Please sign in to post.

Bring the iPad or not to bring the iPad.....

.....that is the question?

My wife and I will be embarking on our Rick Steve’s BOE in 21 days on September 15 to October 8. We’ve added a extra day on the front end in Amsterdam, and an extra day on the back end in Paris.

I’ll be bringing my iPad and know it will be helpful to spend time on the bus, keeping my journal of our trip, looking at maps, sending emails, when in Wi-Fi only, listening to audio books, etc. My wife told me this morning that she has no intention of bringing her iPad. She loves to read, play games, write emails, etc.

So, should my wife bring her iPad or not?

What are the advantages and disadvantages to traveling with just her iPhone 8?

Posted by
3991 posts

It’s her choice. I always travel with my iPad and iPhone and sometimes also with my Kindle. It all adds weight and bulk, but the phone screen is too small for many functions.

Posted by
153 posts

I bring an iPad Mini and my wife brings her iPad. We use it for the reasons you listed on the plane, the bus, and in the hotel room at night. We also bring iPhones for iMessaging (I have more contacts in my phone) and if we need to make calls while still stateside or when returning but find these devices are too small to work with as an iPad replacement. We never carry any of these devices with us while out and about, they stay in the hotel room or on the bus. They and the chargers fit easily in our carry-ons.

Posted by
60 posts

It is her decision. She will probably be fine with her phone and it's definitely traveling light. I get eyestrain quickly on my iPhone 8. I have an old iPad mini I brought with me to Europe last year, it was annoyingly slow (it's old, not much memory and got the job done) but I surely was not going to lug around my newer iPad Pro.
I used hotel WiFi so never used either while on the bus. Data is pricey and Verizon Travel Pass doesn't give much data per day.

OTOH, I brought and never used that same iPad mini on a cruise last winter and wished I had left it home.

Posted by
2292 posts

Up to her.

Pros to iPad -
it’s a one stop shop for entertainment (books, Internet, games, music, movies, etc) during downtimes like trains or planes - meaning less boredom and no other stuff to bring.

Good for backing up or editing photos. I use mine to back up my DSLR photos - and share them with friends. If you use a camera, not a phone (with automatic cloud backup) you will need some way to back up photos. Getting the cord to connect the camera to the iPad (then iPad to the cloud) is an easy way.

Good for internet research on your destinations, emailing home, Skype - all things that can be done on a phone but may be easier on the iPad.

It’s heavy and most of its functions can be done with a phone.
A kindle is better for book reading
If it’s lost/stolen/broken it’s expensive to replace
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from too much technology.

Posted by
16840 posts

I'm a solo traveler who takes long trips, plans the itinerary and books hotels in transit and spends an irrational amount of time on this forum. I also have bad eyesight that makes web surfing on a phone really difficult, There's no way I'd leave my tablet at home.

Your wife's situation is very different. Not having to carry the iPad through all those hotel changes will be a significant plus. Yes, there will probably be at least a few occasions when she'll wish she had it, but I wouldn't try to change her mind. I assume you have no objection to her borrowing your device while you're in the shower or doing your laundry.

A friend joined me for the last 6 weeks of my trip this year. She had a smartphone and tablet with her. She didn't even turn on the tablet until about Day 38, nor did she use mine. She could do what she wanted with the phone. I did a lot of the more time-consuming web research on opening hours, bus schedules, etc.

Posted by
7681 posts

I’d say if she doesn’t want to bring it she should leave it at home. She can check email on her phone if needed and it certainly has the weight advantage!

I take an iPadMini as others do but mostly to read on my Kindle app. I have found as I age that I can’t read on the bus anyway so the year I did the BOE I had the Kindle (pre-iPad purchase) out a few times in hotel rooms but that was it. This is a busy tour.

Although some info may indicate you might have Wifi on the bus, don’t count on it. My bus did not but that was 2014. However I did Belgium and Holland this spring and had the Heidebloem bus and it did not have wifi. I did have wifi in all the hotels on the BOE.

