Adventure Travel With an iPad


I was recently asked by a client whether it was a good or bad idea to travel with an iPad for her upcoming trip. Of course the iPad and other small tablet computers are great for traveling and are much more convenient than a “bulky” laptop, but what about using an iPad during an adventure travel trip? Is it okay to bring one along to a developing nation? Is it better to just bring along a book?

I was able to answer the question with some authority because I had taken an iPad with me on a trip to climb in the high Atlas mountains in Morocco. My answer was affirmative, it is fine to bring one along. Here are some notes from my travel experience with an iPad.

  • Books: the iPad was great for bringing along a variety of books. I downloaded some free e-books that I wouldn’t have brought otherwise, including John Muir’s Yosemite and A Thousand and One Nights. They were great books, one about the grandeur of nature and one a classic of “oriental” literature. You can also purchase specific chapters of many guide books such as the Lonely Planet.
  • Apps: Apps are great. There are many good travel Apps out there including maps and travel guides; however, most of them require an internet connection. A lot of places, especially anywhere synonymous with “adventure,” don’t have wifi internet (there isn’t a Starbucks on every corner!).
  • Internet: When you do want to check your email or surf the web, having an iPad is great. Most of the airports I visited, including the Marrakesh Menara airport, had free wifi. The only airport without free wifi was in Frankfurt, Germany. Note that some airports in Europe require you to have a cellphone to access the internet and you receive an access code in a text message to your phone. This was the case in Geneva, Switzerland. I also found free wifi in a few Marrakesh cafés.
  • Music and video: it was great to have music and video on long flights and during down time.
  • Photos: with the right adapter you can load your photos and videos from your digital camera right to your iPad. It can be fun to share them with your travel companions or even with your guides. I even composed a few blog posts from the road, but I found it difficult to upload photos. I was able to upload them to a flickr account using an App (but only 5 photos at a time!), and then I had to copy the link of the photo in order to post it on my blog entry.
  • Notes: Notes is one of the built-in Apps on an iPad. I found that it was a great way to keep a trip journal.

There are some considerations:

  • You might need or want to leave your iPad in a bag at a hotel or at the trailhead. I certainly didn’t want the extra weight in my backpack when I climbed the Jbel Toubkal! Make sure you are comfortable leaving it behind or else you should be prepared to carry it in your pack.
  • Power is also an issue. Make sure you bring the correct power adapters for your country of travel!
  • Depending on where you travel you might want to be discrete about your fancy device! Don’t pull it out somewhere you might be a victim of theft.
  • If you need to take the iPad on your trek or tour, consider the potential climate conditions. It would probably be a good idea to invest in a small dry bag in order to protect the tablet from moisture.
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