How to Travel With an iPad

Businesswoman using digital tablet in airport waiting area
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

To keep your iPad safe as you travel, consider the following strategies.

Buy a Case

This is especially important if you plan to store your iPad inside your luggage as you travel. Forgetting that your iPad is hiding among your clothes or in a special outer pocket of your suitcase is all too easy; so is whipping out a shirt and shaking the overlooked iPad out of it and onto the floor. Moreover, the vibrations of car, train, or plane travel will cause any hard or sharp objects next to your iPad to crack or scratch its display.

Apple's Smart Case is a good choice. It offers a snug fit and protects the iPad against the various bumps and drops that might happen during travel. Among its "smart" features: It can wake up the iPad when you open the flap. If your vacation includes rafting, cycling, or hiking, look for a case designed for outdoor use instead.

Learn How to Hook Into Your iPhone's Data Connection

Apple has made it very simple to share your iPhone's data connection with your iPad in a setup known as tethering. This means you'll be able to use your iPad almost anywhere without the need for Wi-Fi. Lifewire offers complete instructions for tethering.

Turn on Personal Hotspot on iPhone

In a nutshell, this entails opening the Settings app on your iPhone and choosing Personal Hotspot from the menu. Turn the Personal Hotspot on by flipping the switch at the top of the screen, and enter a custom Wi-Fi password. On your iPad, simply connect to this new network as you would any Wi-Fi network: Just tap the new Wi-Fi network you created on your iPhone, and enter the custom password. 

Sign In (and Out) of Guest Wi-Fi

Tethering your iPad to your iPhone gets the job done, but it also uses up the data allotted to your iPhone. Overage charges on data tend to be expensive, so use free Wi-Fi whenever you can. Many hotels, coffee shops, and other public spaces now offer free Wi-Fi, and it tends to be faster than the internet connection you will get through your phone. 

If your phone plan offers unlimited data, you can tether your iPad to your phone without worrying about overage charges.

When you sign into a guest network, remain on the Wi-Fi settings screen for several seconds after choosing the network. Many guest networks pop up a screen asking you to confirm their agreement, which usually contains wordage that protects them from responsibility should you accidentally download malware. If you skip this step, the Wi-Fi network might not let you actually connect to the internet, despite your device showing that you're connected to the network.

Just as important as signing into a guest Wi-Fi network is signing out of it. A hacker easily could create a hotspot with the same name as a popular one and no password. Because the iPad tries to automatically sign into known networks, the iPad could connect to this network without your knowledge.  

To sign out of a guest network, go back to the Wi-Fi screen and tap the i with the circle around it (next to the network name). Tap Forget This Network. This will keep your iPad from attempting to automatically connect to any WI-Fi network with the same name. 

Protect Your iPad With a Passcode and Find My iPad

Your iPad might not need a passcode at home, but it's always a good idea to create a passcode on your iPad when you travel. If your iPad has Touch ID, you can even use the fingerprint sensor to bypass the passcode. Add a passcode in the Touch ID & Passcode or Passcode section of the settings. (The name varies based on whether or not your iPad supports Touch ID.) 

Touch ID and Passcode screen on iPad

Just as important as a setting a passcode is making sure Find My iPad is turned on in Settings. The Send Last Location setting is important, too. This will automatically send the location to Apple when the battery gets low, so if you leave your iPad somewhere and the battery drains, you can still find out where you left it, as long as it can connect to the Internet.

Find My iPad

One of the biggest reasons for turning on Find My iPad is the ability to put it in lost mode or even wipe the device remotely. Lost mode not only locks the iPad, but it also allows you to write some text to be displayed on the screen—for example, a "call if found" note.

Load the iPad Up Before You Leave

Download games, books, movies, etc. before you leave. This is especially important for movies you might like to watch if you're stuck on a plane or elsewhere without Wi-Fi.

If you're traveling with kids, a game like Fruit Ninja can come in handy. It certainly beats hearing "Are we there yet?" over and over again.