Try as we might, some of us just can't tear ourselves away from e-mail and Web cruising. If you are one of these folks, you have several options. You can take your laptop and get a local dial-up number (or numbers, if you'll be passing through several locales on your trip) from your Internet service provider; be sure to take along the 800 customer-service number of your ISP. Internet cafes, libraries, airport terminals, and similar public places are all possibilities for finding computers and Internet access.
If it's imperative that you remain connected throughout your trip, you'll want a modem-friendly campground. Consider building your itinerary with this need in mind. More parks are getting wired all the time. ModemFriendly.com offers a directory of modem-friendly campgrounds called Stay Connected. For a fee, you can access an online edition, or you can buy the second edition of the directory on CD. Stay Connected currently lists more than 4,600 parks that are modem-friendly.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has installed Internet-accessible kiosks in locations all over the U.S. and Canada. National and state parks have not been as fast to jump on the e-bandwagon -- partly out of a desire to keep campers focused on the wilderness and not on technology. Call ahead to the park you plan to stay at both to reserve your spot and to find out exactly what you can expect in terms of staying connected. You'll want to inquire about:
- fees for phone-line use (cost for toll-free and local calls)
- how long-distance calls are made
- whether you have instant phone hookups at individual campsites or central modem hookups (often in a laundry or other common area)
- the cost of access
- time limits for calls
If an Internet search and other research does not give you adequate information on RV parks and campgrounds in the area you plan to visit, contact the nearest Chamber of Commerce and ask specifically about places and services in the area that provide e-mail, computer and Internet access to travelers.
Continued on page 3: If All You Need is E-Mail