Last week, I posted an update as to where I am currently at in my travels. It’s a busy time with job hunting, flat searching, and trying to get temporarily settled in Queenstown, New Zealand. I also offered up a challenge I had recently faced and asked for some insight from fellow backpackers. This was the question:
While on a backpacking trip, how do you find it best to carry your backpack and your laptop?
Inevitably, as a travel blogger on the road, you’re bound to have loads of gear to carry with you: Laptops or netbooks, portable USB hardrives, chargers, cameras, and the list of electronics could go on. When you travel with a backpack as your primary form of luggage, carrying these pricey electronics can be a challenge – whether that is in regards to their safety or the ease of transport. My question centered on the ease of transport options – though some of the replies brought safety into the mix as well.
I was blown away with the number of responses I received. Thank you all for your advice. After reading through the comments, this is what I walked away with.
1.) If possible, smaller is clearly better with regards to the laptop you carry. If you can manage to keep up with your online responsibilities using a netbook, this will make your traveling between destination significantly easier. Obviously, lighter is easier to manage. Some of you mentioned that using a netbook simply wasn’t an option considering the need for photo editing software. Also, my going concern with netbooks has to do with their small keyboards.
I carry an ultralight notebook, more power than a netbook and less weight than a 13″+ notebook. 11.3″ screen, keys are full sized, and weighs about 3lbs. Cost me about $450CDN 8 months ago. I threw in a 500GB hard drive to deal with all of my photos. Might be a decent compromise.
2.) Regardless of the size of laptop you carry with you, the going consensus is that the double turtle approach seems to be the best option for carrying your laptop on the road. You know the look, the full size backpack on the back, smaller daypack on the front.
While bending down to tie your shoelaces isn’t an option, this approach has two main advantages.
First, with this approach you have the advantage of having all of your valuables in one secure place. Getting through security at the airport is easier and you can take better care of the daypack.
Secondly, I believe this option is far more comfortable than swinging the messenger bag over one shoulder. This approach doesn’t evenly distribute the weight, it feels awkward, and you end up off balance with one side of your back hurting more than the other.
The double turtle approach seems to be the way to go as your comments showed:
I usually use a day pack to carry my 15 inch Macbook and my main backpack for my backup (just in case). It’s a bit annoying through airport security lines but usually I can fit my day pack into the larger pack when just walking around.
I like the separate pack for accessibility and the fact that the smaller pack tends to get knocked around less (and thus better for the laptop).
I recently bought two bags from Tom Bihn to function as my new travel gear: the Aeronaut and the Smart Alec. The Smart Alec is a small backpack that holds Tom Bihn’s “Brain Cell” laptop case. I have a 15″ MacBook Pro that fits snugly in the sized-to-fit Brain Cell, which fits perfectly in the Smart Alec (the power of integrated systems here). The Aeronaut is my main bag and can be carried by a shoulder strap, handles, or hide-away backpack straps. Everything is made of ballistic nylon and other rugged materials.
Grand total this is about 70L worth of space, and all the pockets, nooks, and crannies make it feel like a lot more than that.
I purchased this pair to ensure that I would never need to check baggage again and to keep me packing light. The Aeronaut is designed to be the maximum allowable carry-on size. So far, I love it.
And lastly, for you ladies out there, consider Alicia’s (@Taggio) easy approach to carrying your laptop on the road.
I have a MacBook Pro and bought a great clear shell for it as well as a zipper case and throw it right into my purse. It’s times like this I love being a girl. Bringing back the bag lady look.
Thanks to everyone for their comments. As soon as the budget allows, I’ll be considering daypack options for the double turtle approach.