Should You Bring Your Tablet On Vacation? 10 Reasons My Tablet Is Indispensable When I Travel.

Should You Bring Your Tablet On Vacation? 10 Reasons My Tablet Is Indispensable When I Travel.

Can a tablet be a useful travel device to bring on your next vacation or road trip? YES! A tablet is not only a fun and entertaining gadget BUT it can also be an extremely convenient and useful tool to use while travelling or while on the go. Here are the things I use my tablet for while on-the-go

When we first decided to live in France for a year, I was sceptical about the practical uses of a tablet, especially for travellers. It just seemed like an extra device to bring.

Now after two-plus years of field testing my tablet for both travel and my daily on-the-go needs, I can honestly say I am no longer a sceptic. In fact, thanks to its versatility and portability, my tablet has turned into the go-to device that travels with me everywhere.

10 things I use my tablet for the most when I’m travelling or when I’m on-the-go.

#1 – GPS directions: I never ever get lost anymore. 

use your tablet as a gps device when you travel

I turned my tablet into a voice-enabled navigation device that gives me turn by turn directions. (Without an expensive roaming or international data plan). This feature alone makes my tablet indispensable because it has gotten me UN-LOST more times than I can count.

The application I use on my tablet:

There are quite a few navigation apps for tablets but the one that I use is called OsmAnd.  Like most Navigation apps, it takes advantage of the embedded GPS chip in your tablet.

WARNING**Not all tablets have built-in GPS. Make sure the tablet you buy has GPS that works without a DATA and Without a WiFi internet connection.

Some of my favourite features of the OsmAnd navigation app are that it works online (fast) or offline (no roaming charges when you are abroad). It automatically re-routes whenever you deviate from the route. There are loads of useful options like the voice warning when I go over the speed limit and oh so much more.

OsmAnd is strictly for the Android.  If you have an Apple tablet than you can use an APP called Co-pilot.

#2 –I can carry as many books as I want without weighing down my luggage.

use your tablet as an ebook reader while you travel

Even though I prefer to read actual paper books, there are times when the convenience of having all your books at your disposal anytime you want comes in really handy. Like when you have an unexpectedly long wait or you forget to bring a book or can’t find an English bookstore while travelling.

Even if you don’t read books, you can still use your tablet to carry travel guidebooks, language dictionaries and children’s books

The application I use on my tablet: 

You’ll need to download an e-book reader app. I use an app called MoonReader which costs less than 5 dollars. It can read multiple file formats such as e-Pub books and books purchased on Amazon which are in Mobi format. It can also read PDF files. If you only plan on reading books from Amazon then you can download the kindle app for free. 

#3 – I can easily make video calls from any room in the house.

use your tablet to skype while you travel

Because a tablet is lightweight and small, it’s easy to hold and carry to places where a laptop might be less optimal such as on the couch,  in bed or for those times you want to give someone a virtual tour of your home or garden. For this reason, I actually prefer using my tablet over my laptop to make video calls

The application I use on my tablet:

I used to use Skype which is absolutely free to use but you’ll need a WIFI connection to use it. I now use Whatsapp and sometimes the video feature on Facebook messenger. My daughter has an ipad so she uses Facetime to chat with family back in Montreal. 

#4 – I can quickly update my friends and family using social networking sites. (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

use your tablet for social networking on sites like facebook

If you use social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram then you are going to love using a tablet. No laptop or desk required. Just head over to a comfy couch or your favourite reading chair and hold your tablet like you would a magazine or book. You can easily do this on your phone too but having a slightly larger screen is nice sometimes.

The application I use on my tablet:

I use the Facebook app and Facebook messenger app. Even though you can access any networking site via the browser on your tablet, I tend to use apps because they are optimized to work best on the smaller screen size and can notify you of new messages and updates with a soft sound or beep.

#5 – My tablet helps me in the kitchen with recipes and measurement conversions. use your tablet like a portable cookbook and cooking conversion tool while you travel

I like to cook a lot but I don’t use physical cookbooks mainly because we try to keep our possessions to a minimum while living abroad. (No sense in accumulating things that you can’t carry back home). Instead, I use the internet for my source of inspiration. Thanks to my tablets small form factor I can easily use it in the kitchen because it doesn’t take up much counter space. Also, I can hold it in my hands like a regular cookbook if need be.

My tablet also allows me to convert cooking ratios which is useful when I have to convert U.S.A. measurements to European such as how many grams are in 16 ounces can of tomato or when I have to convert cooking temperatures between Fahrenheit and Celsius.

Lastly, let’s not forget all the great cooking apps from a site like the food network and Epicurious which have loads of recipes or calorie counter apps which help you stay the course during your diet.

The application I use on my tablet:

I use a wide variety of apps in the kitchen. There are just too many cooking apps to list . I almost forgot to mention that I also use the Youtube app on my tablet to do searches for recipes. I really love watching how certain things are cooked, especially something that involves more technique. And finally, for converting cooking ratios, I normally just use search google for how free online conversion tools but you could just as easily download an app to do this too. 

#6 – I can watch any TV show in any room on my tablet.

use your tablet to stream and watch American and British TV shows while you travel

There may come a time while you are travelling or living abroad when you will want to watch your favourite American or British TV show in “ENGLISH”.

How to watch TV on the internet using your tablet.

