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How Well Does Traveling with an iPad Work?

iPad Screen Shot

To no one’s surprise, Apple’s recent announcement of the iPhone 5 came with much fanfare. While it may have brought some answers, it no doubt stirred more questions for Apple, including questions about what people can expect in the near future for the iPad. One of the main questions that always arises is about whether the iPad can replace one’s personal computer. While it isn’t there yet, there are ways consumers can better utilize their iPads when traveling so they don’t have to lug around both their laptop and tablet every time they travel.

By and large, the iPad is primarily for consuming content, rather than producing content. If your primary purpose when traveling is reading and sending emails, checking Facebook and Twitter, and reading books and magazines, then leave that laptop behind on your next trip. The iPad can also be practical for taking, editing, and uploading photos and videos, thanks to apps like iMovie and FX Photo Studio HD. However, when uploading multimedia from your camera, remember that it doesn’t have a USB outlet. For $29, invest in the iPad Camera Connection Kit, which can upload photos via your camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card.

It’s once you get to things like word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and blog posts that traveling exclusively with an iPad can get tricky. But as you’ve certainly come to expect, there’s an app for that. With the limited space and storage capabilities of the iPad, familiarize yourself with an online storage app like Box or Dropbox, which you can easily open and save documents with.

If you’re a Microsoft Office user, download CloudOn, which brings apps like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to your tablet and links to your Google Drive, Box, and DropBox accounts. For the Apple purist, there’s the iWork suite of tools, which are available for $9.99 each. A productivity app I recommend is Evernote, which is a note-taking app that links all of your devices. For bloggers, there’s Blogsy, which works with several of the major blogging clients. With this type of content production, you’ll probably want to invest in a keyboard, some of which are part of a combination cover/case.

Last is the point of connection. All iPads come equipped with WiFi, which may not be enough if you’re traveling for business and need continued connectivity. Keep in mind that many apps require connectivity in order to work. Some iPads are equipped with 3G, which require a monthly plan. However, this can get costly if you travel abroad frequently, which will require you to add an international data plan or buy a prepaid SIM card.  

Since this question of the feasibility of traveling with an iPad can differ for everyone, I don’t recommend taking off for your next two-week trip with only your iPad. Take your iPad on a shorter trip to test it out or consider taking both your iPad and laptop, while seeing how much you can use your iPad without resorting back to your personal computer.