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The Benefits Of Using A Tablet For Travel Blogging

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I am typing this while sitting under a tree in a park next to a canal. I am outside, observing what is going on around me, enjoying a warm summer day, watching butterflies land on flowers and dragon flies hover over the stagnant water that is pooling in front of me, but I am working at the same time. I picked up a Samsung Galaxy tablet and it has revolutionized my proficiency as a blogger. Now I can write without being cooped up in a room tied down to a laptop. This is blogging, unteathered.

Before buying this tablet I struggled with the question as to whether or not I actually needed it. I have a netbook — it is not big, it is portable, and it has always served me well. I have a smartphone — it allows me to do translations, pull up maps and my travel notes, and browse the internet while on the go. With this level of digital proficiency why would I need a tablet too?

wade-shepard-blogging-with-samsung-galaxy-tablet

I answered this question with more of a vision than an argument: I pictured myself sitting under a tree, in a park, next to a canal writing a blog post. The versatility of blogging with a mobile tablet, in my mind, would be its biggest asset. I can’t blog with a fucking telephone.

Sure, I could open up my netbook in a park, wait five minutes for it to boot up, and then blog with it. Well, until the battery runs out in under 60 minutes. I have never really used a laptop like this for a reason: they are just too cumbersome, take too long to go through the boot up/ shut down process, the battery lifes are far too short to even bother, and if I lost my computer through theft or breakage I would be floating in that stagnant canal without a paddle — an incredibly irritating and semi-perilous set back.

This tablet is not a stand in for my laptop, it’s an extension of my notebook. Now, when I am sitting in a park, on a bus, on a train, in a station, waiting in a restaurant, or any other time that I find myself out doing nothing during a day of travel and I want to write something up, I just pull out the tablet and within 10 seconds I’m typing. While I still carry my notebook for quick notes, I can now write entire blog posts while mobile.

This tablet allows me to take blogging anywhere. So I’m now blogging while hanging out in parks enjoying an excellent summer day. And if I come within range of a wifi signal I can publish. Simple. My work and lifestyle have both been drastically improved.

The tablet also makes long train and bus journeys vastly more productive. I can now write where I once just sat around doing nothing but dozing and looking out the window. The amount of time that travelers spend on public transportation is incredible. For years I have been looking for a way to optimize this time and use it to create. I have tried many differ in devices and methods, but none have ever worked out as well as the tablet. Now when I arrive in a destination I can often have some stories that are queued up and ready to publish rather than facing a hole in my publishing schedule that I will be pressured to fill.

Another advantage of tablet blogging is that the time gap between experience, writing, and publishing tightens up. I no longer need to wait until I am settled in a room and have my laptop out and ready to go before writing a story, as I can now just whip out the tablet and write up experiences, conversations, and observations almost as soon as they occur. This keeps everything fresh, the memories vivid, and the emotional state continuous. Writing is given another dimension when you can create a record of something while watching it transpire.

Now, I say that I’m using a relatively expensive electronic device in public. This doesn’t sound like a very good travel security standard operating procedure, now does it? There is a benefit/ risk ratio to just about any decision in travel, and dealing with potential theft is a daily preoccupation. While I would not recommend whipping a tablet out in the streets of a city with a relatively high street crime rate in places like China, Japan, Korea, etc . . . the prevalency of bold and brash style theft is relatively low so the risks here are mitigated by the benefits.

Though even in places with higher street crime rates the tablet can still come in pretty useful when in more enclosed scenarios — such as in cafes or restaurants. The fact of the matter is that mobile devices are meant to be used mobiley. This is their prime advantage over more sedentary/ expensive electronic gear like laptops. If my $200 tablet is jacked, oh well — it happens. If I’m not using it on the move there is no point in having it to begin with.

The problem doesn’t come if someone runs up and tries to swipe my gear, it comes if someone pulls out a gun and shoots me first. Evaluating the risk of this occurring in any given place is part of the art of world travel.

Travel blogging is about the details, the little things, the small impressions, thoughts, and micro-experiences that connects together the big events and make up the whole of travel. This is what differentiates blogging from other types of writing. Blogs are made for publishing stories and anecdotes that are interesting but may not be interesting, in depth , or important enough to publish as an article on a magazine style site.

Blogging shows a mind in motion.

These are someone else’s words, not my own, but they are right on. On a blog you can publish the beginnings and middles of an idea rather than needing to wait until getting the final results. Blogging shows the deep side of a story by allowing the small and personal details to shine through.

In this way, occasionally blogging from a tablet allows for the expression of the connector moments in travel. I’m not going to use sit down, laptop time writing about blogging next to a small canal in a park. That’s just not going to happen. Laptop time is for writing in-depth articles that require research, lots of copying and pasting content, time and effort. The laptop is for feature stories. The tablet is for those smaller impressions that would otherwise be left out.

There are only a certain amount of hours in each day that I am willing to sit in a room chained to a computer, but there is a lot more that I want to write about and publish that I can do within this time frame. So I take my work mobile. I sit on the laptop for a few hours in the morning then I go for a walk, sit in a park, write for a while on the tablet; go to a coffee shop, write for a while; go to a restaurant, write for a while. By the end of a day of this I’ve made headway on stories big and small, and hopefully a handful will be ready to ship.

