Top 3 Best Laptops for Professional Travel Blogging Writers under $500

Go back fifty years and anyone looking for a good notebook for travel would be tossing up between which color moleskin to purchase, and a good sturdy fountain pen or biro to accompany it. The word ‘blog’ hadn’t even been invented. Cut to today and our requirements have changed considerably! In today’s world being a travel blogger or a travel writer requires a great piece of hardware by your side, and a good deal or research into the best laptop for travel blogging. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered in that department, because that’s exactly what I’ve got for you here: a selection of the best laptops for professional travel blogging writers under $500.

I don’t want to tell you which laptop to choose as a travel writer, but I do want to equip you with in-depth research and a couple of options so that you can choose the best laptop for travel blogging that suits your needs precisely. Through the years I’ve have traveled with a number of different laptops – some great, some not so much, and using this experience  I’ll be able to help you with tips on how to choose the right laptop -what criteria to consider and a couple of top picks from this year that all come in under $500, so you won’t break the budget as you plan your next travel blogging adventure.

The internet has dozens of lists out there aiming to compare and review the very best laptop or notebook computer, whether by price range, size or other features. However, choosing the best laptop for travel writers or bloggers requires considering a range of criteria fit for the purpose. The best laptop for home blogging, or an amazing gaming laptop is not going to be the right fit for someone travelling most of the year, you will have very specific considerations that means just looking for the best laptop of the year won’t necessarily suit your needs.

Major Features to Consider When Looking For The Best Travel Blogging Laptop:

Laptop Weight and Overall Size:

A travel writer or blogger is always on the move, and needs to be able to bring their laptop with them wherever they are. This is why the best laptop for travel writing will need to consider size and weight as a key factor.

You don’t want to feel weighed down by a juggernaut of a laptop, no matter how fast its processor, or be tired lugging around a giant machine even if it has great screen resolution. Lightweight, thin and a screen size that is optimum for you – some people are absolutely fine with a 10-inch model, others find the keyboard size restricting – always consider your own comfort when writing as this is, after all, the search for a great laptop to write on and the reason you’re reading this article in the first place!

A slim line model is a great choice for both weight and bulk, as it will easily fit in a backpack and not feel too heavy. Just make sure that you properly consider the size, because as while a smaller model will weigh less and take up less room, perhaps it won’t be great on your eyes, or as you might want a bigger model for typing as mentioned above. Always keep your own specific needs in mind, you don’t want to go blind trying to write on a very light, but very small model!

Power usage and Battery Life:

When considering the best laptop for travel writers power usage and battery life is an important element.

Travelling often means lots of time getting from here to there, OK so planes have movies and entertainment, but does that 12-hour train trip, or that 16-hour bus ride up the mountain to the highest tea shop in the world? And when you get there, who knows when you’ll next be able to charge your devices. Whether you just need to be able to take your laptop and write, or watch movies or listen to music, a long battery life and conservative power usage is a huge incentive for purchase when looking for the best laptop for travel blogging or writing.

The Budget:

Being a travel writer and being able to afford the most expensive gadgets don’t necessarily go hand in hand, especially if you’re just starting out.

Luckily the best laptops for travel writers are not necessarily the most expensive, so you can blog and travel on a budget. This doesn’t mean that a total cheapie is necessarily the best for you either – while there are great models at every price point, some of the best laptops for travel blogging can be purchased for under $500.

It’s sometimes a good idea to have a laptop you use specifically for when you are travelling, and have a more powerful, larger etc. model at home – that way you are not constantly worrying about carting an expensive piece of equipment with you and if something does happen to it (dropped off a houseboat in Kerala, sat on by a monkey in Bali, crunched underfoot at La Tomatina ) it’s not a huge loss. Travelling after all is often a risky business!

Are you An Apple Fan or PC lover?:

If you looks at lists online about the best overall laptop, many will point to the MacBook as the best on the market today. If you’re a sworn Apple aficionado, then look at second hand or refurbished options, because they definitely don’t come cheap (see above for why a cheaper gadget might be better for travelling with!).

