Tablets combine the advantage of a large display while being lightweight and portable which makes them excellent travel companions. Offering a great combination of use, traveling with a tablet will offer much flexibility if you need to perform a wide variety of tasks while on the go.
In this post we will share a few useful tips about traveling with a tablet and hopefully answer some questions you may have. So whether you are looking into buying a tablet or choosing between taking a laptop on the road or a tablet, you can find some nuggets of help in here.
As you can tell by my site, I have always loved traveling. However, sooner or later on any trip you will be faced with a couple of hours with nothing to do.
Whether they are long rides on a seemingly endless road or being stuck in an airport, this is where tablets come into their own.
During my trip around Africa, I only had an iPad with me and it was perfect. With it I wrote my book, I kept in touch with home and I had a whole library full of books to choose from. While I could have done that with my phone, typing on such a small screen is, quite frankly, a pain in the a**e, and reading for long periods of time on a phone tends to hurt my eyes.
If I had a laptop, it would have certainly been easier to type, but it’s not as convenient if you want to watch a video or read a digital book. This is why I see a good tablet as a great travel companion for leisure. While it may not be the best at anything, it is an excellent multipurpose device.
So that’s why I consider a tablet one of my favorite bits of travel gear. So let’s continue with a few quick tips for traveling with a tablet.
Preparation tips for traveling with a tablet
- Always store your tablet in your carry-on luggage. Not only can you then actually get to it, but most airlines do not allow tablets on checked-in luggage due to the lithium battery.
- To save time at airport security, take your tablet out of your bag and place it in a separate bin. If you can do this before they tell you too in the overly aggressive way security checkpoint people like to bark orders, you get bonus points.
- Don’t forget your charger, if you do, they are always about twice the price at the airport. Trust me, I have found out more than once. Be sure to include your USB cable and the AC adapter. Although most airlines offer USB ports for charging, you can’t rely on it.
- A good calendar app can be really useful during your trip. If you have one on your phone, be sure to sync it to your tablet.
- Be sure to adhere to the airline’s regulations regarding the use of electronic devices during the flight. If you don’t plan to be using it during take off and landing and it is stowed in your luggage, be sure to have your tablet in flight mode or turn it off before stowing.
- Have a sturdy case or protector to stop the screen getting broken. My iPad survived 3 months traveling around Africa, but just one ride on a bike in London. The strap to keep my bag on the bike put pressure on the screen in a twisting motion and shattered it. If not protected, the same could easily happen to yours. I’m just glad it wasn’t rural Tanzania when it did, not many tablet screen replacement stores around there.
- Don’t forget to adapt your tablet’s date and time to your destination’s time once you arrive at your destination. You can do this by using GPS to synchronize your device date and time settings automatically. You can also change your Tablets time zone manually from the settings.
Why you should take a tablet traveling with you
As we have covered the basics of taking your tablet on the road, let’s take a closer look at what makes a tablet such a good little travel companion.
It’s your handy travel guide
It happens to everyone. After exploring a new city, and taking in all the majestic sights, you suddenly can’t find your way back to your hotel or Air B’n’B. However, if you use your tablet as a travel guide, you will never get lost!
If your tablet is GPS enabled, you can take advantage of many GPS navigation apps that support offline usage (helps to avoid those pesky roaming charges). There are several apps with loads of features, so just choose one with the features that suit your unique needs.
It’s like traveling with a library
If like me, you love a good book, and you will most likely spend hours stuck in a plane or on the road with pretty much nothing to do, your tablet can be of help. I found this out when I had to wait several hours at the airport for a delayed flight. I tinkered a bit on my tablet, and soon downloaded a much-needed book at the time. Since then, my tablet has become my extensive indispensable library, filled with all my favorite books and language dictionaries, travel guidebooks, and even children’s books and a few travel guides.
You will find many applications from which you can read a wide range of e-book formats on your app store. My personal go to is the Kindle app as there are so many amazing books available on Kindle, and many of the classics are even free!