By the way, this is a wonderful, wonderful tour!! I still ranks at the top of my list! This is off the topic of your query but have you lurked enough on the forum that you’ve seen advice to just take in a small bag for your nights in Venice? Even a carryon size rollaboard is a pain on the vaporetto and up and over all the bridges which have steps. It’s easier to think about what you’ll take in ahead of time rather than when you are getting ready to leave in the AM from Reutte!

Posted by
953 posts

We travel with an iPad but no smart phone. Our communications needs are met by using the hotel wifi. We also bring Kindles for reading materials.

Posted by
4019 posts

Our rule has always been no electronics while on vacation. We've always been able to find a way to check email every few days. A surprising number of hotels have computers available for their clients, as do many public libraries and tourist information offices.

We finally relented this year; I got a Samsung tablet for Christmas just for the purpose of Skyping my father. He's 91, and gets extremely uneasy if I'm not reachable. It was also, of course, handy for checking email. (No, we don't have cell phones, smart or otherwise. However, the last camping trip we took in the States, my dad asked me to take his cell phone so I could call my mother every day.)

The tablet is easier for me to do email etc. on than a phone would have been.

But if your wife doesn't want to take her iPad, she should leave it at home. Not having devices is wonderfully liberating.

Posted by
2518 posts

I always bring both iPhone and iPad. Suggest to your wife to stop using her iPad for a week to see if she can survive with just the phone. She might be able to do it. I couldn’t!

Posted by
2428 posts

Her iphone will be fine. She'll likely not need to surf the web or send extensive emails too often, which she could borrow your device to do anyway. I used my iPod for years for all purposes, but especially audio books when I traveled. I have since purchased a mini iPad because iPods are not keeping up, but I loved traveling just with the size of the iPod/iphone. You're in Europe, no need to be online for more than 5 minutes a day anyway, IMO. There's also no shame in bringing a book or two to read either.

Posted by
307 posts

I always bring both. I want the phone for the camera and the iPad to read books on and hopefully watch a little Netflix back in the hotel. I like having a backup device in case one of them freezes up, which happened to me two years ago in Scotland.
That being said, if your wife doesn't want to bring her iPad and won't be always asking to borrow yours, then have her do what she wants. If she can do everything she wants on her phone, then good for her.

Posted by
1846 posts

I rethought my original reply and think you should each bring whatever you are most comfortable using! Maybe that's having both available. I bring my iPhone and my iPad mini, but I don't have to "share", either. I just never know when one of them might just go belly up!

Posted by
468 posts

This i-pad debate perked by interest. I had a conversation just like this with my travel friend before we left for Amsterdam this summer. I chose not to take my mini-i-pad. I have my i-phone and Sony 6000 camera. My friend decided to take her I-pad with a key board. Quite bulky when you are trying to pack light! My friend thought she would use it for journal writing. When we arrived in Amsterdam she placed her ipad in the safe and never used it . Then she completely forgot about it. She did not realize it was missing until we had left Amsterdam. (She did get her iPad back but it took awhile, several emails, phone calls etc). So my input on this debate is this. Does you wife use her iPad so much that she can't live with out it for awhile? Is it possible to share an I-pad. If her eye sight is good, then she can just download apps onto her I-phone for reading, games etc. I prefer to switch off some on trips. Everyone's travel needs are different. But if you decide to take I-pads - don't forget to take them with you when you move from place to place!


Posted by
230 posts

I ALWAYS take my iPad when I travel, I love that thing! I spent five months in France with my iPad as my only "computer," and don't know what I would have done without it.

Also, on the plane it serves as my entertainment since I can download the movies, tv shows and music I like (I don't have to depend on the IFE) AND with the Kindle app, I can also read. I keep photos of things I might need like my passport or other documents and I use it to make hotel reservations on the go. Also to Skype with family back home. Yeah, you can do most of these things on your phone as well, but the iPad is better and not difficult to carry around.

