Business

A Little Question… Should You Travel With a Laptop?

zainjo wifi in Jordan

Working with a wifi dongle on my laptop from the middle of the Jordan desert!

This is one of those ever-present questions for new travelers — do you bring a laptop on your round the world trip? And you may be wondering if you should start your own travel blog? If you opt for full-scale travel blog then it’s a no-brainer, you need a laptop with you. Likewise if you are a freelancer working from the road. But if you’re somewhere in between, this post will help you consider the pros and cons. It can be incredibly liberating to free yourself from technology, and a RTW trip is the perfect opportunity.

I brought my computer with me RTW and I cannot imagine traveling without it (my heart stutters at the thought). But I did not take a traditional RTW trip. I have worked as a freelancer as I travel for years now (8+ at least count as I update this post in 2016). If you’re prepping for a traditional trip around the world, or if traveling abroad for a few months, consider these pros and cons of bringing a laptop.

Disadvantages to Traveling with a Laptop

  • Safety is a big concern. And I don’t mean personal safety – when you’re packing gadgets galore you have to come up with ways to keep your electronics safe. For me that meant a bringing a PacSafe on the trip and locking up my backpack when I left my laptop behind at the hostels and guesthouses.
  • You spend more time on the computer. If you have a computer, you’re likely spend more time using it than the alternative, computers at internet cafes. That means possibly getting sucked into technology when you could be out meeting new people and exploring.
  • You’ll worry. This ties into the safety concerns, but you have a much more heightened sense of worry. Even with the PacSafe, I was a Nervous Nellie in some situations if I felt my laptop wasn’t truly safe. (Disclaimer: Most of my worry stems from my laptop’s role as my key source of income on the road; as a freelancer I cannot afford to lose my laptop in the middle of a project).
  • It’ll weigh you down. In the backpacking and traveling world it’s all about packing light. Less is more. There are even “pissing” contests between backpackers, those “my pack’s smaller than yours” type of debates. No matter what the rationale behind packing light, a laptop means more weight in your pack and on your back as you hike to hostels, chase down chicken buses and make a mad sprint for your train.
  • It’s hard to stay ergonomic. I developed serious RSI and carpal tunnel from my time on the road. Because of that, I still travel with a laptop, but I have a few other ergonomic travel products that make it easier to work as I travel. This setup includes a Roost Stand, nice mouse, and portable keyboard, among other things.
PacSafe on my Backpack

A 55L Pacsafe on my backpack and attached to the bedpost so I could go hiking with a bit of an easier mind about my laptop that was inside my backpack.

Benefits of Bringing Your Laptop While Traveling

  • Efficiency. A laptop allows you to pre-write posts, upload and sort photos, and draft emails all from a hostel or train. It takes a lot of time to run a travel blog and long train rides (a few trains/buses even have power outlets!) provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on work and get information ready for the next time you find internet.
  • More connectivity. Internet access is pervasive. That means that you can sip a hot tea from a small café and tap into wireless on your laptop. Wireless cafes were available from Laos to India and throughout Australia and Eastern Europe, not everywhere, but they’re there. Where there wasn’t good WiFi, I could usually buy a local SIM card and hotspot myself from my phone.
  • A nice computer. I like my computer, it’s familiar and was fairly modern (until it broke on the road). That’s not the case for a lot of foreign internet cafes. Fortunately, the vast majority of cafes allowed me to hook the internet cable into my own computer — and familiarity meant less time transferring files to a computer built in 1989.  :-)
  • Storage. It’s nice to have one spot to upload your photos. Though this can be easily accomplished with an external hard drive, your own computer is invaluable for storing and sorting mass amounts of media.
laptop

My poor broken laptop after about eight months on the road on my RTW trip

Laptop Alternatives for Travel

If you’re still torn about the laptop issue, you have a couple other options:

  • Tablets. This is a fantastic option if you are running a casual travel blog to keep people updated, but perhaps not working abroad. For blogging, if you can get photos onto your tablet (you will need an extra doohickey to read from a memory card for iPads), then the WordPress app will see you nicely through your entire trip. Skype is also a great app, Kindle app is wonderful, photo-editing apps for the iPad are fantastic, and social media is a cinch. If you are not working on client projects and in need of a powerhouse laptop, then a tablet is a pretty fantastic solution! To work effectively from one, you will need a wireless keyboard and some cloud storage too.
  • Smartphones and the iPhone. If emails and social media are your priority then a small smartphone might do the trick. This is barely adequate for travel bloggers, but just might meet your need for connectivity — it’s small and portable and less conspicuous than a laptop. Perfect if you aren’t blogging but want to take advantage of free wifi for Skyping home, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Netbooks. A step up from the iPhone, but a step down from a full laptop. I’ve seen them in action and they perform incredibly well for traveling. They’re smaller and lighter than a full-sized laptop and have a longer battery-life. They seem ideal if your main internet business on the road is blogging. The main problem is storage space, so you will need to back up to the cloud if you plan on taking a lot of photos!

