This post is part of a multi-part series about tech abroad.It's summertime and that means that people across the world are taking vacations to faraway places. Many people would be satisfied with checking in on their e-mail every couple of weeks, for five minutes, at an Internet cafe while on vacation. Techies like me, however, crave a higher level of contact with their information online. You may not be as much of a power user as Robert Scoble, however the world keeps moving even though you are abroad.
Everyone knows to bring power adapters to hook up their electronics, but here are some tips that you may not have considered, that I have gathered during my stay in Europe so far.
1. Free Wi-Fi is scarce, take advantage when you can. You may luck out and land at a hotel or hostel where they provide free Internet, but most of the time you are going to have to pay or go without access. Orange is a popular provider of paid W-iFi in Europe, for reasonable prices (15 euros for 10 hours). They have a lot of hotspots, but you are going to want to watch your time and not go overboard there. Some cafes will have free Wi-Fi and usually advertise it on a sticker in their window. For a more casual setting, the McDonald's, on the Champs Elysses in Paris, has free Wi-Fi to go with your Royale with Cheese. Some public places, such as the parks by Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, also provide access.
If and when you find free Wi-Fi access, jump over to Google Reader and download your RSS items with its offline Google Gears functionality. If you take the couple of seconds to do this, you can catch up on your news even when you're not basking in the glow of free Wi-Fi.
2. With that said, bring your Wi-Fi enabled phone. iPhone users take note, a quick download of your emails onto your phone saves you a lot of trouble of lugging a laptop around. This helps you to leverage the scarce free Wi-Fi to the best of your ability. While you will benefit greatly from having Wi-Fi on your phone, remember to turn off data roaming, or else you will rack up a massive bill during your trip.