5 ways to make sure your tech can go from U.S. to overseas
Going on vacation, or even moving overseas can be a life-changing experience. And while you're likely thinking of what you're going to see (and eat) some of the most important things to remember to pack are your various devices.
Here are a few ways to make sure that all your mobile handhelds and computers will work while abroad.
Adapters and Converters
Obviously the most important thing when it comes to electronics is making sure they can be charged. Most travelers — myself included — assume they need expensive voltage converters to charge their devices.
In actuality, most laptop computers, tablets, cell phones and camera battery chargers are dual voltage. Of course, not all countries operate on the same standards of voltage and using the wrong voltage to charge your devices could damage them.
However, dual voltage means that they will work on 110 volts (in the U.S. or Canada) and on 220 volts (in Europe and most other parts of the world) and will work with electric frequencies ranging from 50 Hertz to 60 Hertz.
To find out whether your electronic device is dual voltage, you will need to read the tiny note written on the bottom of your device or charger. If your device is dual voltage, you will see something like "Input 100 – 240V, 50 – 60Hz." If your device is indeed dual voltage, you will need a plug adapter to use it, not a voltage converter.
Complicated, yes, but would you rather have useless devices in an unfamiliar place?
Data and calling
Unless your plan permits it, it is often cheaper to pick up a European SIM card to talk, text and browse memes. Some carriers in the U.S. offer, like T-Mobile, plans that allow unlimited text and data abroad, but calling will still cost you $.20/minute.
Getting a European SIM card is not a necessity, however it may make you much more confident navigating in your new surroundings with access to apps like Google Maps or Uber.
Making sure your devices are allowed
Some airlines have been issuing statements that restrict the checking in of smart luggage in recent months — now, it's just as important to check your other devices as well. Here is a useful website to do just that.
If you decide not to get a data plan and are hopping from one Wi-Fi hotspot to the next, it is critical that you consider securing your device against any intruders.
Skeptical? There are browser extensions that can intercept unencrypted cookies from certain websites on any open Wi-Fi network, making it possible to steal login credentials for sites like Facebook and Twitter, or even access your email.
Here is the the US's cybercrime website with great options.
Never leave your devices out in the open — like on the table in a cafe — and be sure to utilize your hotel's lockbox if you will be gone for extended amounts of time.
Exploring the world is an amazing opportunity and having the right devices will definitely help you out. Just take precautions on your next trip and you'll be okay.