Holiday travel usually means long lines, car rides, crowds, flights, delays, and a lot of waiting around. The good news is that we live in a day and age where technology is making the dreaded Holiday trip to Grandma Fannie’s that much more bearable, unlike the not so long ago days where all you had to keep you company was a magazine and your imagination. But better than all that, technology is even allowing us to travel much lighter than we ever have in the past.
Take, for example, your simple tablet PC. For around the house purposes, it does its thing – and quite well, in fact. But you never truly realize the full value of a well-equipped tablet until you’ve brought it with you on vacation and it dawns on you just how much lighter that sucker is than packing everything else it’s taking the place of.
All of Your Entertainment on One Device
Anyone who remembers the days of the cassette walkman is probably still trying to get over the convenience of owning a tiny MP3 player capable of carrying the equivalent of about 100 tapes. With a tablet, though, you don’t even have to carry that MP3 player around – just load up your favorite tunes and pack some ear buds, and you’re good to go. Tablets can also come in handy for entertaining travel weary kids with movies or videogames – but of course appreciators are not just limited to those too young to travel on their own.
Loads of Reading Material
Tablets are easily converted to e-readers, and e-readers come in handy while waiting around at airports or trying to kill time during a long flight. You’d have to pack a few extra suitcases to match the number of books you can store in a tablet. If you’re a dedicated reader, your tablet just paid for itself in reduced excess weight.
Unless you’re a professional photographer (or at minimum, semi-pro) you no longer need to pack cameras for your Holiday travels. All you need is a tablet with the capability of recording video and taking snapshots, and that’s one less carry-on you’ve got to try to fit into an overhead compartment the size of a toaster. Bear in mind that not all tablets come with built-in cameras – and not all offer nearly the same quality – so choose wisely.
Not only does a tablet mean you have access to the internet and email anywhere there’s a signal, but you can also turn your tablet into a cell phone simply by installing freeware like Skype. The best part about this is that as long as the other party also has Skype, it’s a free call. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection, and you’re set. You can also talk to people who don’t have Skype by paying for minutes in advance. It may not come at the free long distance rate you’re used to having on your cell phone, but it’s pretty inexpensive. If you’re going to hop on Skype so you can share your travel misery with those not coming along, just remember to pack a pair of ear buds. This will ensure your conversation remains as private as possible. People at airports love nothing more than to eavesdrop on strangers to kill time. I know; I do it myself.
All of these things are indispensible travel necessities that are a major pain to lug around with you. Not to mention, carrying all of that stuff around presents the very real threat of theft. Sure, the sight of a smart new tablet isn’t exactly thief repellant, but when you consider how easily a tablet can be tucked away in comparison to all those excess electronics, it makes you far less of a target.
Bonus Tips and Suggestions
Here are a few added tips and suggestions for the traveling tablet owner to help you make the most of your experience, and to help keep you organized while you travel.
- Look through your app market and check out the innumerable travel apps you can install. Some of the best include flight tracking apps to let you know if you’ll be leaving on time, weather apps to tell you what to expect at your destination, and itinerary apps that store all of your travel information in one place so you don’t lose anything in the mad Holiday travel dash.
- Get a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. For those who loathe having to agree to the terms of service of an airport or hotel’s free Wi-Fi and who don’t want to be hampered by slow group connections, there’s the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. This basically enables you to connect to your own secure Wi-Fi signal, through a device small enough to fit in your pocket that picks up connectivity through 3G and 4G signals. If you’re traveling with a group, you can also share the signal so everyone with a password can join in.
- Invest in a protective case so that if your tablet comes up against the challenges of slick fingers and gravity, you won’t lose your “all of the above” mobile device – and you won’t have to add a replacement tablet to your Christmas wish list next year.