How do I access my email from a foreign country?
In most countries you can check your email just like you do in the US. If you are using a web mail provider like Gmail or Yahoo, you just have to find an internet connection. Many countries have internet cafes where you can use their computer for the internet by paying an hourly fee. If you are in China or another country where they limit citizen’s access to certain sites on the internet, it might be more difficult to check your email.
If you are traveling with a laptop and want to download your mail, things should still work about the same as in the US. Many internet cafes will let you connect into their network with your laptop for the same hourly fee.
When you are using another computer, be sure to clear all your browser settings. Be especially careful not to let the browser remember your password when you check your mail. If you are using your laptop, it is a good idea to make sure that you check and send email through a secure connection and that you aren’t sending your password as clear text where others can see it by watching the network. Also if your email provider offers SMTP on a port other than 25, you should use the alternate port. That way if some of the providers block port 25 to fight viruses that send spam, you’ll still be able to send messages.
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with some people who were missionaries going into countries where they were not allowed. The wanted to know how to avoid the government viewing their emails. I told them that if they used something like Gmail over the web on their personal computer, they were probably pretty safe. The traffic is encrypted between their laptop and the Google servers in the US. However, they would need to be careful about any unencrypted sites the visit.
Another problem would be using a public computer. Even if the connection to the email service is encrypted, the computer itself could be recording your interactions. If using a standalone mail program (instead of web based email) they would need to make sure that all of their traffic was going over SSL for both sending and receiving.