Earning a location independent income is a huge advantage in life. Are you, like us, travel bloggers? Unfortunately even those of us who travel full-time still have to work, so picking the best laptop for travel blogging, the tool that you’ll spend your time on and run your business from, is important. Not all laptops are created equal and you need to weight up what you need and what you don’t need to serve your purposes as a traveller or digital nomad.
There are certain criteria that you will want to consider before parting ways with your money. Just because something isn’t the most expensive doesn’t mean it isn’t good and likewise just because a laptop has a high price tag doesn’t mean it will do everything you need from a travel laptop.Contentsshow
Best Laptops for Travel Blogging
Size of the Laptop for Travel
Laptops come in a variety of sizes and some are actually too big for travel if you’re constantly moving. The smaller laptops are great in size but be careful that they actually come with Windows if you’re going to need that. Most of the smaller ones are loaded with the Chrome OS.
Screen size will range from 11 inches right up to 17 inches. Most medium-size laptops are 14 or 15 inches which has a big enough screen to see clearly but won’t take up half your backpack. Sizes less than 15 inches can come with detachable screens which may be of benefit in certain situations.
Weight is another factor that increases with size.
Current laptops are considerably lighter than older models but the bigger it is the heavier it will be. Small laptops can be 3 pounds or less while the bigger laptops can exceed 8 pounds in weight.
That is a lot of weight to carry around, especially if you’re travelling carry-on only and need to use every available amount of weight allowance.
Which Operating System for Blogging?
Laptops will come with one of 3 operating systems. Windows, Apple OS X and Chrome (Android) OS. Windows is the most common in laptops followed by Apples and their MacBooks with Chrome being at the cheaper end with less functionality.
I’d stick to either Windows or Apple as I find the Chrome OS very limited once you want to do more than surfing the web or just writing emails. There isn’t the support for programs like the first two operating systems.
Choosing between Windows and Apple isn’t straightforward and there are numerous reasons to pick one over the other.
If you already use Apple products then you might want to stick with MacBooks as everything will be aligned with the same system. Likewise if you don’t have any Apple products you may not want to get a laptop that isn’t aligned.
Windows laptops are made by a variety of manufacturers and have a diverse amount of specifications because of this. This allows you to only spend and buy just what you require.
With Apple, the cheapest MacBook is $999 US and doesn’t come with as many specifications at that price when compare to similar priced laptops with Windows operating systems. It is often referred to as the ‘Apple Tax’ by Windows users.
Viruses and malware are well known on Windows computers but they are much less prevalent on the Apple products. There are a few reasons for this. One is that market share is so small compared to Windows that it isn’t worth the hackers while. Another is Apple is one company making all the product from start to scratch whereas Windows computers can be made by anyone and then Windows is added afterwards. The last main reason is Apple is built on Unix which is more secure than Windows by default giving you a head start against hackers.
Build Quality in Travel Laptops
Travel Blogging will usually involve travelling around, and not always on nice trains or buses. On occasion you may be bouncing along on a rickety road with your gear being bounced around just as much.
Cases will protect laptops but having a solidly built one will also go a long way to making sure it survives the journey and is usable when you get to your destination.
Most laptops these days are a combination of plastics and metals, mainly aluminum. I’d advise trying to get one with more metal and less plastic as they are stronger and less prone to breaking.
Also look at the keyboard, is it strong? Are the keys firmly fixed? We’ve had to replace a few laptop keyboards and it isn’t the cheapest or easiest thing to do, especially on the road.
Our oldest, cheapest and heaviest laptop has the strongest keys which goes to show that price and new isn’t always the best.
Apple MacBooks are made from recycled aluminum alloy and are structurally sound which coupled with being ultra light weight are a great pick. Obviously the price reflects this. While strong I would still be investing in a proper fitting case that will further protect your laptop from bumps and scrapes.
While important I don’t rate this as highly as other criteria. The main reason is you’ll more often than not get what you pay for. If you’re running your successful business off this computer then it isn’t the place to cut corners.
Look out for last year’s models as they are often cheaper but have near identical specifications. Also buying at certain times of the year are better than other times.
