Apple’s iPad – A Game Changer for Travel?

Apple’s iPad is the innovative company’s latest attempt to fill a gap in our modern lives, even if we didn’t know that gap even existed. It will finally transfer media consumption from the home office computer and into the living room for millions of families. Then, when you’re on vacation, you’ll be able to bring that same device with you to lighten the load and open up more doors to knowledge than ever before.

As it exists in this initial version, the real potential for the iPad would seem to be as an interactive replacement for paper guidebooks. No need to lug one around for each country you plan to visit, just upload the latest copy with the latest peer reviews onto the device overnight and away you go in the morning. Sync everything up to Google Maps and you find exactly where you are in relation to that highly recommended restaurant with suggested walking routes to get there. Since the iPad weights less than two pounds, your back will thank you.

If you have to travel long distances, the iPad will function as your on-board entertainment device. Watch your favorite films or download art and music from artists who live where you’ll be visiting. Want to get some feeling of the local flair? Then have the iPad auto translate the local newspaper website on the fly.

The iPad has the potential to become your child’s all-in-one learning device. Even when on vacation, they’ll be able to get assignments from school, interact with the teacher, and submit homework for grading from the device. This will make it easier to go off and learn things about the world without feeling guilty about missing a couple of school days.

With iWork and similar applications you will be able to download photos off your camera, organize and edit them while you’re on the road. With iBook you can have all your favorite reading material with you, not to mention the NY Times and a load of magazines.

There are a lot of great application possibilities that will not be realized until the iPad adds a forward facing camera. The augmented reality features available for iPhones and similar mobile device are already making choices easier for travelers, but imagine that with more screen real estate. Point the iPad at a ruined fortress and you’ll see what it looked like at the height of its power on the screen. Point at a restaurant and see tonights menu along with reviews and maybe coupons.

Another great ability would be to take a picture of some writing, say on a map or sign, in a foreign language and have it translated on the spot for you. You never have to worry you’re not getting all the details ever again.

So, will the iPad change the way we travel forever? Probably not. However, it is proof of concept for devices that could.

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