Travelling without a laptop

Recently, I booked a last minute trip to Northern California for a week. Whenever I travel, I always struggle with what I will want to have on hand while away. I try to travel as light as possible, whenever possible. For this trip, I decided that I was going to start by leaving my laptop behind and only rely on my iPad and iPhone for internet connectivity.

Apple iPad Case

This means that I can potentially take a smaller bag, without the need for a laptop sleeve/slot. I opted to take a small camera kit (my DSLR, a couple of lenses and the iPad connection kit). Using the iPad’s camera kit is great if you’re not taking a ton of photos since your storage is limited to the size of your iPad. I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing so as a backup, I brought along a small portable external hard drive that I could dump my memory cards onto using my friend’s computer where I was visiting. This was also useful to store a bunch of movies for watching during my flights (again, using my friend’s computer to swap videos around on memory cards that then attached to the iPad).

While not ideal, at least this meant I didn’t have to bring more gear. Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily work if you were going somewhere without local computer access but for this trip, it worked just fine.

So what did I miss out on by only bringing the iPad? A few things:

  • software updates – while I was away, there were some updates released for the iPad & iPhone. I couldn’t update them since Apple still doesn’t have over the air updates or syncing without connecting to a real computer. Wouldn’t have really mattered since my iDevices are jailbroken and I wasn’t compelled to undo that for the features that the updates brought anyway, and I wasn’t about to wipe the devices using my friend’s computer either
  • clunky photo file uploads – I regularly use Flickr’s email posting method to post photos from my iPhone. This also works great with my iPad but the preset tags I use on Flickr are meant for iPhone usage so it required me to manually change things around once the photos were posted. As of this writing, there still isn’t an elegant Flickr uploader for the iPad that I’m aware of. There is also no way (that I’ve found) to do any kind of batch organization with Flickr on the iPad as they haven’t updated Flickr to recognize an iPad and its touch interface. I also could have used my friend’s computer or simply waited until I got home to upload any photos/video.

That’s pretty much it…it was a pretty decent way to travel.

I made future trips even easier to decide by selling my laptop recently. I’m going to see if I can ‘get by’ with simply an iPad and my desktop machine at home. Considering I’d rarely used my laptop aside from a few key times (for my work VPN and to give a hands-on software demo – both of which I could likely borrow someone else’s in a pinch), it shouldn’t be a problem.

We’ll see how long that lasts. Do you think you could survive travel without a laptop?


  1. Jen says:

    Depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing. Work trips, obviously not. But trips for pleasure? I’ve long-since stopped taking a laptop along. I’m pretty content to read a magazine or dead-tree book on the plane, and watch their movies.

    I do bring my iPhone, which has been enough in terms of looking up directions, listening to music or podcasts, grabbing email and/or snapping a pic if I need to.

    I’m starting to think more and more that I’d also like an iPad to take along (especially since we’re expecting a wee one who’ll need entertaining when we travel).

    So far the hassle of dragging around a laptop (plus phone and camera) hasn’t been worth the hassle. But an iPad seems like it might be a great travel solution.

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