You can of course pick up a PC for a reasonable price, and if you’re a PC lover that’s all good – but you might not want to spend your time travelling trying to figure out a new Operating System if you’re used to Apple. It’s also worth considering that much of the world runs off of PCs, so compatibility might be an issue when taking an Apple travelling. Again, this comes down to your personal preferences, but it’s definitely a criteria you need to consider when purchasing the best laptop for your needs.

Functionality:

If you want an answer to the question “What is the best laptop for travel writers” it’s now all just about price and size, although of course these are important elements. You need to also consider what are the main things you will be doing. Are you planning just to write, email and use the laptop for entertainment? or do you need to store or edit videos, or photographs? Depending on what you plan on doing with the laptop, you may need to sacrifice some size/weight for functionality specs.

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Other Functional Considerations for Your Personal Computer

As touched on in the criteria above, there are a number of criteria you should consider when looking to buy the best laptop for travel writers. In addition to the main points already listed, it’s important to think about why you are purchasing and what you plan on doing with a new laptop.

As we’ve mentioned, functionality is important to consider, but the main thing to have clear in your mind is whether this will be a laptop you use ‘on the go’ with a more powerful machine for work that you keep at home, or whether you need to combine the travel and work specs in one machine.

Your Destination

The places you are travelling to will also help determine which kind of laptop suits you best – if you’re going on a upscale tour of European bed and breakfasts, where a porter will take your bags and security is tight, then perhaps a more expensive ‘spec-heavy’ model is fine, but if you’re heading for rougher pastures, backpacking or in less developed regions, you don’t want to worry of having a $2000 MacBook in your room (or dorm!).

Your Style

Your style of writing or blogging and frequency needs to be considered also. If you usually write or post after a trip, then the laptop you choose can purely focus on battery life and size/weight. If you post or compose while you’re travelling, then you will need more specs on board to help get the job done.

Compatibility

Similarly any other technology you use in your travel writing such as photos, videos, drone footage etc. will need compatibility with your laptop – no use getting amazing drone footage of ducks in rice paddies if you can’t upload or edit it to post with your latest blog about travel in Bali!

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For me size and weight are key factors in choosing the best laptop for travel bloggers. I do feel that the keyboards are a little prohibitive, but I never travel without a silicone keyboard, which gets around this issue nicely. The great thing about smaller models, is that you can purchase some great ones for under $500, great as a ‘grab and go’ option for travel writers and bloggers.

Below I’ve picked out the best laptops for travel writers that I’ve come across this year – but remember, you always need to consider which criteria you find most important, what you plan to do on the laptop and where you are going before making an informed purchase!

  1. ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1″
  2. ASUS 11.6″ Ruggedized Chromebook
  3. HP Lightweight 11.6″ Notebook
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Top 3 Pick Comparison Chart

 
Check Price Check Price Check Price
ModelASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1"ASUS 11.6″ Ruggedized ChromebookHP Lightweight 11.6″ Notebook
Screen Size10.1"11.6"11.6"
Weight2 lbs (0.91 kg)2.65 lbs (1.2 kg)2.59 lbs (1.17kg)
Average Battery Life9 Hrs10 Hrs8 Hrs
Water ProofNoYesNo
OSGoogle ChromeGoogle ChromeWindows 10 Professional
RAM4 GB4 GB4 GB
HDD16 GB SSD + 100GB Google Drive Space16 GB emmc+ 100GB Google Drive Space64 GB SSD
Processor1.6 GHz Intel Celeron1.6 GHz Intel Celeron2.48 GHz Intel Celeron
Max Screen Resolution1280 x 8001366 x 7681366 x 768
Rating4.94.74.5
Price$$$$$$
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ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1inch Review

 

The Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the best rated laptops on Amazon and for good reason. It comes in at 10 inches and is super-duper lightweight, adding only 2 pounds to your travel bags and at 6 inches thick, it won’t take up as much room as your travel guidebook! It’s also a really flexible option (literally) for travelling, as it can be used as a tablet as well as a laptop. The battery life is also a bonus, with 9 hours to this model, which makes it a great all-rounder.

