On the Road, just iPad and me

Before I began this summer journey, I have to admit that I was a bit worried. I was going to be going with only half of my gadgetry. I have been traveling since May 24: Bamberg (Germany), Roma (Italy), Firenze and Pisa (Italy), back to the States to Philadelphia, Uniontown, Hopwood, Austin, and then off to London for the Olympics. Each leg of the trip is different. It started out with a brief holiday, then a conference for work, then holidays with friends and family while doing major work on some articles, another conference/workshop, and then the Olympics. I had different needs: word processing, emailing, audio recording, submission review for The Acentos Review, research, e-documents to sign and send, pictures to take and process, updates to do on social networks, etc. In addition, wherever I go, I end up doing a bit of ed tech training, generally on the iPad, so I also needed the major of my apps ready to go, but even the techie needs downtime, so I also needed the ability to watch movies and listen to music, if needed. And I was only taking my iPad!

A step back: usually, I travel with one carry-on suitcase (generally a rolling backpack) and a satchel for my tech. I can fit about 3-4 weeks in a backpack after so many years of traveling. My tech over the years have become increasingly more difficult. There’s the video camera, the iPad, the laptop, the iPhone, the headphones (airplane and regular), extra battery source, power adapter (s), USB power cords, a car charger, computer to tech data transfer cords, and, usually, even an AUX cable so that I can listen to my music in rental cars or in the cars of friends. This time I would even be carrying a wireless slide remote (conference presentation) and the iPad to projector connector. In weight, it’s usually around 10-20 lbs. Did I mention that I have a bad back and should not be carrying anything of over 5 lbs on my shoulders or back?

All that said, I resolved to cut down on the tech, and the biggest item was my laptop. That’s a good 10 lbs right there. I packed a wireless keyboard instead to give me the typing functionality that I need (the iPad keyboard is frustrating to me on occasion, as is the autocorrect), but that’s about a pound in weight. I cut down on the cordage and power adapters. Now, my carry-on suitcase grew in size, but could still function as a carry-on (over two months with so many different needs was impossible to do in a backpack while still buying souvenirs), and my tech shrunk.

But would the iPad be able to fulfill my needs? Generally, yes. The 2 complaints I have are that I can’t use a web-based textual analysis program that I need for an article that I am working on at this time AND that the website changes I want to make to The Acentos Review I cannot do at all until I return to my computer. It’s a little difficult to find the programs that I need on the computers of those who do not do web design themselves. I am waiting for the app that allows me to make small changes to websites on the fly. Emailing, of course, is a natural fit for the iPad as is reading and watching videos. I recently discovered Notability. This entire trip I have downloaded needed PDF versions of research and been able to highlight, write text notes, underline, and generally mark up what was needed. This program came in especially handy when filing a receipt for reimbursement while abroad. The administrative assistant responsible for that budget sent me the PDF version of the receipt. I was able to use Notability to write in my personal information, sign the PDF, and send it off back to the college. When a student needed a recommendation the next day, I was able to write it in Pages, email myself the PDF version, open it up on Notability and sign it for her to print out or upload to the district employment site, if needed. Very handy.

I have to say that I love how the iPad is as flexible as one needs it to be. In most cases, I have been able to do everything for which I would use the laptop. 10 lbs off my back. It’s getting to the point that flights have USB connectors to power up, meaning I can cut down on the power adapters I bring for airports, particularly if I was going to just be doing a short weekend. I am looking forward to when I can travel with very little tech and still get everything I need done. I want to get to the point where I can use a rolling business briefcase for a 2 week trip. My back would be much happier for it.


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