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Traveling With a Laptop; Should You Bring Your Laptop When You Travel?

Traveling With a Laptop; Should You Bring Your Laptop When You Travel? To laptop or not to laptop huh?! A tricky question indeed. This is an issue close to my heart, one that thought long and hard about before first hitting the road. When I first started my blog (it only takes about 20 minutes, and $20 or so to start a blog, check out how to start a travel blog in my step-by-step guide here) I knew I’d need to ‘work’ on the road. But then you run the risk of losing it, or damaging it. You better hope your digital nomad insurance covers it. Maybe it’s better not to bring it along?

For years I fought with the idea, and finally came to some conclusions. Check them out below. First, let’s look at some of the pros and cons involved with bringing your laptop:

should i bring my laptop traveling
Some laptop time as I wait for a boat in Malawi

CONS: Why You Should NEVER bring a laptop on vacation:

HASSLE

Generally, you have to carry it in your hand luggage to avoid some underpaid and overzealous local transport employee hurling your backpack and smashing your laptop into a million pieces. 

WEIGHT

Laptops can be pretty hefty and are normally a couple of kgs additional weight to lug around with you. Do you want to cart around a MacBook on your 3 days in Bangkok?

FEAR

For me, this is the worst of all problems when bringing your laptop on holiday. The constant mental task of trying to keep your laptop safe from theft and damage. It’s got to always be on your mind. Where did you last leave it. Can someone pinch it. Will it get damaged. $2k or so of gear to worry about is something many prefer to do without.

MINDFULNESS

Whether on holiday or on a long backpacking trip, maybe this is your time to switch off. All our lives we’re stuck in some kind of stream. Finally your latest adventure can offer a break from that. Focus on the moment. Maximise the freedom. Stay screen-free.

becoming a digital nomad
If you’re into Becoming a digital nomad, you’ll need your laptop.

PROS: Why You Should 100% Bring Your Laptop When You Travel

ONLINE

You have access to everything from home. Emails, banking, logistics. You don’t have to worry about what’s going on.

NETFLIX

What better way to avoid hitting the booze for yet another night than settling down with your mate for a Bridget Jones session The Godfather trilogy. A laptop can keep you on the straight and narrow. Of course, you can use your phone, but no one likes watching full movies on their phone!

PICTURES & VIDEO

With your own laptop, you can edit and upload your pics properly the same day as taking them. You can use your phone of course, but the editing functions are limited. 

BOREDOM

Believe it or not, traveling isn’t all bungee jumps and foreign beers. Many evenings you’re left at a loose end. With your laptop, though you’re rarely bored. You can blog, play games, read books. Anything to keep your sanity so far from home.

John Ward digital nomad
Blogging in China…

So Should you bring your laptop on vacation?

It comes down to 2 things:

  • The length of your trip
  • Why you are traveling

If you’re trip is a weekend break, or something similar, your phone will more than suffice. If it’s a week or longer, then you’re getting into laptop territory. Work emails, edits, banking etc. That being said, if your holiday is a holiday, then leave it at home regardless! That brings me to the final point.

Why are you traveling. If you’re a blogger, or a digital nomad, or want to become one of those then 100% you need your laptop. I left to go traveling with 0 in my bank but I had my laptop. By the time I finished my ‘every country’ journey, I had $2m of online income made. All because I brought my laptop on holiday. So yeah, if you want to hustle, you can’t do that only from your phone. Bu the hustle comes at a price. Being online, never truly disconnected, never on holiday. That was a worthwhile sacrifice for me personally. Only you can decide if its for you. 

Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!

I use SafetyWing at $9 a week, and it's amazing. Also, it has great digital nomad insurance for people who are constantly travelling too! You can read my review here, and you can sign-up here

Also, if you want to start a blog...I CAN HELP YOU!

Also, if you want to start a blog, and start to change your life, I'd love to help you! Email me on johnny@onestep4ward.com. In the meantime, check out my super easy blog post on how to start a travel blog in under 30 minutes, here! And if you just want to get cracking, use BlueHost at a discount, through me.

