Avoid These Gotchas for International Travel

Leaving on a jet plane? Whether or not you know when you'll be back again, you're no doubt packing electronics and planning to use technology on your trip.

But if this is your first time visiting the country, there are some dangers to consider. Here are three technology related gotchas you should beware of on your next international trip:


Get a power adapter for your locale. When I travel, I bring it all: a phone, music player, laptop, portable juicer... you name it. But that stuff is useless without the right power adapter. And make no mistake: there's no small array of power plug standards around the world. Be sure to carry an adapter for where you're headed, or, better yet, get a universal adapter that works in the majority of places you might go. Kensington, for example, makes an International Travel Plug Adapter for just $20.

Understand your cell phone plan. If you're planning to use your cell phone away from home, make sure your phone will work internationally. AT&T and T-Mobile, for example, sell phones that work across national boundaries. But even if your phone can connect, make sure you know what it's going to cost. iPhone users have been famously nailed with obscene charges because they didn't turn off their data service when roaming internationally.

Know what you can photograph. Whether you're carrying a digital SLR, a point and shoot, or just the camera built into your phone, every country is not as permissive as the US when it comes to taking photos in public places. And it won't always be obvious what you are allowed to photograph and what you can't -- until you find your camera confiscated. So it pays to enquire about photo restrictions ahead of time. In particular, beware of photographing government and military building, as well as some religious structures. Some countries restrict shooting transportation hubs like bridges and border locations. And, in some former Soviet countries, it's still illegal to photograph food lines and examples of civic unrest.

Photo by Hyougushi