If you’ve already started your travel blog and you’re looking for great resources to get your blog off the ground, I share companies I use and love for developing this very travel blog. And if you’re planning to start a travel blog, I have a how-to primer here. 

Suggested Reading for Working While Traveling

  • Ergonomic Travel System: This is the fully portable system I use to travel and work from the road. It includes detailed information on how to prevent injury when you are working online from cafes around the world.
  • The End of Jobs: An essential book for anyone who wants to work as an expat or digital nomad; speaking to why MBAs and JDs can’t get jobs, research on integrated living, and more.
  • Four Hour Work Week: No doubt you’ve seen it for years, but if you haven’t read it yet, you should. Some of Tim Ferris’ viewpoints are very counter to how I live my life, but I will give him this: his book changed my perception about what is possible in building an online business. It’s still a primer read for a reason, it’s worth having that knowledge and perspective in your head as you move forward.
  • The 80/20 Principle: A good companion to the Four Hour Work Week, this book talks about how 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your results. As an expat or digital nomad working smarter, not harder, is key and this book provides a good base.
  • Content Machine: Use Content Marketing to Build a 7-figure Business with Zero Advertising: While this business model is not going to work for everyone, Dan makes some excellent points about content creation and marketing.

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  • ShannonOD

    Something to definitely consider – their line of safety products are really neat…but expensive. A few weeks back another traveler brought the PacSafe TravelSafe to my attention – smaller but will fit something like a NetBook in it so you don't have to have the conspicuous mesh net on the bag!: PacSafe Travel Safe on Amazon

  • I have a Samsung NC-10 netbook and love it! With the advancements in today's technology, I think it's getting to the point where the question should be “Why wouldn't you?”. Although, my preference would be a netbook.

    It's a one stop check your email/write your blog post(s)/listen to music/watch videos/catch up with your favorite bloggers/redesign your website portal. It does so much for you without requiring a lot of space which is crucial when you are traveling. Great post, Shannon!

  • We are traveling with our laptops (one each!) and couldn't run our blog without it. We have been using the pacsafe and it helps ease our minds a lot. I don't think that I could have the computer and not have the laptop. If we are staying in a sketchy place it is good to know that it is securely locked to the bed.
    Sure they take up space, but I think it is needed. From editing video, pretyping posts before hitting the Internet cafe and going through hundreds of photos. A lot of work can get done while laying in bed at night.
    We are using our iphone as well and are starting to use it a lot more to check email and facebook etc. It saves time at the Internet so that we can spend time to focus on the blog. We are really loving the Iphone now.
    Great points all around Shannon!

  • gopetfriendly

    I think some readers are missing a point – there are people out there (like me) still drinking PBR! My wife take are laptops with us wherever we go, but we're traveling by car, not backpacking. If I were backing, I would still want a computer with me – a net book seems like the ideal choice.

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks for weighing in on this Renee! The only key drawback that I can see
      is if you're one of those travelers who is really aiming at unplugging from
      technology for a bit- but for bloggers, you're right, with the tiny netbook
      technology it's pretty simple to carry one with you w/out too much extra
      weight! I carry a full laptop w/me and even that is doable :-)

  • Can't afford a net book or anything else right now, so laptop is the way to go for me!

    • ShannonOD

      I second you on the PacSafe – although it's not infallible, it does make it
      a whole lot harder for someone to walk away with your electronics!

      I'd be interested in seeing a followup post from you guys on the iPhone ;-)
      I bought one and unlocked it a few weeks back, but I have yet to use it on
      the road – hoping it will do me well in Central America and am interested in
      seeming the pros and cons not that you've used it! :-)

  • Proud2BaDeamer

    Does the Pac Safe really work? I have been looking for something to feel more secure about my electronics on the road, I get a little worried even leaving my stuff in the lockers provided by the hostels. It seems like anyone who really wanted to steal my stuff/laptop could easily just cut the Pac Safe with a wire cutter and take my whole back pack. Or am I just thinking it looks a bit more flimsy than it actually is?

