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Taking an IPad and or Smart Phone for extended trip to Europe

I will be traveling in Europe for almost 5 months (please hold all the comments about Shengen etc and time in Europe I am aware of the rules and limitations :) ).

I would like to hear from folks that take BOTH their IPads AND smart phones with them on longer trips and why. And those that have decided to take one or the other and why.

My Smart phone is so capable that I am having a hard time justifying taking a New IPad. Other than the ability to have Ebooks I am struggling to decide what advantages I would get from the IPad vs the drawbacks, (heavier, easier to steal, harder to carry around, etc)

So why do you take one or the other (or both) and why?

Thanks in advance for all your replies.

Posted by
4727 posts

I take both. I use my phone whilst out and about for maps, translation, texts, social media, restaurant searches etc whilst my Samsung tablet is used on the plane, train, hotel etc for reading books, magazines, watching films and general browsing. It's light enough to not worry about weight, it stays in the hotel safe and I'm generally not travelling around with it other than to and from the hotel.

Posted by
158 posts

Do you usually spend a lot of time reading during your travels? Is the larger iPad screen necessary for you to read the eBooks? eBooks can also be read on a smartphone through the same apps.

I travel with only a smartphone. I've not had any issues, and I don't see any advantages to carrying an iPad too. It's one more thing to worry about carrying or leaving in the room / locking up in a safe.

Posted by
5569 posts

I take my I Phone and my mini I Pad. Same reason I don't do everything on my phone at home. Sometimes the I pad just seems to meet my needs better.

Posted by
2741 posts

I always take both. Though my phone can do the same as my iPad, I think it comes to personal preference and usage. When out and about, I use my iPhone constantly. Once I’m back in my hotel room, I use the iPad exclusively- unless I need to make a call - because I enjoy the larger screen. I don’t stream videos too often but when I want to watch something, I hate the small screen on the phone. I also find it easier using the tablet when researching my next day's adventures to view larger maps or “full-sized” web sites.

Posted by
54 posts

I take my phone and iPad. I use the iPad on planes and in hotels for web browsing, email, e-books, crossword puzzles, videos. Those things can be done on a phone, but I find them easier and more enjoyable on the iPad and it fits in my carry on easily, so I bring it.

Posted by
11464 posts

For a long time I took my iphone and my mini ipad. (I have now switched to Android and take my smartphone and 8" tablet. I use the tablet in my hotel because it is easier to read and m smartphone when out and about. I don't want to be lugging all the extra weight--well, not really that much--around with me all day.

Posted by
4958 posts

If I already had the tablet, I'd take it and the phone.

But if you just need a reader, have you tried using your phone? I just bought a 5" phone and have installed my ereader on it, and it is very usable for me as a reader. But I wouldn't want to use a smaller phone as reader.

Posted by
786 posts

I used to take both and mainly used the pad to read. Then I purchased one of the larger iphones and found that was just as convenient to read especially if I enlarge the font. It is nice to have one less thing to keep tabs on, one less thing to charge.

Posted by
3356 posts

While not for 5 months, I do travel with both my iPad and iPhone. My iPad is the iPad Mini 4 which is very light unlike the iPad Pros and the other large/bulky iPads.

I love to take pictures and specifically for landscapes and seascapes, I prefer using my iPad over my iPhone. I also have eBooks on my iPad which I find easier to read than using my iPhone for books, newspapers and magazines. Last, I like having the backup of the iPad if I need to go online and the battery is low on the iPhone.

Posted by
1165 posts

I take both. I have my iPhone 6s out with me during the day for keeping in touch with my travel buddy and for checking email or last minute tourist info when I have wifi in a cafe. It's also great for transit apps such as Citymapper and in museums that have wifi walking tours. And the camera, of course!
I carried my Ipad mini with me on my first trip after I got it. I had bought the ebook version of my guidebook and I thought it would be a good use of it. But for me, it was too unwieldy and heavy.* I actually prefer ripping up the paper books and carrying only the sections that I need.
So I use the mini on the plane for reading and in the hotel or apartment for more research and emailing my lengthy travel notes to friends and family back home.

