Travel with Nintendo Switch
Traveling with your kids and their NintendoⓇ SwitchⓇ? Maybe a bit off topic from school, but I wanted to share what we learned from our experience. Recently, my family flew to visit family. My kid felt airsick when we landed, so after those with tight connections departed, used the restroom and assumed I was packing his Switch. I assumed he had packed it. The Switch was in a black case with every game he owned, more than a dozen, and the progress for many saved only on the game cartridge or console.
What we did after arriving
After we landed, we drove several hours to our final location, then unpacked our bags. Realizing the Switch was not there, we emptied everything, then walked through our departure process. Devastated is the best that I can describe my child’s feelings. Not only can’t we afford to replace all the games, several of these do not store in the cloud; these are the ones that will lose all progress if the console disappears or breaks, including all the Pokemon franchise. Games that once were on sale are now $60 each, so the loss to him is huge, both financially and emotionally. After a tough year with the pandemic and some family medical issues, this was the last thing we needed to cap off our year.
I immediately contacted the airline. They had me fill out an online lost item form. I also contacted a friend who works for the same airline, but not in this area, and they assured me that any lost item would be bagged, tagged with the flight and seat number, and turned into lost and found. They also suggested calling the airport and checking their lost and found in case it was turned in there.
The airport called quickly. While not found, they promised to keep our info on file. The airline, after a little checking around, also checked several lost and founds around the world, including where we landed and the airports the plane visited afterwards. Nothing. United Airlines went above and beyond, and we want to share our heartfelt thank you to them for their support and assistance.
What Nintendo can do
Nintendo marked the console as stolen. They taught me how to turn on two-step log in so that my son’s account cannot be removed from the console. I removed my credit card from the account, and set the account to email me if a purchase is made from the account, even from a new credit card. The administrative office will regularly check the device for new accounts. Once the device uses the account, Nintendo can shut the accounts and tag the IP address for law enforcement, which would allow any law enforcement agency to get an address.
What to do before traveling, and what I wish I did
Here are some steps to prevent others from enjoying your Switch:
Download the Switch Parent App for iOS or Android and connect your console to it; this must be done while the console is still in hand. Once stolen, if connected to the parent app, you can limit the time that the console can play to as little as 15 minutes a day and can limit the types of games allowed to play. This would limit a thief, so even if the device is for an adult or teen, connect to the app to have this backup control.
Consider buying the downloadable games instead of physical, as you can download them onto a new Switch without paying again. Note, these will not save progress in the cloud, even for a downloadable game.
Take a photo of the serial number.
Use a silver Sharpie to label the case.
Delete your credit card info from your Nintendo Account.
Turn on two-step verification to your Nintendo Account, so that your account cannot be removed from a stolen device.
What won’t work
There are unfortunate limitations, including:
Several games lack the ability to restore game progress.
Nintendo has limited their restrictions on stolen devices. Consider tweeting or emailing them to increase theft controls. Pressure from consumers has changed other consumer companies.
Commercially available tags have limited use to track a stolen device. Apple’s AirTag’s look the most useful from a technical ability standpoint, but their anti-stalking features limit the use for theft as they would warn a potential thief of their existence. Here’s a review on use to find stolen cameras, and one on use to find stolen bicycles.
If you or anyone you know has a Switch that they found, please ask them to return it. To Switch owners, the device is precious, as are games. You never know someone else’s situation and what they were coping with before the loss. Some are dealing with pandemic, family death, medical issues, or mental health challenges, and they use the device to stay calm. The game progress and cost of the games is valuable.
Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and she believes that each has unique benefits. Email if you found her child’s device. We have the serial number, and if it doesn't match, we will reach out to our new contacts at the airline and Nintendo to return it to its owner.