Are you planning a big trip around the world? Looking to get away from your office without losing your income stream? Or are you simply in need of something bigger than your smartphone to watch Netflix on? Here are the 5 best laptops for travelers in 2017.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
OK, bold statement aside, what exactly do you look for in a travel laptop? As someone who is currently traveling and using a laptop for work, I’m constantly pondering these questions, prompting me to compile this guide for those seeking the same information.
Okay, so you’re considering taking a laptop or computing device traveling with you on your trip of a lifetime, but , for whatever reason in the back of your mind you have doubts. Let me sooth those worries by giving you by listing advantages of traveling with a computer.
The most important aspect of traveling; researching destinations and things to do! Now, whilst Lonely Planet guides are a useful travel buddy, they still don’t quite match up to the search capabilities of the internet, and as much as a smartphone is a wonderful device, it’s not as optimal for shifting between tabs and webpages as the trusty laptop.
Ah, freedom! So, you may not go traveling with the intention of working (it’s escapism from office life that first drew you, right?), but if you’re like me, and have a limited budget but want to continue traveling (FOREVER), your own personal computer is the crutch you need. With freelancing sites like Upwork working from anywhere in the world has never been easier.
Internet cafes were a godsend when desktops ruled the roost but they’re now filled with locals and fellow travelers who didn’t think ahead and bring their own laptop! It’s now become difficult to rely on these as a means to surfing the web. If you have your own laptop, however, this problem flies right over your head.
As much as there being many positives to traveling with a laptop, there are also a couple of potential downsides to consider:
Traveling requires meticulous attention to detail when considering your luggage, including available space. Laptops tend to be quite large items, meaning they take up a lot of the precious inches you have for other items, so if you wish to take one with you, just bear in mind the dimensions you think you can manage.
Along with issues of space, there are also factors of weight to consider when traveling, for two reasons: airline restrictions and your own body’s capabilities! Again, laptops tend to be heavier so make sure you know your own limits as well as external ones if you’re catching flights.
Laptops are valuable items, and as much as they’re a ubiquitous part of more developed life, there are plenty of countries in the world where they’re very much a luxury, and therefore a potential theft risk. They’re also fairly fragile. So, you may need to think about extra insurance costs if you’re not willing to fork out for a new machine if yours is lost or broken.
There is a number of criteria when choosing to look towards when purchasing a travel computer, some are based on the above advantages and disadvantages, others differ.
Absolutely imperative, as mentioned above. Whether or not you choose a heavier or lighter laptop, you need to consider it in relation to the weight of the rest of your luggage to either avoid injury or fines when traveling by air.
As with above, you need to take note of the size of your chosen machine, it’s always going to take up a larger amount of space than most travel items, so make a quick evaluation of what else you’re taking, and how big your bags are before deciding on a final product.
This is vital to consider based on your own personal needs.
There are three main specs to look for : RAM, hard drive memory and which processor the computer runs on.
Generally speaking, if a laptop has a higher RAM than another, it will be able to run better programmes and at a faster speed.
If it has a larger hard drive, you will be able to store more programmes and files on the computer.
And finally, a processor (CPU) reads coding and makes decisions based on it, there are multiple factors which make one processor better than others, but the two most basic to identify how quickly your laptop will process codes, are how many cores it has (the more the better) and how fast it is in gigahertz (GHz) (also the higher the better).
If you just need a computer for basic tasks, all modern laptops have enough computing power for your requirements, so maybe focus on other aspects, but if you need more advanced software, check out programme recommendations and see if they match your desired laptop.
Surprisingly important when traveling is your laptop’s battery life (especially if backpacking).
Some hostels or hotels have limited sockets, especially in lesser developed cities and towns. You may have to wait for others to finish charging their electronics before plugging your own device in.
You will also probably find yourself on long journeys in need of entertainment or working capabilities, a long battery life is ideal for this.
Everyone has a budget, especially the traveling community. Evaluate what your savings are looking like to complete your trip and budget your potential laptop expense in with that.
If you want your computer to last the journey, you’re going to need to buy a laptop sleeve. These are based on screen size and are available in innumerable styles, starting from the super reasonably priced, to the downright ridiculous.
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you’re likely to find that your plug may not be compatible with the local powerpoints. There are many different forms of adaptors to fit different international sockets, and some that can combine to facilitate all pin hole shapes and sizes.
The above would be fairly useless without one of these… Make sure you laptop has a charger and that it works before setting off. It may be much more difficult to find one on the road than back at home.
You may or may not need one of these, depending on the type of work you do, but a mouse is definitely a useful accessory to accompany your laptop, as they’re much more sensitive than the typical laptop touchpad.
Apple’s Macbook Air is a super slim, super lightweight and reasonably well-powered laptop, ideal for the traveler looking for something to tuck away in almost any space. Whilst a little on the expensive side, the Apple logo is usually seen as a mark of quality.
More notebook than laptop, HP Chromebook offers HD viewing and listening, good performance when multitasking, is super lightweight and is the most economical to boot. Perfect as a simple travel computer for basic tasks, although not the best if you require loads of memory and performance from your computer.
This inclusion is Microsoft’s hyper-powered and industry shaking tablet-cum-computer. Glossy and lidless, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Surface Book for another tablet in the market, but with memory and processing capabilities more advanced than other laptops on this list, you’d be way wrong.
The main attraction to the Surface Book is its specifications, even for the base model and its ease to transport.
Lenovo’s Think Pad T460 is a beast of a laptop. Available in a number of different specifications to get you out of almost any computing pickle, with the most modest still outperforming all of the other devices on this list.
Its battery life is also unrivalled in this compilation, and with advanced security in the form of a fingerprint reader, your files are safe as houses.
On a budget but still want a fast laptop with unbelievable memory and battery life? You’ve reached your destination! The Acer Aspire E15 has all of the above, with included trademarked ColorBlast technology, offering 94% NTSC, which is more than double what you would get in an average laptop, so if you’re a photographer or just someone who appreciates a bit of colour in their lives, this laptop could be for you.
And now, all that’s left is to announce which of these I would take along on my next trip.
Based on the above criteria and the most important features of a travel laptop, the winner for me is the Apple Macbook Air.
The reasons for this are that despite all of the other laptops, notebooks and tablets having numerous heroic qualities that make them both great laptops in general and great travel laptops, they all have weaknesses that would make me think twice.
The Acer for example, despite being a spectacular PC and better value than the Macbook, is just too big to consider storing in my rucksack and lugging round in day packs; the Microsoft Surface Pad and Lenovo are simply too expensive despite other worldly specifications; and the HP Chromebook’s battery life and lack of computing ability worry me despite being unbelievably good value for money.
The Macbook Air is just the right balance of strong enough specs, reasonable value for money, and size and weight that a travel laptop should ideally be.
Got any better suggestions? Let me know in the comments!