Most people do not have a laptop computer that they can use while traveling. For most of those who do, it is their business computer and not the one they normally use to access their personal email.
Often, a business computer is configured specifically for that business’ network and it uses sophisticated programs to ensure secure access via regular phone lines or other Internet connections. Virtual Private Network (VPN) software can create a private network between two computers, even if they are on opposite sides of the Earth.
However, the VPN software can block you from normal, fun web surfing or email while you are traveling. If access is not prevented by the system, you should still consider whether it is "career-wise" to surf the web and do personal emails with your office’s computer. If you are connecting via the office’s VPN, even when travelling, you should expect that every site you visit is logged and possibly monitored.
If you have a personal laptop, you need some type of dialup connection through which you can access the Internet. If you use AOL dialup or any standard dialup ISP from your laptop, before you leave home, check with your ISP to find out the local access numbers for their system. They may also have an "800 number" that you can use, although it is not usually free — you pay via your ISP account.
If you don’t have a laptop, there are some alternatives you can consider while you are traveling. First of these, if you are visiting family, is to use their computer. You will probably want to restrict this use to some quick checking of your email, though. The next newsletter article specifically addresses remote email access.
Many hotels have a "business center," where you can access the Internet via one of their computers. This may be free or may have an additional charge, depending upon the hotel. Some coffee shops are set up as Internet cafés, although many times this means that they provide wireless access to customers. A few actually have computers you can use. If there is a Kinko’s in the area, they usually have computers by the hour. The local library may allow access, although this could be restricted to local residents.