Your iPad is arguably a better travel companion than your laptop, particularly on summer trips. It's a pound or so lighter than super-slim portable clamshells like the 11-inch MacBook Air--an important consideration if you plan to trek through vast airport terminals or carry your device around town.
However, the iPad in its native state (i.e., out of the box) isn't travel-ready. In fact, it's missing several key apps that can make your journey more enjoyable, such as an alarm clock, an easy way to find free Wi-Fi hotspots (even when you're offline), and a tool for checking the status of your flights. And since you may want to access your Mac or Windows PC back at the office, a remote-control app is helpful as well.
A good travel app can help too, even once your journey is underway. Say you plan to extend your stay an extra day, or decide to change your itinerary and check out a city that comes highly recommended by fellow travelers you've met. A free app such as Hotel Tonight can help you get a great, last-minute deal on a room.
So what makes a great summer app? Pretty much the same qualities that distinguish other terrific apps. It's free or inexpensive, has a clean, easy-to-learn interface, and most importantly, provides a unique function or service that's extremely useful. In short, it does one thing very, very well.
(If you take your iPad on a sand-and-surf vacation, a water-resistant case is essential. Check out 10 iPad Cases Fit For Summer for a slideshow of great iPad covers.)
An iPad, like other large tablets, can get heavy in a hurry. There are smaller slates, of course, including the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7, and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. Depending on your traveling needs, these slates may suffice, particularly if you plan to hold the device for long periods of time. The new Nexus 7, for instance, weighs only 12 ounces--roughly half that of the 1.46-pound iPad (3rd generation). Of course, persistent rumors say Apple is readying its own 7-inch slate, the mythical "iPad Mini," for launch later this year.
But an iPad Mini won't help you this summer. The following apps will. Click through to learn more about these 10 great iPad tools.