Are you looking to buy a new laptop for your next big travel adventure, but aren’t sure which one to choose?
Choosing the right travel laptop can be difficult. You need something that’s going to stay up to speed, but you also need something that you can easily pack into your bag and take with you from place to place.
So, how do you decide which laptop is right for you?
Check out this guide to learn how to choose the right travel laptop.
Make Sure You Need a Laptop
Before you start searching for travel laptops, you first need to figure out whether or not you actually need a laptop. These days, laptops and smartphones can do a lot of the same things that a good travel laptop can do.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you need a laptop to make a living. If you’re a photographer, blogger, writer, or journalist, then the answer is probably yes. The same goes for those who are location independent or have an online job.
However, even if you do need a laptop to work, you may find that you don’t necessarily always need to take it with you. Many travelers move their documents onto a portable flash drive and just take that along with them. Then, they head to internet cafes or find other computers along the way.
With all that being said, there are a number of reasons a travel laptop is a good investment. Here are some top reasons as to why you should bring a travel laptop with you:
- You’re working or you have an online job
- You want screen space to be able to stay in touch with family and friends, watch movies, or upload videos of your adventures
- You want to use real software as opposed to relying on apps
- You want faster speed and more memory than smartphones and tablets can offer
- You need to write and want to be able to take your writing with you anywhere
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a travel laptop may be a good investment.
What to Consider When Buying a Travel Laptop
If you’ve decided that a travel laptop is a worthy investment, then here’s what you need to consider before purchasing one:
Size and Weight
The best traveling laptop won’t be worth anything if it’s not the right size and weight. Not only is carrying around a giant laptop tiring, but you also need to consider carry-on weight requirements and whether or not the laptop will fit on a folding tray table on a plane.
That being said, you don’t want something so tiny that it’s basically a tablet. The good news is, travel laptops come in all different sizes. Typically, laptop screen sizes fall between 11 and 17 inches.
We recommend going for a laptop that’s around 13 inches. 13 inches is decent screen size, but it’ll still fit easily into your backpack. 13-inch laptops are also lightweight enough so they won’t weigh you down if you’re carrying a backpack. If you’re looking for a good 13-inch travel laptop, you can check out Lenovo.
In addition to the size and weight, you also need to consider the laptop’s operating system. There are three main operating systems to choose from Apple OS X, Windows, and Chrome OS.
Here’s what you need to consider with each of these operating systems:
Apple laptops, also known as Macbooks, are extremely savvy among travelers who want something sleek, speedy, and lightweight. If you already own an Apple phone or tablet, then a Macbook is probably your best bet, as it comes with a lot of compatible software programs.
For example, you can send iMessages right from your laptop, and you can also use your laptop to pull up your iCloud Drive and Photo Library. Here are some other benefits of the Apple operating system:
- They’re intuitive to use and less complicated than other operating systems
- They get significantly fewer viruses than Windows or other operating systems (this is huge if you’re in a remote location where you likely can’t get your computer fixed)
- Apple has excellent customer support, as well as generous warranty programs
- Should your travel laptop need servicing, there are Apple stores all over the world
- Macbooks come with pre-installed software programs that won’t slow down your system
- Innovative in features and designs
- Sleek and visually appealing
With all of these benefits, there are some downsides to consider. These include:
- Macbooks are more expensive than PCs (although they come with a better resale value)
- No touchscreen (if you work as a graphic designer, this can be a huge issue)
- The Macbook Air doesn’t come with a USB Type-C connector
- Limited hardware updates available
All that said, many seasoned travelers swear by Macbooks as their go-to travel laptop.
Chrome OS is the operating system that Chromebooks run on. Chromebooks are known for being fast and secure, and they operate more like traditional laptops.
While you can buy a Chromebook with a 15.6-inch screen, the 11.6-inch screen is probably best for travelers. Here are some of the biggest benefits of Chrome OS:
- Price: Most Chromebooks go for $300 to $400, and you can even find some for as little as $200, which is great for travelers on a budget
- Weight: Chromebooks are generally thinner and lighter than traditional laptops, and can easily fit into your carry on bag
- Battery Life: While most laptops on the market only last for about 6 hours, Chromebooks can easily last for 8 hours
- Speed: Most Chromebooks can boot up in as little as eight seconds
- Android Apps: Chromebooks also come with an extensive library of Android apps
The Chrome operating system also continuously checks itself for updates, ensuring that your laptop is always safe from malware when you’re on the road.
Of course, there are downsides to this operating system, which include:
- Small Storage Capacity: Most Chromebooks can only store up to 32 GB
- No Optical Drive: Most Chromebooks no longer come with CD or DVD drives, which for most travelers, isn’t a huge issue
- Limited Offline Use: Most Chromebooks heavily rely on a steady internet connection, which can be a problem for travelers in remote locations with weak Wifi
- No Microsoft Office: If you need access to Microsoft programs when on the road, it’s important to understand that Chromebooks aren’t compatible with Microsoft. However, they do come with G Suite
Chromebooks also don’t have powerful gaming processors, and they’re not compatible with Adobe Suite products. If you work as a video editor or like to edit travel videos, then a Chromebook may also not be the best choice, as they don’t excel in this area.
Last but not least, you can opt for a Windows operating system. Here are some of the biggest benefits of Windows operating systems:
- They have a huge selection of available software
- They’re user-friendly
- They can easily support new hardware
- If you get bored on the road, Windows offers a lot of games and gaming technology
- Many come with touchscreens, which is great for those who work in graphic design
However, there are downsides to Windows operating systems, including:
- They’re prone to virus attacks
- You have to buy most of the available software or pay a monthly fee
- If you need a lot of technical support, Windows is not the best option
Additionally, Windows isn’t known for having the best security.
Another big thing you need to consider before buying a travel laptop is disk storage. Laptops either come with solid-state drives or hard drives.
Storage space can range from as low as 128 GB or as high as 2 TB. Of course, you could always rely on cloud storage, but if you don’t have a strong internet connection, then this may not be a viable option.
If you do plan to use the cloud, just make sure you have enough local storage capacity, either in an external hard drive or in your laptop.
Are You Ready to Purchase a Travel Laptop?
Now that you’ve read this guide, you should be more than ready to purchase your travel laptop. At the end of the day, the laptop you choose really comes down to personal preference.
Consider where you travel to, what you’ll be using your laptop for on your travel journeys, and what your budget looks like. Once you take these factors into consideration, it should be easy to choose the right laptop for your needs.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more tech-related tips and tricks.