  • ShannonOD

    Lol – I agree on the PBR…I actually had a bartender crack on me hardcore
    for asking for one (this out in posh LA where they do not, apparently,
    accept PBR ;-)

    The car does make it easier, but as you said, even backpacking, the laptop
    comes in handy :-)

  • ShannonOD

    I feel you there! I pondered upgrading my computer (it quite literally fell
    apart at the end of my RTW) but instead invested $100 and fixed up this one
    – cheaper than getting a new of the equivalent! :-)

  • ShannonOD

    The PacSafe works – and it's not because you *couldn't* use wire cutters –
    because that would surely work, but the bulk of theft you're worrying about
    is not at that level. In hostels, people aren't carrying these on them, and
    they are FAR more likely to go for the nearby packs w/out anything.

    Really, it keeps people from doing the quick steal – and that's where I have
    always felt there is more danger. Dave and Deb at ThePlanetD took one with
    them and they have also found it incredibly useful. It wont stop someone
    who's determined and has the time on their hands, but it will stop all the
    rest!

    I think it's worth it if you're carrying a laptop and esp if you add a DSLR
    and other electronics onto that :-)

  • rachelcotterill

    A question I ask myself every time I'm packing… I find my answer varies depending on the trip in question.

    • ShannonOD

      One of those “must-haves” for me, but sometimes I really do dream about taking a couple weeks totally away from my internet jobs! ;-) It really does add weight and other worries!

      • As a freelance web developer I've also always taken my laptop with me. However I'm increasingly convinced that a netbook would be even better. It's a lot easier to lose/replace a $300 netbook and weighs half as much.

        • ShannonOD

          Do you really think that a netbook could adequately handle your web development work? That's why I've stayed with a full sized (though seriously considering the ones that are in-between and only like 11 inches! – that'd be sweet.)

          • My only concern would be the screen size and if I had to use Photoshop. I once used a Mac mini as a development machine, and though it had a better processor the rest of the specs were similar. It wasn't the best, but it was usable.

            So I would probably get one with a higher res screen and stick to mostly coding work, but I think something like a Dell Mini 10 can do 90% of what I currently do. And I'm willing to make that compromise for the drastic reduction in cost and weight.

          • ShannonOD

            That's really interesting to know – I have always been a tad resistant to
            the platform on the minis – but great to know that they can handle some of
            the heavier programs :-) Will looking into the Mini 10 when I am shopping
            for one!

  • I've never heard of a Pac Safe before, so thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am preparing for my trip and in the process of researching laptop options. My thinking is to get a Netbook … Thank you for the insight!

    • ShannonOD

      Something to definitely consider – their line of safety products are really neat…but expensive. A few weeks back another traveler brought the PacSafe TravelSafe to my attention – smaller but will fit something like a NetBook in it so you don't have to have the conspicuous mesh net on the bag!: PacSafe Travel Safe on Amazon

  • Rod@GoPetFriendly

    I think some readers are missing a point – there are people out there (like me) still drinking PBR! My wife take are laptops with us wherever we go, but we're traveling by car, not backpacking. If I were backing, I would still want a computer with me – a net book seems like the ideal choice.

    • ShannonOD

      Lol – I agree on the PBR…I actually had a bartender crack on me hardcore
      for asking for one (this out in posh LA where they do not, apparently,
      accept PBR ;-)

      The car does make it easier, but as you said, even backpacking, the laptop
      comes in handy :-)

  • I have a Samsung NC-10 netbook and love it! With the advancements in today's technology, I think it's getting to the point where the question should be “Why wouldn't you?”. Although, my preference would be a netbook.

    It's a one stop check your email/write your blog post(s)/listen to music/watch videos/catch up with your favorite bloggers/redesign your website portal. It does so much for you without requiring a lot of space which is crucial when you are traveling. Great post, Shannon!

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks for weighing in on this Renee! The only key drawback that I can see
      is if you're one of those travelers who is really aiming at unplugging from
      technology for a bit- but for bloggers, you're right, with the tiny netbook
      technology it's pretty simple to carry one with you w/out too much extra
      weight! I carry a full laptop w/me and even that is doable :-)

  • We are traveling with our laptops (one each!) and couldn't run our blog without it. We have been using the pacsafe and it helps ease our minds a lot. I don't think that I could have the computer and not have the laptop. If we are staying in a sketchy place it is good to know that it is securely locked to the bed.
    Sure they take up space, but I think it is needed. From editing video, pretyping posts before hitting the Internet cafe and going through hundreds of photos. A lot of work can get done while laying in bed at night.
    We are using our iphone as well and are starting to use it a lot more to check email and facebook etc. It saves time at the Internet so that we can spend time to focus on the blog. We are really loving the Iphone now.
    Great points all around Shannon!

    • ShannonOD

      I second you on the PacSafe – although it's not infallible, it does make it
      a whole lot harder for someone to walk away with your electronics!

