From digital nomads to meticulous people who plan out every single detail of their trip to those whose idea of vacationing includes the mandatory “Netflix and chill” nights, laptops have become as essential to traveling as sarcasm was to Chandler Bing. Whether the case in point is a quintessential workaholic who can’t leave work behind even on holiday or the businessmen and women on work trips or just normal vacationers, there’s just something extremely convenient about traveling with laptops that even the latest smartphone can’t really match up to!
However, not all laptops are equal; not all laptops make for ideal travel laptops. Some of them are just downright heavy, unwieldy and plain cumbersome to deal with; as if there weren’t already enough baggage issues to deal with as well!
Therefore, getting a travel laptop may require you to consider aspects that you wouldn’t normally care to look for or overlook in a home/office laptop. If you intend to travel a lot with your laptop, it isn’t just going to be about the best resolution or the fastest processing power; you’ll need a laptop that’s durable, doesn’t give up its soul mid-flight/commute/travel and doesn’t add unnecessary pounds to your baggage (both in terms of its own weight and the accessories you need to carry for it, such as external drives, cords, chargers and the like).
To make life on the road much easier with a laptop, here’s a guide on the best travel laptops available in the market, as well as a buying guide on how to pick out the right travel laptop for you. Whether you’re a backpacker, businessperson, digital nomad or are simply bitten by the travel bug, there’s a laptop for every style, preference and budget on our list.
Read on to find the best travel laptop for you!
The Best Travel Laptops are…
Apple MacBook Air — Most Popular Pick
Great for: Business people, programmers and college students
Specifications: 0.11-0.68 x 12.8 x 8.94 inches with a weight of 2.96 pounds
Features: 13-inch screen with LED-backlit display, 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB memory, Thunderbolt 2 port, 2 USB 3 ports, SDXC port, fast SSD storage (128 GB) and Intel HD Graphics 6000
When it’s an Apple product in question, you know we’re talking about one of the best technology brands out there. Just like the rest of the brand’s products, the Apple MacBook Air promises to be durable, efficient and fast; this 13-inch laptop packs in a performance that’s hard to beat and stylishness that sets it apart from its competitors in a sleek, sexy, slim frame.
With the MacBook Air, you’re assured of a pretty great overall experience, with good battery life and super-crisp Retina display (featuring Apple’s True Tone display technology); features that make it one of the best 13-inch laptops in the market!
- Crisp, high-resolution screen thanks to the True Tone technology
- Quite the looker!
- Great sound system
- Minimal to no bloatware
- Lightweight, compact and super sleek
- Up to 12 hours of battery life
- A pretty shallow keyboard
- Quite expensive, as is the case with all of Apple’s products
- Only has USB-C ports
- Could be faster
Buy it here!
HP 2019 14-Inch Laptop — Premium Pick
Specifications: 32.4 x 22.5 x 2 inches, with a weight of 4.35 pounds
Features: 14-inch display (1366 x 768 HD resolution), WLED backlight, 7th Gen Intel Core i3-7100U processor (2.4 GHz) with smart dual-core and 4-way processing, 8 GB system memory, 128 GB SSD, and Windows 10 OS
The HP 2019 14-inch laptop is our premium pick, with an array of impressive features and a pretty great price! The upgrade of the OS from 7 to 10 brings with its new features like the Edge web browser, while the great display maintains the vividity of color in your videos and photos. The high-bandwidth RAM allows efficient multitasking and the 128 GB SSD, though it offers less space for storage than a hard drive, results in a much faster power-up time.
Overall, a great pick if you’re looking for something light, easy to travel with and can efficiently manage a light workload.
- Powers up in mere seconds.
- Functions smoothly for everyday tasks, such as browsing the net and watching videos, as well as games that don’t require high graphics cards/processors.
- Comes with an SD card slot, allowing you to extend storage when required.
- Also features an HDMI and Ethernet port.
- Reasonable price; good value for the price paid.
- Comes with a ton of pretty useless bloatware.
- The size of the SSD is pretty small, which means that if you don’t save to the cloud or use a tool like Google Docs, you’ll have to probably get an external drive or SD card.
Buy it here!
HP 14-Inch Touchscreen Home and Business Laptop — Best Affordable Option
Specifications: 12.75 x 8.89 x 0.78 inches with a weight of 3.25 pounds
Features: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 2.60 GHz processor, 14-inch touchscreen with 1366 x 768 HD resolution, LED backlight screen, audio jack, built-in HD webcam with microphone, DDR4 2400 MHz 8 GB RAM, 128 GB M.2 SSD, Vega 3 graphics, 4K output HDMI and a Windows 10 OS
With a smart dual-core, 4-way processor that’s capable of a 3.50 GHz max boost clock, you can rest assured that the HP 14-inch touchscreen laptop is fast and efficient, making it a great option for HD-quality computing. The high-resolution screen, along with an energy-efficient LED-backlit screen, ensures crisp, bright images, whereas the impressive RAM brings in the power required for creating, gaming and advanced multitasking.
