Should You Bring A Laptop While You Travel?

Friday, April 3, 2009

With their super-long batteries and hardcover-like weight, the netbook’s rise in popularity and plummet in price ($99 netbooks are just around the corner) is causing more and more travelers to ask the question: to bring or not to bring?

After my last trip, where I dealt with snail-paced internet connections and questionably sticky keyboards, I vowed to never again travel computerless. Yet here it is, days before my next trip, and I’m without a netbook. I’ll be forced into the recesses of 5 euro per hour internet cafes where I’ll spend half my time watching the clock and the other half wondering what that substance on the monitor is.

Ah, I could picture the alternative: uploading images and video on a whim, updating the site while sitting outdoors at a cafe table, Skyping back to HQ and issuing communiques to my hurried staff. Life would be good. But I’d rather save the money for the trip and wait for prices to fall even more. I also still have a nagging sense of guilt about traveling with such technology. But, is it really anti-social or is it  just damn practical? Don’t you save time from seeking out and sitting in an internet cafe? Doesn’t it help you connect with locals and free up time from calling around to hostels and train stations?

This lively debate over at the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree explores that very question.

Dodgey, in post #6 argues: “Personally, I find the iPhone generation more isolationist – so many people travel (and walk) permanently plugged into their iPods – they don’t talk to anyone or hear anything going on around them.”

Heyitsmechloe, in post #8 points out: “I have did [sic] two major trips so far, a two months [sic] trip to USA and a six week one to Europe. Both times i took my macbook with me. I couldn’t imagine my trips without it. It is extremely convenient when it comes to booking a hostel,finding bus schedules,maps and talking to friends and family back home, plus Skype is always available. I always took it with me in my backpack when i left the hostel. Only a couple of times i left it at the lockers and there were no problems.”

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