One of the best travel purchases I have made is an unlocked high-speed USB 3G modem. It allows me to get broadband-speed internet access for the duration of each trip abroad for a per-trip price comparable to one night of internet access at a hotel, using a locally-purchased pre-paid data SIM at each destination.
The modem I bought is a Zoom 3G Tri-Band USB Modem (that’s the UK link, looks like it’s also available in the US), and so far I have used it successfully with SIM cards for TIM Italy, Mobistar Belgium and 3 UK. In each case I inserted the SIM, selected the network provider from the software and it worked instantly, usually at the 7Mb HSDPA speeds. There’s simple and easy Windows and Mac software pre-loaded on the stick – I’ve not tried it with the EeePC and Ubuntu yet, I’d be interested to hear from people about their experiences. The SIM card I bought today from Mobistar in Belgium was €15 and gave me 275Mb of bandwidth to use over the next month – more than enough for broadband everywhere at FOSDEM.
Until we see the regulators sort out Europe’s mobile market and get rid of the ridiculous avaricious feudalism that blights us, this is a great solution for reducing the cost of getting online everywhere and I recommend it.
Update: As you’ll see from the comments, I also use this with a Zoom Travel Router (also available from Amazon in the US). I just plug the USB stick into the router (which is battery powered as well as working with a power supply) and it provides WiFi to multiple devices. It also allows you to connect to a wired ethernet and provides WiFi acces the same way Apple’s Airport Express does.