Because this is a Chromebook (runs on the Chrome Operating System) this laptop is neither PC or Mac which I love, but must be taken into consideration for your needs. The Chrome system does need period net connection to keep up to date (it can be used offline though) and to sync files and offload large items to cloud storage (it comes with access to 100GB in Google Drive).

PROS:
  • This is a really thin, really light, small laptop, which is a real plus for travelling.
  • It’s all metal body makes it pretty rugged for scrapes and drops and general wear and tear.
  • Not having to have on-board storage or external storage devices with you means you can travel lighter.
  • Another great reason to purchase this model is that it comes in at under $350, which means you can put your hard-earned cash to work someplace else!
CONS:
  • The actual model only has on-board storage of 32 GB, which is not that much in today’s world of terabytes, the rest of the storage is in the cloud. While this can be a pro for this model, if you’re travelling somewhere with limited connectivity, it might be worth investing in an external storage device to store larger items like footage and photos and do backups.

 

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ASUS 11.6″ Ruggedized Chromebook Review

 

I know, I know – another Asus, another Chromebook! but this one deserves a mention because the ASUS Ruggedized Chromebook is just that – rugged! It operates much the same as the ASUS Chromebook flip, in that it operates on Chrome, has limited on board storage etc.

However, this is a model that stands up to a rough time, with a sturdier design that can withstand being dropped and has a great feature for travel writing: water resistant! It’s slightly larger than the Chromebook Flip at 11.6 inches, which adds .65 pounds to it’s overall weight, but with great battery life and still being super lightweight, it’s a top pick as one of the best laptops for travel writers. The best news is that you can get your hands on one for under $230.

PROS:
  • The water resistant feature certainly makes this model worth considering. While I wouldn’t be taking it scuba diving, it will certainly survive getting stuck out in wet weather, or the typical spillages that happen when you’ve got your laptop out in your hotel or at a cafe (whoops, there goes your coffee!). It’s one of the most durable laptops you’ll be able to find at this price point.
CONS:
  • Much the same as the Chrombook Flip, the Ruggedized Chromebook needs connectivity and extra storage to make it super functional.

 

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HP Lightweight 11.6″ Notebook Review

 

HP make some great machines, and the HP Lightweight Pro is a great addition to their lineup.  This is a PC, not a Chromebook, which means more onboard storage (64GB for this model) and more functionality with less connectivity.

This model also provides slots for Micro SD cards, so you can add further storage for uploading photos, videos etc. without needing an external hard drive or cloud storage. With the extra storage you might wonder at the weight, but it still comes in at an impressive 2.59 pounds, and at 11.6  inches it’s really one of the best options for travel writers. Oh, and did I mention that you can purchase one of these machines for under $260? That’s a bargain if ever I saw one.

PROS:
  • One of the best all-rounder options for travelling with, greater storage than Chromebooks and won’t break the budget. Being a PC makes it compatible wherever you go.
CONS:
  • As is the case with many smaller machines, it’s pretty simple when it comes to functionality. But for writing, it’s more than you needs. It’s not that pretty, so if aesthetics are an issue for you, then maybe that’s something to consider with this HP.
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Conclusion

So there you have my top three pick. But, as I’ve said over and again, when looking for your best PCs for professional travel blogging writers, there are multiple criteria to consider. Something that’s important to you might not factor much on my priorities for writing while travelling, so first assess your needs and travel writing ‘must-haves’ and then make your purchase.

Jamie is a 28-year-old Professional Tech Blogger. He writes about Lifestyle & Home Technology, Gaming and Headphones. If you have any suggestions or question, feel free to contact him - he's very responsive.

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