I was very, very, lucky this weekend and became the proud owner of a shiny new iPad 2. I got it just in time for a trip to DC to meet with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As a test of my new gadget, I decided to bring it on my trip in place of a computer or pen and paper. Are you thinking about ditching the laptop and using a tablet for business travel? Here are some tips from my first trip with my iPad 2.

First things first: Accessorize. For one, you need a good case. I opted for one that looks like a leather portfolio and folds up in to a stand. If you plan on handwriting notes (which I did during my trip) you should also get a stylus. I got a small stylus that clips on to the case and gets the job done well.

The iPad has great battery life (10+ hours of use), but you will still need charge it pretty much each day. If you have an iPhone as well, both devices use the same dock connector, so you can travel with one charger. However, I found at the end of the day both devices were running low and I could only charge one at a time. I ended up charging my iPhone first (since it charges more rapidly) and then plugging in the iPad overnight. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than bringing two of the same chargers.

I did my research and downloaded some killer apps for business traveling:

  • Airline apps – Download the app for your airline. You can usually get a virtual boarding pass to skip the check-in lines. You can also easily check the status of your flight and be alerted of any delays.
  • iBooks – Apple’s free iBooks app is a must for reading during travel. I did a good deal of reading and did not have any problems with eye strain.
  • neu.Annotate PDF – This awesome free app lets you download PDFs to your iPad, then highlight and write on them as you would with a printable copy. I had several documents to prep for the meeting, and I read them all on the plane, and then emailed the annotated PDFs to myself. During a meeting you can even snap a photo of a whiteboard or slide and write on it.
  • Penultimate – One of many apps for handwriting notes. This was indispensible at the meeting, and for scribbling reminders and notes during travel. I found I have to write in slightly larger letters than I would like, but it definitely gets the job done.
  • Quickoffice – A major drawback of the iPad is that you can only view MS Office files, not edit them. Quickoffice lets your download, edit, and create documents through a familiar Office-like interface.

And since you can’t be all-work-no-play, here are the entertainment musts:

  • Netflix – Netflix + In-flight WiFi = Bliss. I also watched the NCAA regional finals during the flight. Being able to do this on a decent screen made a lotof envious passengers. Keep in mind on some airlines and shorter flights there is no WiFi (or you may not want to pay for it). I am glad I had a few purchased movies downloaded on to the iPad as alternatives.
  • Pandora – I love not having to use up all the memory on my iPad with songs since I can simply stream them from Pandora. Again, not all flights have WiFi so be sure to have some backup tracks.
  • Friendly – Facebook does not release an iPad version and the iPhone version is really sub-par on the iPad. Friendly is a great iPad implementation of Facebook. Gotta stay connected on the go!
  • Pulse – Pulse is a news feed reader that presents your news topic in a slick, visual fashion. It can cache articles, too, so you can read them offline.
  • Facetime and Skype – Nothing helps you stay close to home like a video call back to your loved ones. Having a face-to-face conversation on the large iPad screen is a great experience.

Do you travel with an iPad or tablet? I know I won’t be leaving home without it.

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