Mixing work and travel in Europe

September 16, 2011 / The Online Life / By Kathy Alice

One of the main attractions of the work I do is that I can do it from anywhere. With a laptop and a cell phone and an internet connection I’m work ready and have worked from a variety of locations in California and Texas.

Ein Bier
Courtesy of K Mick – Flickr Creative Common License

Well now I’m taking it to the next level with a 3 week trip to Europe. Oktoberfest in Munich has been on my bucket list forever and now I finally get to experience it next week!

Other than the obvious problem of mixing work with pleasure, there are some challenges in working from Europe.

  • Timezones – Germany is nine hours ahead of California, so this means that my client meetings will need to be at night. Since I will need to meet with a couple of clients during the three weeks I will need to allocate “work” nights during the time I will be there.
  • Connectivity – One of the reasons I picked Europe is because it is a developed country and I should be able to find internet connectivity fairly easily in hotels and WIFI hotspots. I do need to be careful on what I send over unsecured WIFI and may need to invest in a USB broadband card. Similar to the card I have here, there are pay as you go plans in Europe. On my todo list is reconfiguring my mail on my phone and laptop to send over SSL as I have noticed that some of my mail providers block SMTP over unsecured WIFI. Hopefully using SSL will do the trick.
  • Power – Fortunately I won’t need an actual transformer as the laptop’s power is already transformed to a lower voltage, but I do need a adaptor plug. I picked one up at Radio Shack. My cell phone plugs into my laptop to recharge.
  • Phone – This was the most daunting part of planning the trip. At first glance it looked like I would either need to rent a phone when I arrived or try a service here that ships you a phone to take with you. Europe uses a different network (GSM) than the US (CDMA) and although AT&T and T-Mobile phones work on GSM, many of the travel blogs will tell you that Verizon phones won’t. This however is changing, my new Droid does have the capability to work on GSM. I called Verizon to set up a plan and get the magic incantation to activate GSM. The plan is not cheap, it’s $.99 a minute and $.50 to text. However I can receive texts for only $.05. Due to this I may still consider renting a phone, but at least I’ll have a phone that works there. The real killer is data roaming, that can run hundreds of dollars. I plan to keep that that turned off.
  • Phone meetings – At $.99 a minute, this is not a feasible option for hour long (or even half hour) client meetings. Enter Skype. I will be signing up for unlimited calling to US landlines and cell phones for $8 / month. Another alternative is MagicJack but this requires additional equipment to order from them.

I leave in 2 days, we will see how successful I am at mixing travel and work! Stay tuned.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

  1. Great travel tips thanks, guys! We are in the final stages of prep and planning, and although we have booked a few flights, we’re so happy to have kept the plan open-ended as every day someone tweets/blogs about a new experience we want to have!

  2. We went to Italy with our two teens last thanksgiving and this year headed to Ireland! Love traveling!!! We all have the travel bug. Want to build blog into biz so when kids are grown we can live in Europe spots for like a month out of year.

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