Advice needed for travelling overseas with MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by iAussie, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. iAussie macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    G'day everyone,

    I was hoping to get some advice and hear people's experiences of traveling overseas with their MacBook, I'm going to Europe in a couple of weeks and plan on taking my BlackBook with me (mainly to store all my photos on and access the net). After reading some other similar threads on here, there are still a few other things I'm not sure about and I'd appreciate some advice...

    1) I'll be using SuperDuper! to backup my MacBook hard-drive before I leave home, but my budget isn't going to stretch far enough to buy a portable HDD for backups while I'm gone. I was thinking of just taking some blank DVDs with me to back up my photos to as I go, would that be the best idea?

    2) Can anyone recommend a good cable-lock-thing for the MacBook? The Kensington ones on the Apple Store website seem to have somewhat negative reviews. Anyone here actually used one? I'm thinking a combination lock might be a better idea than one that uses a key, cause I'd hate to loose the key! Also, would you recommend I keep my MB with me in my backpack all the time, or should I leave it in the hotel room? Are there likely to be places in Europe that won't let me take a backpack in (like art galleries)?

    3) I've never used a public WiFi hotspot before, but from what I've read, I could access the net at places like Starbucks etc. Is that likely to be free (with a purchase of course), or does it cost extra? Also, I assume their networks aren't encrypted/secured? I'm wondering how secure it would be to access things like internet banking using my MacBook and WiFi. If I'm browsing a secure site, does it matter whether the WiFi network is secure or not?

    4) Finally, is there anything I've forgotten? I've got travel insurance that covers my MacBook, and I've bought the Apple Travel Adaptor Kit (on sale for half price in a department store here :cool:)

    Thanks in advance for your input (and thanks for reading to the end!)
  2. koobcamuk macrumors 68040


    Oct 23, 2006
    1) Just take an SD card or compact flash card that's large enough to hold all the photos. When you upload, leave them on. It's better than doing DVDs.

    2) Kensington. I think they're great.

    3) Wifi hotspots, in the UK at least, are rarely free, even with a purchase. You usually have to buy some airtime. :(

    4) Can't think of anything... got a good safe case for lugging it around?

    Enjoy yourself! Where you headed?
  3. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    Thanks for the quick reply koobcamuk

    I'll be gone for about 6 weeks, and I tend to get a bit snap-happy, so I'm anticipating running out of space fairly quickly :(

    Glad to hear a happy customer, I was leaning towards one of their combination locks. Which particular model do you have?

    I suspected that would probably be the case, I would only want to use it maybe once a week just to check for any important emails, so that shouldn't cost too much :rolleyes:

    I've got a Crumpler backpack, which is both comfy and hopefully doesn't scream "laptop". Not the cheapest bag around, but the quality it well worth it, even for a penny-pincher like me! I'll be in the UK for about 3 weeks, while the other 3 weeks will be a bit of a whirlwind tour through France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany. Gonna be a bit colder than an Australian summer here!
  4. backstage macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2007
    I've been living in France for the last few months and doing lots of I'll try and answer a few questions:

    Almost without exception, you will pay for WiFi access it in a hotel, at a cafe or elsewhere. A few exceptions - McDonalds in France tends to have free WiFi and you'll occasionally stumble onto a cafe with free access (we found one in Vienna but it had the oddest hours we never got to take advantage).

    As for the actual laptop and bringing it place, you'll have to go with your gut. Most of the places we've stayed, we've left it in the hotel room and felt comfortable.
  5. DerHexer macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2007
    I wouldn't recommened the kensington locks...

    About Free Wifi:
    In germany it is depending on where you go. Most of the Hotspots are owned by t-system/t-com which charge for the use of the wlan (the ones at McDonalds are from t-com too). But there are also some bars where you get free wifi. It depends on the town.
  6. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    Wow, thanks for that. Don't think I'll be buying one of those models... the ones with a number combination wouldnt have that problem but, would they? Obviously any of these locks can be broken one way or another, but it would still be an effective deterrent, at least against the opportunistic thief.
  7. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Locks are only as good as what you attach them to. And a determined thief with a set of wirecutters will get through it - it's the opportunists that you'll stop. On the good news front, most hotels have in-room safes that should fit a Macbook. I have on occasion, asked them to hold it at the front desk in their safe, if it wasn't quite big enough for a 15" PB.

    Most galleries aren't too fussy about backpacks depending on exactly how big it is. I'm pretty sure that I carried a day sack into the Vatican galleries for example without any problems.

    Wifi access from most of the big chains (McD's excepted), you'll pay for. There are a few smaller coffee shops and pubs that offer free wifi with a purchase - you just need to to find them! There are a few places that will offer short subscriptions and allow roaming which might seem pricey initially but if it's your sole access, then might not be so bad.

    Online banking from a hotspot isn't recommended. Your traffic to the router is unencrypted even if the website is. There are a few websites around on how to create a secure connection on OS X and a little app whose name escapes me currently.

