How to Travel With a Laptop

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Before going traveling there are always lots of big decisions to make.

Questions such as ‘How long will I be going for?’, ‘Who should I go with?‘ and ‘What kind of backpack should I buy/take?’ will all come to mind, and will all need to be answered well before you set off.

Another important decision you may need to make is whether to take a laptop with you or not. Before deciding this, the first question you should ask yourself is:

Do I Really Need to Take a Laptop With Me?

This is a question that deep down, you probably already know the answer to.

If you don’t NEED to take a laptop with you, but you still want to, ask yourself WHY you want to bring one along.

laptop at airportIs it because it will make keeping in contact with your friends/family/partner a hell of a lot easier (thanks to emails and Skype) and because you like to watch movies from time to time, or is it because you’re too scared to leave the comfort zone that the virtual world provides?

I’ve met some travelers that seem to bring a laptop along with them just because they can.

That’s fine, but taking something that expensive with you is a risk, and there’s always the temptation that you’ll want end up spending too much time surfing the internet and playing games instead of having adventures and meeting new people.

If, like me, you do most of your work online (or you like to document your travel adventures on your blog) than taking a laptop traveling with you is a must.

If you’re still on the fence about taking your laptop or not, my advice to you would be this – Don’t take it. Unless you need it for work or for some other important reason, a laptop is just another distraction keeping you away from the experiencing the travel adventure.

A laptop is a very expensive item that will attract a lot of thieves, and you’ll be constantly on edge and worried about losing it.

In addition to this, most hostels have computers you can use (either for free or for a small price) and internet cafes are common in most traveler hotspots, meaning there’s never a computer too far away from you should you desperately need to send an email.

What Kind of Laptop Should I Take?

Now that you’ve decided to take a laptop traveling, if you don’t have one already you might be wondering which type is best.

All of the answers to this question can be found in this post – What’s the Best Laptop for Travel?

How to Carry it Around

So now that you’ve decided you’re taking a laptop with you, you need to find a way of carrying it in your bag without breaking it.

neoprene caseI recommend getting a neoprene case that will protect your laptop with its padding. Something like this is good as it has a handy strap that allows you to carry it around, or something like this will work if you want a neoprene case that you’ll store inside your main bag.

Some backpacks (such as this one) come with a special ‘laptop pocket’ built in, so are ideal. Saying that, due to their smallish size it’s unlikely that you’ll fit all of your belongings in a bag that size (especially if you’re going traveling for a long period of time), so a backpack like this might work best as a ‘daypack’ or as a secondary backpack.

Laptop Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, travel insurance which covers expensive items (over around $600) is notoriously hard to find, meaning that your travel insurance won’t cover the loss of your $1500 laptop.

It seems that the best alternative is to buy separate laptop insurance which covers you globally (i.e. laptop travel insurance).

taking your laptop travelingUnfortunately, most of the time laptop travel insurance comes with a large amount of limitations (e.g. you’re not covered if your laptop is over a year old, or you’re not covered if your laptop is stolen from your room and there is no sign of forced entry).

Because of this, always make sure to read the terms and conditions of any insurance policy in depth and make sure you understand what you’re covered for and what you aren’t.

Note that some home insurance policies will automatically cover your laptop on short-term trips, so if you have home insurance be sure to check this out first.

Once you’ve taken out an insurance policy, it’s time to do some insurance of your own.

Firstly, take several photos of your laptop on a digital camera (and keep them stored on a computer at home), then write down your laptop’s serial number(s) keep a copy with you and one at home

You may need to give the serial number as proof of ownership upon making a claim, and having additional photos as proof always helps. It’s important to have this information backed up in as many places as possible so you can access it when needed.

Preventing Theft

So now you’ve got your insurance sorted, how can you ensure you’ll never have to use it?

Much of protecting your laptop from theft is common sense. Don’t advertise the fact to everyone that you have a laptop, don’t leave it lying around the hostel (no matter how much you trust the other guests) and always keep it locked away (in a locker/safe) when you go out.

If there’s nowhere to lock it away, keep it hidden at the bottom of your bag and keep your bag under your bed.

If you have potentially sensitive data stored on there, setup your laptop so that it requires a password when turned on and when it has been left inactive for a while.

ALWAYS backup all of your important documents and photos from your laptop online (i.e. with Dropbox or something similar) or onto an external hard-drive.

You want to make it so that if your laptop does get lost/stolen/broken, you won’t lose any of the precious memories/files that were on there.

Prey Anti-Theft Software – They Can Run But They Can’t Hide!

Prey ProjectLastly, download and install Prey and create an account. Prey is an anti-theft program (for Windows, Mac and Linux) that was made specifically for tracking down your stolen laptop.

Prey enables you to locate and lockdown your laptop (so that it cannot be used) from a remote location.

Prey also has many other features – if your laptop has a webcam, for example, you can remotely get the webcam to take a picture of whoever’s using it!

What to Do if Your Laptop Is Stolen

If the event that the worst happens and your laptop is stolen, make sure to file a police report immediately and then contact your insurance company.

Most insurance companies actually require a police report when filling out a claim, so don’t skip this, no matter how much of a lost cause it seems.


Related posts:

  1. Laptop Vs. Notebook Vs. Netbook – What’s the Difference?
  2. What’s the Best Laptop for Travel?




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