I am hoping to go travelling in the next few months. I arent looking to plan much in advance and instead expect to just book hostels and flights/trains a few days in advance via internet cafes. I was just wondering how exactly internet cafes work as I have never used one before. Do you pay per minute internet use or something like that or is it free to use? Is it safe booking hostels and such online at an internet cafe using a debit card? Is there a chance of leaving cards details on the pc or are they often full of spyware etc?
There are a couple of hostels that are providing internet for free, but most of them, and also internetcafés will charge you by the minute. (and some by segments of 15 minutes or half an hour), Some you will pay in advance, and you will see a clock on your screen, counting down to zero.
If you ensure yourself that you close all the programms, there is not a lot that can go wrong. (at least nothing more, than at home)
The biggest 'mistake' that you can make is to lose a lot of time. when checking for a hostel, or the route, you are likely wanting to catch up with the news, your email, maybe use MSN to say hello to a couple of people. Missing some of the sites the city you are staying in has to offer. All I want to say is: don't lose too much time, as traveling-time is precious time.
Why don't you try an internetcafé in your hometown to practice, if it makes you feel better prepared?
Is it safe booking hostels and such online at an internet cafe using a debit card? Is there a chance of leaving cards details on the pc or are they often full of spyware etc?
Most PCs in most internet cafes will be fine to use, but enough of them won't be that I'd highly and strongly advice NEVER to do anything on any public computer that you don't want exposed to anyone with criminal intentions. It's trivial for any previous malicious user to install a keylogger or similar spyware which'd expose your bank account details (and that's if the internet cafe owners don't track this information themselves), and viruses are also quite likely to nestle themselves on those computers.
Reading email on a throwaway webmail account is fine, as is posting on forums or updating a weblog or things like that, but don't go online banking on them. (If you're travelling for so long that you'd need to, either get someone at home to do it for you, or bring a laptop, which you can plug in at the internet cafe. Then at least you'll know nothing malicious has been intentionally installed, and all you need to worry about it keeping the laptop fully patched.)
unfortunately i wont have alaptop or anything with my to use. has anyone any recommendatiosn on booking flight and hotels etc? maybe use a debit card with very little money on?
I would say that spending your time booking hotels online while travelling is a waste of time. If you want to book in advance (which in many places you rarely need to), then pick one out of your guidebook and give them a call. Much easier and quicker than looking things up at an internet cafe.
Internet cafes charge different amounts. The cheapest ones are where u can buy a day or week pass. Of course u can also pay per hour. The most expensive, are the ones, where u put coins or your credit card, into a slot, on the computer.
In many internet cafes, the computers are rebooted, and everything reinstalled, after every user. Spyware does not stand a chance. I think it is safe to book hotels etc, in internet cafes. And anyway the hotels etc u would be booking have secure websites, so no credit card numbers can be stolen, from them.
Mel: 'secure' websites are unfortunately no defense against keyloggers, as they steal the information before it's encrypted and transmitted. (All secure websites do is protect you from snooping across the network; that's important, but only one tiny part of security. I know you mean well, but please don't give people a false sense of security if you don't have the technical expertise to back it up.) They also reside in places on the harddisk where a 'reboot' / cleanup of the user directory wouldn't remove them. (The really nasty ones would reside in the boot sector, and would survive even ghosting the hard disk, not that I've ever seen any internet cafe taking that efficient a security measure yet.)
As Degolasse says, the best way to book hostels is to call them (you can use the internet cafe to look up information about them if you want - just don't entrust your financial information to them).
Also, many hosteling organizations have a free booking service for other hostels of the same organization. (I know YHA definitely has, and I think VIP does too.) Just walk up to reception at your current hostel and ask them to book you a room at your next destination.
For booking flights, go to a cheap travel agency.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 7, 2007, at 5:20 AM by Sander ]
I never heard of it happening, to anybody. Not in Europe, anyway.
People even give their credit card details out, over the phone. They even hand over their credit cards, to shops and restaurants and machines to pay for things.
But I suppose it would be a danger, in places, like Thailand, where I have heard of credit card fraud happening to quite a few people.
A problem I ran into in Egypt when I tried to pay online by credit card: the computer was set up so that it didn't let me use https-sites. :-( I had picked that internet cafe specifically because it was reputed to be respectable, so there was no way I was going to another internet cafe.