Internet Access on the Road
The Internet is becoming ubiquitous - especially in the Western World and taking a laptop traveling with you should make it easier to access cyberspace. Unfortunately this is not always the case!
Your options for getting online with or without a laptop come down to cost and convenience:
- wireless Internet access assuming your laptop has a wireless Internet card - most will, otherwise you will have to buy a PCMCIA or USB wireless card.
- network access again your laptop will need a network card, again very common today and it can be worth carrying a short length of network cable (cheap and light). If you network doesn't have a card you need a PCMCIA network card or USB Ethernet adaptor
- dial-up access via a phone line - you will need a phone connection on your laptop - very common, and the right phone cable, which you might have to wait to buy until you arrive in your destination country as they vary greatly.
In terms of ease of use wireless usually wins hands down especially if you can find it for the right price i.e. free. This is generally more likely to happen in Asia or USA than elsewhere, though I have come across it in mid-level motels in Australia.
Alternatively you may have to pay for your wireless access - when you connect you will certainly get the option to enter your credit card details and connect through. Sometimes you can pay less per and hour and get credit on a network that you may be able to use in multiple locations in the same country e.g. Starbucks or a caravan park or hostel network
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Difficulties using a Laptop to Connect to the Internet
On a recent trip to Australia I found that often, especially in remote areas I could not use my own laptop in Internet cafes, or if I was allowed to connect, I had to pay more! Why I am not sure but it's significantly inconvenient when you want to upload photos or other files from your laptop - the places that forbid laptops also forbid USB drives!
In Internet cafes I was often given a wired connection to the network rather than wireless - this is better as it significantly saves battery life and saves carrying around the power cable as well as the laptop! In fact many people don't realise that using wireless will drain yourmatter sigfificantl y faster - so turn off your wireless when you are not using it.
Also if you are staying in apartment or other self-catering accommodation you may still find that you have access to a wired network rather than wireless - so bring that short piece of ethernet cable with you - any IT or electronics shop should be able to sell you one and they are universal - no adaptors required!
In places where there is little local IT support e.g. caravan (RV) parks in small towns there was a rugged terminal installed which was coin operated and definitely didn't allow you to connect your own equipment!
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Free WiFi in Australia, UK, US
- Free wi-fi hotspots in the US
Listing of where the public can find free Wi-Fi wireless internet access Wi-Fi-FreeSpots and hotspots.
- Free Wireless Internet and Broadband Wireless Internet Access in Australia
Free WiFi offer free high speeds wireless broadband internet access using your laptop. We provide wireless hotspot locations throughout nsw, qld, vic and most of Australia
- Free Wifi Hotspot Locator -in the UK
Find Wifi Hotspots with myHotspots - the Wifi Hotspots Directory For the UK, listing T-Mobile, BT Openzone, The Cloud and independent wifi hotspots - helping you to find wireless internet access points.