Choosing a tavel laptop

Choosing a Travel Laptop

Once upon a time, a traveller’s backpack wasn’t made up of expensive gadgets and shiny technological tools – or so I hear. Truth is, I can’t remember how I used to get through daily life without my phone or laptop, so imagining travelling the world without them is a pretty difficult task.

However, part of the reason we’re going travelling is to get away from this kind of westernised, commercialised lifestyle – shouldn’t that include stripping away the gadgets? Well, not if I want to keep up this blog, for a start. As much as we’re trying to limit the amount of gadgets that make it into our backpacks, we’ve accepted that there are some things we can’t go without – that includes a new travel laptop.

Choosing a tavel laptop

Copyright: Trekkyandy on Flickr

Choosing a Travel Laptop

So, how to choose a laptop? As with choosing our travel camera, we decided the best travel laptop would have to meet set criteria.

What to look for in a laptop:

  • Size and weight – we chose relatively small backpacks on purpose, to limit the amount of stuff we take with us and the amount of weight we carry on our backs. So, taking our old 17 ½ inch Dell laptop with us was out of the question. After testing out a few options, we decided an 11 inch laptop would be small and light enough to carry, but still big enough to work on.
  • Power – we need a laptop powerful enough to run the blog, use basic photo and video editing programs and communicate with people back home. So, on that basis we decided we needed something more powerful than a notebook (more than 1GB RAM), but we didn’t need Macbook level power (although that would be nice!).
  • Memory – we need enough memory to store all our videos, pictures and documents we create while we’re on the road.
  • Battery life – when travelling we know we might not always be able to charge our gadgets regularly, so we want a laptop that isn’t going to conk out after an hour’s use.
  • Price – we set ourselves a £400 budget for our travel laptop.

So, what Laptop did we go for?

Our travel laptop - the Acer Aspire
After much deliberation and a lot of testing we chose the Acer Aspire V5-171. It’s a great, compact laptop that meets all our set criteria – here are his vital stats:

  • Screen size – 11.1 inches
  • Weight – 1.3 kilos
  • Processor – Intel Core i3
  • Memory – 4GB RAM, 320GB hard drive
  • Battery life – up to five hours
  • Other features – three USB ports including a USB 3.0 port, two in one memory card reader to suit our camera, 1.3 MP HD webcam
  • Price – £369.99 from PC World, however,  we managed to get a discounted price of £300

So, what kind of laptop do you travel with? Or perhaps you’re one of those rare beasts who manages to travel without one?

Choosing a Travel Laptop

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*Update: once we started travelling we realised that one laptop just wasn’t enough between two of us so we got a second laptop in Jakarta – here’s what we chose.

  • Shane
    Posted at 18:59h, 21 October Reply

    We’re also fans of Acers. Our current one was bought to serve as a desktop too and is way too big but that’s what we have so that is what is coming with us. Annoyingly the smallest, sleekest and most silvery laptop we ever had coincided with the period we travelled least and barely went anywhere.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:48h, 24 October Reply

      Looks like Acers are a pretty popular choice which reassures me. I don’t envy you having to carry a big laptop around Shane, I’m so glad we went for the tiniest version possible!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 03:00h, 22 October Reply

    We are Mac people through and through, so we opted to go with a 11″ MacBook Air for our trip as our main computer. We’ve been really happy with it, though it is a pain to share (but that’s part of the journey, right? Taking your relationship to new places? 😉 )! We needed something powerful as Tony is still on contract for his old company as a graphic designer, so it’s important we have something that can get the job done if necessary!
    We also have an iPad, so that we can attempt to multitask, but that is more often a pain than not… certainly no substitute for a real computer, though we are able to complete basic word processing with it. If the opportunity came up to replace that with something like what you had (and I could put an Apple OS on it!), I would seriously consider it!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:54h, 22 October Reply

      Hey Steph, I would love to have a Mac but we just couldn’t justify getting one for our needs. I’m jealous of you! I hadn’t really thought about the sharing issue yet, hmmm – that could be a problem!

  • The Guy
    Posted at 05:23h, 22 October Reply

    I love Acers especially with their signal up to help improve your wifi signal in areas with weak signals.

    I bought a netbook as they are smaller and can be lighter than a laptop. Also at half the price. I bought my Acer netbook for less than £200. It has a good size hard drive, three USB ports and a built in camera. It serves all my purposes and is great for Skype-ing etc.

    Best of luck with your laptop. Make sure you back up your important files, just in case!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:59h, 22 October Reply

      Hi, thanks for commenting! Yes, we’re pretty happy with our Acer so far, I hope that continues while we’re on the road. Thanks for the reminder about backing up, we’re planning on buying an external hard-drive but need to research further on that front.

  • Vicky
    Posted at 14:30h, 23 October Reply

    We actually brought two computers with us! An HP laptop and an Acer netbook. Since we both blog over on the travel blog, and I also have my own food blog we figured we would need both computers. Though it’s annoying to lug both around it’s been awesome not having to share and be able to work on the blog simultaneously and just even do simple things like skype with our parents or friends at the same time.

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:01h, 23 October Reply

      Vicky I’m so jealous that you each have a laptop! Maybe Andrew and I will have to pick up another while we’re on the road if we start fighting over the Acer.

  • Curious Nomad
    Posted at 08:40h, 20 November Reply

    Smart purchase on your Acer. If anything happens…knock on wood that nothing does, it will be relatively easier to replace than a Mac. A few years ago I purchased a 15″ MacBook Pro, but I now regret that I did since it is quite heavy to travel with.

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:45h, 20 November Reply

      One of our main concerns was weight, so I don’t envy you having to carry around a heavy laptop. I’m not going to lie – I’d love to have a Mac though!

  • Jack
    Posted at 19:05h, 20 February Reply


    How did you get around the stipulation from Photoguard that the Laptop needs to be used for photographic purposes to be insured?


    • Amy
      Posted at 17:34h, 23 February Reply

      Hi Jack, you just have to say that you use the laptop for storing and editing photos (which we do anyway).

  • Brian
    Posted at 20:52h, 16 November Reply

    Looks like a great pick! A travel laptop should be light and have a long battery life and looks like you got that with this one. Thanks for sharing your purchase!

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:45h, 17 November Reply

      No worries Brian, Thanks for reading and commenting.

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