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Pro’s and Con’s of Travelling With a Laptopby Dalene Ingham-Brown

Like someone who has just walked in on their grandma in the shower, you’re not quite sure what to do. To take your laptop with you? Or to leave it at home with your Xbox and electric shaver? Here’s a couple pro’s and con’s to help you decide whether or not to travel with a laptop… and to help you stop thinking about your grandma in the shower:



1. Storage
It’s the first day of your overland trip and you’ve just spent two hours taking photos of a 3200kg rhino birthing its calf. Your camera’s memory card is full and you still have a week left of exploring. If you're travelling with a laptop, you can simply dump your day’s photos onto your laptop, and start fresh in the morning. As Murphy’s Law would have it, if you’re all out of space on your memory car, a Quagga would come waltzing past you while you’re tracking down for kindling for the campfire... no space on your camera.

2. Stay Connected
Home sick and need to see the smile of a loved one? Skype! Need to check what the outcome of the South Africa vs Australia World Cup rugby match was? Twitter! Need to check what the Daily Crossword is? Geek!

3. Internet Banking
If you’re taking a 7 day trip to Victoria Falls, I’m sure you can pay your gardener before you go. But if you’re on a 40 week Trans Africa overland trip, they’re going to repossess your car if you don’t make the payments. Taking a laptop with you on your overland trip means that you can make payments from the safety of your own computer. Using a shared computer, like one you’d use in a local internet café, isn’t recommended. Why? Because it’s dodgy, that’s why.

4. Joe Blogs
Joe Blogs, Mary Blogs, just about everyone blogs nowadays! Taking your laptop with you means you can keep your travel blog up to date. You can also upload your photos on flickr or check if the weather will be okay for your hot air balloon flight over the Serengeti National Park.

5. Sharing is Caring
You know that picture of the 6.5 metre Black Mamba you just took? Share it! If you have your laptop with you and you have wi-fi access, upload it to flickr, twitter, Facebook and National Geographic… after you’ve changed your underwear of course.



1. Lost not found
Remember that expensive thing you bought that got stolen? Yeah, that sucked. Need I say more?

2.  Keep it Clean
Like that just-paid-for soft serve ice-cream  you’ve just dropped in the sand, a laptop is anything but enjoyable when you have to crunch your way around the keyboard. If you’re anywhere near a beach, dune or strong South Easter, don’t take your laptop out. Getting sand in my laptop? I’d rather chew on a jersey.

3.  Waste of Time
It’s not always that easy to connect to an internet café’s connection with your own computer. The time you spend trying to figure it out could be better spent surfing the web on one of their computers, or, you know, going outside and enjoying the overland esc. you’re meant to be on.

4. Extra Weight
When you’re on an overland trip, the only extra weight it’s okay to carry, is on your butt. Backpacking has you lugging your entire life around on your back. When hiking up a 45 degree sand dune, with that backpack strapped to your back, essentials are your friend, luxuries are not.

To Pack or Not To Pack?

If you do decide to travel with a laptop, remember two things: A: Back up your hard drive before you go. B: Take the right plug adapter with you. If you decide not to travel with a laptop: A: Cool. B: Refer to ‘A’.

Traveller opinions on whether or not to travel with a laptop:

I’ve traveled enough with a full-size laptop (for work) to know that I don’t really need all that weight & functionality. But, I can’t imagine traveling without something to write on, upload photos to, etc etc.” – WanderMomIf you bring your laptop along, you can blog, keep up with friends and family by email, you can call home for free (or very cheap) with Skype and you can work. Who says these are pro’s?” – FetzigI migrate around the world, eating, and hanging out. Up until now I have neglected to take a laptop so I could have the least amount of responsibility. However, I recently decided it would be a good idea to begin blogging, and sharing photos and experiences with friends and others. The decision to bring your laptop on your overland travel is obviously completely yours. If you do bring it with you, make sure you make a back-up before you set off!” – Mark Wiens

Images by:  Thiago Felipe Festa, Danny de Bruyne and Rene Asmussen.

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