Laptops have become essential tools for both work and entertainment. This is why you’ll most likely need to pack a laptop among your belongings when traveling. I know Laptops have served as my traveling companions on a number of trips. However, for your convenience and comfort, you can’t just take any laptop with you on your traveling trips.
I love traveling and have been to many countries across the globe. And I can tell you from experience that not every laptop is suitable or built to travel or from working remotely when on your trip.
Picking a laptop for travel is more than just the sheer performance of the laptop. You have to consider the weight of the laptop and go for one that’s lightweight and portable. There is also the battery life to put into consideration as you may not have the luxury of connecting to a power outlet. As such, your laptop must have incredible battery life. Add ease of use and versatility to it and you have the requirements of a travel laptop.
Not all travel laptops are built equally. It is in light of this that I’ve made this easy guide to help you choose a laptop that fulfills your requirements.
How To Choose Your Travel Laptop
Type of Laptop
Chromebooks: This type of laptop uses Google OS instead of a conventional operating system like Windows or macOS. They have the advantage of being lightweight, portable, and cheap. However, you can’t run Windows or macOS apps on them.
But they are good for students and professionals that are cloud-based users.
Notebooks: These are laptops that are specifically designed for portability. The focus here is on making the laptop as compact as possible. However, there is a tradeoff for performance so notebooks are usually not among the most powerful laptops. But they offer incredible portability as well as a good level of performance.
Hybrid/2-in-1: This type of laptop is all about versatility. They are designed such that you can use them as a laptop or tablet depending on your needs or the situation.
Size & Weight
As I established at the beginning of this article, not all laptops are travel-friendly. As a rule of thumb, a travel laptop shouldn’t exceed 3 lbs. Many 11-13 inches laptops meet this criterion due to the ultra-slim design that many manufacturers use.
This is the brain of your laptop and it is the CPU that processes all the tasks on your laptop. The more powerful the processor, the better the laptop will be able to handle complex tasks.
Intel has dominated the processor/CPU market for a long time but AMD is now rivaling Intel due to the quality processors they now produce.
If you want to get an Intel processor, the least you should go for is Intel Core i3. Core i5 is better and Core i7 offers the best performance and speed.
The RAM of your system handles multitasking and helps you access data faster. The more the RAM bandwidth of your system, the better your system is able to multitask without lag.
Since travel laptops include Chromebooks and convertibles that are super portable, you won’t be able to get a lot of RAM bandwidth due to the minimal form factor. The minimum RAM bandwidth you should go for is 4GB. If your workload is heavier, then you should go for a 8GB RAM laptop in order to be able to multitask without any significant lag.
Graphics cards improve the quality of the image generated on your screen and they are of particular importance to gaming and video/photo-editing enthusiasts.
Most of the laptops on this list come with some form of integrated graphics card that can handle casual gaming, internet use, movies, and so on. If you are serious gaming or photo-editing enthusiast, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get laptops that can handle such heavy tasks in this range.
This is another aspect where travel laptops shine after portability. Travel laptops have incredible, and oftentimes stunning battery life. The rationale behind this is that a traveler may not have access to a power outlet when on the trip. So you can be sure that a good travel laptop will get you through the entire day without having to worry about charging.
This is another feature you should check before buying a laptop. Travel laptops manage to have a good storage capacity despite their miniature size. You can get up to 512 GB SSD storage space depending on the model you go for. And remember that SSDs are the latest hard disk technology and that they are faster and make less noise than HDDs.
What Will You Use It For?
If you are just a casual traveler that wants to browse and stream online on a trip, then you should consider buying a Chromebook. They are cheap and are well-suited to what you want to achieve (browsing and streaming online).
If you have to work on your travel, you’ll need something more powerful than a Chromebook especially if your workload is a bit heavy. You’ll have to take a look at notebooks.
Digital nomads, filmmakers, photographers and Photoshop users will require the most computing power, RAM bandwidth, as well as a graphics card. And there are several laptops on this list that will meet those requirements.
It’s easy for things to get a bit complicated when choosing or comparing travel laptops. But remember that the most important things to look out for are the size, RAM bandwidth, processor, and OS.
It is now your budget and preferences that will ultimately decide which one you go for. I hope the buying guide will help make your decision-making process easier but you can always contact me through the comment section.