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Should writer carry their laptop while travel?

I'm going to travel in September, but wondering whether I should carry my laptop while travelling. I love writing and do it on a daily basis, so to think not writing for a week or more makes me feel, well, uncomfortable.

If I carry the laptop, is there anything I should know for a safe trip?

Thank you in advance

Posted by
15588 posts

Lots of us take laptops, at least until the proposed ban on carry-on electronics. How is your lap top going to make you unsafe?

Posted by
1414 posts

I take my laptop everywhere as I often am working from the road. If not, then it is nice to be able to stream a movie before bed.

The only thing to know for safety is I typically leave the laptop in the room when I go out for the day. If you are staying at a reputable place this should not be a problem at all, theft from hotel or B&B rooms is vanishingly rare. If you are staying in a hostel or lower end accommodations you may want to do something different, either lock it up or take it with you.

Posted by
17692 posts

In 2000 I got my first digital camera before a trip to Germany. At the time memory sticks were so expensive I knew I could not afford enough for my entire trip, so I got a memory card reader for my laptop and took the laptop with me. It was handy to review, organize and load my pictures from the day to my laptop and clear the card for more pictures, but I found so many other thing for which it was useful (loading it with a spreadsheet with my itinerary, contact information for my accommodations, train schedules, maps, etc, keeping track of expenses, and writing a journal). As Wifi became more available I found I could keep in touch with family back home by email and post to my website.

Today I have a Transformer, a touchscreen tablet with detachable keyboard. It serves as my guidebook; I take the tablet part with me everywhere I go and use it with the keyboard at night. It's not very big and fits in a small case that no one would think carries a computer. I store any private information on a flash drive that I carry separately.

Posted by
313 posts

I don't want to lug mine, and I don't want my head back at home (via the laptop) while I'm traveling. I take an iPad mini in case I want to watch something on the plane (I'll download and load up movies relevant to my destination), but I don't really consume media from back home because it pulls me out of traveling bliss.

Get yourself a nice notebook and a good pen that's a joy to write with. Unplug. (Uniball Signo UM-151 on a bare-bones–chic Muji notebook is the best...)

Posted by
327 posts

I had to take my laptop on vacation recently. When not using it, I locked it inside my suitcase in the hotel room. No problems.

Be sure you have the right kind of electrical outlet adapter. If your charging cord has a 3-pronged plug, you'll need an adapter that accepts 3 prongs.

Happy travels.

Posted by
48 posts

Just a quick defense of the laptop. I know some are suggesting pen and paper but sadly I can't read my own handwriting. I'm also one with the laptop, which allows the words to flow from my head to the screen like water, although too frequently only a trickling flow. Take the writing instrument that works best for you and enjoy your vacation.

Are you placing the laptop in your carry-on or will it have its own bag? I use backpacks with built-in laptop compartments and place the laptop in a padded sleeve for extra protection. One more suggestion: Make sure you're backed up by cloud storage. If the worst happens and you lose your laptop, at least you'll have a back-up as current as your last wifi connection.

Peace, love and verbs!

Posted by
6543 posts

I no longer carry a laptop on my travels. I got a $150 Chromebook, and it is so easy to deal with on the road.
If friends and relatives want to correspond with me, they can send me an email. I also no longer deal with cellphones when traveling--too much hassle.

Posted by
607 posts

I always carry an 8" tablet, at home, at work or on vacation.

The latest generation tablet is powerful enough and has compatible apps that would allow me to almost replace my laptop while travelling. One option is to get a portable folding bluetooth keyboard. I have used one with our iPad. However, i have been using google dictation more and more and have held off on buying another piece of hardware to lug around.

Posted by
31037 posts

I always pack along a small Netbook when travelling, and use it to not only diarize my travels, but also back up photos, check E-mail and post Blog entries (time permitting). I can type fairly quickly so that provides the most efficient use of my valuable holiday time. If I was using a pencil and notebook, it would be a more "painful" process and would take far longer.

