What can you do if you’re about to take a long air trip and don’t want to suffer the pangs of boredom but don’t want to buy overpriced airline Wi-Fi either? Gizmodo has some great advice, but I think they’re thinking too narrowly. The advice they give for smartphones in air travel could also work for tablets on long road or train trips when there is no Wi-Fi access—especially if kids are involved.
The advice includes installing an e-reader app so you can read e-books along the way, downloading audio and video media to watch or listen offline, using read-it-later apps like Instapaper to store a bunch of news articles for later perusal, trying ambient noise or meditation apps for something else to do, and even installing a text editor, paint, or music composition program to while away the time creatively.
One of the commenters advises making sure your downloaded media actually works before your trip, including being sure that you’ve actually bothered to download some e-books into that e-reader app, and also recommends installing some games (which the author of the article seems to have passed over as too obvious.) Another suggests, if you’re on Android, buying an OTG cable for use with an external hard drive which can store a lot more media than your ordinary smartphone or tablet, or loading up large microSD cards with additional media if your device can read them.
I would add that you don’t need to worry about an OTG cable so much if you use one of those nifty double-header USB sticks that can plug into either ordinary or micro-USB ports itself. Load it up with files from your PC, then plug the other end into your phone or tablet—no fuss, no muss. Whatever storage solution you use, as with downloaded media, you should definitely make sure it works with your device before you leave. Of course, if you’re using an e-ink e-book reader, if you’re smart you’ve probably got it well-filled with e-books already against possible contingencies, simply because you’ve got all that room, so why not? (My Kindles both have over 1,000 e-books each on them, most of which I’ve never read.) But smartphones often don’t have that much room to spare.
And I would also recommend adding some kind of external USB battery pack solution. If you’re going to be viewing stuff from your smartphone for hours at a time, those things don’t have big battery packs (though putting it on ‘Airplane Mode’ will help). Tablets will be some better off, but not too much. (Of course, e-ink readers will be good to go for several plane trips without needing a recharge, but not everybody is going to have one of those.)
And finally, this isn’t going to work for most air trips, but if you’re going to be traveling a lot on land and don’t have or don’t want to use a cell phone data plan, the Karma Go 4G hotspot offers great rates on 4G-to-Wi-Fi data (especially right now when they’re running one of their buy-one-get-one data package sales). It uses Sprint’s LTE network, so it won’t work everywhere, but it will work most places, especially if you’re near an interstate.
Is there anything else our readers do to prepare your smartphone or tablet for travel?