Syd: Mobile Internet in foreign countries and what’s in my travel bag

In my last post, I talked about my strategy for keeping stuff safe on the road. In this post, I’ll write about other things I find useful to have when traveling:
– Getting mobile Internet access in foreign countries
– What’s in my bag

Mobile Internet
When you’re used to using smart phones with apps like Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook and email, you’ll want to find a mobile carrier in the country you’re visiting that has economical mobile Internet. This is also called mobile data, 3G data and a range of other names, but basically, it’s giving you Internet on your mobile phone. You usually never want to do this with the mobile carrier you have at home with roaming turned on. Roaming is when you’re using another mobile carrier your home mobile has negotiated a cross billing arrangement. These agreements are all blindingly expensive and a quick way to ring up a 4 or 5 figure mobile phone bill at the end of a month. What I do is find a mobile carrier in the country I’m visiting and get a prepaid SIM card with data. Simple concept, but a minefield because of the choices.

I’ve found two useful web sites that list options for each country:

Following the information above, I’ve successfully got online for around $10-20 per month, usually with unlimited download limits. I’ve used these carriers with my iPhone4: AT&T goPhone, Orange in France, Telenor in Sweden and 3G in the UK.

Remember, your handset must not be locked to a carrier, so get it unlocked before you leave on your trip.

What’s in my bag
In addition to betting a mobile Internet connection you’ll need some bits and pieces when you’re doing photography on the road. Here’s what I have in my bag for an extended trip:

– SD and CF card readers
– SIM cards
– Backup phone which I put my home mobile carrier’s SIM card so I can keep receiving SMS messages
– USB flash disk for transferring files
– Backup disk
– Permanent marker, lip balm and whistle

– Torches
– Backup disk
– Extra CF cards and card reader
Tamper Tags and cables

– Backup disk 3
– Extra backup phones (when traveling in a group) and chargers
– Lens cleaning pen
– Leatherman, ethernet cable and spare batteries

– Camera battery chargers
– Cable locks
– Ethernet cable and Airport Express wifi basestation. When traveling in a group, it’s easier to have wired Ethernet in hotel rooms connect to your own base station
– TomTom iPhone GPS bracket and a double 12V adapter
– Spare iPhone screen protectors

– A good set of screwdrivers and tools
– Windscreen mounts for cameras and video cams

– Dust blower and brush
– Sensor cleaning loupe, swabs and liquid
– Microfibre cloths

– Plug adapters
– Locking cables for laptop and luggage

And all the bags zipped up.

Have fun!
Syd from overcast Lyon, France.

*Please Read Below*
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