Should I take my 2016 MBP on a trip to Japan or buy a 12" MB or iPad instead?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dick Whitman, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. Dick Whitman macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    Hey guys, I need advice in regards to what to take on an upcoming trip to Japan. I'll be there for three weeks and really just need something to keep me entertained on the long flights there and back. I suppose it would also be nice to have access to the web on a device other than my phone though (if and when needed).

    Since my MBP was $1400, and I'll be moving around the country quite a bit, I was hesitant on considering taking this at first. Plus I would have to carry it with me for most of my time there.

    I also have an iPad Mini 4 but it's really just a content consumption device, and the smaller display might not be ideal for longer flights. Alternatively, I could pick up the 2017 iPad or the iPad Air 2 (if I can still find one) or possibly even a used 2015 12" MacBook. The latter is probably my most ideal option as it is extremely lightweight and compact while still providing arguably the most flexibility via a full-fledged OS X experience.

    The only dilemma I have is whether it makes sense to spend $700 or so when I already have a MBP that I could take instead. Has anyone else gone on a similar trip and taken a MacBook, iPad, etc.? How has that experience been? Any advice is appreciated.
  2. superotaku78 macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2017
    Take the MBP and your iPhone. I lived in Japan for 5 years and now travel back to see the in-laws with kids in tow and always have my 15" Macbook and phone with me. Phone is great for when I'm out and about and the laptop is indispensable for photo editing, media consumption, and communication back home (I realize iPhone does this too, but I much prefer the MBP). If you have everything you need so I wouldn't waste any money.

    Is this your first trip to Japan? Don't overthink the travel time. It's 13-14 hours direct for me and I almost never have to rely on my own electronics for entertainment. Most modern airlines have excellent personal entertainment systems for long haul flights. I fly Air Canada and they have a personal screen in every seat and free booze! In my younger days it was a couple of cocktails and a movie or two and I was ready to sleep.

    Oh, and don't worry about your stuff being stolen in Japan.

    Hope that helps!
  3. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thanks! This is very helpful hearing from someone who's actually traveled to Japan! You basically described the exact same things I would use my laptop for - photo editing, media consumption, and communication.

    This will be my first trip to Japan, as well as my first time traveling alone, so I'm really trying to prepare as best I can before leaving. My total flight time each way (with layovers) is about 18 hours, and while I definitely plan to catch some shut eye, I know I will need some things to keep me pre-occupied. I've found that in-flight entertainment can be hit or miss so I was planning on brining my own content, which will likely consist of some stuff from Studio Ghibli, something to get me in the spirit for my trip. I'm also definitely taking my Nintendo Switch. The idea of playing a game like Breath in the Wild on a plane is so exciting and should really help to pass the time.

    Since Japan is known for being one of the safest countries, I'm not particularly worried about anything being stolen. My concern has more to do with the increased likelihood of something breaking or being damaged as a result of taking it virtually everywhere. But, like you said, I guess that makes more sense that spending hundreds of dollars on a separate device when in theory I already have everything I need.
  4. superotaku78 macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2017
    No problem. With all that travel entertainment you'll be more than set!

    You'll absolutely love Japan and it's one of the better countries to travel alone. Good luck and have fun!
  5. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
  6. iona44 macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2015
    My wife and I just returned from a 15 day trip to Japan. There is no need to worry about security. If you leave your phone and MacBook in a restaurant, when you return the next day they will be waiting for you. I rented a pocket held Mobile wifi for the two weeks and was able to stay connected to an iPad, iPhone and MacBook at a reasonable price. The unit is picked up and returned to the airport.
  7. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    Nice. Did you have to reserve it before leaving? Also, what company did you use if you don't mind me asking? Did you need to use any special adapters for your MacBook?
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Something else to take:
    A small backup drive with a bootable clone created from either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

    Keep it in your luggage or somewhere apart from the Mac (in its travel bag).
    This way, if the laptop was stolen, you'd still have your data, and could quickly restore to a replacement.

    Also, would prove invaluable if you got into an "I can't boot!" moment with the laptop.
  9. iona44 macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2015
    Yes, I reserved prior to leaving the US, multiple companies advertise similar device, all competitive. Picked up device at airport postoffice. Theft is not an issue in Japan.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 1, 2017 ---
    No adapter needed, just your pocket.
  10. HDFan, Apr 1, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017

    HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    If your primary concern is consumption, I'm not sure why you would want to carry the extra weight of a MacBook. I travel overseas quite a bit (have been to Japan) and carry just my phone and iPad. With T-Mobile on my iPhone and iPad I generally have no issues with connectivity (even in Antartica! - although no data) when Wifi is unavailable.

