Here's the dilemma. You travel overseas. You need to have computing power with you by that I mean your files; the ability to email and work with/create new documents. When you've gone overseas in the past, everywhere you looked you saw people with tablets. You wonder 'can I get away with leaving my computer home, and just taking my tablet with me'?

Several weeks ago I caved in and tried simply iPadding while away for eight days in California. You might be like me, needing to be in touch (I'm in the process of hiring a new part time assistant) and also wanting to do a bit of light level work too.

Though on holiday, I planned on writing a few articles, updating and creating a few presentations and responding to emails and telephone calls. If the only option was to use the touch screen I would never have considered it for a moment. However my husband gave me a Logitech keyboard that transformed the iPad immediately into a mini computer or so I thought. If you don't have one, it's worth the $140. The difference between your ability to type and swipe rather than the letter by letter finger tap is beyond wonderful.

Getting ready to go, I uploaded several documents to dropbox which stores documents online for free and sync's to your computer, tablet and smartphone. Basic storage if free, extra costs. I repeated the process of uploading but many more files - to Google Docs. This is Google's free version equivalent to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Again free, you can work with your documents online; allow staff to access and work with them and download them to any compouter or tablet The last time I went online before leaving, Google told me it was converting my Google Docs to Google Drive their new cloud based system. Okay by me (I thought).


So there I was in California. Evening in the hotel. Free wireless. Ready to work. Or so I thought. I went to my offline version of a document held on the iPad in Google Drive. It sure looked pretty, but I couldn't do a thing with it. It had not occurred to me to check if the new Google Drive allows you to edit documents offline. You can guess the answer. A big fat NO. The wireless at the hotel during the evenings was hit by every guest, so it was too slow to work with the documents online.

I could have used the dropbox documents if I had installed an app for reading and working with documents. I should have known this but that is the problem. You don't know what you don't know. And often you don't have the time to stop and think through the whole process. Nor the time to ask the questions via Google, in forums (or like me, your husband) of what is required for the whole set up to work.

My experience was a fail because:

1.I didn't research and test the full process beforehand. By this I mean testing that I could work with the offline versions of stored documents.

2.Relied on wireless. I could have gone out, searched for and purchased a sim card loaded with data roaming but I couldn't be bothered.

3.Learnt how to use the Google doc PowerPoint equivalent beforehand. If I had looked at it I would have known it would never be a viable substitute or even beginning document.

4.Didn't know which files I would need. It was a before leaving guess, and you can't anticipate what you'll need in response to incoming emails. Having everything loaded on a 4 gig memory stick is useless, you can't use them with tablets.

My advice? If you're planning a working trip, think of your laptop like your credit card. Don't leave home without it.