I actually bought this bag specifically because you can fit an iPad in it and keep it with you while sightseeing.

Posted by
314 posts

I bought an iPad mini just for travel. Used to take my regular iPad but the mini is just the perfect weight and size. I like to blog my trip so I also have a little keyboard with me. And it’s easier for me to edit/delete my photos than just looking at my iPhone.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone,

I appreciate all your input, your thoughts and suggestions. I’m not sure if she will regret her decision or not, I hope she doesn’t. If she ultimately decides to leave it behind, I’m more than happy to share my iPad when I’m not using it.

I am the Mayor of our City and will likely be doing some small amount of city business every day. Maybe my need to have continuous ways to stay in contact is affecting my wish that she would take her iPad. I want her to feel good about her decision and will support her.

The bottom line is that we will be in some of the beautiful and romantic places on the planet, and we will be together enjoying every moment of it together. I’ve never been overseas, so I’m excited to have my wife show some of the places that she has been. There will be a lot of places that neither of us has been and it will be so much fun to share them together. It’s 12 days to our departure, I cannot be more excited!

Richard Z.

Posted by
11431 posts

Spend time in the bus looking at a screen ? No thanks - I look out the window or nap .

We travel with one iPhone - we don’t need more than that - and we go for 3-5 weeks at a time and I do all the bookings myself .

I also read books , I used to have a Kobo but find reading a lot of a screen bothers my eyes . I travelled 32 days this past May and June - brought three big books as did hubby - we then traded each other ( so effectively we had six books ) plus I traded in our read ones for free ones available in hotel lobbies we stayed at in Greece and France .

If one of you brings an iPad that should be enough , if she had a phone she can check her email , post photos , and look up stuff ( when she has wifi ) .

I honestly roll my eyes as the obsession some folks have with bring the kitchen sink of electronics with them - a phone is fine - look around you ! You’re in Europe !

Posted by
3950 posts

It's her choice, why should any of us tell her what to do!

Posted by
5436 posts


But I must say that I don’t concur with those who say an iPad is heavy! (Maybe à case and/or keyboard pushes it up, but still — think about the laptop you would have had to have carried 10 years ago to get all this functionality. I slip mine in a padded fabric sleeve and don’t find it heavy or bulky at all.)

Posted by
1955 posts

Richard, I hope both you and your wife have a wonderful tour! It should be lovely. I love my iPhone 8 for taking pictures, etc. I do bring my iPad for my contract work emails etc. I receive along the way. Much easier to visualize vs. iPhone.

Posted by
245 posts

It's her choice, why should any of us tell her what to do!

I agree -- I'm always astounded when people suggest that others should unplug from technology when they're on vacation, or the reverse and should take X, Y, and Z in order to do whatever.

Personally, I always take my Surface Pro (essentially a tablet with a keyboard), but mostly that's for travel there and back in airports and on the plane......when I'm actually in the middle of my trip (eg my weeks in Italy next month), most things will be done on my phone. I'll probably use it for downloading photos from my camera (I like to keep copies, in case my data card +/- camera are stolen or damaged), but not much else.

Posted by
230 posts

look around you ! You’re in Europe !

Well, yes, of course! And I'm not looking at my devices while I'm out enjoying where I'm at, that isn't the point.

But in the evenings in my room, that is when I like to look up places I want to visit, read the histories, make hotel reservations, and buy tickets. If I need to pull up a map, I can get one big enough to actually be useful. I also want to answer emails, Skype family back home, upload photos, and journal the day's experiences. To relax, I want to read - it's easier to "carry" books on my device - and even watch a couple of shows before I go to bed. All this is easier done - for me, at least - on my iPad with a keyboard. (In my 50s, I find typing on my phone to be clumsy and frustrating.)

I don't think bringing devices means you're not in the moment while you're seeing the sights and experiencing a new culture. They are tools to help you make the most of your trip. Not that anyone MUST bring a device (most people in my age range have traveled to Europe long before we even had mobile phones) but it sure can be helpful.

