Lost in the Mail: Choosing a Laptop

Blogging Your Trip, Lost in the Mail, Planning, Staying Connected — By on June 11, 2007 at 7:59 am

Over the past few months, our fellow backpackers have sent us a ton of questions concerning all aspects of backpacking, vagabonding and round-the-world travel (as if we know more than the next Lost Girl!). Well, we’re hardly experts but we figured that it might help to start responding to these great reader queries right here on the blog. This new section is meant to encourage group discussion, not provide hard and fast answers…feel free to tell us we’re right, on the right track or on the wrong planet entirely (but don’t forget to make a few suggestions of your own!)


Q. My girlfriend and I are in the planning throes of a year-long trip to South America and I’ve just started to worry about the technical aspects…mostly to do with the laptop we’ll need and how durable it has to be. Do you suggest we get a Toughbook, or would a regular laptop with a good case have cut it? –Degan Beley

A: We actually brought two laptops on the road–a five-year old Mac iBook and the Panasonic Toughbook PC. Both computers held up really well, but towards the end, became SO stuffed with media files that they slowed down significantly. If you’re shopping around for a new computer, don’t settle for one with less than a 100 gigs of memory and an ultra fast processor speed. Nothing’s more frustrating than getting the hourglass (PC) or the “pinwheel of death” (Mac) when you’re trying to upload photos and type a blog entry at the same time!

The greatest benefit of the Toughbook is its extremely light and slim–at 2.2 pounds, people pick it up and are amazed that it barely weighs everything! Since every single ounce counts when you’re on the road, you may want to go with a newer, lighter PC rather than taking your old standby.

As far as durability, we think you’d be fine taking along any light laptop loaded up with ton of memory (80 gigs minimum!) and keeping yourelectonics safe from scatches and bumps with a neoprene laptop sleeve. Companies such as Body Glove and Case Logic make them in basic colors, but you can find ones in funky designs…we love this striped one from Built NY.

No matter what, be sure to lock up you computer and the rest of your electronics with a PacSafe whenever they’re out of your sight. The smaller and lighter the compuer, the more motivated you’ll be to take it with you!–The Lost Girls

Have a burning backpacker question? Need an opinion on wardrobe choice? Want to share your own travel tips? Send queries and comments to lostgirlsworld@gmail.com.

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  • Annie says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m buying a new laptop and I think I’m leaning towards the new MacBook. so here’s my question! Were you guys on World Nomads health insurance all year long? What kind of health insurance are you on now that you’re back in NYC and freelancing (or are you getting a “real job”)? Thanks!! 🙂

  • Donna says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’d just like to point out that memory is not the same thing as a hard drive which is, actually, what you’re talking about. Memory is RAM and I’ve not heard of a computer yet that has 100 GB of it. 😉

  • Gary says:

    I am currently traveling with a 15″ MacBook Pro. I couldn’t imagine traveling without it. I have a 120gb HD, an old iPod and I burn DVDs of photos and movies and send them home. When I know the DVDs got home safe, I delete the files from my laptop/iPod.

    The laptop is my DVD player, MP3 player, alarm clock, journal, game player, etc.

    I use Sea to Summit bags to protect all my electronics from water and dirt. They are cheap and light and work like a charm.


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