If you've ever looked at all of the different
adapters necessary just to get across Europe,
you'll understand just how crucial, and confusing,
traveling with the correct adapters can be.
At the bottom of this page, we've included links
to several suppliers where you can research
and buy just about anything you'll need.
On just about every trip you take, you'll need
the following: a long telephone cord, a modular
telephone adapter, and a plug that provides
two - and three-prong adapters. Add to these
three items a 3-to-1 power plug (for plugging
in a printer and/or external modem along with
your computer), and you'll be covered in most
Here's where it gets tricky. First, you need
to consider international differences in voltage;
then you need to deal with the different sizes
and shapes of the plugs. Almost every country
has one or more adapters that may be unique
to it, or that it shares with a few close neighbors.
If you're traveling far and wide, you'll need
a veritable motherlode of adapters, plugs, phone
jacks, attachments, and the like.
You'll need an adapter for the ubiquitous 220-volt
current. It turns out that the USA and Canada,
which use 110-volt current, are the odd countries
out in this realm; most of the rest of the world
runs 220 volts.
Non-Standard Phone Jacks
The familiar, US Standard phone jack is RJ11.
It's becoming ever more of an international
standard, and if it's available, you're set
if you simply have a phone cord and jack in
your computer. If not, good luck finding an
adapter at the local hardware store. There are
about 25-30 countries that still haven't converted
to the RJ11, and then there are the hotels that
have phones that are wired directly into the
wall with no jack connection. In these cases,
you'll want an acoustic coupler to allow handset
to handset connections, and a patch cord kit.
Dial tones can vary from country to country,
and your modem may not recognize the tone at
your new destination. You can get around this
by adding a command to your modem setup string
telling it to ignore the dial tone.
You have a surge protection electrical strip
on your desktop computer; you should have the
same for your portable. In countries where electrical
delivery is less reliable, this is all the more
important. You'll need one for whichever voltage
you'll be using; surge protectors for 110 and
220 volt currents are not interchangeable.
Modems are designed to connect to analog telephone
lines, like the ones in your home. Some telephones
installed in businesses and hotels are digital.
Because the jacks are identical, you may not
be able to tell the difference. Many digital
lines carry too much current for modems; so
if you plug in your modem to one, you may ruin
the circuits. With a modem protector, you can
avoid this risk.
If you frequently need to work from a location
with digital phone lines, you can buy a digital
phone adapter for about $125.
No matter how careful you are carrying your
computer around, it's going to take a few hits
while you scurry around airports, hop in and
out of airport shuttle buses, pile stuff into
overhead bins, fall asleep slumped over your
work on the plane. A sturdy, padded carrying
case can save you a lot of aggravation and even
You'll be doing most of your work in the hotel,
right? Think you won't need it? Guess again.
A second battery is an obligatory traveling
companion; get one now.
In the Air
Most major airlines now provide access to GTE
Airfones, to which you can connect while in
the air. This is great in an emergency, or if
you need to quickly check your e-mail; but don't
plan on using it as a primary means to get your
work done. In addition to the fact the connections
are slow, calls on domestic flights cost about
$15, for only a few minutes online.
A cellular data connection can save you much
hassle, if you're willing to pay the price.
Hooking up to a cellular connection may also
require additional hardware. Never assume that
your modem will be compatible with your cellular
phone; many are not. The best bet is to buy
a cellular-ready modem; and get a cellular phone
with a built-in data connection.