Also, (if you're like me, and awful with tech-stuff) email me and my team can get a blog up and running for you, designed and everything, for $300 - email johnny@onestep4ward.com to get started.

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Oh, one last thing! If you've never used AirBnB before, here's a $50 voucher for you! Enjoy!

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1) Change your life
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Then Sign Up Below and Let’s Get Started!

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27 thoughts on “Traveling With a Laptop; Should You Bring Your Laptop When You Travel?

  1. Great post. I am torn on this issue for the reasons listed above. I am a scientist and my laptop is my life. While I back up my data and programs, being without a computer for a time while I get a new one would be impossible. I would be ragged. I’m already going to have to keep track of a nice camera and the thought of keeping up with the computer too seems too much of a hassle. Since our trip is only 2 weeks, I might err on the side of bringing my external hard-drive instead and doing a test-run that my camera can back-up on it.

  2. According to me, if you are going for a long journey then you should carry a laptop. Because without entertainment you will get bored. While traveling you can watch movies, listen to a song, playing games, etc, etc.

  3. in terms of backup, rather than take a drive with you, consider a service like Carbonite that lets you back up all your data to the cloud (USD60 / year for one PC). The only problem is the first backup can take weeks if you’re uploading your whole photo collection, but after that it easily handles about 100 to 200MB per hour of being on (it works in the background) with a decent connection.

    Alternatively, for stuff that you don’t need to access often, consider Amazon AWS Glacier service, the only problem is restoring can be expensive if you want it all at once. Storage is 1 US cent per gigabyte per month. It’s not automatic, but could be great for your old photo archives if you’ve no more space on your laptop.

  4. Great post. I am torn on this issue for the reasons listed above. I am a scientist and my laptop is my life. While I back up my data and programs, being without a computer for a time while I get a new one would be impossible. I would be ragged. I’m already going to have to keep track of a nice camera and the thought of keeping up with the computer too seems too much of a hassle. Since our trip is only 2 weeks, I might err on the side of bringing my external hard-drive instead and doing a test-run that my camera can back-up on it.

    1. i can’t leave home without my mac! i’m an addict, once it’s got ya, it’s got ya! Whats the 21st century doing to us?! aaaagh

  5. Technology has become so attached to us these days. I always take my laptop, and try to look after it as best I can. However, I don’t keep much of value on it and at the end of the day they are so cheap that if it did get stolen I would just replace it.

    Its great to be able to sit around a fire and write a post though!

    Aaron

    1. i guess we’re lucky to be travelers at this point in time, so we can feasibly carry tech with us and if it gets lost/stolen it’s not the end of the world and can be replaced without having to rob a bank!

  6. My 2.7 cents worth … As a global nomad since 1988 (and a digital one – 1st laptop in 1994 & cameras since 2001), I have no choice but to carry one.

    Why? My hobby is photography, art, video, and I produce as I move. So unless others are into this also – travelers for short term trips, don’t need one unless, they like posing with gadgets.

    Weight: most latops are still too heavy but I have had an Asus M5 PC since 2006 (bought in Cambodia) @ 1.5 kg, 12′ screen; great for video editing and Photoshop as it has the CPU power, that netbooks lack.

    Safety: don’t pose in public and have it locked with your backpack in room. Also always carry in a dayback, while moving.

    Back-up: use an extra external drive, and online.

    Movies, music, etc: carry an ipod, etc.

    Bottonline (until the tech gets better): unless it’s a really long journey and you’re a keen image maker, most people should just carry a decent compact camera with heaps of cards, and maybe a portable drive reader for back-up or use an online service, uploaded via a cafe.

    the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

    1. in all your time on the road, ever had any technology stolen/vandalised etc? I’ve ‘lost’ two ipods thanks to some slippery indian hands, broken a couple of digital cameras (not my SLR tho thank God!

