7 Suggestions For Touring With Bitcoin Keys

Initially revealed on Unchained.com.

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Correctly taking management of your keys requires taking over some further accountability, however it’s a vital a part of bitcoin safety. However what occurs when it is advisable journey? In the event you maintain massive quantities of bitcoin in chilly storage, must you carry the keys to your bitcoin pockets with you? And if you happen to do journey with a number of keys, what steps do it is advisable take to remain safe?

Think about these seven suggestions for touring together with your bitcoin in a approach that retains you in management whereas minimizing threat.

1. Carry solely the wallets you want

Bitcoin means that you can segregate funds into a number of wallets so that you solely want to hold the keys you want for smaller quantities of bitcoin. You’ll be able to safe your bitcoin financial savings in chilly storage multisig, whereas nonetheless carrying some sats in a sizzling pockets in your cellphone like BlueWallet or Muun.

By solely carrying keys to the wallets you want, you possibly can spend and obtain bitcoin whereas leaving nearly all of your financial savings in a safe chilly storage setup, corresponding to multisig, that eliminates single factors of failure.

2. Think about your vacation spot

Think about your vacation spot and journey plans when evaluating the dangers of touring together with your bitcoin keys. What’s the relative crime threat at your vacation spot? Is your vacation spot a high-crime nation or metropolis? What is going to your environment be like?

In case your vacation spot has greater crime charges or pervasive petty theft, assume your cellphone can be stolen. Maintain good smartphone safety, and keep away from holding keys to important quantities of bitcoin on that gadget. Minimizing potential bitcoin losses by solely preserving small quantities in cell wallets is one consideration, however even storing keys to multisig wallets in your smartphone when touring can enhance the possibilities of compromise, necessitating an arduous key replacement.

In the event you’re touring to an occasion the place possession of bitcoin is assumed, alter your safety mannequin across the assumption that everybody is aware of you personal bitcoin. That might imply making certain that any singlesig wallets have a passphrase, or securing smaller quantities of bitcoin with multisig and distributing the keys in your belongings whereas touring.

3. Keep away from touring with seed phrase backups

It’s best to always secure your seed phrases, however keep in mind that they’re the unencrypted secret for a given key, making them a lot simpler to compromise than a {hardware} pockets. Whereas your {hardware} pockets’s personal key knowledge is usually secured inside a secure element, behind a PIN, and requires a PC to entry, seed phrase backups are simpler to bodily steal, copy, or {photograph}.

For most traditional journey, you must go away your seed phrase backups in a safe storage location and journey with a number of {hardware} wallets.

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In the event you should journey with a seed phrase backup

You would possibly must journey with a seed phrase backup in some conditions. Shifting everlasting bodily residences (we published a guide that you must learn if that is your state of affairs) and touring to arrange a safely-stored key merchandise in a multisig setup are each affordable causes to be touring together with your 12- or 24-word seed phrase.

In the event you should journey with a seed phrase, there are issues you are able to do to attenuate the possibility of publicity and retain peace of thoughts:

  • Stay inconspicuous in airport safety: Put a paper seed phrase backup inside a e-book, or cut up up a seed phrase by writing it in a bodily pocket book utilizing some conference that you’ll bear in mind. Keep away from utilizing suspicious metallic locks or instances. In case your bag will get pulled for suspicion, there’s a a lot better likelihood your seed phrase can be seen.
  • Use a passphrase for singlesig wallets: PINs can defend a {hardware} pockets, however a passphrase will defend your seed phrase! Whereas passphrases are generally risky compared to other custody setups like multisig, it might make sense to make use of one with a singlesig pockets whereas touring with a seed phrase so long as it’s correctly backed up (don’t depend on your reminiscence!).
  • Benefit from touring companions: Think about a multisig pockets (see beneath), give a journey companion one seed phrase, preserve one seed phrase in your individual, and retailer one seed phrase on a {hardware} pockets in a checked bag, for instance. In the event you completely should be sure that one seed phrase is already at your vacation spot, you possibly can compromise one by storing it quickly in a password supervisor previous to leaving (see beneath).

4. Watch what you say and present

Earlier than an attacker can assault, they should know who they’re going after. That is the place operational safety is available in. A lot of this recommendation applies to saving wealth with bitcoin basically, however it’s particularly relevant whereas touring.

On the go, you’re usually on the whims of individuals and environments you possibly can’t management. These are riskier conditions to make it publicly recognized that you just would possibly maintain substantial quantities of bitcoin.

  • Don’t discuss bitcoin with individuals you don’t belief: One of many best issues you are able to do is solely discuss bitcoin much less! Be cautious when “spreading the phrase.”
  • Don’t put bitcoin stickers in your laptop computer or gadgets: These are like large neon indicators that say, “this gadget is storing personal key knowledge!”
  • Don’t put on bitcoin-related merchandise: Particularly in locations the place individuals know what to search for, carrying merchandise or clothes with bitcoin logos unnecessarily places a goal in your again.
  • Don’t discuss how a lot bitcoin you personal: It’s typically a good suggestion to solely share the quantity of bitcoin you maintain on a need-to-know foundation. Understanding you’re a higher-value goal would possibly make an attacker think about extra excessive or dangerous actions.

Notably, these behaviors can create bodily threat when touring even if you happen to don’t have any personal key knowledge in your individual. If somebody tries to assault you with a $5 wrench and also you don’t have any bitcoin to offer them, your bitcoin would possibly survive, however your kneecaps may not!