      I'd be interested in seeing a followup post from you guys on the iPhone ;-)
      I bought one and unlocked it a few weeks back, but I have yet to use it on
      the road – hoping it will do me well in Central America and am interested in
      seeming the pros and cons not that you've used it! :-)

      • My iPhone has been great for travel. I mostly use it for Skype calling, Google maps/transit, and the Kindle app is indispensable for guidebooks. It's much nicer to pay $10 for a Kindle book that weighs nothing, than €25 for the same book that adds a pound to your bag, if you can even find a store that sells it (in English).

        • ShannonOD

          Still learning the ropes of the iPhone, but I just love the Skype feature – it's already come in incredibly handy :-)

  • Jenn

    hee hee hee. I'll just put on here for the record that my Dell Netbook was the best $300 I spent all last year- maybe ever. Granted, I wasn't gone for 11 months, but YOU know, Shan – even with the free-lancing work, it was more than perfect for me. Next time, I'll bring a external hard drive to account for the small one in the Mini, but how convenient was it that I could carry it (nearly) always in my Camelbak? And the fact that it was $300 means that even in a worse case scenario… I mean, replacement of a Mini is so much more feasible in a jam than a $1,500 laptop.

    Unrelated, I laughed out loud at your 'a little email' from “Ray.” Can't wait to see you next month, girl. We'll have to talk about Machu PIcchu ;)

    • Sara

      Thanks for this post. I've travelled round the world twice before, but next time I'm hoping to take my netbook with me as I've recently started travel blogging. It's helpful to know what safety precautions to take to keep my gadgets safe on the road.

      http://www.footprintsofabackpacker.com/blog

  • Can't afford a net book or anything else right now, so laptop is the way to go for me!

    • ShannonOD

      I feel you there! I pondered upgrading my computer (it quite literally fell
      apart at the end of my RTW) but instead invested $100 and fixed up this one
      – cheaper than getting a new of the equivalent! :-)

  • Proud2BaDeamer

    Does the Pac Safe really work? I have been looking for something to feel more secure about my electronics on the road, I get a little worried even leaving my stuff in the lockers provided by the hostels. It seems like anyone who really wanted to steal my stuff/laptop could easily just cut the Pac Safe with a wire cutter and take my whole back pack. Or am I just thinking it looks a bit more flimsy than it actually is?

    • ShannonOD

      The PacSafe works – and it's not because you *couldn't* use wire cutters –
      because that would surely work, but the bulk of theft you're worrying about
      is not at that level. In hostels, people aren't carrying these on them, and
      they are FAR more likely to go for the nearby packs w/out anything.

      Really, it keeps people from doing the quick steal – and that's where I have
      always felt there is more danger. Dave and Deb at ThePlanetD took one with
      them and they have also found it incredibly useful. It wont stop someone
      who's determined and has the time on their hands, but it will stop all the
      rest!

      I think it's worth it if you're carrying a laptop and esp if you add a DSLR
      and other electronics onto that :-)

  • I'm always with a laptop and recently bought the Acer Timeline 1810. It has all of the specs of a large laptop but is only slightly larger than a netbook (and weighs the same as a netbook). I'm absolutely loving it so far as it can handle even heavy programs such as dreamweaver and photoshop with ease.

    But I definitely agree, when traveling with any computer, a lot of time is spent worrying!

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  • Jenn

    hee hee hee. I'll just put on here for the record that my Dell Netbook was the best $300 I spent all last year- maybe ever. Granted, I wasn't gone for 11 months, but YOU know, Shan – even with the free-lancing work, it was more than perfect for me. Next time, I'll bring a external hard drive to account for the small one in the Mini, but how convenient was it that I could carry it (nearly) always in my Camelbak? And the fact that it was $300 means that even in a worse case scenario… I mean, replacement of a Mini is so much more feasible in a jam than a $1,500 laptop.

    Unrelated, I laughed out loud at your 'a little email' from “Ray.” Can't wait to see you next month, girl. We'll have to talk about Machu PIcchu ;)

    • ShannonOD

      I was terribly envious of your mini when you came – it really is so
      incredibly ideal for traveling! Right now I am on the hunt for a smaller
      backpack for my big ole laptop so that I don't look like such an idiot when
      I am wearing both! xo

  • I'm always with a laptop and recently bought the Acer Timeline 1810. It has all of the specs of a large laptop but is only slightly larger than a netbook (and weighs the same as a netbook). I'm absolutely loving it so far as it can handle even heavy programs such as dreamweaver and photoshop with ease.

    But I definitely agree, when traveling with any computer, a lot of time is spent worrying!

