Let's talk about laptops. How to choose one that suits for working and traveling?
How to find the best laptop for travel blogging?
Most of blog posts here have been written in Tallinn cafés from my trusty Lenovo. Here are things I considered when choosing it from many possible options. Actually when narrowing choices down there were just a few laptops left and it's been a good decision.
I've been using Lenovo T440s and T460s recently. Both are excellent options for travelers on a budget. These are not newest models but does one really need the latest and also quite expensive laptop? As long as it gets the job done.
Of course, what is important for me might not be as important to you.
So these are rather just mine, one backpacker's experience who works from their laptop about half the time. Who prefers desktop PC with larger screen and mostly spends up to few weeks on the road with their laptop.
What to look for when choosing a laptop for traveling?
Weight below 1,5kg
Laptop will be with you most of the time when traveling. Every extra 100 grams will be noticeable after a full day with backpack.
There should be a very good reason to choose a laptop that weights over 1,5kg or 3,3 pounds.
That reason might be need for larger or more powerful laptop and smaller ones just will not do.
Charger will weight extra few hundred grams or 6-10 ounces too. Add in cables and a small battery pack for your phone, it's safe to estimate that electronics will take up about 2 kilograms or 4,4 pounds in the bag. Bag itself weights probably a kilogram or 2,2 pounds and that's 3 kilograms or 6,6 pounds.
Free baggage allowance on many airlines is 7 or 8 kilograms.
Screen size 13 or 14 inches
13 or 14 inches is about perfect. Lenovo X series Laptop with screen diagonal of 12,5 inches felt very small in my opinion.
Larger laptops tend to weight more and larger screens consume more power as a rule. There are few lightweight laptops with 15 inch screen available - these are also expensive.
SIM card slot and 4G modem
Getting an extra SIM card for mobile internet means a hotspot or Wi-Fi connection is not needed. You can log on almost anywhere and forget asking cafés for Wi-Fi passwords, misunderstanding these and then finding out that Wi-Fi is not so great there.
Battery lasts at least 4 hours
Does your laptop last a day on one charge? For me this means about 4-5 hours of screen time when I'm browsing the Internet or writing.
In laptop sales terms, number on the box usually means twice or triple real world use. "Battery life up to 12 hours" most likely means that it is possible to get 4-6 hours out of the laptop.
Or 10-12, when using it indoors, no Wi-Fi, screen brightness on minimum, just listening to music... Reviews on Google usually have answers.
Mil-spec tested durability
Mil-spec means that laptop has been torture tested in very demanding enviroments. Lenovo explains these tests on Lenovo Tech Today blog.
As backpackers and travelers have laptop with them almost 24/7 and the bag will take a beating, it's good to know that laptop can handle these bumps or accidental fall from a bed.
I was a bit worried when my backpack was taken to the plane in Georgia as luggage, not as a carry-on. Will they drop it when loading the plane? Fortunately they were careful with all bags. It was my mistake and next time I'll get a small backpack for carry-on. I'm 70% sure that T460s would have been fine. It is not something I expect to test though.
Going for Mil-spec tested laptop rules out Apple laptops and the cheapest plastic laptops.
What is the better option? Going with tested business class laptops.
As these are expensive when new, in fact brand new and lightweight ThinkPads cost over 1500€ (gasp!) - so used one is most likely an answer.
Not expensive and looks boring
Cheap and bland is always a good bet. I need a very good reasons to have an item with me that costs uncomfortably much. This means that a laptop or a phone or anything else should not be top of the line or stand out too much from "norm" in the area you are in.
Many good laptops and phones can be bought for 200-500€. Exceptions can be made for things you really need.
For example going on a video editing trip and having to edit videos in 4K ASAP after shooting these justifies more powerful and also more expensive laptop or phone.
But flashing new iPhone 11 or a brand new laptop in an busy café might not be the best idea. Of course it's possible to have stuff insured and one absolutely should, but some things draw more unwanted attention than others.
Which laptop have I been using?
I've been true to Lenovo T series for years. The 12 inch laptop I used was Lenovo X240. My current laptop is Lenovo T460s, which meets all these demands and gets 5 hours of battery time.
I would suggest looking into T450s, T460s or T470s when you're looking for reasonably cheap and good laptop for traveling. Or T480s or even T490s when you're looking something newer and better.
Even lighter alternative might be Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon from 4th generation or newer.
As second hand laptops might have batteries that do not last for hours, it's good idea to have batteries replaced too.