My best advice though is to spend as much as you can possibly afford. While upgrading desktop is easy enough, laptops are much harder and you’re unlikely to be able to change much once bought.
Think about what you’ll need in 2-3 years time (at least how long a laptop will last) and make sure you have your needs covered.
Often the hardest thing to pick is storage and the type of storage. You have 3 main types, Solid State Drive (SSD), Normal moving hard drive and cloud/online storage. As manufacturers try to save space and weight they have slimmed down computers.
One way was to take out the DVD drive which is obsolete in a lot of peoples lives now and the other was to reduce the size of hard drives making people rely on cloud storage. A good way for them to make extra money and allows syncing between devices. Unfortunately it also requires a good to great internet connection that you may or may not have.
SSD are the best in terms of performance but cost a lot more and so a lot of laptops tend to offer smaller amounts of storage via the SSD hard drive. 128 GB or even 256 GB. Personally I find this too small and as files and operating systems get bigger the SSD will fill fast. If you can get 500 GB – 1 TB of storage that would be ideal, but expect to hunt around and spend a lot of money.
It is common on the bigger computers to have 100 GB of SSD and then a 1 TB on a normal hard drive. This requires you to move files across and isn’t ideal but gives you a faster computer than one with a simple hard drive.
If you’re happy and use cloud storage then this limiting storage might not be an issue for you.
Traditional hard drives are a moving part which spins around. Obviously it isn’t as fast in terms of operating and it is another part that can break (this is incredibly rare though). The plus side is that you can get 1 or 2 TB easily and relativity cheaply compared to the same amount on a SSD. Unless you’re doing a lot of video editing I wouldn’t worry about the SSD unless you have the money to spend on it.
Most people use cloud storage, especially for photos. Anyone with a Google account and Android phone will have 15 GB by default for photos and files. Unfortunately this isn’t nearly enough and you’d need to pay for 1 or 2 TB storage which, while not expensive, is another ongoing cost that you can’t easily stop using. Imagine trying to download 600 GB of data to an external hard drive via computer.
My advice if you go this route is to really research the options and pick one that you know you will be satisfied with in 5-10 years time.
Simply put, the bigger the laptop the bigger the battery and shorter the battery life. Most laptops are comparable on battery time these days if they’re the same size. Double check before you purchase a laptop though, in case it isn’t great. Most will give you 4-6 hours of intensive use when they’re new and fully charged. This will diminish as the battery ages. MacBooks have one of the best battery lives of any laptop but again you’ll pay for it with their entry level priced at upwards of $999 US.
Another consideration is whether the battery is internal or external. By this I mean if you can take it out yourself without dissembling the computer. Benefits include buying and keeping a spare battery if you know you’re going to be without electricity for an extended period of time or just replacing the battery at the end of its life.
Whether it is inside or ‘outside’ won’t effect the operational capacity of it so I wouldn’t spend a lot of time searching for either unless you really need to.
Computer Processing Unit (CPU) and RAM
These two are equally important and really make the computer what it is. Ideally you want the highest level of both that your budget can stretch to.
CPU’s are made by a few companies although Intel tends to be the bigger maker. Labeled in both size and generation (age) you want the highest number you can afford but don’t settle for less than an i5 as minimum. You may find that you can get an i7 7th generation or an i5 8th generation for the same price. It pays to look closely at the figures. While not impossible to upgrade it is cost prohibitive to do so so pick wisely.
Ram is like your short term memory and again you want the highest number you can afford. Normally 8 Gb of ram is enough for most users but if 12 is on offer take it if you can afford it. 4 Gb of ram isn’t ideal and you’ll run into issues with editing photos and video if you only have this amount.
Unlike the CPU a lot of laptops allow you to upgrade your ram and you may find that the CPU capacity is what you want but the ram is a bit low (a way of the computer manufacturers saving money). It can be relatively cheap to upgrade the ram. I’ve paid $100 US to add another 8 Gb of ram to a laptop after I bought it. To buy one off the shelf with that amount would have added on another $300 and had many specifications I didn’t need.