If you have access to a computer while traveling, you have several ways of backing up your photos and sharing them using the Internet. You can send them by e-mail, upload them to your own personal Web space, or deposit your images in a public gallery for viewing by anyone who has access to that Web space and has been given the right password if you choose to protect your photos from the general public (or vice versa).
Even if you have a broadband connection while you travel, your recipients might not have such access, so it's a good idea to reduce the size of your photos before you send them. Some digital cameras have an e-mail option that can create an alternate image file that uses less resolution or more compression. Use these squeezed versions instead of your full-resolution photos. Your friends and family will thank you for it. If your camera doesn't offer that option, consider shooting a few pictures at a lower resolution as you travel, specifically for e-mailing.
You can also post your photos on a website, and then e-mail a hot link that can be clicked to take the recipient directly to your photos at their Internet location.
Using Your Own Web Space
You might actually have your own Web space where photos can be stored and shared and not even know it. Your ISP may provide a certain amount of space. For example, America Online offers several megabytes of space per screen name. Visit your ISP's Web page to see if free storage is provided. Bundled with the space might even be online tools to help you set up your own pages and galleries. You can also purchase your own Web storage space from a hosting service, which is a good idea if you want to use your own domain name, such as www.myfinephotos. com. Domain registration can cost less than $10 a year, and hosting services can cost $10 or less per month. Once you're set up, all you need to do is upload the photos to your Web space (many hosting services have a web-based upload page you can access so you don't need a special program to upload your pictures). Then distribute the URLs of the photos. If you want to get fancier and have more time to spend with a PC during your trip, you can prepare actual Web pages.
Using a Sharing System
You can find an online photo sharing service that costs little or nothing at Flickr (www.flickr.com). You can also use commercial enterprises that give you free photo sharing because they want to sell you prints or T-shirts and coffee mugs with your photos on them. These include Snapfish (www.snapfish.com), and Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com).
Other options include services that offer more sophisticated galleries and less emphasis on the coffee mugs. They might still be free, but will force you to look at ads while you browse through images. To find these types of services, try searching Google for Online Galleries.
If you're willing to pay something to store and display your pictures, you might be even better off with services like those provided by SmugMug (www.smugmug.com) and PBase (www.pbase.com). For a reasonable fee, you get photo sharing without the annoyances that totally free services are saddled with.
SmugMug offers three levels of service, all with unlimited storage space. Your options include Standard, Power User, and Pro. As of the book's writing, you could get Standard services for less than $40 a year, which allows you to track visits to your gallery, password-protect your images, organize your photos by keyword tags, and convert your images to prints and gifts. The Power User service lets you add video clips, choose your own colors and fonts for your gallery, and allows much higher levels of traffic to your gallery, just in case you become hugely popular. The Pro level galleries let you sell your prints through SmugMug and even make a profit from your work.