Travelling with a netbook

YOURLifeChoices subscriber Trish has a few questions regarding travelling overseas and staying connected.

Q. Trish
If I want to purchase a small, easily carried laptop/notebook for taking overseas on a holiday, what would you recommend please? I have talked to friends and their response varies as some say 8″ is sufficient; whilst others say that even 10″ is too small and to consider something bigger. Of course this needs to be to be balanced against the extra weight to carry and operate. I presume I can purchase some sort of mobile device to connect me to the internet whilst in the U.S. and Canada? Do you know anything about this as well?

Oddly enough Trish, you and I are kindred spirits. I too am off on an overseas sojourn soon and am considering purchasing a ‘netbook’ (as they are colloquially referred to) to travel with and use overseas.

In regards to a recommendation, at the moment the market is flooded with netbook options so it really comes to personal preference. I was considering travelling with my 13 inch Macbook. But recommendations from Australian friends overseas have assured me that even my Macbook, the smallest of its kind, and a very lightweight computer in comparison to many other laptops, would be a hassle. It seems that when it comes to netbooks and overseas travel, bigger is most definitely not better.

My biggest tip is to watch the sales. Stores such as Dick Smith’s and especially JB Hi-Fi (who have an extensive range of reasonably priced netbooks) will often brand rotate their sales, and you can pick up an absolute bargain. If you are especially savvy you can also pick up a quality brand computer for well under market value.

When considering which netbook to buy, think about why you are taking the computer. Presumably you will be browsing social networking sites, uploading photos from digital cameras and using Skype. This requires no more than 8″ or at the most 10″ inches worth of screen, after all it is only for a few weeks or a couple of months at most. And the greatest savings come from the smaller screened ‘netbooks’. So while you may feel you need 2″ more screen, if it saves you $150 maybe it is worth considering compromising. After all this is just a stop-gap computer.

There is also a school of thought which exists that since travel is so ‘risky’ and certain people are only insured for a certain amount, it is ludicrous taking anything but a tiny netbook overseas. With baggage handling, hotel rooms, checkouts and thieves, it is often better not to spend a fortune on a computer which may not make the journey home.

You can also purchase pre-paid internet USB sticks from many phone retailers in both the US and Canada. Also helpful is a little bit of research before heading overseas. Free Wi-Fi may be crucial when choosing a hotel, and finding free Wi-Fi hotspots in your Lonely Planet guide or from your hotels front desk is also essential, if you want to save costly pre paid internet dollars (From memory both McDonalds and Starbucks have free Wi-Fi for customers. Finding out other stores which do this will help save you money on your trip).

Ultimately the decision needs to come down to you, so enjoy shopping around and look for a bargain. And have fun on your trip!