    • ShannonOD

      You just made my day Earl!! I went into Best Buy last month and
      *specifically* asked the guy if something like the Acer Timeline 1810
      existed – he said no, that I had to go full-sized if I wanted a full specs
      of larger ones! This is *perfect* – and if you say that it runs Dreamweaver
      well, then I'm sold :-) Thanks, I will be looking into getting something
      like this over the summer!

      • It took me a few weeks to find this laptop as everybody I talked to said the same thing as the Best Buy guy – that it didn't exist. Well, the good news is that it does! And the slightly bigger screen than a netbook makes such a difference, as the netbook screens are too small to spend a significant amount of time staring at. I believe there is also a Toshiba version out there as well…

  • I think it's practically essential since a laptop can act as a phone, research tool, photo backup, etc. It can be a hassle though worrying about it, especially if you've got a nicer one. Uglifiying your laptop (or laptop cover) with stickers is a good way to make it look cheaper, less re-sellable, and easily identifiable if someone in the hostel does take it.

    • ShannonOD

      Can I ask what type yours is? I travel with a full sized right now but can't
      ever do the switch over to a netbook because of the web work I do?! Oh, and
      I completely understand the frustration with Vista – what a POS, W7 though
      is pretty great – we have it on a computer at home and it's been stellar.

  • foggodyssey

    I used to try and get away with traveling without the computer but found it impossible if you did much photo taking at all. I tried to take the little WD Passport Hard-Drives (300gig) but 1/2 the time i found computers in Egypt to Ecuador couldn't connect with it because they were so old. So i would have to get photos burned on to DVD and lost a lot of pictures because so.

    On top of that I got so sick of having to spend the first 10min in an internet shop on what keystroke makes the “@” sign!!! I could do a whole blog post about that but it drives me insane , esp since most keyboards are in English. Example: Ecuador has the @ sign but you can't use it, instead you have to hit Shift+6+4, then let go for it to apear… WTF???

    I hate carrying the laptop but couldn't live without it and still do photos. I have a big 15″ Mac Pro fully loaded and it's configured just the way I like it. I got my girlfriend one of the little Acers last year for about $350 total at Best Buy. It had everything, wireless, 1gig RAM, 160gig memory, web cam exc and she loves it. If it breaks, no worry and pick another one up… my Mac would be a different story though! lol

  • ShannonOD

    I was terribly envious of your mini when you came – it really is so
    incredibly ideal for traveling! Right now I am on the hunt for a smaller
    backpack for my big ole laptop so that I don't look like such an idiot when
    I am wearing both! xo

  • ShannonOD

    You just made my day Earl!! I went into Best Buy last month and
    *specifically* asked the guy if something like the Acer Timeline 1810
    existed – he said no, that I had to go full-sized if I wanted a full specs
    of larger ones! This is *perfect* – and if you say that it runs Dreamweaver
    well, then I'm sold :-) Thanks, I will be looking into getting something
    like this over the summer!

  • ShannonOD

    A little piece of my soul cries at the thought of making all of my
    electronics look like crap – but that's my task for next week actually :-)
    Like you said, it just really ups your chances of keeping it safe if it
    looks like a POS! Mine being held together last year w/ducktape and a string
    (out of necessity, not fashion) did the trick nicely :-)

  • haha, me too. You can try putting an Invisible Shield or some other thin cover on first and getting all the stickers on there. Easier to un-ugly the laptop afterward.

  • It took me a few weeks to find this laptop as everybody I talked to said the same thing as the Best Buy guy – that it didn't exist. Well, the good news is that it does! And the slightly bigger screen than a netbook makes such a difference, as the netbook screens are too small to spend a significant amount of time staring at. I believe there is also a Toshiba version out there as well…

  • ShannonOD

    That is a brilliant idea!…that's why you're my techie guru Anil, you just
    have the best ideas :-) I will look into getting one of those today!

  • I think it's practically essential since a laptop can act as a phone, research tool, photo backup, etc. It can be a hassle though worrying about it, especially if you've got a nicer one. Uglifiying your laptop (or laptop cover) with stickers is a good way to make it look cheaper, less re-sellable, and easily identifiable if someone in the hostel does take it.

    • ShannonOD

      A little piece of my soul cries at the thought of making all of my
      electronics look like crap – but that's my task for next week actually :-)
      Like you said, it just really ups your chances of keeping it safe if it
      looks like a POS! Mine being held together last year w/ducktape and a string
      (out of necessity, not fashion) did the trick nicely :-)

      • haha, me too. You can try putting an Invisible Shield or some other thin cover on first and getting all the stickers on there. Easier to un-ugly the laptop afterward.

        • ShannonOD

          That is a brilliant idea!…that's why you're my techie guru Anil, you just
          have the best ideas :-) I will look into getting one of those today!

