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Smartphones, Tablets, or Laptops: What’s Best for Travelers?

On the chief Tuesday of the month, Dave Dean from Too Many Adapters is in this place giving you great tips and advice on travel tech and gear. Here is his file this month.

“Should I draw a laptop, tablet or smartphone?” It’s a theme of inquiry I’m often asked – and according to good reason. There are pros and cons to either device and, with overlapping features, picking the united that’s right can be confusing.

There are a lot of issues to judge about with each device – bulk, weight, costs, insurance, and security. Striking the honest balance between them all isn’t natural, but it is possible. As a tech guy, I carry a lot of devices (and a hap of chargers) but for those not obsessed by every new device on the market, you only need one device. You absence to keep it simple on the roadstead. Here are the pros and cons of carrying a smartphone, laptop, or slab with you on the road in the manner that well as product suggestions!


There are profusion of reasons to take a smartphone in a line on your trip – in fact, for travelers who aren’t grievous to work from the road, it could be the only device they need. While excellently best at anything, smartphones are sparkish for many tasks that used to enjoin separate gadgets. When you’re tiresome to reduce space, weight and require to be paid, that’s a big interest.


They take the place of multiple devices. There’s no longer a need to pack a part flashlight, map, calculator, music player or affright clock.

It’s easy to go connected when you need to, exactly if you’re not using cell data. Cafes, airports and train stations usually wish wi-fi available, and in plenteous of the world there’s always a McDonalds or Starbucks nearby granting that you want bad burgers and coffee by your Facebook.

There are hundreds of serviceable travel apps out there that be offline. App such that do circulation conversion, translation tools, help with navigation, are govern books, itinerary trackers and more have power to help make your travels easier.


The biggest learn by heartver is battery life — it’s fine to find a smartphone that pleasure last more than a day of perpendicular use. Long flights, bus rides and days of exploring often result in a dead phone in front of you get to your accommodation. With everyone otherwise in your dorm room also wanted to charge their gadgets each night, even finding a power socket isn’t eternally easy.

Although phones are getting larger, a 5″ hide isn’t ideal for banquet – books and movies aren’t such great on a small screen.

Websites outside of mobile-friendly versions also get annoying extremely quickly.

Typing on phones is gay for updating your Facebook status or sending a lively message, but you’ll end up frustrated if you’re hoping to work much more.

If you are looking against a simple, cheap, and basic type, a phone may be for you. If you aren’t planning using your wile for work, don’t reflection a small screen, or need plenteous, a phone may be for you. For longer form instrument, you can always use Internet cafes!

I personally sustain a Google Nexus 5, which is a transcendental-end phone without the high-close price tag. Other than better battery life, I wouldn’t modify anything about it. The camera takes favorable shots, even in low light. It’s singularly fast, with video and the principally demanding apps running flawlessly. I wanted a phone that would take three years of abuse on the road without needing some upgrade, and so far, it handle like I’ve found it. The Nexus costs $399 with regard to the unlocked 32GB version.


Tablet computers bear only been around for a few years, but ever since the iPad came out they’ve been to a high degree popular. They offer a larger protect and better battery life but are else expensive and take up a fate more room.


While you won’t consider standard calling or texts, tools like Google Voice, WhatsApp and Skype can be a good replacement if your internet despatch is fast enough. All of the apps toil as well or better than without ceasing a phone, and the larger cover makes many tasks a little easier.

Battery life is usually longer than a smartphone, especially whereas in flight mode or just using wi-fi. If your troche does have a cellular data option, you’re in luck in that place too – tablets usually have an unlocked SIM card slot. Pick up a local, data-only SIM and you’re interest to go.


Size is each issue. Even the smaller 7-8″ versions won’t indeed fit in your pocket unless you’re wearing a broad jacket. They’re also heavier than smartphones, especially whether or not you have a full-size pocket memorandum-book.

Taking photos with tablets is, perfectly frankly, a horrible idea. Their greatness and bulk make them hard to grasp steady, and that’s preceding the cover starts flapping around. Screens are toilsome to see in direct sunlight, and ago it’s rare for the vulgar to use durable cases with tablets, it’s complaisant to damage or drown them. Plus, give leave to’s face it, you lo pretty silly doing it.

While the screens are bigger, the apps and input are usually exactly the identical as a smartphone. That means typing is compose slower than using a proper keyboard, and software options with respect to doing real work are limited. While you have power to use a Bluetooth keyboard to urge up your typing, that’s even now another piece of technology to buy, power and carry round.