There are lots of ways to watch TV on your tablet. I, however, choose to download TV network apps. For instance, if you want to watch the Mentalist which is on CBS, just download the CBS App. If you want to watch Hulu or Netflix just download their app. Pretty simple if you are travelling within the U.S.A. however If you are travelling outside of the United States then your IP address will get GEO blocked from watching. BOO!

If you are not sure what GEO blocked is, you can read my article on it here.

The good news is there is a way to get around geographic restriction like this but it involves fooling the TV NETWORK sites into thinking your tablet is actually in the U.S.A… All you have to do is change your foreign IP address to a U.S.A. IP address.

I am sure there are many ways to do this but the way I change my IP address is by using a VPN service. (VPN stands for virtual private network.)  It took me about 30 minutes to set up my VPN and cost me 40 dollars per year which is still cheaper than cable TV. Everyone in the house can use my VPN to mask their IP address and watch any of the network shows.

I’ve explained how to change your IP address using VPN services here. 

The application I use on my tablet:

I have used several apps including Hulu, CBS, BBC, Netflix etc. By the way Netflix does work in other countries without a VPN however the shows available outside of the US are greatly limited. 

To change my IP Address using VPN so that I won’t be blocked from watching TV network shows via the internet, I use Private Internet Access. You can try it for free before you buy it. 

There are more questionable ways of watching TV via the internet but I won’t get into that today.

#7 – My tablet keeps the kids entertained in the car and during long trips with movies, games and books.

use your tablet to keep the kids entertained in the car and on long trips while you travel

A tablet is perfect for keeping the kids occupied and happy in situations where you want them to sit quietly like on planes, on long road trips or even at boring dinner parties. Just load the tablet up with movies and games and be amazed at just how quietly your kids sit for long periods of time.

I think what I like most about tablet games over DS games is the affordability, choices and ease of purchasing new games and even movies via the internet. No need to carry cartridges or dvds.

#8 –I never miss a photo or video opportunity.

use your tablet to take photos and video while you travel

I used to get so annoyed when a good photo-op presented itself but my camera was nowhere to be found either because I did not want to lug it around or because I forgot it. That never happens anymore.

Thanks to my tablets slim and lightweight form factor, my tablet is ALWAYS IN MY PURSE WITH ME and ALWAYS EASILY ACCESSIBLE which means I can take a photo or video anytime I want.

For example, check out the photo above of my husband Blake driving Catherine and me to the airport. I wanted one last shot of us in the car but my camera was in the boot. Rather than let the opportunity pass, I pulled out my tablet, plopped it on the dashboard, set the timer for 2 seconds and voila! I’ve captured a pretty funny moment. ahhh memories!

The application I use on my tablet :

All tablets are pre-loaded with the ability to take photos and video so there is nothing you need to download to have this feature work. You can download apps like Instagram to edit your photos and post to social networking sites. 


Use your tablet to learn a language while you travel

A tablet is the perfect tool to help you learn a few key phrases and words for your next trip.  Many language learning apps even have audio so that you can hear how foreign words are actually pronounced. The language apps for children often seem more like games so even the kids will enjoy learning to speak a new language.

#10 – I can keep all my travel plans organized in one spot

synch my calendar with my travel itinerary

Our family of 5 does a lot of travelling and it sometimes gets hard to keep track of it all. I used to keep it all written down on paper but recently I have been putting all our important travel information on  Google calendar. This works find but this method has its flaws.

Then I learned about Tripit. Not to sound like a TV commercial but Tripit is like a master Itinerary and it’s pretty amazing.

In short, Tripit is a web-based site where I put in all of our travel details from our trip including transportation details, hotel details, times, dates. It even has some other useful things like maps, local weather, restaurants and a ton of other things that any self-respecting traveller would find handy.

That’s not all though. TripIt can synch to my google calendar which makes my life so much easier. I can see on my calendar when my son is arriving or when my husband is scheduled to fly out and all the detail concerning their trip.

Wait there’s more. I can even keep my friends, family and colleagues in the know about upcoming travel itineraries by clicking the “Share” button on my itinerary from within TripIt. Or you can post your travel plans on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter with one click.

The application I use on my tablet:

Google calendar app and the TripIt app.

A tablet is never going to replace your laptop, after all, it is a “content consumption device” which makes it more efficient and convenient to consume media (songs, movies, etc), participate in social networking, et directions etc. That’s okay though because much of what you will use it for while travelling are content consumption activities anyways.

If you do decide to buy a tablet, I can’t stress how important it is to buy a cover to protect your tablet especially if you plan to bring it along for travel. After all, it is going to be shoved in purses, crammed into bags, sat on, dropped by the kids and examined at airport security.


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  1. I never knew that a tablet could be so useful when you travel. Great Post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  2. Hi Annie,

    Where have you been? I haven’t seen you anywhere in a long time. I guess you’re busy.

    I was thinking about you, because guess what? I’m planning on going to Italy for year. My goal is the keep working my online business as well as teaching English there. I’ve been getting a certification to teach English.

    This means that I will have to store my stuff, since I rent and I’m not going to pay rent while I’m gone. There’re also a lot of things that I need to start thinking about, but since you’re the expert, I was wondering if you could give me some tips.

    Indeed, I’m planning on taking my tablet with me there, and since I don’t have a lap top, I will need to by one too. Anyways, hope to hear from you.

    1. Hi Sylviane,
      Yes I have been super busy just with life. I decided to focus on writing my book which is taking way longer than i ever anticipated mainly because I was spending so much time commenting on blogs, writing blog posts and marketing.

      Anyways, of course I can help you no problem. lets do skype. ok?

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