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Though the tablet has opened up more avenues for writing and publishing, there are some things that I have not yet been able to do well with it. Copy and pasting is a real chore. So is editing — which makes working on more complex stories that require research extremely frustrating and nearly impossible. The continuous flipping between windows or apps is also a hassle. Formatting photos in posts within the WordPress app is also not as streamlined as it at first seems. As for coding on the tablet . . . well, I’m not even going to touch that. So there is still a need for a laptop.

The tablet works best when used as an auxiliary blogging device.

Get a tablet

Filed under: Articles, Blogging, Digital Nomad, Digital Nomad Gear, Digital Nomad Tips, Tutorials

About the Author:

Vagabond Journey has been featured on MSNBC.com, The Daily Mail Online, Business Insider, Gizmodo, the Des Moines Register, CBS Phoenix, NBC LA, and numerous other international and local publications. has written 2687 posts on Vagabond Journey.

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Vagabond Journey is currently in: Xiamen, ChinaMap
  • Jack Woods

    Good on ya, finally catching up! Here’s a couple of tips to make it go better.

    1) Put a PIN code on the tablet if you haven’t already. This way if someone swipes it then they don’t have easy access to your personal info. I forgot to do it to a cell phone and someone swiped it. Had to frantically changed email passwords, facebook passwords and a bunch of others.

    2) It looks like you got a samsung. Get a OTG USB cable and you can hook it up to your Neo. I have a Neo that I connect up with my cellphone for my writing. And that lies the future, my friend. Getting a large screen phone allows you do to many of the things you use a tablet for….

    • VagabondJourney

      Yes, we’re getting there :-)

      I’ve been using the Swiftkey app to type with right on the device. It took some getting used to, but I can do it pretty good now — so that solved the typing problem.

      Yes, a larger screen smartphone with an external small, lightweight, rollable or foldable keypad would be excellent for more adventurous trips or during times when I want to strip my load down to almost nothing. The phone also gives the advantage of being able to connect with cell or WIFI. I once considered this strategy a long time ago when PDAs just came out, but may look into it again. Hmm . . . I guess a tablet is really just a larger screen smartphone that doesn’t connect via cell. It’s always good to strip gear down to the fewest pieces possible. Will test this out.

    • Camille Smith

      Im going crazy trying to upload pictures in blogger on my samsung tablet, it just doesnt work. Any suggestions?

  • mikecrosby

    Hi Wade. I love your ideas and Jack’s too. I’m impressed with the pictures you insert in your post and the code using a tablet. Truly blogging does become mind in motion.
    I use my wife’s iPad and the biggest use of it for me is reading. I installed the Kindle app and I read and sync books from my Amazon account to my various devices.
    Also, I have the Galaxy Note 2, a big phone that Jack mentions. Never thought about plugging in a keyboard with it. Cool. I use it too to read books, newspapers and blogs. I’ve read they will be coming out with even a bigger phone. I just wish the glass would be sturdier.

    • VagabondJourney

      For sure! Using these tablets as a way to read books/ magazines/ websites is probably their biggest benefit. These things amaze me every time I pick one up. I am still completely enthralled that they could make a computer so thin, compact, and lightweight. Each tablet has the power to erase hundreds of books and magazines from print. I think this is a good thing.

      Blogging with them though is a little more challenging than using a laptop. Not difficult, there are just more limitations and more annoyances. You know the posts that I publish with the tablet because I will just put all the photos at the bottom, as inserting them in the text just leads to too many formatting errors.

      Mostly, I write posts on the tablet then save as a draft and pick them up later and publish with the laptop. Things just go smoother this way. But, if I had to, I can publish with the tablet — or with a smartphone for that matter.

      I can still remember the days when internet connections around the world were scare and it was pretty difficult to be a digital nomad. So there is no way that I can issue any complaint about publishing with these tablets — no matter how much more challenging it is.

  • gar

    Hi Wade,

    I’ve got to strip my gear down for a thousand kilometer hike I will be doing in Spain next year. I don’t want to carry over twenty pounds if I can manage it. One of the things that must go is this huge clunky computer I bought about six months ago. I bought it for the big screen because I watch a lot of movies but it is just too big for the traveling lifestyle.

    What would you suggest to replace it? A tablet sounds like what I might need. Do they have USB ports? Since retiring, I have not been keeping up with the latest electronic stuff so I don’t know anything about them. I don’t even have a smartphone. I use Skype for my phone needs.

    • Wade Shepard

      If you’re just doing simple tasks like email, internet browsing, watching movies, using entertainment type apps, then a tablet with an external keyboard would work incredibly well. If you want to do some more heavy lifting, like coding, blogging, or doing more in-depth writing, then I would suggest a netbook. My biggest complaint about the tablet is that copy and pasting is incredibly and unreasonably difficult. Other than that, they are an excellent travel tool.