Which gadgets to take on vacation

Which gadgets to take on vacation

Summary: With far too many gadgets used daily, how does one decide which ones stay or go on vacation?


I'm going on vacation this week and I figured I'd try to lighten my load. First off, I had to do some deep thinking about what I would actually need while away. Since it's a vacation, most people would think that I would just take my phone along, and check e-mail if I have to. Unfortunately, in today's world, coming home from a vacation leaves you with an overflowing inbox, so I'm almost better off checking it sporadically throughout the vacation. It still remains to be seen if I'll actually do that, but regardless, I'll need a way to check e-mail efficiently or read a Word doc or two, if the situation arises.

So, with the above in mind, I'm trying to figure out what definitely has to come with me.

iPhone 4

This one is a must-have for a number of reasons. First, it's my main phone. Second, it's also my main camera and video camera. 3rd … I don't really need any more reasons.


I have a 3G iPad (1st generation), so I can either use the hotel WiFi or I can use the built-in 3G if needed. Also, the iPad doubles as a great movie player for my kids, is a fantastic eBook reader, newspaper, game player, and more. So, that's definitely hitting the travel bag.


I have the first generation aluminum 13" MacBook. I'm debating about taking it only because I'm afraid that there might be a need for me to look at some spreadsheets or Word docs while I'm away. Technically, the iPad could handle that duty (as Matt pointed out in his iPad Offie Apps Showdown article), but the laptop would definitely make it easier to catch-up quick. The downside to bringing the MacBook is that it will put me into more of a work mode.

Also, the MacBook is heavy! Compared to the iPad, that is. I was debating about using the vacation as an opportunity to get a MacBook Air and trickle my MacBook into the family. However, my almost impulse buy was slowed by the decision of whether or not to get the 11" or the 13" MacBook Air. Friends say that the 11" is the way to go, while others tell me that I'll miss the real estate. At this point it's too close to vacation time to gamble, so I'm going to pass on the purchase for this round.

We'll see what ends up making the cut at the last minute. When I think back at some of my more enjoyable vacations, they were MacBook-less, and just had the iPad around for fun or if I had a need to check-in quick. I even went so far as to logout of web-based GMAIL on my iPhone and delete the IMAP profile from the built-in e-mail, so that I wouldn't even be able to accidentally check e-mail.

All signs are pointing towards the MacBook staying home. After all, these days if I really needed some hardcore computer time, chances are just about any hotel has a business center with more than enough computers ready for me. The only issue might be if I want to blog. I'm not sure if the iPad supports it, so I'll have to do some testing before leaving the MacBook home for good.

By the way, this trip is leaving behind the HTC EVO and Samsung Tab. While I like the HTC EVO, the picture and movie quality doesn't compare to the iPhone 4. As for the Samsung Tab, it's a nice device, and I actually prefer the form factor of it to the iPad's, but the iOS just performs better for me.

What gadgets do you take with you when you travel?

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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  • My Gadget Bag on this trip

    1) iPhone 4, which I've actually used more than my trusty old Canon Powershot S3 IS. Using the latest version of Tap Tap Tap's awesome Camera + app, and loving it.

    2) iPad 2. Need I say more?

    3) had to get some work in over at TUAW this week, so I have my 11.6" MacBook Air. It actually powered me through an hour-long streaming video session on Wednesday.

    Apple FTW!

    Steve Sande, TUAW.com
    • No Computers with Me!

      @Tuawsteve I take my iPhone and iPad 1. I leave my office Win laptop, home Win desktop, and MacBook Pro running with LogMeIn enabled. A quick load of LogMeIn Ignition on the iPad let's me easily do any emergency work that may pop up. Now that Ignition supports Wake On LAN, I can leave the systems asleep and wake them if needed.
      • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

        Correct the title, since it should be "What apple gadgets to take on a vacation if you are an apple fanboy"
      • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

        I truly agree with the article, specially this part "All signs are pointing towards the MacBook staying home. After all, these days if I really needed some hardcore computer time, chances are just about any hotel has a business center with more than enough computers ready for me. The only issue might be if I want to blog. I???m not sure if the iPad supports it, so I???ll have to do some testing before leaving the MacBook home for good."....a very informative article. More power....

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    • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

      Macbook is essential :) Molly <a href="http://www.readrights.com">articles</a> <a href="http://www.dbasics.com">articles</a>
    • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

      @Tuawsteve Hi! The computer tables there were all packed, and it was nothing but Macs, iPads and iPhones. <a href="http://www.cashadvance-loans.net/">cash advance loans</a>
    • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

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  • Airports are All Apple

    I stopped at Chicago Midway Airport for a 4-hour layover this week. The computer tables there were all packed, and it was nothing but Macs, iPads and iPhones. I saw two PC's in 4 hours.
    • In the states late last year, Europe in the summer

      Only the apple store had anyone in them and they were packed.

      Off to southern china next week. Only the iPhone will be traveling with me. Amazing how things have changed.
      Richard Flude
      • Yes, amazing.

        @Richard Flude
        What other stores are you refeing to that where not packed?
        The magazine store? Where are you referencing to?

        I find your statement suspect.
        Tim Cook
    • That's odd, as I see a pretty even mix at the airports

      @tomogden <br>Dells, Acers, HPs and Apples being the 4 most prevelent.<br>Were you at the airport near Cupertino by any chance? :)
      John Zern
      • Was in San Jose

        @John Zern And still saw a mixture of phones and laptops.

        I guess some people can only see what they want to see.

        That said, my vacation gadgets are my Droid and my Kindle.
      • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

        @John Zern <br>I hate going to cafes and its all macs there. They give me dirty looks when I pull out my pc
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      • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

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      • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

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  • My February seven day golf vacation experience

    One month ago I packed all the essential "man" gadgets for, what turned out to be, a perfect seven day Florida golf vacation. Packed on the trip were my MacBook, my iPad, a DSLR, a HD camcorder and my trusty Moto Razor phone.

    I used my phone, iPad, and DSLR every day. I didn't touch my camcorder nor my MacBook.

    My experience showed a conventional laptop is not needed anymore if a WiFi + 3G iPad iPad is brought along.

    Plus, one added bonus of taking an iPad through airport security is an iPad does not need removal from your carry on luggage and separately screened during the security process, unlike a laptop.
  • What about NOTHING

    You are on VACATION .... that includes your addiction to gadgets. You should just take yourself and your family with you.

    But if you just have to take something with you, the only item I would suggest is your mobile phone (what ever type you have) and NOTHING more.
    • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation

      Your argument reminds me of a certain "parable" I once heard. A very pious person was asked what she would do for all of eternity once she left her earthly existence behind her. She replied that she would engage in prayer. The inquisitive skeptic then replied to her, "Well, that will take all of ten minutes or so. Then what are you going to do?"

      One never just "does" vacations. One never just spends time with "the family". This is the information age, after all, and, if nothing else, an internet source is always a welcome asset on vacations.
    • RE: Which gadgets to take on vacation


      Even on vacation, it's nice to be connected with everyone (who isn't your boss). I like to have a laptop/netbook with me, so I'm able to download pictures off my memory card and onto Facebook to share with friends who aren't lucky enough to be there.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • What tech I take on vacation.

    -A good digital camera and extra flash memory. I like taking lots (some times thousands) of pictures and I like them to be of good quality (something that I do not think that smartphone cameras can do just yet) because I use them as backgrounds on my computers and I some times print them.
    -My smartphone.