January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015
Should You Take a Laptop on Your Next Vacation?

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a beary safe and great weekend. Luckily, this is the slow time of year for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

People are busy paying off their holiday purchases and the weather is extremely cold in many parts of the United States. So there are very few events, conferences or speaking engagements this time of year. Therefore, the bear and I get to rest up and take a break from all the traveling we do the rest of the year.

Speaking of traveling, today I am going to blog about taking your laptop on your next vacation. I know I have to take mine because of all the pictures we take with the bear at events. But I often see people who might not need to lug their laptop around... so how do you decide if you need your laptop on your next trip?

Even just a few years ago, your options were limited if you wanted to email or message friends and family while traveling. You could waste hours of your life trying to find Internet cafes or fighting with the world's slowest computer in a dusty corner of your hotel, or you could carry your own laptop (and fight with flaky wi-fi connections instead).

Now, of course, everything has changed. The first iPhone came out in 2007, and the first iPad in 2010 -- while neither was the first device of its type, their popularity has changed mobile computing for ever.

So, for connected travelers in 2014, there's a question that needs to be asked: is a laptop still necessary, or is there a better option?

It All Comes Down to One Question

While there are many arguments made for and against traveling with a laptop, they can all be boiled down to one simple question that every traveler should ask themselves before making a decision: "What do I need to do with it?"

Are You a "Consumer"?

For many people heading off on a vacation for a week or two, their computing needs are quite simple. Browsing the web, reading a book and uploading beach photos to Facebook don't need a full-size laptop. Watching movies and TV shows is at least as enjoyable on a tablet, making voice calls (even via Skype) is better on a smartphone, and the huge variety of apps make either device more useful than a laptop in everyday travel situations.

With the addition of an SD card reader, photos from a camera can be copied, shared and backed up. Even tasks like Internet banking and printing off boarding passes are done relatively easily, all from devices that are smaller, cheaper, lighter and have better battery life than almost any laptop.

In short, if your computing needs while traveling fall into the 'consuming' category (ie, you're usually viewing things rather than creating them), then you can easily leave the laptop at home and take a smartphone or tablet instead.

With the increasing power of mobile devices and given that the purpose of a vacation for most people is to relax it's fair to say that the majority of travelers fall into this category.

Or Are You a "Creator"?

While most people no longer have any need for a laptop when they travel, however, there is still a minority that does. In many cases, these travelers are mixing work and pleasure in some fashion. Perhaps they're a photographer or video maker, a writer or someone who can't leave the office behind entirely for a couple of weeks no matter how much they might want to.

The common factor for all of these people is that they have a need to create content, not just consume it. While it's technically possible to edit hundreds of photos, write thousands of words or put together the next cinematic masterpiece on a smartphone or tablet, doing so is far from enjoyable.

Adding a Bluetooth keyboard Compare or other accessories can help, but it's still much faster and simpler to use a laptop (or hybrid device like the Microsoft Surface). For those situations where raw computing power matters, too, there's just no comparison between a laptop and a phone, and full versions of specialised applications like Photoshop or Final Cut aren't available on iOS or Android.

The gap between what can be done a laptop versus a handheld device will continue to shrink over the next few years, to the point where there will be almost nothing that can't be achieved with a tablet. There are definite signs of this already but the technology isn't there for everyone quite yet.

For most travelers, however, there's barely a decision to be made. They can just drop their phone or tablet in their carry-on and head for the airport -- the laptop can stay safely at home.

Hopefuly these tips helps you make your decision for your next trip.

Wishing you a beary great start to your week. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab