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As I write this my Nintendo 3DS XL eyes me from a dusty drawer wondering why oh why I don’t travel with it anymore. Well, I hate to break it to my DS that it has been replaced by the Switch and sometimes the Switch Lite. I used to keep my Nintendo console and the portable player separate because the types of games offered on each were vastly different. The Switch has changed all that bringing indie, closed world, simple, complex, old, and new games – and even games from various other platforms all to my fingertips making long-haul flights even more bearable.
So, now that I’ve successfully shamed my DS let’s talk about flying and traveling with the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, including how to get through security, the best travel cases, what are some headphone options to use and how to keep it charged,
The Best Travel Cases for Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite
The first thing you need to do before you take your precious Switch out of the house will keep it safe at the bottom of your carry on, stuffed in overhead, or just tucked in the seatback pocket. To be honest, the case it comes with is the OG official Switch case does the job, but if you are looking for something different then check out.
Please note: I try to avoid using Amazon and I am not an affiliate for them, meaning I don’t make money off these links. So, if you can, do what I did and head to your local Game Stop or gaming store to support them. I’ve created links, just so you can see examples.
If you want something fun and totally geeky, check out the Sheikah Slate carrying case that is water-resistant, durable, fashionable and doesn’t take up too much room. For something durable, grab the deluxe travel case. This has lots of room but doesn’t take up too much room, it protects your analog sticks and has the Nintendo name on it, so you know it is going to work well. This hard case is for those that are destructive to tech, like me.
If you’re packing heat and traveling with a family with 2 switches or multiple joy-cons this is the case for you. It should also fit a Switch and a Switch Lite if you are like me and my husband when we have both.
Before you travel with either of your Switches you should get a screen protector for the Switch and the Switch Lite and the
How to Keep your Switch Charged While Traveling
Do you need a docking kit? I see a lot of people recommending docking kits, but I say this is a big no-no. Nintendo Switch is known to not quite jive with third-party docking kits and Nintendo has not released anything that I am aware of at this time.
What can you do instead? Well for starters, ensure your Switch is fully charged before you leave. You can get a decent battery life out of it. The battery will last anywhere from about 3-6 on a regular Switch, 9 hours for the V2 hours, and about 5-7 for the Lite – depending on the game you’re playing. When I travel, I play simpler games, so I can get about 4-5 hours out of my regular and a solid 8-9 on my Lite. This will cover you for any short-haul flights or train rides or even a long-haul if you break up your playing time, but make sure to turn it off in-between. I just survived an Anchorage – Munich flight on one charge with my Lite.
When that isn’t enough for your massive open-world high graphics games then you should make sure to bring a USB C cable that will plug into any of the airlines USB ports, but this will charge quite slowly.
Thankfully I can just use my MacBook charger when there is an outlet on the flight, but it never hurts to have a safety net. If you’re flying on a plane with no USB docking station/outlet then make sure to bring an Anker battery charger. I love them so much that I have them in three sizes. They last a LONG time and are durable and come in various options. In order to charge the Switch, I recommend getting a larger battery, but be prepared to screen this in security.
Getting Through Security with Your Switch
The first time I went through security with my Switch I was caught off guard. My bag was pulled off to the side for additional security. They asked me if I had a laptop in my bag. I pointed to my laptop that I already pulled out and said I only had that one. After a thorough check of my bag, they pulled out my Switch and then they did the unthinkable they called it a PSP! After correcting them, that it was, in fact, a Switch, they pulled it out and swabbed it. Lesson learned you need to pull your switch out of the bag and put it out just as you would a computer.
If you are traveling with your Switch make sure you place it in an area that is easily accessible for security. At the line, pull it out and take it out of the case and place it in a bin, just as you would your computer. If you plan ahead getting through security will be a breeze.
How to Use Your Headphones
If you’re like most of the tech-savvy world then you probably have Bluetooth wireless headphones, which also means you’re probably hella annoyed that neither the Switch or Switch Lite comes with the option to connect your Bluetooth headphones. Not having this option was one of the biggest complaints with the Switch and to be honest, I expected a fix for the Lite of V2, but alas that would be too good to be true.