  • foggodyssey

    I used to try and get away with traveling without the computer but found it impossible if you did much photo taking at all. I tried to take the little WD Passport Hard-Drives (300gig) but 1/2 the time i found computers in Egypt to Ecuador couldn't connect with it because they were so old. So i would have to get photos burned on to DVD and lost a lot of pictures because so.

    On top of that I got so sick of having to spend the first 10min in an internet shop on what keystroke makes the “@” sign!!! I could do a whole blog post about that but it drives me insane , esp since most keyboards are in English. Example: Ecuador has the @ sign but you can't use it, instead you have to hit Shift+6+4, then let go for it to apear… WTF???

    I hate carrying the laptop but couldn't live without it and still do photos. I have a big 15″ Mac Pro fully loaded and it's configured just the way I like it. I got my girlfriend one of the little Acers last year for about $350 total at Best Buy. It had everything, wireless, 1gig RAM, 160gig memory, web cam exc and she loves it. If it breaks, no worry and pick another one up… my Mac would be a different story though! lol

  • I can't imagine travelling without a laptop. I download photos from 2 cameras, video, every day, use it to write and make use of travel time on plane and train rides. I'd be lost if I just had to rely on, say, an iphone. Mine is just a little larger than a netbook but with full functionality. Except it runs on Vista. Grrr.

  • I can't imagine travelling without a laptop. I download photos from 2 cameras, video, every day, use it to write and make use of travel time on plane and train rides. I'd be lost if I just had to rely on, say, an iphone. Mine is just a little larger than a netbook but with full functionality. Except it runs on Vista. Grrr.

    • ShannonOD

      Can I ask what type yours is? I travel with a full sized right now but can't
      ever do the switch over to a netbook because of the web work I do?! Oh, and
      I completely understand the frustration with Vista – what a POS, W7 though
      is pretty great – we have it on a computer at home and it's been stellar.

      • It's a Sony Vaio model VGN TZ37GN. It's ultra light weight and I can pack it in a sleeve that fits in a handbag. There's probably a newer model now.
        I should upgrade to W7 though I'm not keen on reinstalling all the software.

        • ShannonOD

          Sweet, thanks for letting me know – I'm thinking that this summer I need to
          slim down to something like this and appreciate the information! As for W7 –
          I really, really like it. We have it on a desktop at home, and it has been
          stellar and leaps and bounds better than Vista :-)

  • Sara

    Thanks for this post. I've travelled round the world twice before, but next time I'm hoping to take my netbook with me as I've recently started travel blogging. It's helpful to know what safety precautions to take to keep my gadgets safe on the road.

    http://www.footprintsofabackpacker.com/blog

    • ShannonOD

      The netbook is going to be perfect for your upcoming travels – really ideal
      if your travel blogging and connecting to friends and family! I look forward
      to reading along w/your blog now, I've added you to my reader :-) Happy
      travels Sara!

  • ShannonOD

    The netbook is going to be perfect for your upcoming travels – really ideal
    if your travel blogging and connecting to friends and family! I look forward
    to reading along w/your blog now, I've added you to my reader :-) Happy
    travels Sara!

  • Can I travel with a laptop AND PBR?

    I'm planning to take mine with me mostly because I can't imagine being without Photoshop. And if I'm lucky enough to get some freelance design gigs as I go then I'd definitely need it.

  • For an open ended world tour like ours, there's no question really as it's our life line. We started out with 17in Macpro & 17 PC, soon dumped our top of the line quad phone & added a macbook for our kid. BEST investment on our trip!!

  • Can I travel with a laptop AND PBR?

    I'm planning to take mine with me mostly because I can't imagine being without Photoshop. And if I'm lucky enough to get some freelance design gigs as I go then I'd definitely need it.

    • ShannonOD

      I think the more appropriate question is: how could you *not* travel w/both
      a laptop and a PBR?! ;-)

      As for the freelance gigs – that's completely how I managed to stay on the
      road so long. Keep business cards with you and you'll be surprised how many
      opps you have to hand them out. Particularly w/hostels, I found so many were
      interested in Web site redesigns and SEO work!

  • ShannonOD

    I think the more appropriate question is: how could you *not* travel w/both
    a laptop and a PBR?! ;-)

    As for the freelance gigs – that's completely how I managed to stay on the
    road so long. Keep business cards with you and you'll be surprised how many
    opps you have to hand them out. Particularly w/hostels, I found so many were
    interested in Web site redesigns and SEO work!

    • It's a Sony Vaio model VGN TZ37GN. It's ultra light weight and I can pack it in a sleeve that fits in a handbag. There's probably a newer model now.
      I should upgrade to W7 though I'm not keen on reinstalling all the software.

