Travel With A Tablet: 9 Useful Things And Reasons To Bring It With You

Travel with a tablet? A tablet is not only a fun and entertaining gadget; it can also be a useful tool capable of replacing multiple devices while travelling locally or abroad. 

When we first decided to move to France in 2011, I was skeptical about the practical uses of a tablet, especially for travellers. It just seemed like an extra device to bring, in addition to our laptops, phones, cameras, plus all the chords. 

That was then, and this is now.

Travel With Tablet: You’re all in one device.

A  lot has changed since 2011. I travel less often with a tablet now because my Samsung phone screen is so large, but that doesn’t mean a tablet can’t be useful to you.

Even with my phone’s larger screen, I still prefer to bring a tablet in certain situations.

On to the list of useful things you can do when you travel with a tablet

1) Use a tablet as your main computer while travelling

Many people are opting to leave their computers at home while travelling and going straight for a tablet. Tablets are convenient, portable, easy to use and offer plenty of computing power in a slick, impressive package.

All you need to turn it into your on-the-road computer is a wireless Bluetooth keyboard. 

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2) GPS directions: Without using data

Travel with tablet:

There are two scenarios where you might need directions: in your car and while walking around a city. 

You can turn your tablet into a voice-enabled navigation device that gives you turn-by-turn directions. (Without an expensive roaming or international data plan). 

Download OsmAnd: for Apple and Android from the Google Play or AppStore.

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

There is a free and paid version, so you can try it before you buy or use the free version indefinitely. Obviously, you can do much more with the paid version, like download unlimited maps.  

WARNING**Not all tablets have built-in GPS. Make sure the tablet you buy has GPS that works without DATA.

Some of my favourite features of the OsmAnd navigation app are:

  • It works online 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 you go over the speed limit much more.
  • You can download travel guides for virtually any destination powered by Wikivoyage. 

3) eBook reader

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 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 guides, language dictionaries and children’s books.

Suggested ebook reader apps to download: 

You’ll need to download an e-book reader app. I’ve tried just about every reader out there, but the two that I recommend are:

  1. MoonReader costs less than 5 dollars. It can read multiple file formats such as e-Pub books and books purchased on Amazon in Mobi format. It can also read PDF files.
  2. If you only buy ebooks via Amazon, then, of course, you can download the free kindle app
  3. If you have an iPad, then you can download Apple’s reader called Apple Books.

4) Make video calls.

use your tablet to skype while you travel

Tablets are the perfect in-between size for making video calls. Not too big and not too small. 

It’s larger than a phone screen which means you can see the person you are talking to more clearly. 

It’s smaller and more portable than a laptop, so 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 hotel room and make them super jealous. 


  • Skype
  • Whatsapp
  • Facebook messenger and video calls
  • Zoom
  • Facetime for Apple. 

5) It’s more comfortable to watch streaming TV shows and movies on a tablet vs a tiny phone screen.

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

Watching a show on a tablet is much more comfortable than on a tiny phone screen. Plus, you can watch with someone else sitting next to you. 

TIP: Watching GEO blocked streaming sites

There may come a time while travelling when you’ll want to watch your favourite American or British TV show in “ENGLISH.” Yes, there’s always Netflix which is available in almost 200 countries, however not every show is licensed and available outside your country. 

Or you maybe want to watch a subscription service from your country which is not available in other countries such as Hulu, CBS, or BBC. These sites are all GEO blocked, and you’ll know if you’ve been geo-blocked because you’ll see a message like the one below. 

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

screenshot of HBO now geoblocked outside of the US

How to watch TV on the internet using your tablet.

The good news is there is a way to get around the geographic restriction, but it involves fooling the TV NETWORK sites into thinking your tablet is actually in another country. All you have to do is change your foreign IP address to the IP address of the country where the network is located. 

The way I change my IP address is by using a VPN service. VPN stands for “virtual private network.”  It takes minutes to set up and costs a few dollars per month. 

I recommend Cyerghost VPN and Private Internet Access.

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6) Keeps the kids entertained 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 when 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 how quietly your kids sit for long periods.

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.

7) Use your tablet as a camera or video recorder

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 pictures and post to social networking sites once you get back to your hotel room and have wifi access.  

8) Keep up with friends and family using social networking sites like Facebook

Travel with tablet: to keep up with friends on Facebook

For the same reasons it’s easier to use a tablet to make video calls or watch movies, size, keeping up with friends back home and sharing updates on social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram is so much more comfortable than doing it on a tiny phone screen. 

9)  Use your tablet to learn new vocabulary while travelling

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, especially if you have to look at your screen. The language apps for children often seem more like games, so even the kids will enjoy learning to speak a new language.

Android Tablet or Apple Tablet?

Apple’s iPad was the standard tablet for a long time, but newer tablets using the Android operating system made by Samsung, Amazon, and many other companies offer great features often at more affordable prices. 

And now there are foldable tablets and phones which give you the advantage of having a larger screen when unfolded, but when folded, fits in your pocket. 

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A foldable tablet that you can also make phone calls with.

Unfolded is 186.9 x 145.2 x 4.8 mm. (about 7 inches wide)

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I tend to go for Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy tab because they have expandable memory. Most tablets come loaded with 32 or 64 GB of space.

That might be enough for most, but if you plan on taking photos with it or downloading videos, you’ll run out of space quickly. You could buy a tablet with more storage space, but that increases the price. 

It’s much cheaper to get a tablet with fewer GB of space and then buy a memory card up to 128 gigs of ram, which you slip right in a card slot on your android tablet. 

To give you an idea of how much extra storage space you’ll get with an additional 128 GB, that’s over 40k photos, or 30k MP3 files, or 2.4 million+ pages of Word documents, or 40k minutes of video.

Other things to keep in mind

If you plan to travel with a tablet, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. 

Hours Of Battery life

The battery on your tablet might not make it through a whole day of use. That’s why it’s essential to carry an external battery charger to top up your tablet’s battery. 

Here are the two I use and recommend. The larger battery can go several days without charging. I brought it with me on a camping trip and it kept my phone charged for a whole week. The smaller one is lighter and might go a day or 2 before needing to be recharged. 

Wireless Portable Charger

Top up to several devices simultaneously at the fastest speed possible. Compatible with Macbook and other type C devices. 5 volts and 26800 Milliamp Hours.

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12/08/2022 10:25 pm GMT
Portable Solar Power Bank Battery

This 20000 mAh battery with a built-in flashlight has enough juice to keep your phones and tablets charged for days. Charge your devices via cable or wirelessly.

In a pinch, when you don't have access to an outlet, recharge this battery with the sun.

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Tablet Cover

If you decide to travel with a tablet, I can’t stress how important it is to buy a cover to protect your tablet.

After all, it’s going to be shoved in purses, crammed into bags, sat on, dropped by the kids and examined at airport security.

Bon voyage!

Photo of Annie André:

Annie André

About the author 

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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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.

    1. I even converted my husband to a tablet user which was pretty hard. He hung onto CD’s and refused to listen to MP’3s for the longest time..

  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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