If I were planning to do serious work while in Ireland, I'd definitely pack a laptop. That's because--though my friend and colleague Dan Moren made a decent go of working from his iPad--I find my iPad too stifling to use as a full-time work machine.
Since I don't plan on putting in full workdays from Ireland, the only things I would be likely to use the laptop for are tasks that the iPad generally excels at: email, RSS, the Web, Twitter, and FaceTime with the family back home.
And thus, with a heavy heart but a lighter backpack, I decide to leave the laptop at home.
Maxing out the mini
At this point, I've committed to traveling without a MacBook, but there's no way I'm forgoing an iPad. The long plane ride alone necessitates that the iPad accompany me. But it won't be merely my in-air entertainment; it will also be my main Internet connectivity device in Ireland.
My lovely third-generation iPad has a Retina display and a huge screen with an essentially full-size keyboard to tap upon. And yet my iPad mini is my favorite iPad of all time. Despite the full-size iPad's advantages, leaving my preferred iPad at home seems silly, so that's the one I'll take.
If I don't take a keyboard, I won't get any writing done. The iPad mini on its own is not conducive to long-form writing. I've tried (and mostly loathed) the Ultrathin mini keyboard cover for the iPad mini, so I'm definitely not taking that. And though I've tried better iPad mini keyboard cases, I don't own them. So where does that leave me?
Even if I end up not using it at all, the Apple Wireless Keyboard doesn't add much heft to my carry-on, and I'd rather tote it and not need it than need it and not have it. So I'll toss the keyboard into my bag and hope that it's not for naught.
Let's review where I am at this point: no MacBook Pro, no MacBook Air--just an iPad mini and a wireless keyboard. Given that my packing list seems fairly light, I think I'll go ahead and pack the Kindle, too.
Here's why: While I can read on the iPad mini, I prefer reading on the Kindle for various reasons--including the fact that the Kindle presents fewer distractions, and the undeniable advantages of E-Ink. But the top reason I'll pack the Kindle in my carry-on is its battery life. Impressive as the iPad's battery life is, I find reading on the tablet a smidgen stressful, as I can't help but watch the device's remaining battery percentage sink inexorably toward zero. I never think about the Kindle's battery life. So for reading on the plane--I have to finish The Night Circus already!--the Kindle makes the cut.
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