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Accessing e-mail - your experiences with being "shut out" when in Europe?

Here's my second tech question of the day: we have e-mail addresses using G-Mail, Yahoo and MSN (Outlook) that we will need to access while in Europe. We have complex passwords, but none of us has the 2-step verification in place. We will be accessing our emails through the tablets and phones we normally use at home, while on hotel WiFi.

We hesitate to do the 2-step verification because the second step is usually having a code texted to you and we will not have our usual cell phone with us. It would seem that trying to set up a verification once we have left the U.S. using the international number our new SIM card assigns us is just asking for trouble.

Have had tech friends suggest lots of doo-dads we can carry to address this, but we each have one carry on for 6 weeks/two climates. However, being that our trip IS for 6 weeks, being assured we have access to our inboxes is rather critical.

Have any of you experienced issues with these email hosts when you tried to login from Europe just using your password? Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Posted by
2285 posts

I have never had a problem just logging in using my password. I have gmail and yahoo. Have you heard other people have this issue? Assuming you know your password and don't forget it, I don't know why there would be any trouble. AFAIK, these are global e-mail services, you are able to log in Europe just as at home.

Has anyone had this problem?

Posted by
672 posts

I typically travel to Europe twice a year, usually 5-6 weeks each trip, and have used my Gmail account with hotel WiFi on each trip. I've never had a problem until my last trip when I opened an unknown link in a message. I blame it on being very weary that night, but it was totally my fault and something that could just as well happened at home. I changed my Gmail password, sent a quick warning/apology to contacts, and was back in business. Use normal precautions (unlike what I did) and you should be fine.

Edit - Just realized that your question was about accessing your account while traveling. I've never had a problem with that. You use your password just like at home.

Posted by
41 posts

Actually, Mira, I have, both while in Canada and a few times with Yahoo in the U.S. I am pretty sure that in all cases I was trying to log in using a hotel computer and not a device I had used before, though in Canada it may have been on my phone. Have not been to Europe since, well, before the invention of e-mail!

If you go onto the user forums for these email hosts, you will see lots of people who found they could not log in once they were out of the country. I'm not sure how common that is, which is why I'm asking here if many folks have had issues.

Glad to hear that two of you, so far, have had no problems!

Posted by
15573 posts

Never had a problem, except maybe crappy wi-fi at a hotel. Just go to gmail and log in with your single password.

Posted by
23402 posts

Well I grant you that I am in England and not coming from where you are, but whenever I go to Europe (frequently) my Gmail has worked flawlessly in every country that I have visited.

I only use my password, and I only access the internet on my own devices.

Posted by
5487 posts

Never had a problem access my email in free world Europe. China doesn't like Google and my Chrome browser didn't work in China. (I could access my email using my Firefox browser.).

Posted by
2285 posts

Hmm, interesting. I still say it is highly unlikely, but that doesn't really help you if you are the unlucky one!

One idea:
Yahoo (and I thibk google) has a security question for verification (one of those "what was your high school mascot" type things). Set that up with something you remember. Also, they both let you use alternative emails instead of phone. So if you are locked out of Google, they will email the code to yahoo and vice versa. Won't help if you're out of both, but if it's just one that is being difficult, you're in luck. Just go into your contact settings in both and make sure your info is correct and memorable.

Posted by
1140 posts

One thing that used to come up for me is that if you have a very strong password and you try to use a local computer, like one in the common area or business center of your lodging or in an internet cafe, the keyboard may have a different mapping for special character keys, and will probably have a slightly different set of special characters -- upside-down exclamation points and question marks, for instance. The percent key or dollar sign or some such may be the shift of a different key than on American keyboards, for another instance. In this case things can get complicated and involve ASCII character numbers and it becomes very tricky to just type in your user name and pass word.
So, in the same way that you make sure ahead of time that your ATM pin conforms to European conventions, you should make your passwords strange-character proof if you plan on logging in through European computers.
This shouldn't be a worry if you're using your own devices only.

Posted by
2285 posts

And if you have a very trusted friend or relative at home, maybe you could have gmail/yahoo use their phone number for the code. Then you call them, they tell you the code, and you're on your way.

Posted by
5398 posts

Yes, it seems the main thing to watch out for would be if you know your password by touch type and you have to use someone else's AZERTY keyboard rather than the QWERTY one you're used to.

Yahoo will perhaps send you an email notifying you that "we've received a recent sign-in attempt from an unfamiliar machine in Italy," but if you're the one trying to sign in, you don't have to get back to them.

Posted by
4686 posts

If you aren't using 2-step verification now, there is no point in using it in Europe. I might recommend that for someone using a public/shared computer at a hotel or something. On your own devices, I wouldn't worry about it. Even over public WiFI, Gmail, Yahoo, and MSN (and Facebook) encrypt everything you do over SSL.