  • ShannonOD

    I betting that Mozart loves having her own laptop – my 9yo niece just got
    one and I think it's so key to get them familiarized young as a life skill
    for later – just as valuable (in a totally diff way) as her music lessons I
    daresay! :-)

  • For an open ended world tour like ours, there's no question really as it's our life line. We started out with 17in Macpro & 17 PC, soon dumped our top of the line quad phone & added a macbook for our kid. BEST investment on our trip!!

    • ShannonOD

      I betting that Mozart loves having her own laptop – my 9yo niece just got
      one and I think it's so key to get them familiarized young as a life skill
      for later – just as valuable (in a totally diff way) as her music lessons I
      daresay! :-)

      • Yes I agree that kids today need exposure to virtual skills & a laptop is essential for lots of her communication with friends and roadschooling (like learning programming via free MIT Scratch, free digital libraries, Brain Pop, John Hopkins Univ.'s CTY program, violin & piano lessons with teachers in US, collaborating with kids & schools around the world, fun educational CDs, etc).

        That said, kids have growing brains that can be damaged by too much screen time, so we put a severe time limit on that, so she's not on it very much & we have a LOT of control on WHAT she is on which I think is important.

        She spends most of her time outdoors in nature, playing with other kids & reading, (also musts for kids!) but a laptop is essential for an extended travel kid. (FYI We've never had a TV her whole life & don't watch the one in Spain with UK channels, she has no wii, nintendo ds, ipod, can only watch 1 dvd a week etc, but she did get a MP3 player last year as a gift & is exposed to those other things through friends).

        There are times when all 3 of us need to be on, but if we are traveling fast we usually just take one & share it as we travel then with just a day pack each. (Although we have taken all 3 like this & it shocks the TSA folks on the rare occasion we take planes, but we go through quickly & easily. )

        Type of travel dictates the laptop decision and luckily we very rarely have to deal with the theft issue & almost never stay in hostels as they are too expensive for families. We have a pacsafe, but almost never use it.

        BTW, having both macs & PC has been VERY helpful for us, as there are times one or the other is the preferred choice. We bought her the macbook, but I ended up taking over that as we are mac people, but most kids educational programs work on PC's. Thus PC is least used, but very needed at times. (Twas a hard decision before we left, but worked well).

        • ShannonOD

          Very well said on the controlling the content – I found a fantastic browser
          add-on that I put on my brothers and family computers on the kids accounts,
          there is just too much danger and inappropriate content out there right now
          for children. It really sounds like you guys have crafted a very secure and
          educationally nurturing environment for Mozart – I will be looking to you
          for advice in the future when I begin a family and head on the road :-)

          Oh, and I'm imagining that TSA had a few eyebrow raises at the three
          laptops! :-)

  • Yes I agree that kids today need exposure to virtual skills & a laptop is essential for lots of her communication with friends and roadschooling (like learning programming via free MIT Scratch, free digital libraries, Brain Pop, John Hopkins Univ.'s CTY program, violin & piano lessons with teachers in US, collaborating with kids & schools around the world, fun educational CDs, etc).

    That said, kids have growing brains that can be damaged by too much screen time, so we put a severe time limit on that, so she's not on it very much & we have a LOT of control on WHAT she is on which I think is important.

    She spends most of her time outdoors in nature, playing with other kids & reading, (also musts for kids!) but a laptop is essential for an extended travel kid. (FYI We've never had a TV her whole life & don't watch the one in Spain with UK channels, she has no wii, nintendo ds, ipod, can only watch 1 dvd a week etc, but she did get a MP3 player last year as a gift & is exposed to those other things through friends).

    There are times when all 3 of us need to be on, but if we are traveling fast we usually just take one & share it as we travel then with just a day pack each. (Although we have taken all 3 like this & it shocks the TSA folks on the rare occasion we take planes, but we go through quickly & easily. )

    Type of travel dictates the laptop decision and luckily we very rarely have to deal with the theft issue & almost never stay in hostels as they are too expensive for families. We have a pacsafe, but almost never use it.

    BTW, having both macs & PC has been VERY helpful for us, as there are times one or the other is the preferred choice. We bought her the macbook, but I ended up taking over that as we are mac people, but most kids educational programs work on PC's. Thus PC is least used, but very needed at times. (Twas a hard decision before we left, but worked well).

