Ah, yes, the dreaded pre-trip. Depending on the kind of person you are it could be a month-long process, or just consist of throwing a change of clothes in your car and filling up your tank with gas. In any case, it’s probably stressful. Something’s bound to go wrong, or at least not go according to plan. And so adding one more thing to do – preparing your iPad – isn’t a really good thing, is it?
That’s why you’re reading this, right? Because I’m going to tell you precisely what you need to do so your iPad is perfectly prepared for any trip. Well, perhaps that’s a stretch, but I’m definitely going to give you the best head start I can. Just remember: don’t panic!
Now that’s the million dollar question. Before you leave the comfortable warmth of your current WiFi bubble to brave the wild in search of adventure, you have to answer one big question: how will you connect to the Web?
If you have a 3G version of the iPad, you’d think the answer would be a no-brainer – but you’d be wrong. Just because your iPad can connect to 3G doesn’t mean there will be 3G for you to connect to. If you’re the proud owner of a WiFi-only iPad, then the question is even stickier.
Will you carefully map your trip out to hit as many hotspots as you can? Are you willing to shell out the cash for the hotel’s less than stellar WiFi? Can you tether your iPad to your cell phone? If you can, you’re still not out of the woods yet. You’ve got the same problem as your 3G iPad brethren – potentially inconsistent 3G coverage.
So, because the whole Internet connection issue is kind of prickly, we have to operate under the assumption that for potentially long periods of time you’ll be without a connection. And that’s where most of the pre-trip work will come in.
As is usually the case, the next decisions we make are going to rely heavily on how you answer some important questions. Is playing music from your iPad an important thing? Then sync it up with your iTunes library before you leave.
As much as we all love Pandora and Rdio and MOG and friends, you just can’t rely on them if you want some killer tunes while you’re cruising down the open road, or trying desperately to relax in that economy class airplane seat. Videos are the same. Make sure you have whatever you’d like to watch stored. You can’t get Netflix or Hulu when you’re offline.
How about reading? Do you fancy yourself an eBookworm? Then you’ll want to grab your latest favourites from the retailer of your choice. All the major book reading apps allow you to download books to your iPad for offline reading. At the very least, go into the iBookstore or the Kindle Store and download some sample chapters from books that look good to you. Might be enough to last you a short flight or a reasonable car ride.
Another big thing to consider is mapping applications. Often overlooked, a quality mapping app, especially one that offers offline maps, can be extremely important in emergency situations. GrangerFX knows this, and they offer their awesome mapping app You Need A Map for free. Download it. Seriously.
I know that at 2 gigs, it might seem like a big download, but when you blow a tire in the middle of Utah, you’ll thank me that you passed on that 2 star rom-com you were going to sync to your iPad and went with You Need A Map instead. If you like what GrangerFX has done with You Need A Map, then you’ll want to check out their Scenic Maps line of apps. Detailed, offline, topographic maps for different parts of the country.
Just In Case
I’d now like to take a moment to mention cases. When you’re traveling they’re kind of a must. Even if you want to go with something super light, maybe a skin from Best Skins Ever, ZAGG, or GelaSkins, put some kind of protection on it!
If you want to be super safe, or plan on doing some serious off-roading, you might want to consider a Pelican Case. Maybe a little pricey for a case, but still way less than the cost of a new iPad when you drop it while rock climbing…
Honestly, something in-between will probably do just fine. There are a lot of great sleeves, folios, and more that are optimized for the iPad. And if you’ll be doing a lot of walking, maybe you should look into buying a messenger or sling bag for easier carrying. Our buddies over at iPhone.AppStorm put together an epic list of iPad cases, bags, and accessories about a year ago. Looking that over might point you in the best direction for you personally.
Make A List, Check It Twice
The bottom line to pre-tripping your iPad is to consider what you’re going to need your iPad for. If you’re going to try and replace your laptop on the trip, then you’ll probably need to take some more time preparing. But that’s what the rest of this series is for. If you’re going to be using it for a specific, dedicated purpose – like a digital atlas – then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the best app that works for you to do that. The ones I mentioned above, by GrangerFX, work well for me. But with a quarter of a million apps to choose from, there might be one better suited to you. Feel free to explore.
Next time we’ll look at how you can turn your iPad into the best travel guide around, giving you the inside scoop wherever you are, and helping you have the best trip possible.