traveling with ipad

A big part of the question, should I buy a tablet instead of a laptop for my travels, is whether or not an iPad, Windows Surface, Google Nexus or other device can hold and manage all of the pictures you’re bound to be snapping. As one commenter asks,

I’m on the fence about getting a computer for my travels. I love using my iPad but worried that it may not be able to handle all the pictures all I’ll be taking.

What’s the best way to manage pictures if you don’t have a computer?

For those of you you committed to putting your backpack on a diet and ditching a laptop altogether, there are ways to expand and optimize most tablets for some fairly serious shutterbugging.

tokyo japan airport storage lockersStart With Storage

Although many manufacturers are releasing 128GB models of their tablets (with varying useable space) the majority of us are buying smaller 16 and 64 GB capacity devices. Considering a common digital picture can be anywhere from 3-15MB, that gives most users a theoretical maximum of holding roughly 5,800 pictures on a 64GB iPad – if you save nothing else. Either way, your primary battle is with storage, limiting how many pictures your tablet can store. Most Android and Windows tablets however have Secure Digital (SD) or microSD card slots, giving you the option of adding up to 256GB or 64GB; about 26,000-6,500 pictures respectively.

  • iPads don’t have expandable storage built-in, but external drives like the Kingston Wi-Drive (32-128 GB versions available), can give you added space with the bonus of being able to sync your pictures over a wireless connection.
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Additionally, assuming you’re not using an iPad as your primary camera (like this guy), it’s possible to bypass your tablet altogether saving photos from your camera SD card directly to a digital picture storage device, like the 500GB Digital Foci Photo Safe II.

Send Your Pictures To The Cloud

Instead of using additional physical storage, you can automatically send your photos to free online storage when a solid wireless connection is available. There are a number of such services but two of the most common are Google+ Photos (15GB limit) and Flickr (1 terabyte). Using the free G+ (Android, iOS) or Flickr app (AndroidiOS) you can automatically upload pictures you’ve taken from your tablet to private folders online.

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Both methods eliminate your need for any additional hardware but if you take hundreds of pictures or won’t have access to a strong wireless connection on your trip, this probably shouldn’t be your only backup method.

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Don’t Shoot Pictures At Maximum, Absolute-Mega-Gigantic, Sizes

Finally, unless you’re going to be printing posters of all your travel pictures, you don’t need to shoot at the highest resolution your camera will allow. Even the Hubble Telescope only has a maximum resolution of 16.7 megapixels and unless you’re photographing the Crab Nebula, use this handy chart to figure out ideal the pixel-size for you. A good general resolution to use for most people is 2,590 x 1,920 pixels (~5 megapixels) and smaller photos means less to store, which is what to shoot for whether you’re using a laptop or tablet to manage your pictures on the road.