Nine tips for staying in touch on your travels.
Bank holidays, long weekends, half term breaks… We all love holidays. But if you're staying away from home, that means you probably won't have access to your trusty computer – or an internet connection.
There’s no need to panic. With a dongle and laptop, or if you’re lucky, a tablet, you're sorted. In fact, considering that our new dongles are up to 40% faster than before, you’re double-sorted. And as the stresses and strains of everyday life start to melt away, you'll also be able to fit in a bit of online shopping, email-checking and gaming.
You can stay in touch with your friends back home, make travel plans and book activities near where you’re staying. You won’t even need to worry about bringing the right cables or plugging in to an internet socket because a Mobile Broadband connection is wireless.
So whether you're staying in a remote country cottage or visiting relatives back home, taking your laptop and Mobile Broadband connection with you can make the difference between a fun-filled break and a lonely trip to the depths of nowhere. And if you're travelling to one of our selected destinations with our Feel At Home service you can use your UK plan allowance or an Add-on allowance to browse the web abroad - at no extra cost as long as you stay within your allowance. If you use all of your available data allowance, you'll benefit from lower-than usual roaming rates in these destinations.
1. Make sure your laptop's all charged up.
Just like you'd check the oil in your car and make sure the tyres are pumped up before a long journey, give your laptop the once over before you set out. If you get lost on the way, you might end up getting it out at a service station to find directions! Make sure it's fully charged, and find all the cables you'll need to connect your camera, iPod and phone to it.
2. Pick up a neat laptop bag for your travels.
Don't worry about losing all your bits and bobs – keep them safe in a snazzy laptop bag. It'll offer some padding to protect your laptop, plus with plenty of storage pockets for everything from your dongle and wires to spare batteries and a phone charger, you'll always know where to find your essentials.
3. Check your allowances.
Worried about how much of your data allowance you've got left this month? You can check your Mobile Broadband data allowance and top-up using your My3 account online. It's a good idea to do this before you go, to make sure you're well prepared.
4. Check your mobile broadband device is compatible with the network frequencies you will
be roaming on abroad.
Not all mobile networks work on the same frequencies that we use in the UK (and your dongle or mobile wifi device is set up for). While this isn’t a problem if you are staying within Europe or heading to Australia, for example, if you are heading to the USA, your dongle or mobile wifi device won’t be able to connect to a local network we’re afraid. If you’re taking a tablet away with you to the USA though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
5. Make sure you've got enough data for holiday fun.
Check your Mobile Broadband connection will let you do whatever you want to during your holiday. If you're on Pay As You Go and you're planning on using your dongle more than usual, it's worth topping up before you leave. A Pay As You Go Top-up gives you a fixed bundle of data (1GB, 3GB or 7GB). Then you can watch videos and stream music without worrying that your data's going to run out any second.
6. Get bookmarking.
It might sound old fashioned, but we really recommend bookmarking all your favourite online shopping sites, travel and weather pages before you go, so you can access them quickly when it matters. Then you’ll be one step ahead if black clouds start to loom before a day out, or be able to buy a long-awaited film the day it launches on DVD.
7. Share your memories.
Don't forget to pack your camera, memory card and USB cable. You don’t need to wait till you get home to see and share your photos. Wherever you are, you can use your Mobile Broadband connection to upload them to a photo sharing website like Flickr, Photobox or even Facebook. Then you can email the link to friends and relatives – who needs postcards?
8. Relax with online games.
Give yourself something to do during the dark evenings or treat yourself to some lie-ins and self-indulgent gaming. If your laptop's not powerful enough to play the same games you play on your desktop computer, try some of the free games you can get online – like Farmville and Bejeweled.
9. And if it all kicks off back in the office...
You could have your butler pour you another Sex on the Beach and pretend you're not reachable. But if you've got a business to keep running, it's also handy to be able to catch up on a bit of work when you're out of the office. And even though you can stay in the loop with a smartphone, it's easier to look at Word or Excel documents on the bigger screen of a laptop or tablet.
And that concludes our list of top tips for a well-connected and relaxing break that won’t have you tearing your hair out. Be sure to remember your laptop and dongle or MiFi and all will be well.