Q&A – Travel with a Laptop

May 26, 2010 14 Comments »

Travel Questions? Ask Them!

I get many emails from travelers all over the world asking me questions about my travels.  Here are some of the recent ones that are great to share with everyone!  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask!

Q:  From Anna in New York city – I’m planning a trip to start in December ’10 and have questions…
Did you travel with a laptop? Was that a good idea or bad?

A:  Yes, I travel with a laptop, however I use it to write and blog while I’m in the road. So I’m probably not the average traveler when it comes to carrying a laptop.  First I would recommend really considering what you want to use a laptop for while traveling.  Once you can answer that, then you can start to figure out what type of equipment is right for you.  For me, a long term traveler, it is really nice to have your own laptop to use for skype, travel research on your next destination, upload photos as a backup, and to simply stay in touch without having to use an internet cafe. However if you’re not a travel blogger, then I would recommend getting a cheap travel netbook (mini laptop) to simply have some internet access, and upload/backup photos.  If it’s cheap, then you won’t feel as bad if it’s lost or stolen. You can now get little travel laptops for about $500 and they are really just used for internet and some storage space.  That way it won’t take up much room, if it gets lost or stolen you haven’t invested a ton, but easier to use than an iphone or droid as you’ll have a full keyboard. Here’s a recent review from PC World about The Best Laptops, Netbooks, and Smartphones for Travel.

Here’s another good post about 7 tips for taking a laptop traveling, the author lists some good things to consider if you considering taking hardware with you!

If you decide to take it with you – then here’s a must read from my friend Anil at Foxnomad (he’s a security guru!) – The Traveler’s Guide to Locking Down Your Laptop

Blogging in Action at an airport in Vietnam

Q:  How did you get internet access?

A:  Depending on where you are going wireless internet may be free, or you may have to pay for it. I can safely say that all thru SEAsia(and most of Asia) – you can find it for free. Also – unlike America, most coffee shops, hotels, and airports also have internet and it’s normally free if you are a ‘guest’ there. Sometimes in Europe you’ll have to pay. If you know where you’ll be staying – you can contact them and find out if they offer internet. When I stay in hostels or choose hotels, I only choose places that offer wireless internet – else I won’t stay there. That way after touring around all day I can sit in my room and write or catch up on emails.

A decent source to find public access Wifi spots is Wifinder – just put in your location and see what’s around you.  It’s not completely up to date, but it will give you a good start if you are researching a travel location.

Finally, I would also highly recommend bringing an ethernet cable with you as you never know when you’ll have trouble connecting wirelessly on old routers, etc.  By bringing an ethernet cable – you may just be able to directly ‘plug into’ the internet and skip the wireless hassles.

Q:  Did you really write and upload photos in the internet cafes?

A:  When I first started traveling, yes, that’s how I did it. – I had a little card reader and would plug in via USB port at internet cafes and slowly try to upload my photos. It was painstaking. Once I started taking my laptop with me, I could at least get the photos on my laptop, even if the internet connection was too slow to upload them to the photo site I keep at Smugmug. So at least I had a backup – which was important to me. Yes, I also did the writing in internet cafes. Which the amount I write now, I don’t think that would ever work for me again. I find it so much easier to have my own laptop to travel with. However it is extra weight and security concerns. That’s why I suggest getting a cheap one for travel.

Q:  What blogging software do you use for Ottsworld?

A:  I use WordPress. We also use it on Briefcase to Backpack, Meet Plan Go, and Auraliya (my many sites!). It’s a great free software that is constantly updated and provides a lot of flexibility – and most importantly you don’t have to be a tech genius! You can have a free acount on WordPress – or simply choose your own host and download WordPress for free and then customize it.

Keep the questions coming!  Or if you have experience traveling with a laptop and want to provide Anna with more info – please leave a comment below!

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