I usually travel with my Bose Noise Canceling Headphones and my husband uses Sony Noise Canceling. Both of these headphones have the option to plug into your Switch or Lite with a headphone jack adapter. Investing in these types of headphones is worth it, as it makes watching moves on planes much more accessible. However, if you don’t have the option with your headphones and you only have Bluetooth you can get a USB Bluetooth Dongle. The unfortunate thing about this is you will then need a USB to USBC adapter AND you need to sure your headphones will work with the Dongle which is incredibly annoying and by the time it is all said and done, you might as well get headphones with a headphone jack adapter.
Turning on Flight Mode
You know the drill when it is time to turn on flight mode for flying that does include the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite. To do this go into your system settings from the home screen and activate flight mode. If you are traveling with the regular Switch you will need to activate Bluetooth in order to use the Joy-Cons, otherwise they need to stay attached to the body of the Switch in order to work. It is helpful to have the Joy-Cons attached when you activate this, so you can easily turn on Bluetooth before disconnecting them. It is the same process for the Switch Lite, but you don’t need to worry about the Bluetooth.
Playing Offline + Offline Game Compatibility
Once you are away from Wi-fi and in flight mode, you no longer have access to the online features of the Nintendo Switch. That means no MMO games, no buying new games, no downloading games, etc. So, before you travel you should ensure you have your favorite games downloaded and ensure they are games you can play as a single player without internet, which is most games to be honest. There are a few games such as Fortnite you can’t play and something like Mortal Combat might not be as fun.
Can I play SNES and NES offline?
YES! You can play these games offline, however you need to connect to the internet at least every 7 days to touch base with your subscription in order to keep them. That means if you are backpacking for a month, just make sure to connect to your hotel or hostel wi-fi every few days for updates and to connect to your Nintendo subscription to keep things running smoothly.
Is the Switch or Switch Lite Better for Travel
This is a heated topic between my husband and I. Thankfully we disagree so the fact that we own one of each works in our favor. Even though the Switch Lite is marketed as an easier console for travel, personally I’m a fan of the regular Switch for traveling, and he is all about the Lite. So, is the Switch or the Switch Lite better for travel?
Nintendo Switch/ V2
The kickstand in the back makes it easier to set on your tray tables and train tables, etc. After traveling with the Switch Lite for the first time my wrists hurt a bit from trying to hold it and I desperately wanted to set it down and disconnect the Joy-Cons. So, I like being able to set the stand down and then disconnect the Joy-Cons to hold in my lap as I travel.
You can play all the games by default as you have the option to disconnect the Joy-Cons or play as a handheld.
The V2 offers a very long battery life of nearly 9 hours!
Better screen for long-hauls when you want to play those more in-depth and detailed games.
The Switch is heavier and more bulky – not ideal for minimalist travel.
The removable parts are more things to keep track of.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The Switch Lite is smaller and more compact with less moving parts, making it easier to pack and use on the go.
It is Cheaper and that means you have more money to spend on travel.
Decent battery life at 5-7 hours, which is better than the original Switch with only about hours.
Can’t play games that need Joy-Cons by default.
To sum it up, I think the regular Switch is better for longer trips when you have more baggage allowance. The kickstand is a huge pro for travel in my opinion. The Lite on the other hand, might be better for weekend or day trips because it is easier to pack. If you’re like me you will own both, so you can pick and choose based on the senario. If you have both, make sure you read this guide to owning both Switches to ensure you have access to the right games and don’t lose any of your save data.
Share Your Tips for Flying with a Switch!
Do you have any tips or tricks to add? Share if you prefer traveling with your Switch or Switch Lite better and why? Hopefully this covered everything you need to know before you take your Switch on your next trip. Happy Travels, Geeks!
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science. When she's not outside playing, you'll find her drinking whiskey with her cat and partner while trying to get to level 99 in life.