      1. Pleased to say, never had any kit stolen, broken, etc. But I do expect to, at sometime … been lucky, so far.

        (Just got back from my Shanxi road-trip during Chinese New Year)

  7. For me, to lessen that con about getting your laptop stolen, I bought myself a bag that doesn’t really look like a bag for laptop so that thieves won’t suspect it much. I always bring my laptop with me. 🙂

    1. good move mate, stressing about getting it stolen is horrible. Is the bag discreet enough to leave it in a dorm when ur out for the day?

  8. I chose to go the refurb route. I paid $175 for my refurbished netbook. It weighs under 3 pounds and I back it up to a micro SD in my smartphone. That way, I don’t really worry about it breaking or getting stolen, because I’m not out a lot of money and I’ve got virtually all of my data even if anything should happen to it.

    I didn’t think there was any possible way that I could travel without some type of laptop, my Kindle and my smartphone. However…

    I’m hearing that the new iPad will be available in a 7″ version, and have a USB port and camera, maybe an SD slot. If it’s light enough, I may be able to use that in place of both my laptop AND my Kindle. Problem is, iPads aren’t meant to be standalone devices. So, at least for the initial setup, I’d need my little netbook. Also a foldup keyboard.

    Of course, it will depend on whether I can live with a 7″ display. My current net book has an 8.9″ screen, so maybe it won’t feel like too big of a jump. Price will naturally be a factor, too, but I’m figuring it has to be significantly lower than the current larger form factor. No optical drive, but my netbook doesn’t have one either, I only use digital entertainment that I download.

    In any case, we should be finding out in April what the deal is on 2nd gen iPads, and they will probably be released around June or July. Hopefully, the news will be good. Because if I can get by with a total of 1.5 pound of tech, I will be *such* a happy camper.

    Anyway, I’m considering a few different options. But they are all aimed at getting by with the least amount of weight/worry. I’ve found that I’m willing to accept a lot of tradeoffs to achieve that goal.

    1. wow! uv got it worked out 🙂 thats a great plan, i might just copy your ideas after ur explanation 😛 refurbed netbook, good shout but a smaller ipad would certainly be an interesting option, lets wait and see what apple release 🙂

  9. I agree! I carry a netbook, like Joseph, but not always, depends on the trip and if i know i’m gonna b busy and so on! But as usual, when I don’t carry it, I would need it, and the other way round 😀

    1. i hear ya! so i play it safe and bring it every time – nothing worse than getting facebook withdrawal symptoms with no escape 😛

  10. I have a netbook, and I carry it around with me wherever I go (just found out I might get a scholarship for a month in Budapest *celebration dance*, so the netbook will be in my backpack)…it’s also nice to have your photos, movies (even though it doesn’t have a cd-unit there are opportunities to view the movies online), or plain old communication and travel blog surfing :o)…and speaking of bloging, when I will travel, I will need a netbook – I write too slowly by hand, have to carry notebooks, scratch irrelevant notes (what a hassle), also have an insane amount of things to say, and writing them all down could cause severe nerve damage to my hands!

    1. can’t remember the time i wrote more than a sentence or two by hand :S it’s a forgotten skill i reckon mate! good luck in Budapest, that’s cracking

  11. I’m a Mac convert too, currently faced with the option of lugging my tank-like 13″ Pro or shelling a gazillion bucks for an 11″ air that has less power. Ugh. Which Mac are you using?

    1. hey jill – im on a standard 13″ macbook which is ok, if i had cash to burn i’d use the the macbook air too but it’s so pricey :S it’s terrible because once u go mac, you don’t go back so a netbook is out of the question for me, damn apple!

      1. I’m a firm believer in once you go Mac you never go back…thats why I hacked my Dell mini and it’s now a “baby Mac” running snow leopard 🙂
        Probably the best idea I ever had!

        1. wow amy, i did’t even know that was possible!! that’s awesome, you’re clearly a lot more clued up about technology than me :S

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