Internet Access for your Laptop when Traveling

Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)
Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)

Check out on my book on Vacation Packing - based on 30 years experience


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

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!

Further Reading

About the Author

Thanks for reading - this is Lis from Lis's Travel Tips an eBook series that I decided to write after being less than impressed by travel tips available in "real" published books.

I have travel writing all over the web - but I decided to start publishing some of it in a different format - hence my new eBook available at Amazon (see below) and elsewhere. Check out my Vacation Packing Tips website

Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)
Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)

Vacation Packing - but as you've never done it before - read it you'll be impressed - I was - but I may be biased!


Comments 21 comments

Tottie profile image

Tottie 9 years ago from Australia , or China, or South Korea.

Great information Lissie - I didn't know about that site for Aussie "hotspots" - not that I need it, but I can share the info with friends. Many, many thanks.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Glad to be of help!

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Thanks for that Lizzie, We are travelling from R/ham WA to Bendigo and wanted to hook up from time to time to upload hubpages of course..ha ha. I know it is a holiday but I would still like to keep up a bit. Thanks my laptop does have wireless although I still think I still have to have a external card for it. to do that

Good hub

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Oh your're doing the big trip east - I expect photos you know! If you get one of those Telstra GPRS thingys which is supposed to work where there is NextG - You don't need me to tell you how likely that is in the middle of the Nullabor! Are you staying at caravan parks - check out big4 toptourist, familyparks websites - they will tell you if they have wireless !

Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 9 years ago

Good one Lissie. i found the last time I was in the UK it was very difficult to find free wifi spots.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Yeah its not easy in Australia either - how is it in France - better/worse?

Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 9 years ago

Terrible, but there are now a few very expensive places along the coast and in Paris - out in the sticks, forget it.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Its easy to forget on the internet that the US has some of the best/cheapest web access in the world - and the rest of us seem not to be able to catch up for some reason

LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 9 years ago from Southern California

Hi Lissie,

Great info for the traveler who can't live without their laptop and Internet access. Boy, have we become dependent on this technology or what?

And yes, I am talking about ME! LOL

When I went to London about a year ago, I had my phone with blue-tooth capability, and so I hooked up to the Internet by using my phone as my modem, via blue-tooth.

I use this on occasion when absolutely desperate. It is pretty slow. But checking email, etc... it is good enough. So as long as you have your blue-tooth phone and your laptop, you are good to connect anytime and anywhere you can get service. On the beach, at the park and even while traveling in your car.

I recently got myself an iphone. Whoopee! It is awesome, as it is all in one. Great Internet access right on the phone itself. Yeah, my last phone was Internet capable, but NOT anything like the iphone. It Rocks!

Most of the time now, I am perfectly satisfied to just have my iphone along with me, and that takes care of most of my needs.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Interesting info tDMg - one of the downsides of living in Australia and NZ is that the technology is not really keeping up - I don't think iPhone is released in Australia and the cost of GPRS (using your cellphone for broadband) is prohibitive for anyone who is actually pay their own bills!

Aywren profile image

Aywren 9 years ago from USA

Interesting infrormation on the laptop troubles in hot spots. I've had my share of wireless issues when travelling with my laptop to various hotels. Nothing irks me more than paying $10 for internet that drops every five minutes.

I've also found that running laptops with Windows Vista causes a LOT more issues with low-signals from routers than XP did. I guess you could say that about a lot of Vista functions... but to stay on the topic at hand. Yes. So Vista and latptop travelling might cause even more difficulties as well. :/

Thanks for the hotspot websites!

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Aywren - I didn't know that about Vista making low-signals more tricky - can't say I'm surprised though!

Caregiver-007 profile image

Caregiver-007 9 years ago from Florida

Another extremely helpful travel hub. Thanks, Lissie. I just put an ethernet cable in my laptop bag. Had trouble at the last hotel with internet connectivity, even though all rooms were supposed to be wireless. Nice resource for Australia, too. Most of my travel has been Caribbean or Europe, so I'm keying on those right now. Do you have experience or unique tips for other European countries, too?

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

I Eurailed Europe but found no internet access - it was 1989 though! ROTFL Even the last time I went to Spain in 2000 internet was really a big deal, and I wasn't looking. Hoping to get to Eastern Europe next year !

batty12345 profile image

batty12345 7 years ago from UK

I'm going on a Mediterranean cruise this summer, and I'm taking my laptop with me. I've been wondering what the situation is regarding wi fi while you're out at sea?

I'm pretty certain the Med is not that big and I know that it is surrounded by countries on all sides, so I wonder if I will be able to get shore based access?

I guess I'll just have to wait and see, but it will be a big disappointment if there's no wi fi access at all.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

Ah you absolutely will not get shore-based WIFI - the med is a sea not a lake! There is probaby some ship-board system but they will need to use a satellite connection so it won't be cheap! In fact if its one of the older ships there probably won't even be that! Take the laptop as a notebook ie for wriiting on or leave it a home and have a holiday!

glassrailing 7 years ago

thanks for that link to free wi fi spots in US.. is there one for Canada too?

gramsmith profile image

gramsmith 7 years ago

Thanks for your nice article..........

Jason 5 years ago

You can just tether your smart phone these days and do not have to look for wifi hotspots. Tether apps such as offered by TetherBridge ( allows you to get internet to your laptop via the phone without paying carriers outrageous tether fees. They allow you to simply share your phone's data plan.

Gerri 5 years ago

My daughter is in Australia and has wireless internet at the house she is living in, but when she tries to connect to the internet it will not allow her to and she disconnects everyone else in the house when she tries. But strangely enough she can access Skype on the computer, so she is connected just can't get to web pages, facebook, etc. Any suggestions.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

Call her ISP? Its just a technical problem!

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