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Which iPad should I buy for traveling?

On my last trip in 2022, I took my 13" MacBook Pro and regretted it, so I'm not planning on taking that again. I will have my iPhone (currently a 12 mini but planning to upgrade to a 14 before I leave) but was thinking about getting an iPad for my upcoming May trip to Scotland. I've had iPads before - both a regular one and a mini, but it's been a few years.

Just wondered what you all bring and what size you prefer. I do know it will be wireless only. I also can't decide whether to get the small 64GB capacity or upgrade to 256GB. Thanks!

Posted by
681 posts

I have travelled with an ipad Mini and a regular sized one. The Mini is much lighter and will do everything that the regular size will do. My regular sized ipad in its case was just so heavy to lug around everywhere. Also upgrade to the 256 GB. 64 is just not enough nowadays.

Posted by
3312 posts

Mardee, what do you use the laptop/ipad for??
I have brought my ipad mini on several trips, but don’t use it enough to justify bringing it, so I won’t bring it next trip.

Posted by
16731 posts

My husband and I each have an iPad Air with the keyboard, but I can’t tell you what “number” they are. One is from 2017 and one from 2018, so not the newest, but 256g. They are very light compared to my 2012 iPad, even with the attached keyboard. We both use a Google F1 SIM card so we can connect anywhere there is cellular service, not just with wifi.

Posted by
6850 posts

Tammy, I would use it to access/modify my personal guidebook I'm currently building in Google Docs, sort through photos, upload them to my online journal, use it for mapping, sightseeing research and general web surfing. I know I can do all that with a phone but for me it's easier with something a bit bigger.

Posted by
1080 posts

I travel with a iPad Pro and it is light weight and travels well in my backpack. I use mine for reading books (much better than reading on a iphone), internet surfing, I also find making reservations and getting advanced tickets easier with the iPad. It's like having my Apple mac with me but much lighter and easier to pack and travel with. I also load the Rick Steves guide books on my iPad and it works better than the phone, and I don't have to carry the book around with me. **Get at least a 256GB! ** The more memory the better, especially if your saving pictures and video to your iPad.

Posted by
6850 posts

Pat, thanks - that makes sense about the storage capacity. I will do that no matter what I get but I am leaning towards the mini. I may get an Apple (or generic) pencil with it.

Lola, I don't think I want the keyboard. It adds weight and I can use dictation well enough if I need anything written (or the pencil). Right now Google FI is not an option for me but I need to check into that. Thanks!

Donald, I definitely think you and Pat are right about getting 256GB. And that's a good idea about reading guidebooks and making reservations on it. I do have a Kindle, which I always bring for reading fiction, but now that I think about it, if I get the Mini, I could leave the Kindle at home and just read everything on the iPad. Thanks!

Posted by
332 posts

Mardee, I’ve had iPad minis since the first came out, and I think I’m on my 4th one. I just love it, it’s great for travelling as I find the screen of my iPhone annoyingly small for many things, and I don’t want a larger phone. The iPad mini fits into all my small crossbody bags. I have so many books loaded on Kindle for iPad, I hate to think of the old days when I had to drag multiple books around with me to satisfy my reading needs. You should find it easy to load all your books from your Kindle account onto the iPad, and away you go!

Posted by
6850 posts

Amanda, thanks! Yes, I have the Kindle app on my phone and in the past I've used that to access my digital guidebooks, but I do think an iPad Mini will be better for that. And yes, I remember the days of traveling to Europe lugging 9 or 10 paperbacks along, then leaving them behind to lighten the load and sometimes having to buy more at very high prices. Digital is SO much better!

Bostonphil, they are great! I had a mini before but wound up trading it in for a larger one for my granddaughter, who needed it for school during Covid days.

Posted by
3205 posts

Mardee:
I bought the IPad Mini 6th Generation last summer.
It’s got 64gb capacity.

My old IPad 2 Mini was no longer able to get a lot of upgrades to apps I needed while travelling.

I’m really glad I upgraded , as I had to stay longer in Italy after getting Covid on my trip last September.
This new one was invaluable in finding a hotel to stay in, looking up rebooking for flights, and being my entertainment while I was isolating.
The only thing is, it does not have a port for wired earbuds.
I bought a small ten dollar adaptor doodad so that I can use my old earbuds, of which I seem to have a huge collection.
I really like this new mini, and it’s easy to carry around.
It also has a pretty good camera.

Posted by
99 posts

Mardee,

I know you said that you don’t like the keyboard but I am going to go opposite of what people have said so far. I use a iPad 12.9” Pro 5th gen. I also use the official Apple Keyboard folio for it and Apple trackpad. I love the combo and it’s not too heavy, thick or cumbersome for me. But for my uses when I travel it suits me. I don’t take it everywhere with me; i usually leave it at my hotel or the place I am staying. I use it to type emails, use a bigger screen when I need to really research and look at maps, and as a backup for as an entertainment system on the plane if it doesn’t work or doesn’t have anything I like. I also like a bigger screen when something goes wrong and have to really dig in and have to figure stuff out (hotels, flights, trains, etc). The physical keyboard also saves me screen space when I type so I can see more. And I used my iPad combo to type this post. It’s almost (keyword almost) as good as my M1 Air.

