How to Travel Like Tech Royalty
Alternatively, you can bring a power extender with you, such as ones made by IGo Charge Anywhere (below) and those from Targus. These are basically like batteries into which you can plug a notebook and maybe one or two other devices. You charge the block by plugging it into a standard wall outlet; extenders typically come with adapters for use in automobile and airline charging ports as well.
Extenders can power a wide variety of products: You simply swap out the tip of the charging cable for one that supports your device. Of course, you have to make sure to buy the right tips for the devices you own.
Automotive adapters for your smartphone and/or laptop are invaluable aids if you plan to be driving around a lot. Fortunately, these seem to be standardized around the globe, so you don't need different ones for different countries. If you use a lot of devices that charge via USB cables, you could also buy a car charger with multiple USB ports. Or, if you have several devices that each have their own automobile car charger, you can get a charger that has multiple car charger ports. Magnadyne even sells a car charger that has two USB ports and two automotive ports.
Get Online Anywhere
High-speed Internet access has become fairly ubiquitous in hotels, and not just major chains. You can usually check online to see if an establishment offers Internet access, but your research shouldn't stop there. Find out if the service is via Wi-Fi or ethernet, and whether it's included with the room charge or costs extra (some places charge $10 to $20 a day).
If you're traveling with a companion, you might also find out whether there's any problem with two people from the same room using Wi-Fi. And if you're stuck with a wired connection, you can probably share it with others by using a travel router to create a hot spot. Several vendors offer small, compact routers that support 802.11g; Trendnet's TEW-654TR (about $50) is one of the first to back the faster 802.11n standard.
Wi-Fi isn't always available where you need it, however. Today's 3G and, depending on your location, 4G cell phone data networks offer much better coverage, and a mobile broadband Wi-Fi router lets you (and several friends or colleagues) tap into them with any Wi-Fi device. Novatel Wireless's MiFi routers are barely larger than a credit card; currently you can get one for $100 with a Verizon Wireless data plan, or $150 for use with Virgin Mobile's pay-as-you go service.
You can also get unlocked MiFi models for use with GSM networks. The latter cost $230, and you have to make your own arrangements for data plans and SIM cards. Unfortunately, you can't use the same MiFi router in both North America and Europe--each continent's 3G (HSPA) networks operate on different frequencies, so Novatel Wireless has different models for Europe and for North America.
Sprint, meanwhile, has a Sierra Wireless broadband modem that supports both its 3G and 4G services, and several of its new 4G smartphones can also double as hotspots, although using them for that purpose may cut battery life more than you'd like.
A company called Cradlepoint makes a Wi-Fi router that's meant for use with any activated USB Wi-Fi modem. However, not all modems work with the device, so check to see if yours is on the supported list.
If you're a fairly infrequent solo traveler, you might want to investigate pay-as-you-go mobile broadband options such as the aforementioned Virgin Mobile offering. In Europe, Vodafone offers inexpensive USB modems that you can use on Vodafone networks in most countries on a pay-as-you-go basis. The pay-as-you-go service, however, typically runs about $15 to $20 a day and often has bandwidth usage caps.
That isn't cheap, but international roaming with a smartphone can be incredibly expensive. If you do want to use a GSM-based smartphone overseas, look into prepaid international roaming plans. AT&T sells them in various sizes, from $25 for 20MB to $200 for 200MB. Without a plan, you pay $0.0195 per kilobyte, which comes to $19.50 for a single megabyte.
Check the Hotel's Business Center
Hotels love to attract business travelers, and more and more of them offer well-equipped business centers as bait. Many let you use computers and printers for free, or for a nominal charge. For Internet junkies, using a business center computer lacks the appeal of being able to fire up a laptop in the comfort of your room. However, if you just want to write a few e-mail messages without having to use a tiny smartphone keyboard, then a computer in the business center or the lobby can be a godsend. Some hotels also have lobby stations that you can use to check in to a flight and print out a boarding pass.
But be cautious in using a public PC. Try to find a machine that reboots and cleans up between guests; you don't want your accounts hacked because you left login information or cookies behind. Ask a manager about security if you're in doubt.