Fast, cheap, lightweight and powerful, the HP 14-inch laptop is a great option for those who require a super-convenient travel laptop that packs in some serious muscle that can make easy work of advanced tasks!
[amazon box=”B081D9HJ4P” description=”AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor (2.60 GHz base clock, up to 3.50 GHz max boost clock, 4 MB Cache, 2 Cores) Smart dual-core, four-way processing performance for HD-quality computing. 14″ Touchscreen, typical 1366 x 768 HD resolution. Natural finger-touch navigation makes the most of Windows 10. Energy-efficient LED backlight screen” ]
- Super fast; better than the i3 and i5 processor
- Cheap; provides great value for your money, considering its range of features and the power it packs
- Easy to set up
- Doesn’t heat up despite prolonged use
- Good user-friendly design
- Doesn’t have a fingerprint reader
- Battery life isn’t that great
Buy it here!
ASUS Chromebook C425 Clamshell Laptop — Best Flexible Pick
Specifications: 12.6 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches with a weight of 2.87 pounds
Features: 14-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, FHD four-way NanoEdge, Intel Core M3-8100Y processor, 8GB RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, backlit keyboard and 2 Type-C USB ports
The ASUS Chromebook C425, with its slim-bezel NanoEdge design, elegant diamond-cut edges and a 14-inch screen in a 13-inch body, is “the” laptop of today! The NanoEdge design results in nearly borderless viewing, with an amazing color display in full HD resolution that gives you true-to-life viewing experience. The best part, though, is the 180-degree lay-flat hinge that lets you fully open and lay out the laptop so you can easily share the screen, making it a great option for cozy Netflix binge sessions!
The laptop also features a full-size backlit keyboard with a long-travel key distance that makes typing not only more comfortable but more accurate as well, aided by a large 6-inch touchpad that’s equipped with palm-rejection technology and multitouch gesture support. Flexible physically and in functionality, both of which make it a great laptop for traveling!
- Flexible display
- Keyboard designed and equipped to facilitate better and more comfortable typing
- Great display
- Equipped with a ton of features that other laptops like, such as the palm-rejection technology and multitouch gesture support
- Sleek, compact, lightweight and well designed
- Accommodates a bigger screen despite having a smaller body
- Mixed performance; some aspects work well, such as the display, while others don’t, such as the incompatibility with MS Office.
- The general cons that come with Chromebooks, such as no Photoshop, no optical drive and low storage.
Buy it here!
ASUS VivoBook 15-Inch Laptop — Best Big-Screen Laptop
Specifications: 14.1 x 9.1 x 0.75 inches with a weight of 3.5 pounds
Features: 15.6-inch full HD, AMD Quad-Core R5-3500U CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics and Windows 10 OS
Perfectly combining functionality and performance, the ASUS VivoBook is a great everyday-computing laptop, letting you browse the net, social media and watch videos with ease. Its 4-sided NanoEdge display keeps the dimensions down to a minimum and the fact that the body is ultra-slim doesn’t get in the way of a super-efficient HD camera. Additionally, with reversible USB Type-C, HDMI, USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports and a microSD reader, connecting to most other devices is a piece of cake!
The VivoBook 15 is a compact, sleek, travel-friendly laptop that won’t weigh you down on the road, packed with a ton of features and power that belies its size!
- Extremely slim and compact
- Compatibility with a range of devices
- Sturdy and efficient keyboard equipped with ErgoLift technology (keeps the screen angled perfectly and the keyboard raised by 2 degrees for easier and better typing)
- Built-in fingerprint sensor facilitating one-touch login
- Great display
- Comes with one-year accidental damage protection
- Screen distortion that makes it hard to view darkly-lit scenes
- Poor speakers
Buy it here!
Acer Aspire 5 Laptop — Best for Long Hours
Specifications: 14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches with a weight of 5.7 pounds
Features: 15.6-inch full HD IPS display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, Vega 8 graphics, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, backlit keyboard and Windows 10 OS
All kinds of powerful, fast, and portable, the Aspire 5 laptop is one of the best laptops out there for everyday computing. Equipped with a super-fast 3500U mobile processor that makes short work of complex or advanced tasks, the laptop also provides sharp, bright visuals on its full HD 15.6-inch screen and complementing it is the Acer TrueHarmony sound system, with its innovative design, deeper bass and more volume. What makes this laptop better than competitors for everyday computing, though, is the BlueLightShield feature that lets you work without straining your eyes; a necessity when you’re working long hours.
Connecting to other devices won’t be an issue with this laptop, with its range of ports that include HDMI and USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports.
