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Taking a trip? Pack your tablet - and these apps

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

Modern travel demands modern technology. Certainly a smartphone can be your concierge at times, but it’s not the best choice for every task. Whether you’re researching a trip or trying to get some work done while you’re on it, an Intel-powered tablet or 2 in 1 is often the better option. Outfitted with the right apps, you’ll be amazed at how handy these devices can be on the road.

Here’s a rundown of the apps and equipment that’ll be your best friends out in the wild.

Plan your trip

Travel planning and tiny screens don’t mix. For checking out destination photos, researching area maps, and typing in all your search queries, a 2 in 1 like the Dell XPS 11 makes a lot more sense. It runs Windows 8.1, which means you can use apps like Skyscanner to search for flights and WorldMate to organize your itineraries, review local maps, and more.

Stay entertained

Naturally you’ll want to bring your own in-flight entertainment. If you’re good at planning ahead, use PlayLater to record movies and TV shows from the likes of Amazon and Netflix, then copy them to your tablet for offline viewing. Of course, nothing passes flight delays like Amazon’s Kindle app, which you can stock with endless reading material.

As for games, titles like 2048 and Machinarium are so addictive, you’ll be disappointed once you actually reach your destination. And if there’s nothing good on hotel TV, fire up EndlessTV, a free app that delivers entertaining clips from College Humor, The Food Network, MLB, and countless other sources. The Acer Iconia A1-830, an inexpensive but expansive 8-inch Android tablet, is arguably the ideal size for such on-the-go entertainment.

Learn the lingo

Traveling overseas? Another way to pass time on your flight is to study the language of the countries you’ll be visiting. Duolingo helps you learn and practice just about any language, and doesn’t charge a dime for the privilege. And once you’re on the ground, fire up Google Translate to help you with signs you can’t read, menus you can’t interpret, and people you can’t understand. The app can translate typed, written, or spoken words, and even translates pictures. Plus, it doesn’t require an Internet connection, handy for connectivity-challenged countries.

Keep in touch

Nothing reconnects you with loved ones back home like a video chat, and few apps make video chats as easy as Skype. It’s free, it’s already built into Windows 8.1, and of course it’s available for Android as well. This is one area where a tablet really shines over a smartphone, as bigger is obviously better when it comes to face time. A portable machine like the HP Pavilion X360, for example, gives you 11.6 inches of it, and lets you orient the screen at whatever hands-free viewing angle you want. 

Work on the go

Are you traveling for business or pleasure? The best app for both may surprise you: It’s Evernote, which most people recognize as a mere note-management tool, but actually makes for a decent word processor as well--one that automatically syncs across all your devices. Handy! And with a 2 in 1 like the Asus Transformer Book T100, it doesn’t matter what tasks are on tap: You’ve got a keyboard for work chores and a takeaway tablet for leisure.

Of course, just because you leave the office doesn’t mean you have to leave the office behind. Thanks to remote-access apps like LogMeIn and TeamViewer, you can interact with your desk PC just as if you were sitting at it: run programs, retrieve files, and so on. Indeed, for the business traveler, this is perhaps the single biggest benefit to packing a tablet, especially a keyboard-equipped model like the HP Split x2. With its 13.3-inch screen and full-size keys, working remotely isn’t a cramped or sluggish affair. So go ahead and work from the beach. The boss will never know.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

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