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Is bringing a netbook (small laptop) for 2months backpacking be more hassle than its worth?

Posted by cjt on 27/1/2009 at 06:59

I have a netbook (small laptop) that I'm not sure whether to bring with me for 2 months backpacking in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

The pros are:
1) can keep significant amounts of my own research / itinaries on it
2) have something for entertainment on long journeys ie films
3) can write my travel blog to later cut and paste, saving time in internet cafes

1)could get nicked (if so I lose some money but not all 300 pounds as convered by insurance.)
2)not sure where do i put it if riding elephants or kayaking?
3)will i be worried about it and so not enjoy myself so much?

I will be staying in bottom to mid range accomodation. Are electrivity plugs common? Is theft common?

Any advice from more seasoned travellers in this area welcome! Thank you!

#1 cjt has been a member since 27/1/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by basho on 27/1/2009 at 14:38

Posted from within Vietnam.

If you are doing any serious amount of content (photos, video, blogging, etc) then take it. Wifi is everywhere and it is a god send for planning and booking hostels. I have both a laptop and my iPhone (on which I am writing this from a pub in Hanoi).

To secure everything I have a Pacsafe and a good day sack. I also have a big enough dry bag for when on water.



#2 basho has been a member since 10/5/2008. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 24

Posted by cjt on 30/1/2009 at 05:30

Thanks for your reply. Do you know if you can you buy dry bags in Thailand? Presumably they're cheaper? Do there tend to be safes in most accomodations? And do you know if there is wifi on buses and trains?

#3 cjt has been a member since 27/1/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by AsiaSteps on 30/1/2009 at 16:23

I agree that it's great to travel with a small laptop. Electricity is not a problem and wifi is in many guesthouses and cafes. However, I've never found wifi on buses or trains yet.

Not all guesthouses have safes. If the netbook is really small then I think hiding it in your luggage and locking the bag is probably the only choice. Last year I traveled with a Sony Vaio TZ which was very small (amazing battery life) and easy to carry on me for the day or to hide in the luggage.

If you happen to have an Solid State Drive then you can be comforted in believing that it is in theory more rugged than a normal hard drive and its access time is speedy for that quick kneel, open laptop, grab address/phone number and move on sort of thing you might find yourself doing often.

I love having my own laptop for blogging and managing photos and posts and emails, even offline in my favorite programs. Battery life is key though and this year's Mac I'm lugging is not as good as the Vaio. An optical drive is also a must since there are DVDs to be picked up everywhere.

Kevin - Discovering Asia One Step at a Time!

#4 AsiaSteps has been a member since 19/12/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 1

Posted by dageshi on 28/3/2009 at 11:52

Get a good solid backpack and lock it in that, then bike lock or chain that to something immovable. If you do that you don't completely remove any risk of it getting stolen but to be honest the chances of it getting stolen are very very slim and you'll have better peace of mind when you leave your room.

Take what reasonable actions you can, make sure you backup important data to a thumb drive and then don't worry about it.

#5 dageshi has been a member since 1/3/2008. Posts: 56

Posted by idreamofdurian on 28/3/2009 at 23:50 TF writer

I love traveling with my netbook. It's great for entertainment on a monsoon-y afternoon, backing up your photos, journal entries, etc. There is WiFi *everywhere* in SE Asia now.

I've never had a problem with security. If I'm leaving my bag somewhere that I question the security I usually take it with me in a small bag (but leave the cord in my big backpack). When I'm leaving it along in a guesthouse room for a while I sometimes just tuck it away somewhere discreet (under the mattress) and put the cord out of sight.

#6 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by christay2009 on 27/6/2009 at 00:32

do you think its worth taking something to secure you backpack to something?

i've not been backpacking before but i am soon. I was just wondering; couldn't someone just cut open your bag with a knife and take the contents anyway? i guess on a train someone is more likely just to try and take the backpack and get away quickly which is where it would come in handy. I dont have a laptop to take with me but was planning on taking an iPod touch as i cant 'just' about afford one and thought it would be good to have wireless internet access through that

i know this is abit off topic but the thread seems to have meandered toward security!!


#7 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414
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Posted by SBE on 27/6/2009 at 06:23

To answer the question about dry bags...yes they are available in Thailand and much cheaper than in Europe too! I wouldn't be without one and they don't only keep things dry.

Lateral thinking ----> also quite useful water containers and can be used as a portable bucket.

And why would you need a bucket you ask? Well, Thai bathrooms often don't have wash hand basins. Wash hand basins are new-fangled Western inventions, like "throne" toilets. ;-) If you are staying in basic accommodation you might well get a traditional Thai-style bathroom. This means soaking/washing clothes and swimwear can be a bit difficult unless you are provided with a bucket and sometimes you aren't. Sometimes you just get a scoop and a big water container which contains the water for showering and flushing the loo. (This water should be kept clean, you can't contaminate it with soap powder.)

No worries though, because a 5L drybag makes a great wee bucket!

Drybags also make excellent waterproof bags to carry toiletries in checked in baggage... dunno about you but I find things like shampoo, sunscreen, mozzie repellent etc often leak when transported on planes for some reason. A dry bag is better than a ziplock bag because it's a lot sturdier... even if a glass container breaks it won't matter.

If you're camping or have to spend the night in an airport or on a boat deck, just stuff it with clothes and there's your pillow.

Many uses, I'm sure you can think of more yourself ( good flotation device for when boats sink, might keep rats from eating all your biscuits during the night etc ) so it's worth investing in one. You can get them in sports shops in BKK and they are also often sold in seaside towns and at dive supply stores.

As for security ... well I've never had any problem either. I just leave my laptop in a locked backpack in my hut when I have it with me. that's why I like backpacks with zips rather than drawstrings. Sure someone could slash it but most theft is opportunistic and a bag you can quickly open without any tools is easier.

Just take sensible precautions ... don't leave anything valuable on the bed in full view and wander off to the restaurant leaving the door unlocked. Keep the laptop away from windows of beach huts so someone can't easily reach in and grab it when you're in the loo or something.

Don't put anything you'd hate to lose in the hold of a bus, particularly the overnight VIP Khao San Road buses. Always keep "precious" stuff like cameras, phones and computers in a small day bag that never leaves your sight rather than in your backpack when you're actually on the move. That way you can leave your backpack in a cafe or ticket office while looking for somewhere to stay without worrying too much. I've never ever had anything stolen from a backpack but it's silly to take unnecessary risks.

#8 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,037
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Posted by busylizzy on 27/6/2009 at 07:28

Hey SBE - I love your dry bag ideas! I was considering taking one on my next trip, and I'm convinced now! Using it is a laundry bucket - fantastic!

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Posted by SBE on 27/6/2009 at 18:35

Thank you busylizzy!

I mostly use my drybag as bucket in Indonesia because the places I like going to have rather primitive mandis but it's useful elsewhere too. Even if there is a wash-hand basin, there's usually no plug in it... you waste a lot less water using a drybag "bucket".

#10 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,037
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Posted by MADMAC on 27/6/2009 at 23:18

"Don't put anything you'd hate to lose in the hold of a bus, particularly the overnight VIP Khao San Road buses."

Man, I never hear anything good about those buses out of Khao San. Not that I would ever take one... I always go out of Mo Chit anyways. But the Khao San buses sure have a bad reputation.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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