5. Create a decoy pockets

Whether or not you’re touring with a {hardware} pockets or software program pockets, many wallets permit you to make a decoy pockets. Decoy wallets permit you to create a second pockets, solely separate out of your major one, which you could activate in duress eventualities. With these, you sometimes add funds you’re prepared to lose however important sufficient to make the attacker assume they obtained what they wished.

There are a number of alternative ways to arrange a decoy bitcoin pockets:

  1. Singlesig + passphrase
  2. Use one key in a multisig quorum
  3. Duress PIN

Singlesig + passphrase

With a passphrase, you possibly can arrange a secondary pockets that may give an attacker entry to a small subset of your funds. You could possibly additionally make the first pockets a decoy whereas utilizing a passphrase to your most important pockets. All the time consider the tradeoffs of using a passphrase, nonetheless, and at all times guarantee you may have your passphrase correctly backed up (it’s case-sensitive).


In the event you use multisig, so long as you possibly can preserve it a secret that any given {hardware} pockets or seed phrase is a part of a multisig setup, you possibly can defend your self through the use of one of many keys within the quorum as a decoy. To do that, merely use one {hardware} or software program pockets usually a part of your multisig setup as a standalone pockets. An attacker may entry the funds despatched to the singlesig pockets related to that seed whereas not accessing—and even understanding about—the pockets constructed with multisig.

Duress PIN

Some pockets makers permit you to arrange a duress PIN. With this performance, you possibly can arrange a second PIN that provides an attacker entry to a second decoy pockets. In the event you’re attacked, give the attacker the unsuitable PIN and allow them to have the smaller subset of funds in that pockets.

For instance, the Coldcard {hardware} pockets presents three forms of duress PINs: one which unlocks a decoy pockets, one which destroys the seed upon entry, and one which creates a countdown to customizable “brick modes”. These instruments give you confidence that attackers received’t be capable of entry your major bitcoin keys—if any in any respect.

6. Think about multisig to remove single factors of failure

Bitcoin’s native multisig function can assist create decoy wallets, however it’s additionally a strong instrument for mitigating journey threat typically. Maybe it is advisable journey with personal keys, however need to keep away from the only level of failure of singlesig wallets. Touring with three {hardware} wallets, every key held as one in a multisig quorum, can assist scale back your threat.

There are a lot of distinctive capabilities that multisig opens for you if you happen to’re touring. Every of the next have safety implications and trade-offs to think about past the scope of this text, however you can:

  • Distribute held keys whereas touring: You’ll be able to journey on a airplane with a 2-of-3 multisig the place one secret is in your individual, one other secret is in a secret compartment in your carry-on baggage, with a 3rd key and seed phrase backups geographically distributed in different safe areas. This retains three keys separated, requiring two of the three to come back collectively to spend funds.
  • Digitally retailer a seed phrase: Quickly compromising a seed phrase by storing it in a password supervisor ensures that at the very least one seed phrase backup to your multisig quorum is already at your vacation spot. Whenever you arrive on the vacation spot, you possibly can conduct a key replacement for any seed phrase quickly saved on an internet-connected gadget.
  • Mail your self a {hardware} pockets or seed phrase: In the event you’re touring with substantial bitcoin funds and also you don’t need to expose your self to theft from bodily assaults in a 2-of-3 multisig whereas touring, for instance, you possibly can mail one {hardware} pockets or seed phrase your vacation spot, carry one key in your individual, after which nonetheless be capable of spend funds if you arrive.
  • Associate countersigns: A custody accomplice, whether or not that be a monetary establishment like Unchained or trusted third-party, can coordinate with you to signal transactions whereas touring if you wish to journey with a minority of keys in multisig.

You should utilize a instrument like Sparrow, Electrum, or our very own Caravan to assemble multisig wallets your self, and if you happen to need assistance establishing multisig or understanding journey finest practices within the context of collaborative custody, we have a team that may enable you to with that.

7. Have an inheritance plan

It’s a good suggestion for anybody with substantive bitcoin wealth to have an inheritance plan, however that’s particularly the case when touring. If one thing have been to occur to you whereas touring, you need peace of thoughts understanding that your bitcoin can be rightfully handed to your subsequent of kin with no hitch.

This may be very tough if touring together with your self-custody bitcoin in a singlesig pockets, however multisig—and even higher for inheritance functions, together with a collaborative custody accomplice in your multisig setup—can provide the better of all worlds: handy entry to your self-custody bitcoin and peace of thoughts understanding it will likely be taken care of in your absence.

We beforehand wrote an article explaining the intricacies of how to set up an inheritance plan for your bitcoin if that’s one thing you need to think about earlier than touring.

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Extra bitcoin safety issues

Touring procedures are vital, however there’s a lot extra to bitcoin key safety. Make sure to try our guides for seed phrase storage best practices, the trade-offs concerned with paper vs. metal seed phrase backups, and if you happen to use multisig, correct safety of your wallet config information and rules for storing seed phrases in safe deposit boxes.

Initially revealed on Unchained.com.

Unchained is the official US Collaborative Custody accomplice of Bitcoin Journal and an integral sponsor of associated content material revealed by way of Bitcoin Journal. For extra info on companies provided, custody merchandise, and the connection between Unchained and Bitcoin Journal, please go to our website

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