As I’m about to head out on another 2+ month trip to Europe, I want to share some technology/virtual tips that I used and found helpful on my last few trips.
The cloud. I have started to use the cloud for all types of storage. Photos, important documents, my itinerary, copies of tickets and just about anything that needs paper. It makes my pack lighter because I don’t have to lug so much of it around. There are lots of services that offer free space–Google, Amazon, Icloud, Microsoft, Dropbox and Evernote to name a few. I personally like Dropbox. I can access everything in my Dropbox account from all my devices and the photos I take on my cellphone are automatically uploaded.
Dummy E-mail Account
I travel with only a Mini Ipad and a cell phone. Occasionally I have to print something and need to use a hotel’s computer and printer. But I hate having to access anything with a password while using these devices. I never know if they are secure or not.
Instead, I signed up for a free email account and use that as my conduit. The password for this email is different from any other.
Here’s how it works. I get something in my regular email that I need to print–boarding pass, train ticket, etc. I access my email on one of my devices and forward it to the dummy e-mail. I then access the dummy e-mail from a hotel’s computer and print it out. I then delete that email.
If someone should hack into the dummy email account, big deal. There is nothing there. All they can do is use it to send mail. If that happens, I just sign up for another.
Some apps allow you to set a passcode. Do this. It is an additional layer of security. With a passcode, an app won’t open unless the code is entered. My cloud accounts have this. In fact, to access my phone I’ve set a passcode. It only takes a second to enter it but adds so much more to your online security.
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, allows you to surf the net in safety while using public wifi. Once the app, or program, is added to your device, everything you send is encrypted and first sent to the VPN’s servers for decrypting and then sent to the website you are trying to reach. When working correctly, it should add no more than a second to your surfing. Some also allow you to log in to servers in other countries.
There are many free services as well as paid. I use the pay version of Hotspot Shield. (They also have a free version.) I won’t say it always works correctly–it gets disconnected at time–but it is easy to use. In fact, after installation, all you will need to do is know how to turn it on and off. You can even make the service start automatically when connecting to the net.
Find Your Phone
Use this. It is available for both Apple and Android, phone and tablet. Very simple. It you misplace your device, it will tell you where it is. And if stolen, it will let you erase everything on your device. I have never had to use this yet but I’m glad I have it.
Before my last international trip I switched to T-Mobile.When out of North America I get free unlimited data (2G and up), free text and phone calls are only 20 cents/minute. Whenever I flew into a new country, it would take 5-10 minutes to connect but I would then get a text welcoming me to that country. On a train or in a car, it will do the same but may connect before you actually enter the new country.
Sometimes, it will welcome you into a country you are not even in. While driving along the coast of the Dead Sea in Israel, I got a T-Mobile text welcoming me to Jordan. I wasn’t in Jordan but it was only a few miles away across the sea. However, at that point, the closest cell phone tower was probably in Jordan and not in Israel.
Many travel guidebooks are now available in an electronic version to read on your device. I’m up in the air on these. They are more convenient to carry over the paper versions but not as easy to cross reference. For now, I use a combination.
If you have any technology tips to share, feel free to do so in the comments.