Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Connecting to the internet while traveling can be difficult, but not insurmountable. Connecting to the internet while traveling will, however, require a few extra precautions.
We are going on a cruise to Europe in October and I want to take my laptop with me to use in the airport and I suspect I can use it on the plane and on the ship to communicate back home, though I am not sure as I am not a traveler. I don't even know if I can use my cell phone in Europe, as I've never gone before. I also know that my battery will only work for about 2 hrs. and then will have to be plugged in somewhere to be able to use it and not sure there are places to do that anywhere but on the ship.
It's been a while since I've gone abroad, and at that time both travel, and connectivity, was provided courtesy of my employer. It's a good work if you can get it, but not an option for everyone.
There are two major issues that need to be thought of before you head out. Let's review them...
Power: your laptop probably came with an external power supply that you connect to periodically to recharge the battery. The "problem", so to speak, is that electricity in Europe is typically provided at 240volts 50hz instead of the 120volts 60hz that we're used to in North America.
The great news here is that your power supply probably doesn't care. Most are now labeled with something along the lines of "Input: 100-240V - 50-60Hz" meaning that they'll take pretty much anything between 100 and 240 volts (and 50 to 60 hz) and "do the right thing."
The only "gotcha" is that power plugs differ in different regions overseas. So you'll want to take with you a plug adapter for the various locales you'll be visiting (not a transformer, it's not needed for this). They're typically small, and very cheap. You can get them at an airport, but probably they'll be cheaper if you get them on-line or beforehand.
Connectivity: this is perhaps the bigger issue. We're frequently spoiled in North America because many of our ISPs are either nation-wide, or support some kind of limited dial-up access even when we're away from home. However they rarely support overseas connections directly. Certainly it's worth asking your home ISP if they have any solutions for those who travel - perhaps a partnership with an overseas ISP.
On top of that, if your cellphone works as a phone (providers that support "GSM", the international standard for cellular, may, others will not), I'd expect it to be unlikely that it will work as a modem - even if it does at home. If you do already use your cell phone as a modem with any regularity, I would definitely check with your cellular provider to see what they might have to offer. My biggest concern here is that if they do offer something for overseas travel, it may well be fairly expensive.
If your laptop is wireless-enabled, then finding internet hotspots and connecting therein might be the most practical. I don't know how common "free" WiFi hotspots are across the globe, but even pay-as-you-go solutions might turn out to be fairly economical, in the long run. Airports also frequently have them - some free, some not. Naturally, whenever using any wireless hotspot, be sure to be very aware of the security risks, and take the appropriate steps to stay safe.
Of course it's quite possible that once you're in Europe, your hotels may provide internet access - either free or paid. If you know where you'll be staying, it'd make sense to check out the hotel's web site before you go.
The same applies to your cruise ship. Ask your travel agent or the cruise line directly what forms of internet access they might provide while you're at sea. One warning, though: cruise ship internet can often be both pricey and slow.
The one place I can pretty much guarantee you won't have connectivity is in the air. While you'll be able to use your laptop, there are no provisions widely available for letting you connect to the internet while you're flying. It's coming, but it's still a ways away.
As I said, it's been a while since I've traveled overseas, and the landscape changes often. Perhaps readers will have more suggestions posted in the comments to this article.
And enjoy your trip! Color me jealous :-).
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