Tuesday, 21 October 2008

#45 – Invest in a small, lightweight laptop

Or getting the elephant off your shoulders.

Computer needs
For the needs of a travel writer, a computer doesn’t have to be all that special. It needs to be able to connect to the internet, and you’ll need a word processing program for accounts purposes. And maybe, at a push, some photo manipulation software.

Any old computer?
For much of this, any old computer will do the job. But I’d advise spending a bit more than you’d perhaps deem necessary in order to get a small, lightweight laptop.

Writing whilst on the road
It’s perfectly possible to function adequately with a big clunky beast of a desktop, but if you’re wanting to write whilst on the road, there are two options: Get a laptop or continuously throw money away in internet cafes inhabited by spotty teenage boys playing war games.

Dead evenings
Not all travel writers write whilst on the road – some just note down everything relevant and write up when they get back. Personally, I find that on a dead evening where I’ve got nothing else to do apart from drink, then I may as well start work on a story or two.

Smaller laptop for sale
For about a year, I was lugging around a fairly hefty laptop. It took up a lot of space in my bag and felt like an elephant was sitting on my shoulders when I had to carry it around. Eventually, I snapped. I saw a much smaller laptop on sale for a good price and bought it.

Extra bag space
I can’t stress enough what an improvement this has been. It’s far easier to carry around, and frees up that little bit extra bag space. On two occasions in the last few months, it has made the difference between having to check luggage in and going carry-on only.

Tax deductable
I could have probably stuck with my original computer, or bought another bigger one for less, but I’m glad I didn’t. And I’d advise anyone in the same situation to do the same. Keep an eye on sales, then jump when a small one (mine has a 12.1 inch screen) goes up for a suitable price. And remember – it’s tax deductable.


Mike Gerrard said...

That's good travel advice, David. I bought a Sony Vaio a couple of years ago, when faced with a trip of several weeks around several French cities. It's a special lightweight but tough model, and it's easy to carry it around all day in a daypack, if you're not happy about leaving it in the hotel. I'm still using it all the time when I travel, and it's so lightweight that I never have to debate whether to take it or not. It always goes in the daypack. And it's good for backing up digital photos, too.

David said...

Oh heavens yes... There's no debate for me now either. As you say, it can stay in the day pack without causing any trauma, and it's great for clearing the photos from memory cards on the road.