  • ShannonOD

    Sweet, thanks for letting me know – I'm thinking that this summer I need to
    slim down to something like this and appreciate the information! As for W7 –
    I really, really like it. We have it on a desktop at home, and it has been
    stellar and leaps and bounds better than Vista :-)

  • ShannonOD

    Very well said on the controlling the content – I found a fantastic browser
    add-on that I put on my brothers and family computers on the kids accounts,
    there is just too much danger and inappropriate content out there right now
    for children. It really sounds like you guys have crafted a very secure and
    educationally nurturing environment for Mozart – I will be looking to you
    for advice in the future when I begin a family and head on the road :-)

    Oh, and I'm imagining that TSA had a few eyebrow raises at the three
    laptops! :-)

  • chrisrtw

    surely we couldn't either travel without one! we are practically addicted to our mini dell notebook, it's just great, light (less than 1kg) and very compact. We only have one between Chris and I and that's why we are always fighting who is going to use it first. Next trip we will bring one each!
    It's just impossibile to travel without a computer if you are running a blog but also if you want to stay connect back home without the hassle of finding an internet cafe' when you need it, as you would find around many places to connect to a wireless connection even for free. Security is our only concerne but with our pacsafe we have piece of mind all the time when leaving it behind in a room or in our van and when we travel we always stuck it in our small daypack.

    • ShannonOD

      I've heard that from a several couple travelers, that bringing two laptops
      was wise because it's hard to share! :-) That being said, you are right on
      with the other comments, if you're operating a blog there is just no other
      way to go. And it's great that you guys are also using a PacSafe, their more
      popular than I thought when I bought mine two years ago!

  • surely we couldn't either travel without one! we are practically addicted to our mini dell notebook, it's just great, light (less than 1kg) and very compact. We only have one between Chris and I and that's why we are always fighting who is going to use it first. Next trip we will bring one each!
    It's just impossibile to travel without a computer if you are running a blog but also if you want to stay connect back home without the hassle of finding an internet cafe' when you need it, as you would find around many places to connect to a wireless connection even for free. Security is our only concerne but with our pacsafe we have piece of mind all the time when leaving it behind in a room or in our van and when we travel we always stuck it in our small daypack.

    • ShannonOD

      I've heard that from a several couple travelers, that bringing two laptops
      was wise because it's hard to share! :-) That being said, you are right on
      with the other comments, if you're operating a blog there is just no other
      way to go. And it's great that you guys are also using a PacSafe, their more
      popular than I thought when I bought mine two years ago!

  • mrmdecuellar

    Shannon,
    Traveled to Costa Rica with a 15″ Mac have downsized to a 12″ and will probably move to a tablet as soon as they come out. You have a very infomative blog for people on the move. Pacsav is an ingenious product. Headed to China this may and will keep watching to see what else is going on here.

    • ShannonOD

      The tablets will be pretty sweet. I haven't gone Mac yet, but I ponder it on
      a regular basis :-) Thanks for the feedback on the blog and good luck in
      China this Spring!

  • mrmdecuellar

    Shannon,
    Traveled to Costa Rica with a 15″ Mac have downsized to a 12″ and will probably move to a tablet as soon as they come out. You have a very infomative blog for people on the move. Pacsav is an ingenious product. Headed to China this may and will keep watching to see what else is going on here.

    • ShannonOD

      The tablets will be pretty sweet. I haven't gone Mac yet, but I ponder it on
      a regular basis :-) Thanks for the feedback on the blog and good luck in
      China this Spring!

  • As a freelance web developer I've also always taken my laptop with me. However I'm increasingly convinced that a netbook would be even better. It's a lot easier to lose/replace a $300 netbook and weighs half as much.

  • My iPhone has been great for travel. I mostly use it for Skype calling, Google maps/transit, and the Kindle app is indispensable for guidebooks. It's much nicer to pay $10 for a Kindle book that weighs nothing, than €25 for the same book that adds a pound to your bag, if you can even find a store that sells it (in English).

  • ShannonOD

    Do you really think that a netbook could adequately handle your web development work? That's why I've stayed with a full sized (though seriously considering the ones that are in-between and only like 11 inches! – that'd be sweet.)

  • ShannonOD

    Still learning the ropes of the iPhone, but I just love the Skype feature – it's already come in incredibly handy :-)

  • My only concern would be the screen size and if I had to use Photoshop. I once used a Mac mini as a development machine, and though it had a better processor the rest of the specs were similar. It wasn't the best, but it was usable.

    So I would probably get one with a higher res screen and stick to mostly coding work, but I think something like a Dell Mini 10 can do 90% of what I currently do. And I'm willing to make that compromise for the drastic reduction in cost and weight.

  • ShannonOD

    That's really interesting to know – I have always been a tad resistant to
    the platform on the minis – but great to know that they can handle some of
    the heavier programs :-) Will looking into the Mini 10 when I am shopping
    for one!