Re-tooling for Travel

Many people want to know if the iPad can replace their laptop when they travel. That, of course, depends on what they expect to achieve. I imagine there will be people who travel with both (kind of like towing a Miata behind your motor home), but for focused trips the iPad is a viable strategy (Mashman, 2011).

I love the analogy, but I’d change it slightly. I think of my iPad not as a Miata but as a bicycle. I lived off my bicycle while traveling around the world for a year and a half (see It had enough functionality to survive and was comfortable most of the time, but it did occassionaly require making sacrifices. My iPad is my bicycle of computers – it is functional most of the time but does require making the occassional sacrifice. On the other hand, my MacBook Pro is my Motor Home of computers. It is portable but not agile. It is heavy and a pain to park. I loath having to take it with me, but I’m happy to have all the comforts when I get there. To take this analogy one step further, my house of computers is my Mac Mini. It doesn’t go anywhere, but does everything I need it to do and contains all the creature comforts I need to get my job done.

It was when I realized I needed to bring my laptop with me to present wirelessly and predictably at conferences and in the classroom (future post on this), that I realized that I needed to re-tool. I needed to replace my motor home (MacBook Pro) with a smaller, lighter, just-big-enough Honda Fit, that is a MacBook Air. When I travel, ideally I like to take just my bicycle (iPad), but that isn’t always practical. Sometimes I’m gone for too long, I am going too far, or I need features not available on my bicycle (iPad).  I need to bring along my car. But the motor home was just killing me. It was too heavy and too fuel inefficient. It is time to trade in my gas guzzeling motor home (MacBook Pro) for a more cost efficient Honda Fit (MacBook Air).

So I’m re-tooling my computing environment. I’ll have my Mac Mini at home with two big monitors, and wireless keyboard and mouse. It will be comfortable and do everything I need it to do (and do it quickly – the upgraded memory is on the way). I’ll have an iPad for most of my round-the-house, most meetings, and recreational travel. I proved that I could survive with just my iPad this summer, for three and a half weeks in Africa, then for two weeks in Nova Scotia. For conferences and those times when I need to present or need other features not available on the iPad, I’ll have a MacBook Air. The combination of iPad and MacBook Air is actually lighter than the MacBook Pro by itself!


Mashman, W. (2011). The iPad in cardiology: tool or toy? JACC. Cardiovascular interventions, 4(2), 258–9. doi:10.1016/j.jcin.2011.01.001

2 responses

  1. Jack Klark Avatar

    So I want to save up for a MacBook for my 15th birthday this November. I just want to know which one I should get… MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? What is the difference? Please explain.

    (I put this in a popular category to get more answers, I know its the wrong category).
    The MacBook Pro is much more expensive, why is that? What’s better about it?

    1. Rebecca - @rjhogue Avatar
      Rebecca – @rjhogue

      HI Jack,
      Honestly, it really depends on your needs. If you want ultra-light (like I did) then the MacBook Air is a good choice. But you sacrifice functionality (and upgradability) by going ultralight. For example, I had to buy a dongle to get an ethernet connection. The MacBook Pro is a more versatile computer. If you are using it as both a laptop and desktop then the MacBook Pro is a better choice.

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