In my recent article on business travel, I described strategies to strengthen your laptop security and keep your information safe while on the road. Now that youve established a travel-security plan to protect your hardware, software and personal data, you can focus on the best methods to stay connected during trips.
Wi-Fi is likely the easiest way to get online, but finding a Wi-Fi access point, also known as a hot spot, can sometimes be as difficult as securing the last window seat on the plane. Before you leave the office, visit Wififinder.com (www.wififinder.com) to find the closest hot spot to where youll be, or check out Wififreehotspot.com (www.wififreehotspot.com) for a comprehensive list of free access locations, including those at hotels and airports.
In addition to these online tools, there are numerous hardware options to aid in your Wi-Fi search. For example, the Linksys WUSBF54G Wireless-G USB Network Adapter with Wi-Fi Finder is a small tool that combines a wireless scanner with a network adapter. This lets you scan your location for Wi-Fi signals before you even turn on your computer. Once youve found the network you want to join, just plug the Finder into the USB slot on your laptop and you can begin working.
Though many locations, such as coffee shops and community centers, offer free wireless Internet access, many hotels and some airports charge for this service. Be prepared: The fee for your connection may be steep. Some airports may require you to pay a daily rate for the 90 minutes of connect time you want before your flight; others may charge you by the hour. Being frugal, I try to avoid these charges whenever I can by working offline in these locations and then sending my work once Ive reached my destination, making use of fee-based services only when having Internet and e-mail access is an absolute priority.