We are going on a cruise to Europe in October and I want to take my laptop
with me to use in the airport and I suspect I can use it on the plane and on
the ship to communicate back home, though I am not sure as I am not a traveler.
I don’t even know if I can use my cell phone in Europe, as I’ve never gone
before. I also know that my battery will only work for about 2 hrs. and then
will have to be plugged in somewhere to be able to use it and not sure there
are places to do that anywhere but on the ship.
It’s been a while since I’ve gone abroad, and at that time both travel, and
connectivity, was provided courtesy of my employer. It’s a good work if you can
get it, but not an option for everyone.
There are two major issues that need to be thought of before you head out.
Let’s review them…
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Power: your laptop probably came with an external power
supply that you connect to periodically to recharge the battery. The “problem”,
so to speak, is that electricity in Europe is typically provided at 240volts
50hz instead of the 120volts 60hz that we’re used to in North America.
The great news here is that your power supply probably doesn’t care. Most
are now labeled with something along the lines of “Input: 100-240V – 50-60Hz”
meaning that they’ll take pretty much anything between 100 and 240 volts (and
50 to 60 hz) and “do the right thing.”
The only “gotcha” is that power plugs differ in different regions overseas.
So you’ll want to take with you a plug adapter for the various locales you’ll
be visiting (not a transformer, it’s not needed for this). They’re
typically small, and very cheap. You can get them at an airport, but probably
they’ll be cheaper if you get them on-line or beforehand.
it to be unlikely that it will work as a modem – even if it does at home”
Connectivity: this is perhaps the bigger issue. We’re
frequently spoiled in North America because many of our ISPs are either
nation-wide, or support some kind of limited dial-up access even when we’re
away from home. However they rarely support overseas connections directly.
Certainly it’s worth asking your home ISP if they have any solutions for those
who travel – perhaps a partnership with an overseas ISP.
On top of that, if your cellphone works as a phone (providers that
support “GSM”, the international standard for cellular, may, others will not),
I’d expect it to be unlikely that it will work as a modem – even if it does at
home. If you do already use your cell phone as a modem with any regularity, I
would definitely check with your cellular provider to see what they might have
to offer. My biggest concern here is that if they do offer something for overseas travel, it may
well be fairly expensive.
If your laptop is wireless-enabled, then finding internet hotspots and
connecting therein might be the most practical. I don’t know how common “free”
WiFi hotspots are across the globe, but even pay-as-you-go solutions might turn
out to be fairly economical, in the long run. Airports also frequently have
them – some free, some not. Naturally, whenever using any wireless hotspot, be
sure to be very aware of the security risks, and take the appropriate steps to
Of course it’s quite possible that once you’re in Europe, your hotels may
provide internet access – either free or paid. If you know where you’ll be
staying, it’d make sense to check out the hotel’s web site before you go.
The same applies to your cruise ship. Ask your travel agent or the cruise
line directly what forms of internet access they might provide while you’re at
sea. One warning, though: cruise ship internet can often be both pricey and
The one place I can pretty much guarantee you won’t have connectivity is in
the air. While you’ll be able to use your laptop, there are no provisions
widely available for letting you connect to the internet while you’re flying.
It’s coming, but it’s still a ways away.
As I said, it’s been a while since I’ve traveled overseas, and the landscape
changes often. Perhaps readers will have more suggestions posted in the
comments to this article.
And enjoy your trip! Color me jealous :-).