Travel Tips

This article provides information on how to travel safely and productively with electronic devices such as cell phones, smart phones, laptops and tablets both in the U.S. and abroad.

Know Before You Go

Phones, computers and email don’t work the same way everywhere. Before traveling, consider the following technology-related issues:

Mobile Devices

Contact our cellular experts for assistance before you go. Let us know where you’re going and we’ll advise you on the best cellular plan to use.


If you have a University cell phone, you most likely have a national plan that allows you to stay connected during domestic travel. Many cell phones are capable of roaming internationally, but you must set up this feature before you can use it. Before traveling internationally, please email with your request to add international roaming to your phone and how long you need international roaming. Your contract will be amended to add this feature, and you'll be given more detail on available plans and their costs.

For assistance while roaming internationally, call 0 + 1 + 916-843-4685 (Password is CHICAGO). You must already have International Dialing on your phone before you contact this group. Visit AT&T's International Calling page, for more information and suggestions when traveling.

Commercial calling cards provide an alternate way of making calls from off campus. See AT&T’s Virtual Prepaid Calling Cards or the calling cards available at the University Bookstore.


Accessing mobile internet while abroad may not be covered by your existing data plan. If you will need to access your email or other online resources on your phone while traveling internationally, consider signing up for a global data plan through your service provider. You can also consult your phone's user manual to learn how to monitor or control your data usage while abroad.

If you have a University smartphone,we recommend that before traveling internationally, email your request to add an international data roaming plan to your phone. You'll be given more detail on available plans and their costs and your contract will be amended to add your selected data feature.

For specific tips on traveling abroad with your iPhone, visit AT&T's iPhone Travel Tips page. If your mobile device has been lost or stolen, you can remove xMail data in that device by following the steps in Security - Remote Data Wipe of Mobile Devices Using xMail.

Your Computer Connection

Most business buildings and hotels in the United States provide some form of internet connection; however, it is always best to call ahead. Before traveling internationally we strongly recommend contacting any and all hotels, residences, or places of business where you will need an internet connection to ensure that you will have service.

Accessing UChicago Resources

Most UChicago resources you will need to access are available by simply visiting the site. However, if you need to use restricted fileshares or other more protected resources you will need to connect your computer to the University Network using the Virtual Private Network (VPN). Don't forget to set up and test your VPN before you leave. See our VPN - FAQs for more information.


You can access xMail via the web at

Accessing the Wireless Network via Eduroam

Eduroam (“education roaming”) is a free and secure global wireless access service for the Research & Education sector. It’s currently available at about 3,500 institutions worldwide. Faculty, students, and staff of the University of Chicago will be able to use their CNetID to log in to wireless when visiting universities and research institutions that participate in eduroam. Conversely, visitors to Hyde Park from an organization that participates in eduroam will be able to log in to wireless at the University of Chicago using the credentials provided to them by their home institution.

When you are visiting an eduroam-enabled campus or conference, your wireless device will detect the presence of eduroam and automatically log you in using your UChicago credentials. Follow these instructions to set up your wireless via the configuration tool. You will then be able to test eduroam on our campus by rearranging the order of the wireless networks.

Restrictions on Encryption Software

Transporting a computer that has encryption software installed is subject to a number of controls. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury both have rules designed to control the movement of encryption technology out of the United States. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the Department of the Treasury accept applications for licenses to export encryption products and technologies. The Departments of Defense, Justice and State also have the right to review license applications. The review can take about 90 days and in some cases longer.

Encryption is controlled or restricted in many countries. Some countries ban, or severely regulate, the import, export or use of this technology as it is treated the same as munitions or weapons. Taking your laptop with encryption software to certain countries could lead to your imprisonment or cause your laptop to be confiscated. If you are not able to meet the import or export requirements, you should remove the encryption software. It may be safer to remove the software and all sensitive data from your laptop or mobile device than to risk violating compliance requirements in these countries.

If you need assistance with this, the University Research Administration maintains resources to help. Please see the "International Travel" section here:

Countries with encryption import and use restrictions

Note: This is a partial list. Check the U.S. State Department website before traveling to verify that the information is still current.

