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  1. #1
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    Tips for traveling with digital devices




    TOP STORY


    Tips for traveling with digital devices


    By Susan Bradley

    Taking a multiweek trip out of the country takes careful planning. Making sure you can use the technology you take with you, even more.

    Gone are the days when we vacationed without our phones and portable PCs. Now they're as essential as shorts and sandals.

    The full text of this column is posted at http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/...gital-devices/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    Don't forget to make sure you can actually plug your devices in to charge them. Most of the world does not use 110 volts, or the same plug design as the US. Find out what the power voltage and plugs are at each country you're visiting, and make sure you can handle it. If you're on a cruise, find out what the ship uses, it may not be the same as the country you're boarding from.

    Check all your device chargers to make sure they can handle 230 or 240 volts as well as 110 if you need it. Most modern devices will, but a few (mostly older ones) may not, or may need to be manually switched. If your charger(s) came with replaceable plugs, find out which ones you're going to need where you're going and don't forget to pack them.

    Another option is to get a standalone converter plug (or more, depending on where you are going), that allows your normal plugs to plug into the back. If you're going to want to charge more than one device at once, a good option is to add a small power strip. That way you only need one converter for the whole strip. You can get travel ones that have outlets on both sides (so they're not as long) and/or provide USB power sockets, so you may not need to take a charger at all, just the cable. If you've got a lot of people trying to share a plug, this can be very useful. Test your new power strip before you leave home.

  3. #3
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    On my iPhone, I can also use the Do Not Disturb option under Notifications. Two additional options in Do Not Disturb, Allow Call From and Repeated Calls, give me other choices. The former lets me control who calls me; the latter rings my phone if the same person calls twice within three minutes — a good precaution for emergencies.

    In my rather frequent travels I often find that incoming phone numbers are not displayed or are random strings of numbers for incoming international calls. So "Do Not Disturb - Allow Calls" settings are not going to help.

    A thought to consider is that Skype will forward your calls to a local number so when you pick up that local SIM.

    You are going to get a local SIM? If not, why not?

    http://prepaidwithdata.wikia.com/wik..._SIM_with_data tells you all you need to get started.

    Unlock your Phone and you will almost certainly find a mobile phone shop after customs at the airport. I've had over 12 different countries in my various iPhones ranging from Saudi Arabia this month to a Singapore one I have kept active for over 3 years. When I was in China my (aged) father was able to Skype me which went to my local SIM/iPhone and cost me 3c/min.

    You are no more likely to lose your phone travelling (sensible precautions - of course) than you are to leave it in a NYC taxi, I've taken 'burners' to dodgy countries and always ended up missing the apps on the 'real' phone.

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    Thanks for all that, we Europeans travel between countries a good deal. My advice, get a local (European) cheap handset and SIM, (or even dig out one of your old handsets), if you intend to be around here for while. You can find ones with good roaming deals and then divert your calls to it.

    Remember also, foreigners don't (all) bite....

    B

  5. #5
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    Alternatives to internet cafes, - use local libraries or tourist information centres which often provide internet access free or at a low cost. This reduces exposure to the bad guys.

  6. #6
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    Susan,
    I'm surprised you didn't mention applications like netTALK, Bobsled, and Viber. They essentially give you VOIP capability on your smartphone or even on an iPad or iPod Touch (which surprises people because an iPod Touch is supposed to be an iPhone without the phone). So they work whenever you have WiFi connectivity. Bobsled and netTALK are only useful for outgoing calls, while Viber also allows people to call you. However, those calling you also have to use Viber, so in that way it's like Skype-to-Skype calls. I find netTalk and Bobsled the most useful because you never know when you will have WiFi connectivity, so most of my outside-the-USA calls are outgoing anyway.
    Stu

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    Please note that some countries won't allow outgoing collect, or 800 calls. I am in Yangon, Myanmar and major aggravation when the credit card company says "just call our toll free number". Also WiMax is used here and there is almost no free wifi. Internet service is great at 256k :-) and power outages occur almost daily. Also be aware that electronic devices can be seized at most borders for almost any reason... and even the US border may hold the device for an indeterminate amount of time. As well as demanding your passwords.... Yes, this really happens. Other times I have walked through inspection, they have looked at and examined 3T drives and said "no problem, go on thru". Travel is educational.

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    Having just returned from Europe on a 21 day trip I can add my experience.

