I travel quite a bit for my job, visiting my extended family, and vacations around the world. At least one tablet always comes with me, and I have advice for making traveling easier by using the best tablet accessories.
When I’m at my home or office I generally carry my tablet without any kind of case. I’m aware that’s something of a risk, but I don’t like the extra bulk. What’s the point of taking a slim and light model like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and then making it chunky with a case?
That ends when I go out the door, however. I always have some kind of extra protection for this device when I’m on the move, whether it’s across town or across the U.S.
Exactly what form that protection takes depends on how far I’m going. I generally use some kind of hard case when I’m just going to be gone a few hours, like the Poetic Clarity. For extended trips I prefer a bag of some kind, as that gives me room for all the accessories I need, plus some other non-tablet items, too.
Don’t use a bag designed for laptops — these are ridiculously too big for most tablets. I carry the Think Tank My 2nd Brain 13, as it’s been designed for 12- to 13-inch tablets like the one I use. There are other good bags out there, just be sure the one you choose is the right size for your device and has a pocket or two for some additional gear.
Charging Cable and Charger
Whenever you go on any trip that takes longer than a day, you’re going to need a way to charge your tablet, which is why the case you use needs at least one extra pocket.
If you go on the road infrequently you can just carry the charger and cable that came with your device. However, if you travel more than five or six times a year, I strongly recommend you buy a second charger and cable set and keep it permanently in your tablet bag. Mini,q2w If you don’t, it’s inevitable that you’re going to forget it at some point and you’ll have to buy a replacement while on your trip. I learned this lesson the hard way, and ended up paying about $30 for a $12 cable in a shop in an airport.
As long as you’re getting a second cable, iPad users should really consider the Just Mobile AluCable LED, which lets you know at a glance if your tablet is fully charged. Android or iOS fans who want a really portable solution can go for the equinux tizi Schlingel.
What I’ve listed so far is the absolute minimum you need if you’re going to travel regularly with a tablet. But there are some extra accessories that can make your life easier.
One of the advantages of tablets is that you can add a keyboard to one and make it into an ultra-light laptop. It adds to the cost and bulk but brings some much additional productivity it’s still something frequent travelers should consider. But this is such a big topic I wrote an entire article about deciding whether to get an external keyboard.
If you’re ready to turn your tablet into a two-in-one, start by checking out the various models from Brydge, as well as Logitech, ZAGG, and Kensington. And don’t forget about keyboards offered by computer makers for their own tablets, Apple and Microsoft.
Most tablets can go a fairly long time on a single charge, but this can be exhausted by a really long trip, like a plane flight from the U.S. to Europe or Asia. When this happens to you, it’s nice to be able to plug in an external battery and give your device some additional hours of use. Look for something like the RAVPower Deluxe 14000mAH External Battery.
Those of you who have tablets with built-in microSD card slots should get a good-sized card/drive (64GB, 128GB, or even 256GB) and store a selection of video on it so you can keep yourself entertained.
If your Android tablet doesn’t have a microSD card slot, you can add one with the Leef Access microSD Reader. And iPad users aren’t;t left out in the cold, as both Lexar and Leef make external microSD card readers for Apple tablets and phones.
Even without a standard USB port, there are quite a few options for adding flash drives to iOS tablets. One of the best is the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, which can be connected to an iPad’s Lightning port or a full-size USB port on a laptop or PC. Additional options are and the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, the Strontium iDrive USB 3.0, and the PhotoFast i-FlashDrive MAX.
I keep dozens of movies and TV shows as well as ebooks on cards, and I’m never at a loss for something to keep me entertained when I’m 30,000 feet over Kansas, and all without taking up the precious storage space built into my tablet.
Getting Internet access for your tablet when you’re away from your home or office can be something of a challenge, which is why I did a separate article on it. One of the options discussed is a cellular-wireless hotspot, a handy piece of gear that can get you your email or on the Web anywhere you can connnect to your wireless telecom’s 3G or 4G data network. I also wrote a whole article on getting 4G access for your tablet.
Tuck a screen cleaning cloth into the bottom of your bag. You’ll be glad you did.
I also carry a tiny power strip (about 2inches long) for those times I need to share one of the rare plugs in airports. Most of you might consider this overkill, however.