If you travel for business regularly, you probably take a laptop with you to work on the move; but an increasing number of us are also taking computers on holiday. The availability of WiFi in all but the remotest of destinations now means it's easy to stay connected when you travel, using a phone, tablet or larger device. We take a look at the pros and cons of travelling with a laptop.
Sharing your holiday pics used to mean taking rolls of film to Boots and showing physical albums to friends long after the trip was over; now it's common to share images online direct from the beach. Phone cameras are good for posting quick snaps, but if you're a keen photographer you'll certainly want to take your DSLR on holiday with you to capture exotic scenery, holiday portraits, and wildlife images. Taking a laptop too means you can process and upload images while you're still away - you'll have a lovely memento, while friends and family back home will enjoy seeing what you're up to!
Let me entertain you
Pop a couple of films or favourite TV shows on a lightweight laptop and you'll have a ready-made entertainment system for long flights and train journeys. Take a few more and you won't have to rely on local television networks or paying for in-room entertainment. While watching TV might not be your favourite holiday activity, a bit of welcome distraction can be especially useful for solo travellers and families travelling with children.
A vital connection
Nothing could be more blissful than getting away from the office completely for a week or two...or could it? The 'worliday' (working holiday) is a growing phenomenon and it is becoming more common for travellers to take a laptop away with them to catch up on work emails, check documents and keep in touch with the office. Spending an hour a day clearing emails and dealing with urgent problems can make the transition back to work at the end of a break less stressful; but it's best to separate work and leisure and limit yourself to a specific time of day for work contacts, perhaps in the evening before dinner.
Don't make me weight
With developments to screen and storage technology, laptops and notebooks are coming down in weight all the time. There's no getting around the fact that a larger desktop-replacement model can still be a cumbersome thing to lug around with you, however, so think twice about bringing a full-sized laptop if your luggage limit is tight. Or check out the new breed of ultraportable laptops: Asus, Dell and all have compact lightweight models to suit a range of budgets.
Take my stuff away
Like any valuable item, a laptop carries a small risk of being stolen when you transport it around the world. To avoid the expense and hassle of a stolen computer, keep your laptop bag with you at all times when travelling (walk with it across your body and keep it next to you on the train or under the seat in front on the plane). If you're leaving your computer in the hotel room when heading out to the beach, lock it in the hotel safe or leave it with the front desk if there's no safe or locker. Consider using a cable lock to keep your machine secure when working at a public table; laptop snatches are uncommon but a solid and visible lock will help deter opportunist thieves. If that all sounds like too much effort, leave the laptop at home and find an internet cafe instead.
Travelling with a laptop helps travellers stay in touch when they are abroad. Be sure your travel insurance covers your electronics, just in case it is damaged or stolen during your trip.
Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet's India guidebook - she's seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!). She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.Top