How to get the most from a tablet on vacation

The tablet can be a good companion on summer vacation. Here's how to do it right.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor on

You may be taking a relaxing vacation this summer to recharge your battery. Getting away from the stress of everyday life, and especially work, is something we all need to do each year. Vacation means leisure time, and the tablet is tailor-made for such activities. With a little preparation you can make the most of having your tablet on vacation.

Be prepared

It's a good idea to give some thought to making sure you get the most out of having the tablet on a trip. It doesn't take much effort to take these steps before heading out to the beach or wherever you might go.

If you are lucky enough to be going to a beach with white sand and azure water, be aware that neither is kind to the tablet. Bring a plastic bag with a zip closure that is large enough to put the tablet inside and zip it closed. This isn't waterproof by any means but it will do a good job keeping sand away from your precious. It will also protect it from inevitable splashes.

You can interact with the touchscreen through the plastic bag without trouble. When you come back from the beach your tablet will be nice and clean, and without those nasty smudges on the screen. This works for reading books while soaking in a tub, too.

See related: Hotel operators: Free wi-fi is no longer an option | Six must-have travel gadgets | Traveling with mobile gear: Tips from a veteran

You're bringing the tablet, whether it's the iPad, a Samsung or other Android tablet, or the Kindle Fire HDX, for leisure. On a vacation, that usually means listening to music, watching a movie, or reading a good book. Load the tablet up with all of that media before leaving home. Connectivity while traveling can be spotty or expensive in hotels, so download a few movies and books before you leave. If music is your thing, make sure you have plenty of your favorites on the device. For the reasons mentioned don't count on streaming music on the trip.

For listening to music, leave those earbuds behind. I recommend a pair of earphones that are worn in the ear when going to the beach. They keep sand out of the buds and the ears, and block background noise.

During the trip

It's hard to believe that connectivity can still be a concern on a trip but it certainly is. Many hotels charge exorbitant fees for wifi in the room, and even when provided without charge hotel networks can be terrible.

If that's what you discover when you arrive at your hotel, don't fret. Most smartphones can operate as mobile hotspots and this can keep your tablet online when needed. It's a good idea to test it before you leave to make sure it's set up properly if you've never done so, and that it works well. These connections can be shared with multiple devices if your companions on the trip need to get online.

You've got your tablet in the plastic bag and you're heading for the beach. Be aware that some screens are hard to view in direct sunlight, so make sure you get enough shade to see it. Even if you do, some sunglasses will turn the tablet display into a big artifact rendering it illegible. Sunglasses with simple plastic lenses won't do that so make sure that's what you use. You'll be reading a good book sitting at the beach under a shady canopy, sipping a colorful drink with a little umbrella in it.

Back at the hotel, make sure you have enough outlets to charge everyone's phone and any tablets. I showed a good way to do that from just one outlet. There are other tips for travelers that might be helpful in that article.

Enjoy the vacation

The most important thing about a vacation is to unwind and enjoy yourself. While a tablet can help in that regard, don't forget to regularly put it down, along with your phone, as I detailed in a recent article.

More important than getting some good leisure time with your tablet, it's far better to enjoy time with family and friends. There's this thing called conversation that is wonderful, and so much better than doing things on a screen.

If you have a tip for traveling with a tablet, share it in the comments below.

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