Darren

Posted by
807 posts

I also like to travel with a TABLET - in my case a Samsung Galaxy Tab A8. Works just as well as an iPad, storage can be expanded with an SD card for your guidebooks, plus lower cost, especially when on sale at Costco. A smaller Tab A7 is also available, comparable in size to the mini. Both feature a physical earphone jack.

May not be practical for those deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem, but you won't be paying the Apple premium, and you may not need a fancy Retina display on a smaller screen. There are a lot of people out there who use Android phones, and I wanted to point out that they have an Android option, with the ability to easily sync across devices.

I use an iPhone, but prefer Microsoft apps for email and file access with OneDrive.

Posted by
2252 posts

I travel with my iPad mini 4. Old, yes but reliable and does everything I need it to do.

Posted by
7404 posts

Hi Mardee, I’m still using my first iPad, a 14.8 5th generation with 32 GB. Before my next trip, I am also ready to upgrade, and I would choose the higher level of capacity to be able to upload movies, etc. for the flights. I had a recent flight where the movies weren’t working on the plane, and I currently also have to manage the number of my videos so much.

I always bring my iPad because I need the larger screen than my phone in the evenings to view & be able to eliminate which photos I don’t need to keep. And I need the larger screen if I’m reading much. When I’m traveling solo, I like to have a conversation in the evening with my husband on FaceTime to catch up on our days, so I use the iPad for those, too.

I will be looking at your replies to see what everyone recommends!

Posted by
4011 posts

The iPad Mini 4. It’s lightweight, compact as the name suggests, and perfect for all of my international & cross-country travel.

Posted by
6788 posts

Just get the latest iPad Mini. You're already invested in the Apple ecosystem, so this is a no-brainer.

I have been traveling with iPad Minis for years, and have become increasingly convinced it is the ideal travel device. It's lightweight and compact, but so much easier to use for most things than a phone (anything except for making voice calls); it's the perfect size.

The iPad Mini (6th generation) is the current version. It has been discounted recently (typical for models that have not been refreshed recently). The iPad Mini (6) was last released in September 2021, so it's not super-new. There's speculation (with Apple products, there's always speculation...) that a refresh for the iPad line will be coming maybe this year (possibly as soon as this spring), or maybe in 2024. No way to know. The current iPad Mini is a perfectly capable device for any reasonable thing you would ever want to use it for. I have one and love it. I always buy the biggest storage option available (and have never regretted that).

No need for a separate keyboard.

Don't overthink this. It's an easy choice.

Posted by
262 posts

Another vote for the iPad mini. I’ve been traveling with mine since 2017. I use it to read books, my local newspaper, email and surfing the net. It’s also nice to download shows to watch on the plane (and long layovers!) or even occasionally while traveling in non-English speaking countries. The hotel English channels only seem to be news. I used to have a Nook but once I switched over to the iPad mini I was able to eliminate that device (and charging cord etc.) so now I just travel with my iPad mini and phone.

Posted by
1843 posts

I use a regular iPad (11 inch) at home so that’s what I take when I travel. I don’t pack light and it stays in the room. Is there a store nearby where you can check them both out? I suspect that the others are correct that a mini would work well.

And a side note. I find extensive reading on the iPad to be difficult on my eyes. They tire easily. The kindles with e ink screens like the paperwhite are much easier on my eyes. I generally carry one for those times when IFE systems are not working or just to pass time while waiting.

Posted by
6850 posts

S J, that's good to know! I'm not worried about the wired earbuds, since I have wireless Airbuds I can use. But there is an adaptor that converts the phone jack to a lightning connection, in case you're interested for next time.

DB, it's not that I don't like the keyboard but more that I don't want the extra weight. With the iPad Pro and the keyboard, I'm calculating that the weight would be close to my Macbook. But thank you for the suggestion!

markcw, I do like Androids and Google and would be willing to switch to a Samsung tablet, but all my friends and family have iPhones and it's just easier to stick with that for now, especially for FaceTime calling. In addition, I have been using Apple products since 1987 and it's hard to make that switch. But I will check it out - thank you!

andi, Carol (now retired) and Continental, thanks! Good to know!

Jean, yes! The photos especially! I will definitely let you know what I decide on but I'm really leaning towards the Mini.

David, thanks - I agree. From what I hear, the next gen of the iPad mini will not be here till late 2023, so I'm probably going with the most recent.

sboh, thanks for the vote! Good info to know.

periscope, thanks, I'm sure I would, too, but I don't want to pay for cellular or 4 speakers. When I do listen to music or podcasts, I listen through my Airpods, so speakers would be wasted on me.

Rocket, thanks! I was in the Apple store today in Naples FL (I'm on vacation) checking out the minis and I did like them. But you make a very good point about the Kindle - I'm so used to reading on it that I think it would be hard on my eyes to read fiction on the Mini. But I can still use the Mini for the guidebooks on my Kindle in glorious color. :)

Posted by
14175 posts

Well, I'm late but I vote for iPad Mini. Years ago when my Kindle died I asked the forum if I should get another Kindle or go to the small tablet. They enabled me so I got the iPad Mini and I'm on my 2nd one. It's awesome.