- Great battery life
- Amazing visuals with the Acer Color Intelligence
- The Acer BlueLightShieldthat protects your eyes
- Thin and lightweight; great design
- Pretty great visuals
- The keyboard backlight turns off after a set period of time and lights again only when you touch a key (not even move the mouse or use the touchpad), making it a little annoying.
- The touchpad seems a little loose; you can hear clacking sounds as you type.
Buy it here!
LG Gram Laptop — Best Battery Life
Specifications: 12.7 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches with a weight of 2.2 pounds
Features: 14-inch full HD display (1920 x 1080 pixels), 1.6 GHz Intel 8th Gen Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and Windows 10 OS
Ultra-slim, the LG Gram laptop comes with a 14-inch display and pretty great storage in its compact metal alloy body that combines durability and ease of carrying. What makes this laptop stand out, though, is the 23.5 hours of battery life that it provides, which is a huge step-up from the average 5-6 hours that most other laptops provide! Additionally, the laptop features a backlit keyboard with multitouch gesture support, an efficient webcam, and the built-in DTS Headphone:X that comes with 11.1 channel surround audio, setting the stage for some superior audio experiences. It also features 2 SSD slots as well as a slot for 16 GB additional memory.
- The facility to extend storage/memory by quite a bit
- Durable yet lightweight
- Military-grade durability ensured due to 7 industry-standard tests that it’s put through, making the shell tougher than most other laptops
- Great sound system
- Efficient touchpad
- Sufficiently powerful
- No dedicated graphics card
- Adaptive brightness feature works even when you disable it, which can be quite annoying!
- Slight trackpad friction
Buy it here!
Microsoft Surface Laptop — Most User-Friendly Laptop
Specifications: 0.57 x 12.13 x 8.79 inches with a weight of 2.76 pounds
Features: 7th Generation Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz processor, 13.5-inch screen with 2256 x 1504 pixels resolution, 256 GB Flash Memory SSD, 8 GB RAM and Windows 10 OS
Equipped with the best of Microsoft’s technology, including Office and Windows, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that the Microsoft Surface is one of the tech giant’s masterpieces. Type comfortably thanks to the Signature Alcantara keyboard that’s covered with fabric, whereas with Windows 10 S, you can be assured of superior performance with top-notch security. The touch screen makes it super easy to use and extremely convenient. Lightweight and thin without compromising on any of its power, this laptop will fit easily into your bag, making it a great laptop to take on your trip. Oh, and did we mention that as Microsoft advertised, you can indeed open this laptop with a single finger? Undeniably user friendly, indeed!
- Crisp and efficient display
- Accurate keyboard
- Great aesthetics; this laptop could give the MacBook a run for its money!
- Extremely user friendly
- Super-comfortable keyboard
- Up to 14.5 hours of video playback
- Efficient touchscreen
- Sturdy and well made, but lightweight at the same time
- Slightly expensive
- Insufficient ports
- Display won’t tilt all the way back
Buy it here!
2019 ASUS 15.6-Inch VivoBook — Best Value
Specifications: 22.1 x 14.3 x 5 inches with a weight of 8.23 pounds
Features: 15.6-inch FHD WideView NanoEdge display (1920 x 1080 pixels), AMD quad-core and Radeon 7 graphics, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, USB Type-C, and a fingerprint reader with Legendary Backpack and Mouse Pad bundle
With a great price and even better features, the 2019 ASUS 15.6-Inch VivoBook gives you some of the best value possible for the price you pay. The laptop comes with a powerful quad-core processor that ensures an efficient and speedy performance, whereas the NanoEdge bezel design results in an impressive 80% screen-to-body ratio, making for a great viewing experience. Thin and portable despite its relative heaviness, the laptop’s other great features, such as its comprehensive connectivity, ergonomic keyboard with fingerprint sensor and 15.6-inch anti-glare display with ASUS Splendid software enhancement and AMD Radeon R7 graphics, make it quite the handy laptop to take along with you on your voyages!
- Great value for the price paid
- Thin and portable
- Crisp display
- Efficient keyboard
- Great connectivity
- Decently fast
- Good for software development — runs programs such as PHP, VSCode, Node, Python and the like pretty efficiently
- The “caps lock” screen doesn’t light up nor does it display on the screen.
- Relatively heavier than most other travel laptops.
Buy it here!
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop — Most Powerful Laptop
Features: 15.6-inch FHD IPS Display (1920 x 1080 pixels), 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, fingerprint reader and Windows 10 Home OS
Last but in no way the least, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop is by far the most powerful laptop on the list, with an impressive 8th generation i5 processor that can support up to 3.9 GHz, making for super-fast functioning. The laptop also features UHD Graphics 620; with a range of ports, connectivity won’t be a problem. In addition to these features, the laptop also features 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and a super-impressive 9.5 hours of battery life!