Posted by
11158 posts

As you can see, different things work for different people. If bringing a laptop works best for you, don't hesitate to bring it.

Do consider if a tablet (or even your phone) plus a portable Bluetooth keyboard would be sufficient, and if you are in the market for a new product, do look at some of the newest lightweight things like a Macbook Air or a Chromebook. And if you are bringing a laptop with a 3 pronged plug, do bring the correct adapters for each country (for a 2 pronged laptop, you only need one kind of adapter for the British Isles and another kind for Continental Europe, but for a 3 pronged laptop many countries have their own variations).

At any airport security checkpoint, you will have to take out the laptop and place it separately on the X-ray belt, so be prepared to do this (i.e., keep it right on top so you can get it out quickly).

Posted by
279 posts

I have a keyboard cover/case for my iPad. This gives me the functionality and convenience of the iPad and its apps and most of the power of a laptop. I use MS office on my desktop computer and the current version of the MS Office apps are completely compatible with the desktop versions. I keep most of my files on the "cloud" so they easily accessible from both the PC and the iPad. This setup has worked for me on many domestic and European trips.

Posted by
268 posts

If like using your laptop, then by all means take it. I take mine on every trip. About every other trip, I have to take care of a minor issue at work. Also, I like being able to download and categorize my photos each day.

Posted by
8715 posts

I just got a Samsung Galaxy S2 8.0 to take the place of my larger Windows tablet with keyboard. I'm also using a small, foldable Bluetooth Keyboard.

It does everything I need except that for some reason there is a lag time using wifi with browsers. (Not so much with other apps).

You could probably do the same wth a mini Ipad and keyboard.

Posted by
50 posts

For me a laptop=work. So if I'm on vacation, it doesn't join me because my work email, work files, etc. are just sitting there, waiting to be accessed. And I like my work. But working on vacation is not a vacation. So, if I wanted to write for pleasure I would use my ipad with an external keyboard since there's nothing to work tied to it and the physical distance from work materials is useful for me. Perhaps this isn't an issue for you, but worth considering if work and writing are tied up and you truly want a vacation.

I do travel for work a lot and of course bring my laptop. Traveling with a laptop these days is straightforward. I would make sure it's encrypted and password protected and personally I store everything in the cloud so if the device is stolen I still have all my files. This recently happened in India (my iphone) and because all my photos were stored in the cloud I only lost a few texts. The weight of a laptop can quickly add up, especially in a carry on so keep that in mind. Other than that, happy travels!

Posted by
118 posts

I also use a tablet/portable Bluetooth keyboard solution. The form factor/weight of my old Nexus 7 works much better for me than an iPad Air for international travel. In a pinch I can draft on my iPhone.

I use Dropbox for my ongoing book project. Some parts of that project require a laptop, but I work on smaller bits while traveling. For those, the Nexus works just fine. I am careful to download the in-progress drafts to my tablet before I go (and test that I can access it offline.) I have DocsToGo for word processing, though it's clunkier than I like.

More often, I use travel as a break from my manuscript, and I focus on new work. I carry a small Moleskine wherever I go for quick notes. I use my writing time (or train time) to journal heavily, and I often do this in Evernote, because I'm just laying down material and not editing. It's easy to cut and paste from Evernote when I return home, and then clean up the draft. (Another option is to email these drafts to myself.). I get several essays from each European trip, so the time spent taking good notes or journaling in detail really pays off.

Just started re-reading Eric Maisel's book "A Writer's Paris." The book inspired me on a 2006 tour in Paris, especially the advice to approach travel as "more artist than tourist." In 2014, my teen son and I spent an "artist's morning" at Place des Vosges, a la Maisel. A wonderful experience. The book helped me transform how I travel as a writer.

Posted by
362 posts

I love my laptop and have carried it on many trips. It's easier for me to read it, especially when my eyes are tired at night.

Having said that, I'm not taking it on my next trip. I plan to carry pen and paper.