Using Email on the Road
You're going to be on the road for a while, but you still want to keep in touch with your family or friends even when you're on the other side of the country -- or the other side of the world! So what to do?
Finding Web Access
Unless you're an experienced traveller used to lugging around a notebook PC and modem, you're going to have to find some way to get onto the Web at your destination. Be on the lookout for cybercafes, web terminals (many international airports have pay-per-minute terminals you can use to access the web), libraries, friends with internet connections etc. Basically, if you spot a Web connection, grab it - you don't know how long it will be until you find another one!
Other places where you may be able to sneak a few minutes of web access include computer/internet company showrooms (if you ask a salesperson politely, you may be allowed a few minutes use of a display system), high-tech trade shows (again, approach the exhibitor and explain exactly what you want to do) or even universities or colleges. Don't automatically assume you'll be allowed to use a system, but explain your needs carefully (if you're on a trip around the world, that alone makes for a good story!) and thank them even if they can't help you (at which point it doesn't hurt to ask if they can recommend somewhere you CAN get web access).
Use Your Existing Email Mailbox
As long as you have an email account through an Internet Service Provider or you sign up for a free POP mail account, you can easily access your email mailbox from just about any web browser using a Web-based POP mail interface such as Mail2Web. You will need to know your email server name, username and your mailbox password. It's worth writing these down before you set off, and testing the retrieval system from the comfort of your own home as it's much easier to troubleshoot problems before you set out!
Your email server name will most likely be the information after the "@" mark in your email address. For instance, my email server name is emailaddresses.com. Occasionally, your email server will be different from the ending of your email address -- check with your Internet Service Provider or free POP mail provider if you are not sure. Your username will usually be the information before the "@" mark in your email address. For instance, my username is info. Your mailbox password is whatever you specified when you first set up your email address.
BONUS TIP #1: If you want to be able to read the messages in your email mailbox when you get home from your trip, choose to leave them on the server. If you don't need to keep the messages, make sure you select the "Delete from Server" option so that you don't end up with dozens or hundreds of old messages upon your return.
BONUS TIP #2: If you're using a Web-based mail interface to send new messages, you should include your OWN email address in the list of addressees so that you send yourself a copy of each message, otherwise you'll have no record of what you sent!
Sign up for an IMAP Mail Account
IMAP mail services such as FastMail offer the most flexibility while travelling, since they essentially replicate the content of your home mailbox at a remote location. With an IMAP service, you can log into your mailbox using a friend's computer, for example, and find all the same messages you last saw on your home machine!
Sign up for a Free Web-based Email Account
Web-based email accounts are perfect for travellers, since you can log into your account using any web browser, and access and reply to messages. Often, web-based email services will allow you to automatically "pull" the email from one or more existing accounts into their interface, so you may be able to set yourself up with a single mailbox containing all your mail messages.
Remember the URL of this site (www.emailaddresses.com) so that you can find this information while travelling, or print this article before you go!