As far as taking up space, consider that you can replace books, notebooks, maps and maybe even cameras with a device so it actually SAVES space.

Posted by
5719 posts

We always take our ipads and iPhones on international trips, especially to use the Kindle app to read books on those long flights.

Posted by
245 posts

but it sure can be helpful.

Oh, yes! A lot of places have written commentary and audioguides available in an app (or at least on line), as well as helpful things like transit maps and bus schedules. It makes it easy to buy train or bus tickets in advance and get them delivered to you electronically so you don't have to find the right ticket booth or machine in the busy terminal. I also think it's really helped free some people (like me) from the need to take tours or tour buses everywhere, because we can now take public transit all over to get to the sites we want to see I can't imagine travelling without my smartphone, and that has nothing to do with keeping in touch with people back home and everything to do with enjoying the place where I'm at.

Posted by
64 posts

I never bring my iPad (although I use it constantly at home and am typing on it right now). I take my iPhone and a $49 Kindle Fire. Works just fine for me.

Posted by
53 posts

I think the answer is simple, if your wife doesn't want to, then she shouldn't. I'd personally bring mine for reasons you've stated, but I also think I can manage with a smaller screen if I find that I no longer have space for/don't want the added burden of the iPad.

Posted by
230 posts

@ Kathy

I just bought the Fire tablet for my husband, and I've gotta say I'm pretty impressed. It can do most of the things I'd want to do on my iPad but if it got lost or stolen while traveling it is much less of a loss (my iPad cost $600!) And it is a little smaller than the iPad, too.

Posted by
574 posts

I am the Mayor of our City and will likely be doing some small amount of city business every day. Maybe my need to have continuous ways to stay in contact

So a digression, but talk to the IT people before you travel to ensure communication with the city server is encrypted end-to-end. Or you may want to get a VPN service to encrypt your traffic. If you go the VPN route then you want one you pay for; the "free" VPN sites may monitor your traffic and sell information to marketers.

Posted by
398 posts

You sound like a good husband. When she wants to borrow yours I’m sure you’ll smile and give it to her and you’ll both have a happy vacation.

Posted by
118 posts

@Kathy and @lisalu. Same here! I leave the iPad at home (which I use daily). I take my old iPhone with a bit of international data and Kindle Fire. I can tether the Fire to phone for data in a pinch. It’s astounding what that Fire can do for $50, and it’s a better size to carry. I use the Fire mostly for journaling (with small portable keyboard), email, preloaded kindle or Libby books.

I’m not heartbroken if something happens to the Fire, but I would be if something happened to my iPad. Perhaps I am overcautious, but I take a hefty Anker battery and use that to charge both devices during the trip. Fear of frying? :-).

Posted by
78 posts

On my last trip to Italy and Switzerland in October, I did the big test and left my IPad at home and just travelled with my Iphone 7plus and Kindle. Never even thought about the IPad.

I did buy a Flight Flap off of Amazon to use the phone to watch movies on the plane. It was awesome.

Posted by
3141 posts

What are the advantages and disadvantages to traveling with just her
iPhone 8?

I travel on business and pleasure with both my iPad Mini 4 and my iPhone 8. Advantages? On the plane and at the gate, I prefer watching movies and reading my library books/magazines on the larger screen of the iPad Mini. I also won't drain the battery of the iPhone 8 while in flight in case my seat's power port doesn't work or there is no power port near me while I wait at the gate for my flight. I also use the iPad as a backup for offline maps so again I don't drain the battery of my iPhone 8.

Posted by
357 posts

I took my iPad mini on our first trip in 2015, that’s all I owned. I liked having it because it was nice to have it to read during downtime in the hotel, or in the morning. Phone causes eye strain.

I like it to research restaurants, places we are going, making sure of things.

I have a iPad Pro now, but thinking it just bring my mini. I haven’t used it in years. Either way, one of them is going.