The traveling Mac

I’m doing The Grand Tour of the Baltic region as part of Mac Mania 3.5 and thought that, in search of the kind of tax deductions necessary to subsidize this only-partial boondoggle, I’d pass along a few tips for the computing traveller.

Consider signing up for a web-based email account.

If you intend to send “What I’m doing on my summer vacation” kinds of messages to your nearest and dearest (and those less near and dear who’d you like to make jealous with the tales of your journey) and don’t need to spend much time dealing with your regular email account, think about signing on for a free, web-based email account from an outfit such as Yahoo or Google.

It’s reasonably painless to get on the Web from most places in the world whereas it can be a bit more difficult to send mail from your regular email account while on the road because your ISP’s SMTP server may not see eye to eye with the ISP from which you’re sending mail.

Consider signing up for an SMTP relay service.

If you need to work with your real email account—if you don’t want a Yahoo return address to reveal to the boss that you’re in Copenhagen rather than working at home as you’ve claimed, for example—and your regular email account won’t accept outbound messages, look into getting an SMTP relay service. Services such as DynDNS offer outbound mail services that don’t much care where you send you email from. Note that you may have to muck with the service’s default SMTP port settings. For example, at home I have no problem using port 25 yet in Europe the relay doesn’t work unless I change the port to 2525.

Share and share alike

If you’re traveling with one or more other folks who are also carrying a laptop, purchase a single broadband connection at your place of residence and share it around using Mac OS X’s built-in Internet sharing. Parlay that generosity into sponsored food and drink for the rest of your trip. (“Oh, hey, no bother, I was going to get broadband anyway. Gee that pastry looks good….”)

Use a photo service

One of the great advantages of traveling with a computer and a digital camera in Internet-savvy regions is that you can bore the pants off your friends and family with pictures of your excursion in nearly real-time. But don’t burn up those connect minutes by emailing one batch of photos to Aunt Vilma and another to Cousin Jo-Jo. When you’ve accumulated enough pictures to induce the kind of soporific reaction you’re after, upload them to a photo service such as Flickr or use the photo features of your .Mac account and send the link to your victims.

Your laptop is your travel guide

The problem with printed travel guides is that they go out of date minutes after they fall off the press. If you’ve got Internet access there’s no shame in Googling “What to do in Oslo.” In minutes you’ll have the up-to-date lowdown on everything worth doing during your stay.

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