Traveling with a Laptop – All you need to know in an easy and practical guide

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Woman traveling with a laptop, she is in an international airport in Brazil working on her laptop.
Traveling with a laptop is handy and also easy 😉

Laptops allow us to work and connect regardless of our location, so they are the perfect travel companions. If you have never traveled with a laptop, rest assured it is easier than you think. Taking a laptop for travel takes a little bit of preparation, but you will get to take your favorite gadget along with you without any complications. Here is everything you need to know about traveling with a laptop:

Advantages and disadvantages of traveling with a laptop on a place

Most of us think that a smartphone can do the same job as a laptop, but that’s not necessarily true. It all depends on what kind of adventure you are getting yourself into. Let’s examine some pros and cons:

Advantages of traveling with a laptop

  • People who work while traveling need a laptop. A computer is way more powerful than a smartphone, the screen is bigger, and users can be more productive.
  • Laptops are not bulky as they used to be, and you can easily carry them around. If you are concerned about the weight of your luggage, a single laptop won’t make a significant difference.
  • Backpackers often book flights and accommodation on the go, and laptops provide a better user experience when filling out different forms.
  • You can use a laptop for entertainment, especially during long bus rides or flights. Or binge Netflix shows inside a hotel room if the weather is bad.

Disadvantages of traveling with a laptop

  • Going through an airport with a laptop could be a bit annoying when not prepared for it. You have to take it out of your laptop travel bag, along with a charger, and let it be examined. 
  • When traveling to a dangerous city or country, leave most of your valuables at home. If you have to take your laptop with you, the hotel room should have a safe or a locker.
A woman going up the stairs in an airport link station in Bangkok. She is carrying all her stuff and a laptop in a carry-on suitcase.
Carrying all my stuff and my laptop in carry-on luggage.

Boarding a plane with a laptop

We often hear the question: Can you bring a laptop on a plane? There is no reason why you shouldn’t take your laptop with you on a plane and use it on a plane. However, you have to follow the rules during the security procedures. There are two ways of taking a laptop inside a plane – check-in luggage and carry-on luggage.

But are laptops allowed in checked baggage? Yes, but most travelers pack their laptops in a backpack because it is safer overall. Check-in luggage is not handled gently, and your device could get damaged during transport. The suitcases are usually thrown around by the airport officials since they don’t know what is inside.

Sometimes you have to pack your laptop in checked baggage, and that is okay. Just make sure it is well padded from all sides. Use a screen protector and a sleeve first. Your laptop should be in the middle of a suitcase, surrounded by as many clothes as possible. Place soft items around to prevent scratches.

The security procedure for check-in luggage could be inconvenient because you need to take all your electronic devices out or a suitcase. Once you remove all the padding, check if the laptop is off, put it on a tray, and continue the procedure as usual.

Remember to keep an eye on your laptop during the scan. Theft is not uncommon here, even though there is plenty of security around. Of course, you should get all the padding back once the scan is complete, which is not fun to do in an airport.

Photo of an open backpack showing the compartment for carrying the laptop. It's a carry-on backpack for laptops.
Having a good laptop travel bag is key.

Taking your laptop in carry-on luggage is a way safer option, but how to carry a laptop safely? 

All you need is a well-padded backpack designed for laptops. These often have compartments for various other items and gadgets such as power banks, headphones, wallets, etc. Here is a review of our favorite carry-on backpack that has a computer compartment. If you are looking for something smaller, have a look at Rob’s daypack for travel that fits a laptop perfectly.

Investing in a high-quality laptop backpack is an excellent idea if you tend to be on the move. Avoid using a laptop sleeve only because it won’t fully protect your computer in transport. Another option is to get a laptop traveling case.

Carry-on luggage doesn’t require a lengthy security procedure before boarding a plane. The officials will weigh your bag, depending on the airline and their regulations. It is important to note that you can take several laptops with you when traveling domestically. The same goes for international flights as long as the laptops are for personal use.

A woman is using a laptop at the airport. She is using the airport wifi to connect to the internet to work online. This is one of the advantages of traveling with a laptop.
While traveling keep an eye on your stuff and always use a safe internet connection.

How to use your laptop in an airport or a plane

Airports usually have open Wi-Fi networks that are convenient but also unsecured. Cybercriminals know travelers use Wi-Fi, and not everyone has strong protection. Download VPN for Mac or PC before you connect to airport Wi-Fi.  

Flying with a laptop also requires some attention. Once you board a plane, place your laptop backpack on the floor, near your feet. Avoid overhead compartments because they can fly open if your flight is a bit bumpy. Don’t pull out your laptop as soon as you sit down. Instead, wait for the official announcement. The pilot will remind you to switch to airplane mode.

If you want to do some work during a flight, scoring a seat next to the window is the best option. You will be able to shield your laptop screen from the sun when needed. Additionally, think about getting a privacy display cover.

Using the internet while abroad

Don’t forget about cybersecurity once you arrive at your destination. Since you will be using public Wi-Fi in your hotel, restaurants, and cafes, remember that these connections are notoriously unsafe. Use your VPN for Mac or PC regularly.

VPN for Mac or PC will encrypt your connection and make data you send or receive impossible to crack by a third person. This app is a travel essential that could allow you access to geo-blocked websites too.

Travelers who want an internet connection all day long will benefit from a device called pocket Wi-Fi, read our review about Tep Pocket Wifi here (we have been using it for years). It is a small modem you can carry around with you. Think of it as a smaller version of your home router. Pocket Wi-Fi doesn’t have an enormous range, but you will be able to connect your laptop and other devices you have with you.

A woman working on a laptop from a café in Brazil. She can do so because she brought her laptop on a plane with her.
When you travel with a laptop you can work and play from everywhere.

Things to remember when traveling with a laptop

The sockets aren’t the same all around the world. Before you embark on your trip abroad, invest in a universal adapter to make sure your battery is full all the time. The adapter should also have protection against power surges. For instance, South East Asia is known for electricity issues, and you don’t want to damage your laptop during a trip.

Traveling with a laptop could be risky because it might get stolen or misplaced in transport. You could buy a new computer once you get home, but you will lose all the data. Backups can help out with that. Save all your files on an external hard drive or cloud storage of your choice. And remember to set up a password on your laptop as well.

Finally, getting travel insurance could make your trip more enjoyable. Of course, it is not mandatory, and it is up to you to make this decision. The insurance covers anything that gets lost or damaged while traveling, including your electronic devices. 

So our last piece of advice is to read our Travel Insurance Guide. We compare insurance for long-term travelers, but you can use the same tips and recommendations to buy your travel insurance for days, weeks, or months. The important thing is to keep you and your valuables safe.

Now that you know that you can bring your laptop on a plane, go ahead and plan your next adventure.

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