    And yeah, DVDs are probably the best bet. You can always mail them home too so that there's less risk of them going missing should your luggage get nicked.
  8. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    Thanks, I'll have a bit of a look around the net, but I guess it would just be easier to play it safe and not worry about trying to access net banking while I'm away. I don't really see myself using my MacBook too much while I'm away (it is a holiday after all), its just nice to know what I should and shouldn't do on the occasions that I am using it.

    Cheers to everyone else for their suggestions too, keep 'em coming!
  9. iAussie thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    Something else I thought of, would it be a good idea to take my OSX install discs with me? Or just leave them at home?
  10. archi penko macrumors member

    archi penko

    Nov 6, 2007
    you should check out: The Cloud. its an internet wi-fi service for the UK with a cool name too. service seems reasonable. plans to make london the biggest wi-fi hotspot in the worrrrld.

    you should check out this article, if you're up for it, "Secure your internet connection at Starbucks"

  11. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2006
    New Zealand
    I would bring them with you, if it's not too much of a hassle for you. I never quite figured out why, but after about the first week of using foreign Internet I started developing odd problems on my iBook - it probably had nothing to do with Telcom, but either way my computer had become so gunked up that I had to do a reinstall just to get it up and running again (which I had to do because of the volume of pictures I was taking).

    I have come across one or two free wifi spots, but getting a seat in the cafe is usually your biggest challenge in a place like that. I get free wifi at Starbucks in New Zealand but only because I have an account with them. You can expect to pay up to US$10 an hour for Internet access on the road, unfortunately.

    I basically used Flickr Pro as my backup, just uploaded and deleted as I went. But I had two 1GB memory cards on my camera so I never actually came close to filling them up anyway.
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    With unencrypted WiFi, someone could listen in and find out everything that is transmitted between your computer and the hotspot in both directions. So they can read your MacRumors posts. For internet banking, everything is encrypted by your computer. What your computer and the banks's computer send is already encrypted. It is not encrypted again by the WiFi, so they can see the encrypted data, but they can't break the encryption.

    What you should never do is to use internet banking over a computer at an internet cafe. Anyone could have installed a keylogger on that computer and see anything you type. Only use your own computer for that.
  13. byakuya macrumors 6502a


    Jul 26, 2007
    as for the locks: I own a combination lock made by kensington and use it all the time...while I think these locks can be opened with some expertise they are great if you need to leave your macbook unattended for short breaks (I usually use my lock in the library and lock it to a radiator)

    as far as free w-lan Germany there are quite a few cafés and restaurants that offer free W-lan access (it is becoming popular)

    a good laptop backpack with decent padding might be something you want to consider (alternatively a good sleeve)

    enjoy your travel;)
  14. koobcamuk macrumors 68040


    Oct 23, 2006
    That's it exactly. I own a Kensington as a deterrent. It's not so that I can chain my laptop to the rails outside a shop whilst I wake around, but so that if I do go to the toilet, get a drink, leave it in a hotel at night, that someone has to make a lot more effort than just picking it up and walking away with it.

    I would take a small portable HD with a bootable OSX disk image/use it for backups.
  15. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    When I traveled in Europe I just left the laptop in the room. I guess it depends on where you're staying whether that's an option or not. You could also get one of these:
  16. Lynz24 macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2009
    hi there,

    i have found this post quite helpful, as i am form the uk and will be going traveling with my macbook in spain and portugal. although i will be living in a caravan. i was wondering if anyone knows of any security that i could use in my caravan or if you think it would be safe to lave my macbook in the van during the day? I also have alot of expensive camera equipment in which i will need to take with me.

    I was also wondering where i could get insurance for my mac and cameras which will cover me in europe for lost, damaged and stolen items?

  17. patrixl Suspended

    Jun 19, 2009
    I've used myself.. Never had to make a stolen item claim though, only medical claims.. No trouble there (save for me forgetting some forms)
  18. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...if you're not going to be with it much of the time, I'd recommend a netbook as a low cost option to checking email or an iPod Touch/iPhone...
  19. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    The last two times I visited the Vatican museum in 2005 and 2006, they will not let you take in a laptop. However, they do have a coat check. If you get robbed at the Vatican coat check... well... I was not worried.
  20. jb1280 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2009
    Is this trip for work or pleasure? What are your accommodations like?

    I realize that it's 2009 and not 2000 anymore, but as a student I made many (probably too many) couple week trips abroad without a notebook. Where are you staying at? I'm sure most hotel/hostel lobbies will have a computer you can use to check email, but if you are in Europe for 2 weeks do you really want to spend a bunch of time at WLAN spots?

    Unless it is imperative for work that you take a notebook, I think you'd have a much more enjoyable trip just hopping on the plane with your passport, iPod, digital camera, and a couple SD cards.

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