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Taking a laptop travelling??

Posted by abs197 on 1/9/2008 at 16:49


I am heading out to Cambodia in Ocober, where I am going to be doing some volunteer work for 6 months (in Kep, and PP). I am then planning on traveling around SE Asia for 3-4months.

I would like to take a laptop with me, the type of volunteer work I am doing, it will be helpful to be able to have internet access for some research work, and also just for the usual email, uploading photos, skype etc. I am planning on buying a small netbook type laptop so it is not heavy or cumbersome to travel with.

However, I know that I probably could get by without one and use internet cafes, but I just think it'd be alot easier and more practical if I had my own...

I don't think it will be a problem security wise when I am doing the volunteer work, it is when Im travelling that I'm worried about, and I prob wont want to always take it on day trips/going out to a restaurant/bar at night (even though it is light) but is it ok to leave in a hotel?...

Or is it a stupid idea and I should just use cafes?

Any advice on this (I know there will probably be some conflicting views) would be much appreciated...

(Also if anyone has any advice on which travel laptop to buy that'd be great - I am looking at either the Asus eee PC 900, or Advent 4211)

Many Thanks,


#1 abs197 has been a member since 19/7/2008. Posts: 3

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Posted by sirhalberd on 13/10/2008 at 10:50

Normally I would advise against taking a laptop on a simple holiday or vacation because it is pretty easy to find an internet shop and they are pretty cheap.

You do have some security issues when you use cheap hostels and especially dorms. I think a fellow tourist would rip you off first! Even in hotels with security box storage most of the time the box is too small to fit a laptop.

If the laptop is primarily for storing photos you might get by with an external hard drive.

But you will be working in a mostly secure place for 6 months so it would probably be okay to take the laptop. It is the hotel/hostel portion of your later trip that is the problem. After the six months is up you could ship your computer home, or perhaps you could sell it off! Laptops get better and every year, by the time you finish your first 6 months your laptop will be a couple models older. You might even be taking an old laptop with you anyway right from the start! Even at home I use the password protection on my computers.

I bring a Flash Drive with Firefox and Opera on it. Also, notepad and ClamWin anti virus. All are free apps that you can download to the FD.

The Firefox browser has all of the same bookmarks of my home computer, same saves on the toolbar, same layout as my Mac at home. When I plug that flash drive into an internet computer it is almost like having my own computer with me. I use the Opera browser for research and play my hometown radio station while I surf or write posts or something using FF. Notepad is what I use to first write passwords to and then cut and paste them to any bank websites I have to access. Not a perfect security system but cutting and pasting is a little safer than not at all! I also have some data on the Notepad stickie that I often refer to. I use the ClamWin anti virus to check the FD every now and then to check for viruses.

I use password protection on the FD in case someone gets it and tries to use it. This works for me for now. Flash Drives and portable hard drives fit easily into safety boxes in hotels. Easier to lock them in a suitcase or bag, or carry them in your pocket. But there are smaller laptops being sold every day, making it easier to carry them if necessary and not sweat out losing your computer to a bunk mate in a dorm. I don't think that they are reliable enough for me right now - perhaps next year - smallest ones have no hard drive either.

Have a nice trip. This post is probably too late but I was bored tonight.


#2 sirhalberd has been a member since 30/12/2007. Posts: 295
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Posted by ephemera1 on 13/1/2009 at 06:58


Just my 2 cents worth. I bought an Acer Aspire One notebook just prior to leaving for my trip to Vietnam last fall. It is a stripped down unit, uses SD cards for extra memory and no hard drive. It is compact and fits easily into a small daypack that I carry. The keyboard is approx 95% of a full size one. It is a Linux operating system. It is great for blogging, on the fly picture editing, and general surfing. Boots up quickly and the wifi works flawlessly.

I picked it up for the size, price, and ease of use, also I didn't want to bring my laptop as there was loads of personal data on it.

It is a great alternative to a full size laptop.

Best of luck,


#3 ephemera1 has been a member since 10/7/2008. Posts: 1

Posted by basho on 27/1/2009 at 16:09

I agree, the ACER Aspire One is excellent, my wife has one with her, however a lot of the netbooks have the following caveats:

1. Battery life is not so great.
2. WIFI cards in them are cheap and won't find distant networks.
3. The onboard mice are uniformally crap.
4. The processing wont handle a lot of software.
5. The strange screen resolutions on netbooks means a lot of software wont load to install, including the Canon camera software.

