Five Ways to Stay Connected Overseas

February 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling abroad can be exciting, especially if you get a little time to enjoy yourself while you’re there, but whatever your reason for being overseas, being unable to get in touch with your loved ones and business contacts can really breed anxiety.

Luckily, there are plenty of options available for travelers willing to do their homework and a little legwork to stay in touch. Here are Laptop magazine’s top five ways to save money when you’re trying to stay connected overseas.

Carriers

There are two main types of cell phone systems that are used widely around the world, CDMA and GSM. Sprint and Verizon Wireless use CDMA domestically, and beyond our borders, it’s used in South America and much of Asia. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM in the United States, most of Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Even if your phone is technologically compatible with your destination, you’ll still need to ensure that it works with the radio bands of the area. If everything aligns, check with your carrier to find out whether they offer special rates for international calling and data.

SIM Cards

If you have an unlocked phone, you should be able to rent a SIM card that works in your destination country. If your phone isn’t unlocked yet, you’ll need to ask your carrier for a code to do so. Stop in to your wireless provider — the official store, not the “authorized dealer” and ask for help.

VoIP

VoIP stands for “voice over Internet protocol,” and it includes services like Vonage, Skype and Google Voice. If your destination has readily available wireless Internet access, you can connect your phone to the network and make calls through those services — it’s much cheaper and tends to be quite reliable provided your connection is solid. You can connect your phone to a wifi hotspot and call using one of these services. You can even use Facetime on an iPad or iPhone to speak with loved ones at home.

Having trouble finding wi-fi? Snag a mobile hotspot to get connected when you need it most. Tep Wireless and XCom Global are two companies that rent mobile hotspots to travelers and let you pay based on the amount of data you use.

Rental phones

When all else fails, you may want to pick up a cheap rental phone that’s internationally compatible when you reach your destination. Tep Wireless and Telestial offer rental smart phones for predetermined lengths of time for much less than other potential scenarios.

You’ll definitely pay more for international calling and data than you would domestically, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, friends and family while you’re abroad. Provided you do a little research before your trip, you can get a good deal that keeps you connected when you need it.

How To Stay Plugged In While Traveling

March 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In this Information Age, it’s become a primary concern of the frequent traveler: How do you access the Internet while on the road?

In addition to most airports and hotels, many shops serving the public now offer free wi-fi. Starbucks and other independent coffee shops are well known for catering to laptop users’ Internet access needs (savvy travelers often access the “Starbucks finder” app or Google “independent coffee shops” when in unfamiliar cities). A number of McDonald’s and other popular restaurant chains also offer free wi-fi.

But use caution when accessing public wi-fi, for there are hackers lurking. You should always check the type of connection you’re making. Further, if you’re using a non-encrypted wi-fi connection, avoid any websites that don’t have “http” in the URL. Finally, if a security error appears on your screen while you’re connected to public wi-fi, log off immediately.

There’s also technology now available enabling you to turn your smart phone into a mobile wi-fi transmitter. These include software packages and a mobile transmitter (called MiFi) which can convert your mobile phone into a hotspot accessible by up to five people. The cost of the software varies by the type of smart phone you use, while the mobile transmitter typically costs $50 per month.

And, if you’re not comfortable accessing public wi-fi, you can always use your Blackberry, iPhone or iPad to access the internet, and send and retrieve email. Granted, the ability to open complex attachments can be somewhat limited, but you can remain productive while ensuring your computer’s security.

Also remember that a great way to transport and protect your computer is to use Travelpro’s “checkpoint friendly” luggage, which features a padded sleeve compartment that holds most 17″ laptops, and enable you to breeze through airport security without removing it from the case.

Constant access to the internet is crucial for nearly every traveler these days. A wide range of technology exists to enable you to stay “plugged in’ away from home. But, it’s up to you to keep your data safe while online on the road.

Photo credit: Frostwire.com (Flickr)

Tips For Using Wi-fi At US Airports

October 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Certain airports have joined Travelpro in the effort to make air travel more convenient for business travelers.

Working with Google, 47 airports began offering free “wi-fi” connections last year. In addition, to the internet connection, they generally supply electrical outlets, alleviating the need for those business travelers whose laptops don’t feature extended batteries to scramble for the precious few electrical outlets in the terminal.

But use caution when accessing free public wi-fi, for there are hackers and “honeypots” lurking. The following post from Bettnet.com explains the dangers:

Beware of open wi-fi hotspots in the airport. That free hotspot may in reality be a “honeypot,” a trap designed to fool unsuspecting travelers into exposing their computers and data to hackers.

I was recently at New York’s JFK airport in the JetBlue terminal which offered free wi-fi, courtesy of the airline. But when I tried to connect, I noticed that several options were available, including one labeled “default” and another labeled “JetBlue free hotspot.” I discovered that the former was the actual free hotspot and the latter was the honeypot.

What tipped me off was that the “JetBlue free hotspot” was labeled in my Mac OS X “Airport” (i.e. wi-fi) menu as a “Computer-to-Computer network.” On Windows. it’s called an “Ad-hoc network”. This means that someone has made their own computer appear to be a wi-fi router. If you connect to this network on an imperfectly protected Windows laptop, the hacker can access your data from his computer. Even if you’re on a properly configured laptop, he’ll still be able to harvest any passwords or other data you attempt to send while trying to connect to web sites.

Obviously, you should always check the type of connection you’re making when accessing public wi-fi. Further, if you’re using a non-encrypted wi-fi connection, avoid any websites that don’t have “https” in the URL (the ‘S’ means “secured”). Finally, if a security error appears on your screen while you’re connected to public wi-fi, log off immediately.

Remember that, if you’re not comfortable accessing wi-fi, you can always use your Blackberry or iPhone to access the internet, and send and retrieve email. Generally, you’re out of luck as far as complex attachments go, but you can remain productive while ensuring your computer’s security.

Also, remember that a great way to efficiently transport and protect your computer is to use a Travelpro® “checkpoint friendly” business case, which features a padded sleeve compartment that holds most 17″ laptops, and enables you to breeze through airport security without removing it from the case.

It seems everyone is trying to make airport travel more convenient these days. But, it’s up to you, the savvy business traveler, to make sure it’s safe.

How do you manage your e-mails, when you are traveling?

« Previous Page