The editors of TabletPCReview travel quite a bit, either visiting our various extended families, going on business trips, or vacationing around the world. Tablets always come with us, and so we have advice for making traveling easier by using the best tablet accessories.
When at home or office, some of us carry our tablets without any kind of case. They are aware that this is something of a risk, but they don’t like the extra bulk. What’s the point of taking a slim and light model like the Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) and then making it chunky with a case?
The rest of us always keep our tablet or 2-in-1 i a case of some kind. And all agree that some kind of protection is necessary once we go out the door. We always use some kind of case for this device when we’re on the move, whether it’s across town or across the U.S.
Exactly what form that protection takes depends on how far one is going. For trips lasting just a few hours, we recommend some kind of hard case. We’re writers, so we prefer ones that have keyboards built into them (more on this later), but others might go a different way, like something from the the OtterBox uniVERSE Case System.
For extended trips, we suggest a bag of some kind, as that gives room for all the accessories needed, plus some other non-tablet items, too.
Don’t automatically assume that a bag designed for laptops is the best option, as these are ridiculously too big for many tablets. A gear.bag we like is the Think Tank My 2nd Brain 13, as it’s been designed for 12- to 13-inch tablets and 2-in-1s we typically use. There are other good bags out there, just be sure it’s the right size for your device, and has a pocket or two for some additional gear.
Charging Cable and Charger
Whether traveling for work or fun, any trip that takes longer than a day means that your tablet is going to need to be recharged, which is why the case you use needs at least one extra pocket.
Those who go on the road infrequently can just carry the charger and cable that came with their device. However, anyone who travels more than five or six times a year is strongly recommend to buy a second charger and cable set and keep it permanently in your tablet bag. 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. Anyone who doesn’t will likely end up paying about $30 for a $12 replacement 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 we’ve listed so far is the absolute minimum needed to travel regularly with a tablet. But there are some extra accessories that can make 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 so much additional productivity it’s still something frequent travelers should consider. But this is such a big topic we wrote an entire article about deciding whether to get an external keyboard.
Anyone ready to turn your tablet into a two-in-one should start by checking out the various models from Brydge, as well as Logitech or ZAGG. And don’t forget about keyboards offered by computer makers for their own tablets, Apple and Microsoft. For more options, we wrote an article listing the best tablet keyboards.
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 AUKEY PB-T11 30,000 mAh Battery or the Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL.
Those of you who have tablets with built-in microSD card slots should get a good-sized card/drive (64 GB, 128 GB, or even 400 GB) 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 left out in the cold, as both Lexar and Leef make external microSD card readers for Apple tablets and phones.
If your Android or Windows device has a micro-USB port, you can get a flash drive designed for it, like the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo or the Strontium On-The-Go USB 3.0 Flash-Drive.
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.
We external storage options like these, you can keep dozens of movies and TV shows as well as ebooks on cards, and never be at a loss for something to keep yourself entertained when 30,000 feet over Kansas, and all without taking up the precious storage space built into your tablet.
Finding Wi-Fi access for your tablet when you’re away from your home or office can be something of a challenge, which is why we 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. We 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.
You might also consider carrying a tiny power strip (maybe 2 inches long) for those times you need to share one of the rare plugs in airports. Most of you might consider this overkill, however.