I don't think you'll get locked out of your accounts because you are in Europe. Although I usually use my VPN while in Europe for extra security, occasionally I'm unable to connect to my VPN (blocked) and I still have no trouble getting into my Gmail account.

Posted by
2941 posts

I used my gmail account in France, Germany and Switzerland without difficulty.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks, everyone! Very reassuring to read these replies.

Happy Trails!

Posted by
3356 posts

Hi, I had that issue when I stayed one night at a hotel in Paris that had "free" internet. But, the "free" was signing up through some system that required receiving a text or similar. At the next hotel (and at every hotel since), free internet at the hotels has been the same method as USA hotels - no issues.

Posted by
9361 posts

I have never had any problem accessing my regular email the regular way - Yahoo, Gmail, or through websites. Not sure I have even heard of anyone having any trouble.

Posted by
1317 posts

It depends where you are. I have had problems with this before from Ukraine, and also Bulgaria. I got locked out of my gmail and apple accounts for a while and it was actually a pain. Just make sure your backup ways for them to contact you are accessible remotely. By that I mean google gave me a choice of sending a text, or an email to my backup email account (yahoo). So not having my phone, I chose the latter.

Posted by
48 posts

I use MSN and have been locked out of my email account twice by MSN while traveling with my IPad. Once in Portugal and once in New Zealand. It helps if you have another email account such as yahoo so you can contact them via email and make sure that you know all your different passwords to other emails. I couldn't remember some of mine...have written them down at home so I had a very difficult 24 hours going around and around with MSN before they would unlock my email account.

Posted by
2025 posts

My wife has had no trouble with her gmail access on either a laptop or now i-pad that we carry, nor (I know it wasn't asked) a ny problems for us accessing our Comcast on these devices, or for that matter devices of our hosts. Various Europe and Canada locations.Our son had no problem in 2013 using his gmail and his college edu account while spending the semester in St. Petersburg, this on his Apple laptop.

Posted by
20599 posts

I am a little confused about what you are asking or maybe implying. Are you suggesting that you password would be difficult to use with a hotel internet. The internet only has one language. For the last dozen years we have accessed Gmail and other accounts with no problems other than the quality of the internet connection -- sometimes slow and spotty but often robust. We have used the two step validation with Google but it has some limitations. You can print out ten security codes to use if you do not have access to your phone. However, once you have used up the ten it is a problem to get another ten. One year I printed two batches of ten but later learned that the printing of the second ten cancelled the first ten. So now we just kill the two step verification when we travel. Not really sure if it is needed or solves any problems.

If for some reason you are concerned that someone is grabbing your passport when you use a free internet site, then change your passport frequently. The probability of your password being compromised via a hotel internet is fairly remote. Also there are a number of password managers that store and maintain passwords which are nearly impossible to compromise.

So what problem are trying to solve or prevent?

Posted by
233 posts

I've had more trouble with Yahoo and Facebook than Gmail when travelling. (Yahoo must not like Costa Rica--I had to change my password multiple times per day to keep accessing my e-mail there.) And since I don't travel with a cell phone, they can't text me any codes--I just have to make it work. And I have always eventually gotten it to work. I had someone sending e-mails as me after using the free wifi at the Amsterdam airport, so I am leery of airport wifi now, but no problems other than that :) Have a great trip!

Posted by
41 posts

Hi, Frank
The problem has been that a few times in the past I have had email accounts that do not allow me to login when I am traveling. I use my correct password, so I am not sure what has caused the problem. When I started looking at the FAQs for each email host, it appeared this happens to folks with some regularity when they try to login from outside the U.S.

Since we will be gone for a while, I wanted to see if this was a common issue. Happily, most of the replies that have been posted would indicate it is not.

Thanks!

Posted by
4686 posts

If you are really that worried, consider setting up a VPN before you leave. Most people would simply subscribe to a VPN service based in the US (it's also possible to set one up on your home network if you really know what you are doing, then connect to your home VPN from Europe - so Gmail etc. think you are logging in from home). Perhaps you setup VPN login on only one of your devices so in cases where you absolutely cannot connect, you could connect to the VPN on it to login.

Posted by
794 posts

I have had no trouble using my Yahoo account on my own devices (iPhone) when in France, Italy, or Scotland. I did have a problem in April in the Bahamas, trying to use a new device - my mom's laptop. Yahoo needed to send a verification code, and I hadn't updated my account information so it was sending to my former work email address (dumb mistake on my part). Fortunately I was able to work with my sister to get the code sent to her, and then it was fine. So my experience is that if you are using your own devices as you say, you should be in good shape. But just in case, be sure there's a way for a friend or relative to get that confirmation code and send it to you. And have a great trip!

Posted by
30932 posts

Gypsy,

I've had no trouble accessing GMail or my home internet service when travelling in Europe. I've never heard of the verification process you describe, and not sure why this would be required.