  • Burma (you must apply for a license)
  • Belarus (import and export of cryptography is restricted; you must apply for a license from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the State Centre for Information Security or the State Security Agency before entry)
  • China (you must apply for a permit from the Beijing Office of State Encryption Administrative Bureau)
  • Hungary (import controls)
  • Iran (strict domestic controls)
  • Israel (personal-use exemption – must present the password when requested to prove the encrypted data is personal)
  • Morocco (stringent import, export and domestic controls enacted)
  • Russia (you must apply for a license)
  • Saudi Arabia (encryption is generally banned)
  • Tunisia (import of cryptography is restricted)
  • Ukraine (stringent import, export and domestic controls)

Security Tips

Before Traveling with Your Laptop or Other Electronic Device:

Consider bringing a "clean" device that contains only the data and programs you plan to use while traveling. If your device is lost, stolen, or confiscated, you will be in far better shape than if your personal device was lost.

The following are some helpful tips to ensure your device doesn't pick up any travelers of its own:

  • Back up your data and leave a copy of your files in a safe and secure location such as your office or a departmental fileshare.
  • Password-protect, encrypt, or remove all student, personal, and proprietary information stored on your device.
  • Ensure that your operating system has a strong password or passphrase when it boots up.
  • Turn off file-sharing and print-sharing.
  • Make sure your system's patches are up to date.
  • Ensure that anti-virus, anti-spyware, and personal firewall software is installed on your laptop.
  • Install the University Virtual Private Network (VPN) client on your laptop so that you can securely access University resources - visit
  • You may want to purchase a tracking application for your laptop in case it is lost or stolen.

While Traveling:

  • Do not leave your device unattended.
  • Do not expect privacy. Certain countries have policies or legal environments that allow them to record everything and anything, from cellular calls to internet traffic.
  • Use "free" wireless with suspicion. Assume it could be configured with weak security or someone else using it could be watching your traffic.
  • If you need to access important data at home, cloud services like UChicago Box or Google Drive may help. Do not download any data unless you absolutely must.

For additional tips for protecting your laptop, see Security Tools - Protecting Your Laptop.

Before connecting to a wireless network, take these steps to protect your data:

  • Never enter credit card, bank account, or other sensitive information over an insecure network. Log into The VPN gives you an added layer of protection by encrypting your your data as it travels over the network.
  • Hackers can easily "sniff" and read your email if your email provider does not use an encrypted connection. xMail is always encrypted, but for any site you visit make sure to check for the lock icon before entering a password or other personal information. If the site is secure, Firefox displays a lock icon firefoxlock in the Location Bar and in the Status Bar and Internet Explorer displays a lock icon ielock in the Status Bar.

If you decide to use a public machine (e.g., hotel lobby computer, library, or internet cafe),you should avoid entering sensitive information and make sure to use encrypted sites. Be sure to log out of any sites that you accessed, and remember to fully exit any browser. You may also want to clear your browser history. If you are at all suspicious of the security of the computer you are using, we strongly suggest that you change any passwords you entered the next time you are at a secure machine.


International travelers should consider power needs for electronic devices while abroad. Each country has specific electrical systems and sockets that may differ from those in the United States. Travelers can safely charge a range of equipment while out of the country with accessories such as a socket adapter for plugs and power converter/transformer. Make sure you check power requirements for devices before you leave.


Other Items to Consider: Passport Photos and International Identity Cards

If you need passport photos for visa application or other documents where a picture ID is required, they are available at the Identity & Privileges Office in the lobby of the Regenstein Library. Passport photographs are 2" X 2" color prints.

International travelers should also consider obtaining an International Student ID Cards (ISIC) or International Teacher ID Cards (ITIC) from the Identity & Privileges Office before departure. Benefits of the International Student Identity Card include:

  • International recognition
  • Insurance
  • 24-Hour Traveler's Assistance Hotline
  • Low-cost Airfares
  • Discounts in the U.S. and abroad

Keywords:mobile, devices, vpn, uchicago, resources, connection, power, encryption, software, eduroam   Doc ID:16284
Owner:Rosa M.Group:University of Chicago
Created:2010-12-11 19:00 CDTUpdated:2017-06-19 06:41 CDT
Sites:University of Chicago, University of Chicago - Sandbox
Feedback:  4   1