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

Posted by dageshi on 27/3/2009 at 11:40

Traveled with a laptop for a long time and I'll give you this tip. Get a good backpack which you can lock, put your laptop in it when you leave your room and chain the bag to something immovable. Most thefts are casual they're cleaning staff which see something lying in your room and take it because they can. If they can't see it they can't be tempted. Now there is something I found which is incredibly useful, it's a metal cup which you put over the door knob when you leave your room, you put a large padlock through a couple of holes at the base of the cup and the metal loop on the padlock prevents the cup from being taken off by anyone but you.

The upshot is that no one gets in your room but you, not the owner, no one, unless they've got a pair of bolt cutters or take the door off it's hinges. It cost about $8 in chaing mai and frankly it's the best piece of travel security gear I've ever seen or used, if you can find one I would highly recommend getting one.

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

Posted by billbevan01 on 8/7/2009 at 16:40

Hi, I agree with dageshi. If you're likely to be doing much computer work then having a laptop or netbook will make life a lot easier as you can work when you want to, especially if any will be offline type work.

Cheers, Bill

#6 billbevan01 has been a member since 19/6/2009. Location: Global Village. Posts: 46

Posted by thailand_asia on 9/7/2009 at 18:20

i always travel with my acer aspire one, its really perfect because the many guesthouses in southeast asia have already free wifi, so you can work, check emails and uploads pictures from your room. if i go out of my guesthouse i always leave it on my room and never happend somethink. so i recomend to travel with a small netbook, and of course its more fun to work on your own than on a other computer, but i have aswell a usb stick if the guesthouse dont have any i-net conection i go in a i-net cafe to the next corner. than its good to have a usbstick or a sd card to take some dates...
have fun

#7 thailand_asia has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: Germany. Posts: 37

Posted by Lizzie26 on 28/9/2009 at 18:16

Hi there
I'm not exactly techy expert, but I need to keep up with work when I'm away. How does the usb stick help you?
Anyone had any success with wifi dongles in Thailand? I use them a lot at home and they're very portable but I doubt if any of mine will work abroad and if they do, they'll be very expensive.

Also how do you find phone cards or do you use Skype? - sounds great, but I've not tried it.

#8 Lizzie26 has been a member since 28/9/2009. Posts: 2

Posted by tranimal72 on 26/11/2009 at 04:18

i am using a netbook by acer on a few trips and it is great.the price is great for the intended purpose and it is incredibly light.when you get a bag just make sure it does not scream out i have a laptop in here.

#9 tranimal72 has been a member since 26/11/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by tristan99 on 26/11/2009 at 12:57

my wife and I are planning on buying a netbook for our impending travels.
one that i like the look of is the Toshiba NB200 series - it has a nice keyboard, surprisingly good mousepad, and with the 6 cell batter has decent enough battery life.

Everyone loves the Asus netbooks too - i guess those guys have been doing the netbook thing longer than anyone else.

#10 tristan99 has been a member since 25/11/2009. Posts: 10

Posted by themuths on 26/11/2009 at 22:15

I know it's far too late for the original poster, but I would highly recommend getting a heavy-duty case for your netbook. I got a Pelican 1080CC Black HardBack Case, on sale from (though I'm sure it's available plenty of other places). The case is waterproof and destruction-proof, and in general makes it look a bit less like you have an expensive/fancy computer with you.
As for netbooks, I've been satisfied with my Dell Inspiron Mini 10V, although I would much prefer it if Apple would go ahead and make a smaller/cheaper Mac!

#11 themuths has been a member since 16/9/2009. Location: United States. Posts: 21

Posted by tristan99 on 27/11/2009 at 17:49

coincidence, after posting my reply yesterday - today walked past a computer sale - toshiba nb200 for $398, i'm typing on it right now, i think it's going to be sweet to travel with!!!

#12 tristan99 has been a member since 25/11/2009. Posts: 10

Posted by chopin on 27/11/2009 at 20:15

Hi dageshi, That's a brilliant idea. can you post a picture of it?

#13 chopin has been a member since 28/4/2007. Posts: 154
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Posted by patrickien on 11/12/2009 at 10:18

Ive just bought a HP Pavillion dm 1-1000 comes fairly cheap at 499 euro incl. Its one of the only note books with a working battery life of 8 hours, tried and trusted!! the screens 11.1 inch which i find alot more comfortable to work on and its 1.4 kilo so its fairly light for traveling, windows 7 en wifi. what more could a man ask for !!

#14 patrickien has been a member since 21/7/2009. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 23

Posted by hotchily on 5/1/2010 at 12:32

Oh maybe a Dell Inspiron 910, picked up from the auctions for $278AUD. It now has windows 7, and comes with bluetooth and wifi and it's soooo small, could just about fit in the back pocket. Only down side is battery life......