Posted by
20599 posts

Still trying to understand the problem or potential problem. I am thinking someone maybe a little confused about the log on process and especially the two step process.

We will be accessing our emails through the tablets and phones we
normally use at home, while on hotel WiFi. We hesitate to do the
2-step verification because the second step is usually having a code
texted to you and we will not have our usual cell phone with us.

The two step verification only comes into play when using a computers that Goggle does not recognize because you have not used that computer in the past. So if you are using your normal tablets, phones, that have logged on previous before, you are fine. The two step process only steps in when using hotel computers or other general access computers. The internet server does not trigger the two step process.

If someone is having problems logging into their email accounts it between them and the email providers. Not the hotel internet. If that is the problem then you need to be talking with your email provider.

when you tried to login from Europe just using your password

What else would you use other than your id and passport??? When you say you have complicated passports I am not sure what you are saying. I have complicated passports - about 16 to 24 characters - and never had any problem.

Just because someone reports a problem, it doesn't mean you will have a problem because you don't know the cause of the other person's problem. And, in the same manner, that fact that I or others have never had a problem doesn't mean that you cannot problem because you might be doing some unusual. We just don't know.

Posted by
1406 posts

I had no problems in Europe, but something to keep in mind is that if you're in a different land and go to "Google" or "Yahoo" you're going to be sent to that country's version of same (google.ch in Switzerland, for example). So that may confuse things a bit. If so, work you way to the US version of the site you want.

Posted by
4684 posts

Terrible problems with Verizon. Way excessive security and lock outs without notification. Furious with their wimpy attitude. This complaint is not about multi-factor authentication, it's about absolute refusal of POP queries from non US IP addresses. Sometimes the browser interface worked, but not always. Shameful performance by a high cost provider.

Posted by
6 posts

I am not super tech-savvy so take this with a grain of salt.

I think the issue is if your email provider can tell that you are logging in from a different location than normal because they can read the IP address of the machine you are using. I had trouble with this while traveling in California (I live in Tennessee). We were in a very remote wilderness area trying to log in via a public computer at a ranch/inn and yahoo flagged my login (even though I had my password correct) as unfamiliar and asked me to input a Captcha code. However, the internet connection was very, very slow, and couldn't load the image for the Captcha code, and I couldn't get logged in (we also had a limited time in which to do this as we were paying for internet by the minute and the business was closing soon. It was our last chance for internet/phone service for 8 days, so we REALLY wanted to be able to let our family know we were okay). I have a secondary account through gmail that I was able to log in to, but even google prompted me to answer my security questions in addition to my regular password.

I don't know know of anything that can be done to prevent this (the VPN idea might be a good one, although it can be difficult to connect to a VPN on a poor/slow internet connection, I think) but just be sure you know all of your passwords and the answers to your security questions! I would think that if you are logging in on your own device with an unfamiliar internet service provider that it would be less of an issue that if you were using a shared public computer, but again, I'm not really knowledgeable about this.

ETA: For both accounts, I received a "we don't recognize the computer you're using" type message so I am confident that was why they prompted the extra layers of security and I believe it could definitely be a problem abroad.

Posted by
11153 posts

In Israel, I had trouble accessing my Verizon e-mail sometimes (not all the time). I found out there was an app for my phone that I could have downloaded at home that might have worked, but I also couldn't download that app in Israel (no idea why; I had not trouble getting it once I returned to the US, so it's on my phone now).

For any other Verizon users, it's the My Fios app, which is not the same as the Fios Mobile app. Fios Mobile is only for the TV portion, while My Fios allows me to see account information (billing, etc) and check my e-mail.

So, my advice is to get the apps for your tablets and phones for your e-mail providers, before you leave home. This will provide an extra way to access them if the regular way doesn't work.

Posted by
17648 posts

The town of Innsbruck has free Wifi (called Wlan, pr. Vay-lan) in the city. I once tried to access it in Innsbruck, near the Hbf. I could get all sorts of websites, like the Austrian Rail website, but Hotmail would not connect. It was not a matter of a password, the system acted like the website did not exist. I guess they didn't want people using it for email. I had to go to a local Internet Cafe to access my email.

Posted by
5398 posts

I see now what you're talking about -- Verizon!! As Tim and Harold mentioned. My former boss is visiting Paris for a couple of weeks and she has had a heck of a time getting into her Verizon email. So much so that they've finally just had their son back in the States check their email daily in case they are getting anything important.

All of these anti-fraud measures seem to be adding up to precluding the actual owner of the account from often being able to log in!!

Posted by
11153 posts

On my trip to Spain (just finished a few days ago), I could not access my Verizon e-mail AT ALL on my netbook. I had no trouble accessing it on my phone, both on roaming 3G and on WiFi. Unfortunately, I wasn't planning for this, so I hadn't set up my phone with all the needed e-mail addresses; I'll fix that for the next trip.