- Great battery life
- Efficient fingerprint sensor
- Great visuals, with Color Intelligence and BlueLightShield (the latter also protects your eyes)
- Extremely powerful; fast performance without any lags
- Great sound system
- Extensive connectivity
- Easily upgradeable memory/storage
- Easy setup
- Slightly pricey
- Loud fan sound
Buy it here!
How to Pack Your Laptop for Air Travel
Packing a laptop for air travel is pretty simple; additionally, with the introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi services on many airplanes, flight journeys need not necessarily be spent snoozing from one destination to the other — you can watch you want, work and browse the net as you wish. However, understanding TSA regulations are necessary when traveling with a laptop; this makes the journey easier and hassle-free for you!
The first rule while packing your laptop for air travel is to ensure that you don’t pack it inside checked-in baggage. Your checked-in baggage is bound to get tossed around in its journey from your trolley to the conveyor belt to the luggage truck to the cargo hold — a journey your delicate laptop is definitely not equipped for! Additionally, the battery could leak, leading to a whole complicated scenario involving several security issues and frantic airport personnel!
Thus, pack your laptop into a padded carry-on bag, preferably a checkpoint-friendly bag. In such a case, you don’t even need to take your laptop out during security check as the bag provides a clear, unobstructed view of your laptop during the X-ray screening — the TSA accepts this. These bags also have a laptop-only side without any metal pieces or pockets and you can only pack in your laptop and its cords/charger in these bags.
How Many Laptops Can I Travel With?
Though there isn’t really a limit on the number of laptops you can take on a plane (the TSA also stays mysteriously quiet about this), you’ll have to screen each laptop separately during the security check, so it’s best to stick to a maximum of 2.
If you do choose to carry more than 2 for your personal use, you may face issues with customs in the country you’re traveling to, so ensure you don’t end up paying 10-40% import duty on arrival in case you can’t convince them the laptops are for personal use (you’ll have to provide proof of purchase).
What to Look for in a Travel Laptop
As mentioned earlier, buying a travel laptop will require you to pay attention to certain aspects you may otherwise overlook in a work/home laptop, such as:
- Compact and Lightweight: This is, by far, the most important factor to consider, as you don’t want a laptop that adds unnecessary weight to your luggage. Size does matter, so look for a light laptop with a screen size that you need (not necessarily want, unless you’re using the same laptop for home use and travel).
- Great Battery Life: Your laptop dying mid-flight after you’ve just finished filling in those tiresome spreadsheets is a nightmare! Look for a laptop that gives you long battery hours (at least 8+) without frequent charges.
- Speed and Power: This depends on what you’re using the laptop for — are you going to use it for just the usual social media browsing and Netflix viewing or are you going to edit videos, play games with heavy-duty graphics and watch movies? In the case of the former, a Chromebook would do, whereas in the latter case, you’ll need a stronger, faster and more efficient processor.
- Features: Laptops come with many features these days, such as 180-degree opening out, touch screen facility and so on. Therefore, decide what you want and what you’re most comfortable with.
- Operating System: The operating system is an important aspect to consider, especially in the Mac vs PC battle. Stick with the OS you use on your home system unless you’re ready to spend time learning new functions, features and keystrokes!
- Price: Price always matters; you’re fooling yourself if you disagree (or have a ton of money just lying around!). Laptops come in all shapes and sizes and at all prices. The lower the price, the lesser the power and efficiency, in most cases. Though you may not want a cheap laptop for home/business use, we recommend a cheap laptop that efficiently gets the job done while traveling; if you lose it or it gets damaged, the pain is easier to bear and get over! Most travel laptops lie in the $150-$1,000 range, so take your pick!
What Is the Best Size Laptop for Travel?
Well, with travel, the lighter, the better! 11 to 12-inch laptops are great, weighing a mere 2.5 to 3.5 pounds. You can also get away with laptops in the 13-15.6 inches category, though somewhere between 13 and 14 lies the sweet spot; the best balance of functionality and portability lies here, with laptops that weigh less than 4 pounds. 15-inch laptops are the most popular size as they can also double up as home laptops and aren’t too heavy to carry around on trips. They generally weigh between 4 to 5.5 pounds.
For a laptop that’s intended for travel alone, we recommend anywhere between 12 to 14 inches, for the best combination of portability and usability.
Travel Laptops – In Conclusion
Well, we hope that covered (mostly) everything you need to know about travel laptops; the process of taking your laptop along on your next trip will hopefully be an easier one henceforth; if you’ve been paying attention, that is! As we said, there’s a travel laptop out there for every budget and preference, so don’t settle. Figure out what you need and explore the market; you’ll surely find the right travel laptop for you!