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What to do (and not to do) when traveling overseas with Apple gear

Serenity Caldwell | Aug. 1, 2013
Want to bring your Apple stuff with when you visit another country? Macworld associate editor Serenity Caldwell shows you how to minimize the ensuing aggravation.


When I'm at home, I have an Apple device for almost everything. My iPhone is my travel buddy, my iPad mini is my reading and writing companion, and my computer takes on all the other heavy lifting. But for a visit to Italy earlier this year, I knew I had to pare down my collection: An iPhone, Mac, and iPad all seemed a bit unwieldy for a trip that involved a lot of walking and travel; also, you don't necessarily want to bring every piece of electronics you own to a foreign country.

So instead, my companion and I made an electronics game plan. We made a list of what, between us, we should take, and packed accordingly. For the most part, we did really well. If you're planning on venturing out overseas anytime this summer, here are some of our tips.

Don't: Bring a laptop
The first thing we decided while packing was to ditch the laptops. Our MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are mostly heavy-duty work machines—useful for running ten programs at once (or...Adobe Photoshop), but unwieldy to lug around. Leaving the laptop is a good way to make sure you're leaving your work at home, too. Instead, we brought two iPads: an iPad mini for reading, and my full-size iPad for off-loading pictures and watching the occasional bedtime video.

Not only does this lighten the load, but also it makes airport trips more manageable. Though certain airports had us take our iPads out of our backpacks during the international security process, others let us cruise through without unpacking a single electronic device.

An iPad is more comfortable to use on an airplane, too: Its longer battery life means you won't have to search for a power plug in midflight, and it's easy to position the iPad on a tray table and watch videos without making too much of a ruckus.

And despite the iPad's popularity, I was much less nervous about using it in public than I was a laptop—laptops offer a bigger target for a crook's hands, and the required laptop bag usually screams: "I have expensive electronics in here!" In contrast, iPads fit nicely into nondescript satchels. To a thief's eye, my bag could have just as easily carried books or fruit as electronics.

During vacation, our iPads mostly served their preplanned purposes: They were video machines on the plane; route planners for the next day's activities; reading devices; and photo-backup machines for our vacation footage. We may even have watched an episode or two of Doctor Who with a glass of wine at the end of the day, as well.


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