Tips on Laptop and Cellphone use when Traveling outside the US

Question:
I am traveling outside the US. Will there be any problems with my laptop and cell phone while I am abroad?
Answer?
As long as you have a Wifi connection your laptop will not be a problem. Just make sure you have the correct adapter for the local power plugs, which are available at any local pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreen’s etc (see also here for the required adapter by country). Most modern laptop and phone AC/DC adapters support both 110V and 220V, however check the specifications to make sure.
Managing your cell phone needs abroad can be more tricky. Many international travelers take the easy way out and simply subscribe to their Carrier’s service, such as the Verizon Global Travel Program, however that can be costly. With a little planning ahead you can save a lot of money.
First, you can connect to Wifi in hotels and cafes and use Skype during your visit. I always make sure I have at least $10 credit on my Skype account so that I can call any phone in the world using a WiFi connection. Also, the “Skype to Go” service allows you to use a cell phone from abroad to call the US. The international phone needs to be registered or you have to use a PIN supplied by Skype.

When I travel abroad I carry an old unlocked cell phone and purchase a “pay-as-you-go” SIM card in the country and use that, however that will not allow you to make international phone calls. That is what I use “Skype to Go” for. I also set up Skype Call Forwarding so that I only have to give out one number to my contacts and they can reach me no matter where I am.Bottom line, Skype is a “must have” service for any international traveler.

If you do want to take the easy way out and you subscribe to Verizon and you have an iPhone 4 it will not work in most cases outside the US because of lack of CDMA support. Verizon does have a Global Travel Program (see: http://b2b.vzw.com/international/Global_Travel/index.html) however you would have to upgrade to an iPhone 4s or purchase a second phone with Global carrier support (Here is a list of phones: http://b2b.vzw.com/international/Global_Phone/index.html). Note that international voice and data rates apply, which can be quite expensive (especially the latter).

In any case, as a smart phone user it is recommended you turn off “cellular data” while you are abroad.

Another tip when you are abroad: If your hotel charges for Wifi make sure that they know that you have multiple devices (laptop and phone) that you will be using and insist that they don’t double bill you for each device. Typically they will have to credit your account at checkout for this.