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Posted by SBE on 5/1/2010 at 16:44

A lot of people have mentioned battery life as a downside... I think that's a BIG downside because you often don't have acces to a power supply when you're travelling.

The Asus 1005HA is advertised as having 10.5 hours battery life and although I haven't timed it, the battery in mine does seem to go on for ever. Right now I have 10% remaining and that's still almost an hour's worth!

#16 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055
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Posted by patrickien on 14/1/2010 at 09:17

"HP Pavillion dm 1-1000 a working battery life of 8 hours ''
Correction if your using Skype and a seperate mouse on usb adapter and surfing alot you can cut that down to 5 hours ! By surfing alot i mean full time googling.
Dont want to mislead anybody,!! but its still a really neat notebook.

#17 patrickien has been a member since 21/7/2009. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 23

Posted by keatonec on 12/6/2010 at 12:04

i was thinking of taking my macbook pro with me when I go to asia but I was wondering if it would be to big. I think that it will fit in my backpack nicely even though it has a 15" screen. I thought about buying a smaller netbook but I have so much stuff on my macbook, movies and music and what not that would make travelling around go by so much faster. I just don't want to spend the money on buying a new netbook.

ahhh!!! To many decisions to make before I leave.

#18 keatonec has been a member since 3/3/2010. Posts: 12
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Posted by patrickien on 28/9/2010 at 02:05

Hi, I traveled for 6 weeks around Cambodia earlyer on this year with a 13'inch laptop and took a travel safe from Pacsafe with me, personally I thought it was perfect as you can fasten it on to bathroom fittings , furniture ect ect and you can use it at the same time for your personal docs.
check out the link theres plenty of choice.

#19 patrickien has been a member since 21/7/2009. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 23

Posted by fihazard on 11/12/2010 at 04:53

i've travelled in se asia with and without laptops.

my recommendation is if you're going for 6-9 months you'll definitely enjoy having one. there are loads of wifi cafes in pp (and elsewhere) and if you're travelling longterm its great to be able to sit in a cafe/guesthouse to write your blogs/download photos/look up newspapers etc. I wou;d def take one for this period of time.

but take a small, light one that you can carry with you when you're travelling....

when i went for six months I had an acer aspire one which I highly recommend. small and light with a really good keyboard and screen. my version didn't have a good battery life (maybe 4 hours)....but it survived really difficult trips. (trekking, monssons, lots of drops and wading through a river).

my current netbook, an asus eeepc, has a great battery life and its small - but its heavier and I'm not taking it on my next trip of one month to indonesia although i always take it to EU destinations where I'm not carrying a backpack.

so yes I'd take a netbook for a long trip - but weight and size is everything. get something small and neat...

have a great trip

#20 fihazard has been a member since 20/9/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by alljokingaside on 22/12/2011 at 23:26

I'll have to weigh in and suggest the 11.6" HP 3105m//dm1z (basically the same model, except the 3105m has 1 GB less RAM [from 3 GB], but does have a few goodies that the dm1z doesn't, like a metal case and Win 7 Pro). It was on sale in the States for $199 a month ago and, last time I checked, was going for around $300 with shipping

The battery life is amazing (last time I checked, I got around 7-8 hours while surfing/installing programs constantly- it was on either power saver mode or HP Optimized mode though), the processor is good, and the hard drive is superior ("only" 320 GB, but much, much quicker than a 5400 rpm hard drive). The only real problem I have with it is the bloatware it came with. I just got mine a few weeks ago after researching a bunch of laptops myself, and heavily considering taking it with me to Vietnam and Cambodia. But it's for a month so...hmmm.

#21 alljokingaside has been a member since 20/12/2011. Posts: 18

Posted by screamin on 23/1/2012 at 02:00

I have just taken an IPod touch on my travels . Find some free wifi and read my email, facebook, skype a few games and my music .A very handy travel tool . I have just bought a acer tablet pc which is fantastic plenty of helpful travel apps and very light and compact and just $300

#22 screamin has been a member since 5/1/2011. Location: Australia. Posts: 10
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Posted by rengi091 on 25/4/2012 at 07:16

Hi there..!

Im an IT student from the Philippines and for me, I would suggest you a netbook if you have any.. Haha.. But bringing a laptop is not a bad idea at all.. laptops really help when doing some works especially when you need to do some internet research... The only problem about laptops is that its size.. I would really prefer a netbook for travelling since its way to smaller and its very portable.. ;)

#23 rengi091 has been a member since 25/4/2012. Posts: 5

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