Travel

Going online while traveling

By Eleanor Stern
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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There are many different ways to connect to the internet while traveling
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Americans work longer hours, with less vacation time than any other nation in the world. Even when they do go on vacation, Americans like to bring their work with them. For many people this requires going online while traveling.

Even five years ago, people away from their home or office computers had to use dial-up connections and PC cards to log on, making the process somewhat slow. Now it is almost effortless to get on the net wherever you are traveling. Travelers can use a variety of different methods to go online: laptop computers, handheld devices, cell phones, internet cafés, or even the local library.

Laptop computers and wireless internet

Laptop computers are the most common way Americans access the internet while traveling. If you are ever at an airport, look around. Those black shoulder bags everyone is carrying is a good indicator of just how many people bring their laptops on vacation.

Before you book a hotel, call ahead and find out what their wireless connectivity system is. You'll want to stay at a hotel that has wireless capabilities, so you can bring your laptop. Sometimes the hotels have only designated areas where you can pick up wireless signal, but if you can, find a hotel with wireless access in your room.

Wireless is made possible by a nearby internet connection, and a wireless router. The computer must be near this router to pick up signal. Think of picking up a radio station. You need to be in the area where the station broadcasts, otherwise you can't pick up the signal.

Wireless or WiFi can either be built into your computer or come in the form of a wireless card. Most experts recommend that you get a built-in wireless card, but if you can't there are many wireless cards to choose from. Some of them connect through USB plug-ins and others just slide into your laptop through a PC Card slot. Examples of wireless cards include Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link.

Handheld or palm-sized devices

Mini-computer devices, such as the Palm Pilot are an alternative to bringing your laptop with you. They are smaller in size, cost only $500 and are good for the traveler who just wants to check their e-mail regularly.

PDAs (personal digital assistants) are hand held PCs that can store phone numbers, tasks, and appointments. It can also synchronize with your desktop computer or laptop, which enables you transfer information form one device to another.

Cell phones

Connecting to the internet via your cell phone is very simple and has grown tremendously over the past several years. This method of connection is recommended for someone who just absolutely needs their e-mail, or constant access to the web.

Here's how it works. The phone company either has their own internet server, or goes through a third party company such as Bellsouth or AT&T. When you get your phone, you have to call this company to verify that your cell phone is part of the network. Once you register your device, and the network detects it, you receive a server name, user name and password. This is the unique ID for your device on the network.

All cell phone manufacturers offer some internet service. Whether you get a Blackberry, Treo or Motorola, each one provides access to the internet. Most cell phone experts say Blackberries are a little harder to use and recommend the Samsung for people who are new to accessing the internet on their phone.

Internet cafés

If you can't take your laptop, cell phone, or PDA with you, go to an internet Café. Ask the hotel concierge where the nearest one is if you're not sure where one is located. The internet café is a very nice substitute for bringing your laptop. Relax, while sipping a coffee or tea and surf the web. Usually the internet café will charge a small fee for the amount of time you spend online.

Libraries

Even in the modern age of technology, the library can be your best ally. Every city has a public library which offers internet access completely free of charge! Not to mention you are surrounded with hundreds of books in case you need extra research material.

The need for new technology

In 2007, going online while traveling is a necessity for Americans. With new wireless technology, hand held devices, PDA's and internet enabled cell phones, the methods for connecting to the internet are already numerous and can only be expected to grow.

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