Getting Your Email on the Road: Advice From the Travel Experts at Magellan's


For many of us, daily access to Email is akin to our morning cup of coffee - we simply have trouble getting through the day without it. Whether it's a business trip or a vacation, there's a need for access to our Email. No other medium of communication can match Email's speed, convenience, and economy. But how can you stay on top of your Email when you're in Madrid or Osaka, thousands of miles from your office or home computer?


Read below for some of the best advice on the subject from the experts at Magellan's Travel Supplies:

 

Plan ahead
The secret to getting your Email on the road is to arrange everything before leaving home. You basically have three options: remote access to your work Inbox (often located behind a corporate firewall), a POP3 account, or a Free Web-Based Email provider. In most cases, you'll bring along your own laptop. If so, be sure to read our article How to Stay in Love with Your Laptop.

1. Free Web Based Email Providers
Even with the Internet's evolution toward fee-based services there are still countless web sites offering free Email (Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are popular examples). If you wish to avoid these big providers (which are high profile targets for computer hackers), visit FEPG.NET, which lists hundreds of free Email Providers all over the world and details which features are available from each. How can such a useful service be offered free? That's easy: You're forced to look at the ads. But this seems like a small price to pay for getting your Email worldwide

Web based Email is often a terrific choice for all your personal Email and may be used in place of the service offered by your home Internet Service Provider (ISP) (a POP3 account). Web based Email can be accessed from virtually any computer with Internet access (so you can leave the laptop at home and simply use Internet Cafes or your hotel business center), and you don't have to change your Email address if you switch ISPs or careers.

2. POP3 Access
If you wish to directly connect to either your office Email or the Email box provided by your personal ISP, you need to connect via POP3 (POP means Post Office Protocol). Connecting via POP3 is sometimes problematic. You must know your Email account information, which consists of three parts: your ISP's host name (i.e. mail.ispname.net), your username, and your password. You also need an Email client. Email client is just a fancy name for the software used to read and write Email (such as Eudora or Outlook Express) and often comes free with your computer. You also need to know if your ISP or company restricts POP3 access from the general Internet to their mail server for security reasons. Often, POP3 access is limited. It may work fine when connected from home but disallow access when using a different Internet connection. Contact your ISP or corporate IT Department for POP3 setup procedures.

3. Connecting to Your Company Email System

While you cannot beat the price of the free Email services, many business travelers prefer accessing their Email via full-featured Email software such as Microsoft Outlook. Depending on the size of your company, you may have the ability to connect directly to your company's Email system. Contact your company's IT department to see if they have any of the following:


Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN allows you to connect to your company's network via the Internet. This requires you to bring your own laptop configured ahead of time with the correct VPN software. You simply logon to the Internet, start the VPN software and enter your password, creating a secure connection to your company's computer system. Once connected you have Email access and perhaps even access to documents stored on the corporate network.

Web-Based Email Client
If your company does not offer full VPN access, they may offer a slimmed down web-based Email access. This is similar to Free Web-based Email service but connects you directly with your own company's Email server using a Web browser software such as Internet Explorer. While you do not get full access to your corporate network, you often have complete access to your Inbox, Calendar, Contacts and such in your company's Email System. Typically, this does not require any special software, so it can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer. You connect your browser to a website such as http://webmail.yourcompanyname.com, enter your account name and password and you have a browser version of your Email. Like the VPN, any activity (Emails sent, appointments entered, contact information modified, etc.) is synchronized with your desktop system upon your return.

Inbox Forwarding

For smaller and less-sophisticated companies without a VPN or Web-Based Email Client, you may be able to automatically forward your Email to a Free Web-Based Email service. Then simply logon to your Free Web-Based Email to read. Depending on your system, you may have to leave your desktop computer turned on with the Email software running to forward the Email--a distinct security risk if someone has physical access to your computer. With other systems, the message forwarding is handled by the Email server so you need not leave your computer turned on.

Accessing The Internet to Get Your Email

No matter where you are, you will require access to the Internet to get your Email.

Local Access Number
Connecting is easy if you have a laptop computer and your ISP offers a large network of local connection numbers, as do AOL, MSN and Earthlink in the United States. If you travel often you may wish to set up an account with one of these providers simply for use while traveling. Or, consider setting up an account for a short period of time and then close it once your trip is done. Finally, you may choose an alliance of Internet Service Providers, such as IPass (www.ipass.com), which has local access numbers in some 150 countries.

Hotel Connections
Many hotels are adding high-speed Internet access. The prices may run $10-$15 per day (perhaps you can add it to your expense account?). Call ahead to see if your hotel has this access. To use high-speed access, your laptop must be equipped with a Network Interface Card (often called a NIC), as it is not compatible with a standard Modem connection. If your laptop is not equipped with a NIC, they are fairly inexpensive, readily available and easily installable. If your hotel does not offer high-speed access, ask if their phones have a data port for your modem. Traveling internationally? Be sure you have the correct phone and plug adaptors. Europe alone has about 30 different telephone jack connections. Before connecting via modem, check out your hotel's telephone access fees--often a hidden profit center. An hour local call may be as little as fifty cents or hundreds of dollars.


For more information about hotel connections see Magellan's article How to Stay in Love with Your Laptop. For detailed, country-specific information regarding voltage, and electrical and telephone socket patterns, visit http://www.magellans.com, click on "Shop by Destination".

No computer?
Even if you're on the road without a laptop, you're not up a creek without a paddle. There are many places to log on.

Most public libraries have free web access although the hours of operation are often limited. Cybercafes are popping up all over the world. Along with food and coffee, these java joints serve up computers with Internet connections at an hourly rate. To locate cybercafes, use the Cybercafe Search Engine (www.cybercafe.com), which lists more than 4,000 cafes in 140 countries. Before you leave home, look at the Web sites of cybercafes at your destination for directions, hours, and prices. After you arrive, you can also ask at your hotel or local computer store about nearby cybercafes.

Many hotels offer a Business Center for faxing, copies, and document printing. They often have computers available at an hourly rate. If yours does not offer a Business Center, check out the hotel across the street. You don't have to let on that you are not a guest.

There are also Internet kiosks at most major airports, from New York to Singapore. Other possible access points include public libraries, Kinkos, and Mail Boxes Etc. For a list of available public kiosks, visit Laptoplane (www.laptoplane.com).

 

About Magellan's

Since 1989, Magellan's has been the world's most trusted source of travel supplies. Their current catalog is available FREE by calling (800) 962-4943, or by visiting Magellan's on-line at http://www.magellans.com. Magellan’s is staffed by trained Travel Gear Specialists, ready to answer questions on everything related to travel. All Magellan's products are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

Source: Magellan's Travel Supplies

Comment

Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".