I don’t travel very much, but a couple of days ago I made a quick trip to visit family. My old iPad 2 stayed at home, and I just brought the iPad mini and my laptop- the latter of which I didn’t actually use. I have to say, traveling with an iPad mini really shows how it’s different from the larger iPads.
The biggest advantage of the iPad mini is size, and that was something I noticed in many situations. First of all, it’s small enough to fit in a small outside pocket of a backpack, rather than needing to be handled like a laptop. The full size iPad might be thin and small compared to a laptop, but it’s still not something you put in your pocket, which means it’s often just as cumbersome as a laptop. The mini is small enough to sit in many outer pockets, being readily accessible wherever you are. Another important point is the charger, which is smaller than the charger for the full size iPads, and that’s also something you notice- at least if you’re like me and tend to put things like that in any small pocket you can find.
You also notice the difference in size and weight if you want to use your device for entertainment on your trip. Most of my short trip involved the train, and I had my DIY hard shell tripod adapter and a DIY suction cup mount for it with me. I made sure to get a window seat on the far from crowded trains, stuck the thing to the window, mounted the iPad, and sat back and relaxed. This is something I’ve done with different devices for years, including my now-sold Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. Generally speaking I prefer watching video on an iOS device, as I always found the battery drain to be a lot more predictable on iOS than on Android. Longer, too, and I was surprised that it lasted through the day even if I used it to watch video at full brightness.
I had about an hour total to wait for the train/bus during my trip, and used that time to continue doing whatever I was doing on my mini. Because of the size and weight, it’s a lot closer to a media player than the full sized iPad, so you don’t feel as stupid walking around with it just to listen to music. I don’t think I ever took my iPad 2 out of the bag in places like that, simply because there’s something about the 10-inch form factor that’s just more unwieldy.
I think what I missed the most on the trip was a cabled remote. I have a pair of IEMs with a three button iOS remote, but while traveling I always use my noise cancelling Bose QuietComfort 3. I always used my Android devices for media while traveling in the past, and hence couldn’t use such controls fully anyways, but now that I can I think I’ll have to make it a DIY project to come up with a remote enabled cable for the QC 3. The cable is detachable, and Bose even has a “mobile communications kit” with a cable that has a mic, but I also want the remote, so DIY it is.
All in all, traveling with the iPad mini is great. In the future, it’ll likely end up being my only travel gadget aside from my Android phone. I’m tired of having a ton of devices with me everywhere, and the size of the iPad mini makes it and my phone an awesome combination.