    There are a number of issues with entertainment content when traveling in coach. United sometime uses DirecTV. I have that at home so it's not particularly interesting. The airlines systems usually have a lot of first run movies which are not yet available from Netflix. Here for example is the current list from Delta:

    I look forward on my flights to watching the latest movies since I generally don't go to theaters, so I don't mind any extra cost for entertainment.

    Most of my flights are in the 10-13 hour range. My time is spent at the window taking pictures (generally just on my iPhone) for takeoff and landing (~30 minutes each), at any scenic views (looking at Mount Fuji while riding a 160 mph tailwind at 720 mph just off the coast of Tokyo). Then there are the 2 meals, entertainment, and sleeping. I usually watch 1-2 movies, maybe 3 if I can't sleep on the plane. I use the music channels to listen to music to help me fall asleep. I have trouble sleeping on a plane so I always carry sleeping pills.

    Noise levels vary depending upon your position in the plane, so if you're not traveling business or first where they often provide Bose noise cancelling headsets, take that into consideration. Years back I took Bose headphones, but finally decided that they were more a nuisance taking up space and having to haul them around everywhere on the trip not being used. Right now I use a pair of Sennheiser in-ear Momentums which have great bass, fit into my pocket with my passport. They block a lot of the noise.

    My other big issue is the screen. There have been big improvements over the years, but some times the screens are washed out and/or the colors are inaccurate which drives my crazy so I won't watch them. [I admit I'm a bit paranoid about video quality].

    You don't have that problem with your MacBook or iPad, but they present another problem. If you place them on your meal tray that requires you to be looking down at them. That cricks my neck and interferes with sleeping as I want to recline my seat with my head laid back so I can fall asleep while watching a movie.

    I've been told that there are hangers which allow you to suspend an iPad from the seat in front, giving you the right viewing angle, but I've never used/seen one.

    If you are traveling in a forward cabin you generally get screens larger than any computer or iPad so I never use my iPad there, but I do use my iPhone for music if I don't like the music entertainment options.
  11. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

    Oct 16, 2012
    Personally, I prefer to have my own entertainment rather than relying on the limited options provided by the airline, as most of the time none of the movies end up interesting me anyway. To that end, an iPad Mini would be fine. A MacBook Pro on the other hand provides much more functionality though at the expense of size and weight along with the added risk inherent in traveling with a much more expensive device. Once I have arrived at my destination, I doubt I would really need to use my MacBook all that much. I just like the idea of having a fully-fledged computer at my fingertips and the added peace-of-mind that that would bring. Of course, not having a computer, would also eliminate any temptations of mindlessly surfing the web and wasting precious time abroad so there is an argument to be made for either scenario.

    The longest travel time I have ever had to endure was a transatlantic flight and even then that was only six or so hours. For this trip and for the first time, I decided to upgrade to business class. I am mainly interested in the additional leg room and overall comfort but the complimentary toiletries and noise-cancelling headphones are definitely a bonus.

    While I have never thought to use over-the-counter sleep aids, which, in retrospect, I probably should have knowing how I generally have difficulty sleeping on a plane, I am currently on a medication that really helps in promoting more restful, deeper sleep. My hope is that between that, planning, and opting for business class, I will generally have a much more pleasant experience while minimizing jet lag as much as possible.

    The other points you raised, namely those concerning viewing angles and screen sizes, are entirely valid. Typically, I hold my iPad Mini when watching something on it though I could see this becoming tiring after a few hours.

    On an entirely separate note, I had briefly considered traveling with only a backpack and a carry-on sized luggage but after giving the idea further thought I realized that that's probably not entirely practical for a three week trip to place like Japan. I have no doubt that I'll pick up souvenirs while I'm there and when I do I will need a way to transport them back home.
  12. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    When we leave from the hotel for a very short trip and return back to the same hotel there's no reason to carry everything for just a few days. I carry a small lightweight collapsable duffle bag and leave the rest in my suitcase at the hotel. If you pick up a lot of souvenirs you could put your clothes in a duffle giving you space in your pack for souvenirs for the return trip.

    This is particularly useful if you have multiple climates on a trip (arctic, tropical) and are using the same hotel.

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11 March 30, 2017