It’s your portable communications base
I have found my tablet particularly useful for making video calls. I can catch up with my family and friends from anywhere in the world. If necessary, it is also ideal if your trip is interrupted and you need to make some important work-related calls without having to carry around a bulky laptop. In recent times, so many more applications now support video calling, so you do not necessarily have to keep just one.
Keeping up with social media
One major downside of going on a relatively long trip is that you often miss special occasions back home. But, because we live in the technological era of social media, you can use your tablet to keep up with the latest happenings within your social circle. It’s also nice to hop in and out Facebook Twitter and Instagram when you have a little bits of time to kill here and there while waiting for tour busses and the like.
Don’t miss out on your favorite shows
As much as we love the idea of getting away from everything, there’s also something comforting about being able to stay up to date with your favorite TV shows. You can stream and watch British and American Tv shows on your tablet while you travel. Simply download TV network apps onto your tablet, but for a more flexible range, I prefer to download Hulu or Netflix. If your travel destination gets blocked from viewing, you can always change your foreign IP to a U.S.A IP address. You can buy a cheap VPN service to do this. In fact, a VPN is a pretty good idea for keeping your digital life secure on the road, but that’s for another post.
Keeping the kids entertained
If you’ve had to travel with kids, you understand how a bored kid is not someone you want to spend hours on the road with. I have turned to my tablet many times to keep my son entertained and sitting quietly on many long road trips when we go on vacation. With the wide range of children’s books, movies, and games, he doesn’t even realize how long the trip is.
How to choose the right tablet for traveling
There are many things that make a table suitable for traveling, so let’s break it down for you.
It goes without saying that this is a massive factor when it comes to the right tablet to choose. There is a massive range in price with some budget tablets coming in at under $100 and some of the best tablets at over $1000. My best advice would be to go somewhere in the middle, and also consider what kind of traveling you’ll be doing.
If you are backpacking off the beaten path in some adrenaline fueled adventure, a cheaper table that doesn’t matter so much may be better. However, if you are on a city break and maybe blogging about the best cafes in Paris, it may be one that costs a bit more could fit the bill as there is less risk of it being damaged and performance will be an important factor.
If you are thinking of buying a cheap tablet, be sure to read our post on the best tablets under $200. It includes some excellent tablets including the New Amazon Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
This is quite an obvious one, the longer the better. Aim for a minimum of 10 hours so it can handle long journeys.
If you plan to use your tablet for working on the go and performing tasks such as writing or basic photo editing, you would be best advised to go for a slightly larger screen and make sure it has the ability to connect to a Bluetooth keyboard. A standard iPad is 9.7 inches and is ideal. If you will be using it more for social media, reading and watching movies on Netflix, you may find a 7 inch a bit more convenient.
How about a 2 in 1
Going back to the writing, there are some amazing 2 in 1 devices now that are a hybrid of a laptop and a tablet. Products such as the Microsoft Surface Pro series have really nailed this functionality. However, this comes at a price. As they are much more than a simple tablet, expect to be paying a premium.
SIM Card slot
If you plan on traveling with a cell phone that can create internet access via a portable hotspot, this isn’t so important, but getting a table that can connect to mobile data can be a good idea. If you don;t have a domestic phone company with an international data plan, it is possible to buy a local SIM card wherever your travels take you. This means you will be less reliant on finding a wifi hotspot, which is certainly a good idea when traveling off the beaten track.
As your main travel device, there is a good chance you may find yourself backing up photos from your camera to your tablet. As wifi can be a bit sketchy on the road, backing up to a physical device may be necessary in between trips to the cloud. The bigger the hard drive the better. But of course, this has to be balanced with prices as they ones with more storage are understandably more expensive.
Final thoughts on traveling with a tablet
If I am traveling for work, there is a big chance that I need my laptop, so the table becomes a bit pointless as between my phone and laptop, I pretty much have all bases covered.
However, when traveling for leisure, I almost always prioritize my iPad, especially when flying.
I love the flexibility it offers as a device and the portability.
I hope you have found something useful in this post., What do you think? Do you have a favorite travel gadget? I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out.