I read several hours a day on it and it doesn't bother me. You can adjust the color a bit but I've not used a paperwhite so not sure what the difference is. Downloading the Kindle app will load all your books on there but you'll have to re-download them the first time you open any of your older books.

Definitely go for highest storage. I got the 256GB and have only used a fraction. I don't download movies but have a bunch of yoga practices downloaded which does use some space.

Get a nice case. I don't like the regular Apple cases...just kind of boring. I got one on Amazon that is VanGogh's Almond Blossoms...my favorite painting. It's so pretty!

Posted by
6850 posts

Pam, that case sounds nice! The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of just taking the iPad mini and leaving the Kindle behind. Thanks!

Posted by
14175 posts

It’s really multifunctional!

Posted by
6850 posts

Thank you, bogiesan! I have no objection to buying refurbished but was checking last night and found out that I can get a Mini for $539 on Costco (6th gen, 256GB, wifi only). So I will probably order one there.

Posted by
9787 posts

I always buy the biggest storage option available (and have never regretted that).

Same as David, for sure. I've never bothered with the SIM card option, but the biggest storage available, now that is essential.

Y'all are making me realize that my iPad is a bit of a dinosaur . . .so maybe before too long it will be time to think about replacing it. But so far, she is still going strong for what I need her to do. Although she is probably heavier than what I could get now. Hmmmm, something to think about.

I agree with Jean, I really prefer looking at my photos on my iPad as opposed to my phone (and uploading to IG from there or sharing with my parents, etc).

I don't really read on there that much, except for I do download guidebooks.

Posted by
6850 posts

UPDATE: I just bought it! A 6th gen, 256GB with wifi iPad on Costco - $90 off so only $539. I was planning to wait but the sale ends today (the 10th) so I figured I'd better move on it.

Kim, thanks for your thoughts. I had an older iPad in the past but wound up giving it to my grandkids who play games on it. They don't mind the weight. :) But this is the first time I've used it for traveling so it will be fun looking at the guidebooks on it. I bought the Rough Guide and Rick Steves' Scotland guide books for Kindle so they are ready to go!

Posted by
9787 posts

Congratulations Mardee, it sounds like you've made an excellent choice.

And that was very sweet of you to give your old ipad to your grandkids !

Enjoy your new Mini !

Posted by
8821 posts

Mardee, no matter what age, nothing better than a new toy!

Well done!

Posted by
656 posts

LOL! I saw your original post and was going to post that I would buy bigger than the mini because I prefer a larger screen than the mini, but you ordered already;) I"m excited to hear about your trip to Scotland!

Posted by
6850 posts

Kim, I will! 🤣

Claudia, you said it! I can’t wait to start playing with it when it gets here on Monday!

MNAnnie, ha ha! I would love the bigger screen but think the mini will be fine for me. Less weight and cheaper! Always a good combo. When is your next trip? Can I enable, I mean help you with some new purchases?

Posted by
154 posts

I've used an iPad mini for several years. However, I recently purchased an iPad (after the battery on my very old mini would no longer hold a charge) and I'm happier with it. For looking at google docs or sheets, or surfing the net, I prefer the larger screen.

Posted by
139 posts

@Mardee—sounds like you found a good solution. Enjoy your trip!

I have an iPhone and IPad Pro at home, and use them daily. For travel (especially overseas), I use a Kindle Fire tablet. They’re inexpensive, and I can watch movies, read, go online, send email, journal. Don’t know about photos, since I use iCloud for that. I like being able to use a beefy mini-sim card to upgrade the. storage, so I can store movie downloads. Prefer the size format (roughly 5x8”), which fits in any bag easily, including my TB Side Kick. If something happens to the tablet, I haven’t lost much investment. Think I paid $35 for a new Kindle during Amazon Prime days.

It’s not as convenient as the Apple ecosystem, but if the tablet is stolen, someone doesn’t have access to all my stuff either. I use Evernote for journaling and travel info, and I use Dropbox for documents and my writing projects. I carry a portable Bluetooth keyboard. I do take my IPhone.

Posted by
6850 posts

TexasTravelmom, I love those cases! I'm planning to get one - just need to pick one!

PandaBear, I do like a larger screen but I figure that I can do without it while I'm traveling. At home I use my Macbook for most everything, especially with Google Docs and Sheets, and I can do most of the formatting and editing before I leave. In a perfect world, I would have a valet with me to carry all my luggage and electronic equipment! 😍

tavapeak, thanks! I've had a small Kindle tablet in the past but find that I prefer the iPad. And yes, there is a risk but with my phone, I can erase the data from the iPad if something were to happen. You and I use some of the same apps - I love Evernote and use it for a lot of travel and also to keep track of my hundreds of sewing patterns and fabric. It's such a great tool! I also use Dropbox although I'm nearing the max for storage and I don't want to pay for it. I got it in the beginning when they used to give out free storage for certain tasks and so I have around 8 GB of storage, but I'm close to using that up so I have to be careful what I put in there now. I keep everything else in iCloud, which I do pay for (I have a family plan with my daughter and SIL).