Posted by
21328 posts

I travel for 3+ months with both smartphone (rarely used) and an 8.4" Android tablet. The tablet stays in my hotel except when I'm switching cities, when it goes in my purse and makes it annoyingly heavy. (The camera on my phone is better than the one on my tablet, which I think is typical for Android devices; I don't know about Apple.) I plan my trips as I go, so I really need the larger screen for my travel research. It's also far easier to use the tablet keyboard to make posts on this forum, which I spend far too much time doing.

If not for the last-minute travel research I perform (including booking hotels) and the forum posting, I could and probably would get by with just the smartphone. I have very little interest in watching videos on any small electronic device and probably wouldn't find reading very different on the phone vs. the tablet; I prefer hardcopy books. There's an advantage tr having a second device as a back-up, though. I stayed at an apartment in Bulgaria where I had no trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi with my phone, but the tablet was a no-go.

Posted by
2363 posts

I take both my iPad Mini (wi-fi only) and my iPhone 5s, and use them the same as I do at home. The iPad I use extensively at my lodging for research, reading, news, e-mail, etc. I rarely carry it with me, unless when moving from one lodging to another, and generally keep it locked in my baggage during the day, and charging at night. I carry my iPhone with me, generally in my day pack, and use it almost exclusively for a very few phone calls, about reservations, emergencies, etc. I also carry a very small but good digital camera, and rarely use my iPhone as back up if I find my camera battery, and back-ups, have died.

Posted by
1041 posts

Add my vote to those who take both. The phone is handy for photos, map apps and the occasional phone call. I use an iPad mini for email, blogging and trip planning but keep it locked in the hotel when I am out and about. I would never consider traveling without both.

Posted by
4622 posts

We have taken both on recent trips. Both of us prefer the ipad in the hotel because of the larger screen & ease in typing. I especially like it to view the photos I took that day and delete the ones I don't want to keep (I'll take 3-4 of some views and then just keep one). But, we never carry the ipad with us when we're out enjoying the day - just our phones.

I am planning my first solo trip, and we decided that I should take the ipad along since it's nice to have in the hotel in the evening. Also, if my phone was stolen or lost, I'd have a way to still communicate with my husband at home.

Posted by
2747 posts

I take both. I have a smaller iphone (a SE which is the same age as a 6 but smaller) and a normal ipad. I have never traveled for 5 months but don't see the length of a trip as a big factor.

I use the phone for its usual purposes - calls, texts, internet when out and about, maps, camera sometimes (I am pretty into photography and bring my DSLR but occasionally the phone is easier).

I use the ipad for moving my photos from the DSLR. I can store and edit them on it better than on the phone - the screen size is very important for this. I have the photos saved on my memory cards, on the ipad, and backed up to the cloud whenever I find internet that is strong enough. I also prefer to read on an ipad vs. my phone for the size factor, so I will load my ebooks on both it and my phone. Also, I find web browsing with more reading/parts easier on the ipad so at night I will use it for my research for the next day (checking opening times, reviewing wikipedia for the history of a sight, finding potential restaurants, that kind of thing). Facebook and such is fine on the phone, though. Finally, I always load a few movies or tv episodes on it. I don't watch much when traveling but it's good to have on the plane or train.

Honestly, if it weren't for my photography interest I would consider not bringing it, too, but it comes in handy and I think I'd miss it. I don't carry it with me on a day-to-day basis - it stays in the hotel room, either in the safe or buried in my suitcase. I use it only in the hotel, airport, and on planes/trains.

Posted by
546 posts

Well thanks for all of the great replies. It seems there is a clear consensus about this for taking both. I really appreciate all of the feedback.

You have given me some things to think about and I appreciate that.

