From reading many of the blogs on here, it seems as though a good number of you travel with a laptop computer. Can you tell me about what it's like to travel with a laptop? Excluding excruciating business trips, I've never traveled with one -- but the idea is both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, I think it'd be great to have my computer with me so I can blog, jot down deep thoughts I have along the way, and surf the web whenever I can find WiFi. But on the other hand, I'm afraid of it being stolen on an overnight train, from a hostel, or at knife point in a dark alley. Also not sure travelling "light" includes a laptop in tow...
Please share your experience!
I've thought about bringing mine on a number of occasions, but except for lugging it around on domestic trips I probably won't do it unless the destination is in the "developed" world. Apart from being psyched up about it getting stolen (and thus risk losing a considerable amount of documents and programs you do not have properly backed up) I think there is a much greater risk it may be damaged through careless handling or contact with the elements. Then there is the fact you point out that it is an extremely bulky item to lug around, especially if it happens to be in a tropical climate. I am also concerned that I may lazily turn to the computer for company if I end up in a somewhat less attractive place, ending up playing Civ III at the hotel room wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I went...
Bring a notebook and a pencil and you have the tools you need for taking notes and capturing thoughts that crop up in a crowded long distance bus or a dirty and damp tent. Although I haven't converted to digital photography just yet, I can see a laptop useful for burning cds to archive photos as you go along, but perhaps you can make use of internet cafés, hotel business centres or simply bring a lot of memory cards for that purpose.
I agree, I have travelled with my laptop locally and also in Europe, which was ok. But I gotta admit in the less developed areas maybe it's just an anchor that you don't need to take along. A note book and pencil did the job fine for the first 40 years of my life so why bother with the extra 2.5 or so kilos?
We always travel with a laptop when we travel within US. We take a lot of snaps and the camera soon runs out of memory. A laptop comes in handy. The most scary place was Hawaii(heard of lots of thefts), but we did not have a problem; or were we lucky?
We feel worried and anxious abt it, but its worth it. We would not have so many snaps, if not for our laptop.
> Worth taking a laptop?
But it is unneccessary extra weight for others - so - if a focus of your journey is photos or video or work - then take it. If your going on the road on a semi-permenant basis - take it. If for a short period, take lots of memory cards for your camera and burn two discs send one home when you find a willing internet cafe.
I've stopped worrying about theft, I just automatically take precautions I have a wire mesh (pac-safe) that I lock my belongings up in when leaving things in a hotel or hostel.
It's not just the laptop that you have to bring, blank CDs, power supply, accessories, rescue disks... if your laptop weight 3kgs (6lbs), then you probably have the same again in extras...
I agree with Ali - not least because I travel for long stretches (tomorrow I start a year-long trip), and a laptop makes my job infinitely easier. If you're just traveling for a few weeks, you could get by without it; after all, there aren't many places left on or near the beaten track that aren't fully wired. (Internet cafes really pop up in the darnedest places!) You can email friends, call home on Skype, transfer pics to your Snapfish account, burn CDs to backup your memory card, etc. It certainly eliminates the anxiety of, say, getting on a bus in Central America after sundown, knowing you've got two grand worth of electronics in your bag.
But apart from the odd sticky situation, I think most travellers can take enough precautions to avoid worst-case scenarios. (I just picked up a Pac-Safe of my own; those things are incredible!) Pens and pads work just fine, but when you're working remotely, it adds a lot of time to your workday if you're writing things out by hand, then typing them up/emailing them from an Internet cafe. I wouldn't leave home without my laptop, but if it's going to be a source of constant anxiety, you should probably leave yours behind.
Travel better. Travel Gator.
As a follow-on to the laptop question, can anyone recommend the more sturdy models? If I am going to be chucking a laptop in my bag, I need it to be small, light-weight and strong. Does this exist? Thanks!
I don't like having the extra weight on me, and tend to leave it at home if I'm just going away for a week or something... if I was going away for a month or more, I would def. bring it along...but I can certainly live without it for a small holiday....I'll be too caught up in exploring anyway! 😊
I haven't been one to travel widely yet (although planning to next year), but my partner and I are currently planning on taking our PDAs with us, in lieu of a laptop. The PDAs tend to get much better battery life than a laptop, can still have WIFI access through hotspots for email and browsing, and tend to be a lot more discreet than a laptop. Even the smallest laptops (sony's 10.8" inch screen laptop weighs 1.25kg, over $3500AUS) will have at least 0.6-1.2kg of extra accessories you carry, so it isn't even going to be that light.
Additionally, my PDA has a propriety GPS receiver built into it, which will be very handy when logging our travel progress (can sync it into Google Earth for people to view where you've been, and where travelling to), not to mention finding my way through any major European centre we find ourselves in.
With memory cards getting into the 4 to 8Gb sizes now(I've over 7 Gb in SD cards for photography now), we're bound to have enough space for writing. You can also view your photos on a much bigger screen than what your camera would have.
Software options are endless; if you want a piece of software which does something specific, chances are someone has written it.
I agree with Ali's comments above.
I took my laptop through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala and Uganda without any problems. I use a Packard Bell Easynote which is smaller (and hence lighter) than the average.
- My memory stick from my camera can be plugged straight into the laptop so I can download my photos.
- I can edit my photos using various software (photoshop, picasa from Google, or Microsoft Office Picture Manager).
- Most internet cafes will let you plug your laptop onto their internet.
- You can write your travelblogs
- You can use WIFI (wireless hotspots) sites
- You can watch DVDs
- You can store lots of music
- If you have access to an internet connection you can email or use the likes of Yahoo Messenger or even phone home free (as I did from Uganda)
I could go on!