For those looking to achieve more with their device, especially watch a catalogue of movies, a tablet is a sort easier on the eyes. When it comes to tablets, I praise the Google Nexus 7. It’s weak and light, reliable and surprisingly puissant. At $229 or $269 (depending adhering storage space) for the wi-fi versions, it’s too great value. I’ve been using sap for around a year now, and am surpassingly happy with it. If you indeed must have an Apple device, opt because the iPad Mini. It’s again convenient to carry around than it’s bigger brother.


It wasn’t in like manner long ago that if you wanted to realize online when you traveled, your solitary choice was to carry a laptop or declare a verdict a dusty Internet caf. Those days are tedious gone now, of course – so are in that place still reasons to pack a laptop at quite?


The biggest advantage of a laptop is versatility. There’s software to be enough pretty much anything a traveler could necessity, and websites always work best forward a computer. Storage space is finely an issue, and it’s pliant to backup photos from a separate camera (or phone, for that substance.)

Laptops are much more powerful than a single one tablet or phone, and combined with the larger screen and proper keyboard, acquirement things done will be faster and easier. That’s in greater numbers time enjoying happy hour, less time in assurance of a screen.

Hybrid tablet/laptops are comely more common which, if you bribe a good one, gives the most excellent of both worlds without carrying hold apart devices.

If you work from the course, a laptop of some sort is the principally sensible choice. Anything else will close up costing you far more in time and bringing to nought than you ever save in load down and cost.


Weight. While laptops are getting lighter all the time, you’re ever not going to be slipping it in your suffer as you head out the means of access. Add in the weight of the charger, and you’ll definitely be looking for excuses to leave it in your dorm or tavern room when you can.

Price. The excellence tag can be substantial — depending on what you need, expect to pay anything from $500 to $2000 or other. Carrying a gadget that valuable guarantees extreme worry about theft or damage, and journey insurance typically either won’t contain the full cost or will direct an extra premium to do so.

They’re fragile. The final thing you want to do is least bit your computer.

They are expensive to assurance and replace.

They have a piece of land of power – you won’t exercise. Laptops are great for travelers running some online business but your every set time traveler rarely needs all the solid drive space, computing power, and apps.


If you’re running an online business, a laptop is a fustiness.  If your budget runs to $1000-$1500, it’s with difficult to go past the Macbook Air. Slim, lightweight, with good battery life and flash storage with a view to extra speed and durability, Macbooks moreover come with good warranty service grant that you’re traveling to places that be under the necessity official Apple stores that can render repairs in-store. Checking if there are any refurbished models available in the presence of you buy.

Other recommendations include the Asus Transformer T100 on this account that basic needs, or the Toshiba Kirabook or Dell XPS 12 beneficial to most other requirements. There are, of beat, plenty of other choices too — I’ve present together a guide to buying a pass laptop if you need more minor circumstances.

What should you use?

For chiefly casual travelers, a smartphone is the most excellent choice. It replaces a dozen or added other gadgets, fits into a pocket and, with a bit of fortitude, can be used for most online tasks. If it has some unlocked SIM slot, getting mobile data is relatively cheap and easy – and given in what condition many places offer free or of little value wi-fi, you could choose to reasonable use that instead. Best of everything, perfectly usable phones start at in $200.

If you prefer a lozenge, by all means take one by you instead. The better battery life and larger disguise may make up for the other disadvantages, and if you buy a model with organic unit data, it’s easy to make acquisition online almost anywhere. You’ll exist looking at $250-$600+, depending forward what you buy.

Unless you be online, there’s little want for a laptop on your next trip. While they provide ultimate influence and flexibility, the size, weight and require to be paid of most laptops mean they aren’t merit the trade-off.

Another thing to remember is that greatest in quantity travel insurance companies only cover up to $500 USD. If you’re contrivance costs more than that (and it probably does), you’ll need to subsist a supplemental policy.

In the end, I would say that a smartphone or a tablet is the right device for a traveler who isn’t running a blog or occupation from the road. Laptops are hard, expensive, and unneeded.


Dave runs Too Many Adapters, a seat devoted to technology for travellers. A geek since long as he can remember, he worked in IT instead of fifteen years. Now based out of a backpack protracteded term, Dave writes about travel and tech from anywhere with half-decent Internet and a noble view.  You can also find him talking hind part before the life of a long-name traveller at What’s Dave Doing?

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