand would matter as long as it isn’t something odd/standout like MNT Reform Laptop - MNT Research Shop. You could bring/buy a flash drive so that you can use Tails on it during the duration of your trip, and otherwise it will look normal.