Posted by
546 posts

Another question...For those of you with IPads does anyone have the new IPad pro 10.5" with the new OS11 ?

If so can you tell me how well it handles maps, Footnotes in Books in e reader mode and tables of data? These are the areas I have found virtually all E-readers fall short in handling in a logical, easy and quickly accessed way. Is the OS11 any improvement over the previous iterations in this respect?

Posted by
437 posts

I vote for taking both. I have an iPhone and iPad. Before leaving on a recent RS Tour of Scotland, I debated whether to take just the iPhone. Decided to take the iPad as well for all the reasons stated above, mainly easier to see the screen for reading and watching videos on the plane. I don't carry the iPad around all day - too heavy. On my first day of the tour, my iPhone froze up and would not work at all, so no camera for Edinburgh Castle. Luckily, I was able to get it to work after charging for several hours. Moral of the story: always have a back-up!

Posted by
607 posts

I carry both in a small shoulder bag whether I am travelling abroad or at home or work. And I do not even have a data plan. I use my phone for calls and texts and my 8" tablet for work and play. I rely only on available wifi for my tablet. So it makes no difference to me whether i am on vacation or at home.

Posted by
155 posts

Well, I guess I’m a certified geek as I own both the iPad Mini and IPad Pro along with an iPhone. I take the Pro and phone on trips, as I enjoy the features of the iPad without the bulk of a laptop. On an overseas trip, my wife gets the international coverage on her phone and I turn my roaming off. Since wifi is pretty much everywhere, there isn’t a need for both of us to have cell coverage.

I’ve never been able to read books on the phone comfortably, so the iPad serves as my “reader”. And with the Smart Keyboard, I can use it as a laptop back in the hotel for picture editing and web surfing. If I’m on a short trip, the Mini is fine for reading and light computer work.

Since I’m retired, I don’t need a laptop for work, so that stays at home. The iPad (or other tablet) is a good way to follow the “packing light” mantra we see here all the time.

Posted by
279 posts

I have a 9.7 iPad Pro running ios 11. I also use a Belkin keyboard cover. This basically gives me a mini laptop setup. I also have in iPhone 6. I carry both, but leave the iPad at the hotel during the day. I use it for reading, net surfing, planning, and email. I also have Lightroom mobile loaded so that I can review and do initial post processing of my photos. I have number of map and navigation apps loaded.

During the day, while out and about, I use my iphone for navigation and sometimes guidebooks. I have several navigation apps that do not require cellular data.

So, yes, I take both and iPhone and iPad with me when I travel

Posted by
228 posts

This is a good place to put out an appeal to iPad and other tablet users.

Please, please, PLEASE consider others when using such devices to take photographs at big events. Last year I was lucky to attend, after many years of wishing, Kyoto's 'Gion Matsuri' festival. I underestimated just how many people would be there and so ended up spectating from approx the 'sixth row' among standing spectators. I had a good spot though and was looking forward to the arrival of the first and biggest float, albeit over the heads of fifty others.

However, after over two hours waiting and just as the first float arrived, a forest of tablets arose from the folks in front of me and my view was completely blocked. I couldn't even take a photo of my own, such was the obstruction. I had to contend myself with glimpses as tablet users tired of holding them up before lofting them again and blocking my view. To make matters worse, most weren't taking stills but video, so they rarely lowered them the whole way through.

Well, I say the whole way through but I don't really know, because after 45mins of frustration in sweltering heat and humidity, I gave up and went back to our digs.

Posted by
164 posts

The iPad is clearly better for bringing Rick's books in e-form. Also, an advantage of two devices is if you are running out of battery on one, you still have power on the other. By the way, you can get a small Apple wireless keyboard to use with an iPad to turn it into a poor mans computer.

I would also mention that I had a MacBook Air stolen on the 1st class TGV - and I am super vigilant about getting ripped off. So keep a sharp eye on your stuff.