    Do not use a US provider for cell and data. They are too expensive. Instead get a SIM (GSM) that works in Europe. You will get a new phone number that works in the country and you can also receive calls from the US when people use the international escape code for the country. Also the number is good for a year so if you return within a year all you need to do is add funds to the SIM. You do need a phone that will work on GSM networks and will take a SIM. This is much easier and cheaper than using your local carrier in the US. Besides, if your local carrier is CDMA (Verizon) your phone will not work internationally anyway. The latest iPhone 5 will take a SIM and will work on GSM and CDMA networks.

    Power converters are not needed as almost all current chargers for phones and tablets will work on US and European voltages. What you will need is a plug adapter. Small and easy to carry. I also bought a dual USB charger so I can charge two devices at a time. Saves having to have two chargers or using one charger for multiple devices. You need to travel as light as possible.

    Forget about public WIFI. Most of if costs money. Use the data option on the phone.

    Coverage is very spotty. Get outside of a large city and you will lose data almost always and possibly phone coverage.

    Get outside of European countries into third world countries and all bets are off.

    One other piece of advice. Get a credit card with a chip on the card. Find one that does not have foreign transaction fees and fraud protection. Using such a card will allow you to purchase train tickets at unattended kiosks.

  9. #9
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    Oh, and one last piece of very important advice. Call your credit card companies and tell them you will be traveling overseas and give them the names of the countries. Failure to do so will be a rude awakening when your cards do not work. VISA is the best card for traveling overseas.

  10. #10
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    @rayt435 - great point. I just got back from South America and did just that before I went.

    I also had an experience flying on the Boeing Dreamliner. First off there 3 version from the airlines I took. Not all Dreamliners have 3-prong outlets. So find out, version 2 which I flew on pretty much everyone had 3-prong outlets in their seats along with USB ports that charge phones. Be advised though, the 3-prong outlets only have enough power to power a small laptop. Pretty much anything over 15" with large power supplies will not recharge because it draws too much power. The flight attendant and I went to several outlets to test and sure enough it would not recharge my laptop. But once on the ground (and up to today) it charges just fine.

    Have a good time in Europe Susan and thanks for your columns!

  11. #11
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    I realize that your statement "Gone are the days when we vacationed without..." was stated in general application but I just want you to know that that is one of the reasons I go on vaction. To get away from technology. Laptop stays home, cell phone (not even a smart one) is turned off (taken on road trips for emergency only), and do not use hotel computers. I will admit that just recently I got a Kindle Fire but it only has WIFI ability and that is only used at home. I got the Kindle Fire for one reason, and that was to read. It now used also to play games, there is some really cool stuff available. Sorry, I'm rambling. I just wanted to let you know that tech-free vacations still exist.

  12. #12
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    Notes for cruising....... The Internet on the ship is very slow and spotty. I hear it works well at 3am. Using your cell on board will cost about $5 per minute, however text messages are fifty cents, and in room calls are $2 a minute (Carnival). So we told everyone to text us and we'd call them. On a trip around South America and to Australia we found several free hot spots in town squares and libraries. We could always find a hotel restaurant or pub with free wifi, sometimes it was difficult to communicate to get a password out of them. Then our other ship mates would flood in and the bandwidth would go to hell......... Have a good trip!

  13. #13
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    Blackberry has the best international options- Blackberry Intl plan adds $20 to your bill a month and gives you basically email for 'free'. BBY use their own servers so its secure too...

    All the rest of the capabilities have the extra costs mentioned in the article. I travelled overseas ONCE with an Android phone and it cost me a fortune...

    Back in Black(berry)

  14. #14
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    Before planning on using Skype on the cruise, please check that it will be allowed. We have been on 2 different cruise lines where Skype was blocked because of the amount of resources it consumes.
    We travel a lot and I found the best way to communicate was to have an unlocked phone and wherever we are I just buy a sim card and a cheap plan or pay as you go plan. In most European and South American countries, the plans are far cheaper that in North America.
    We carry two batteries for our phone so if the phone goes dead, just replace the battery. Same for my tablet. The batteries are small and light. Everything gets recharged at night.

  15. #15
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    I live in the USA.
    I have plenty of U.S. contact phone numbers stored in my cell phone. What I don't understand is what happens if I travel to a foreign country and try to speed-dial one of such numbers? How will the local Telco know that I am trying to dial a U.S. phone number?
    For instance, one of the phone numbers stored is (202) 555-1212. If I speed-dial that number in Europe what do you think will happen?

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