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12 Best Laptops for Travelers in 2021: The Ultimate Guide + Reviews

January 14, 2021

If you’re looking for the best laptops for travelers, you’d most likely want a portable, thin, and sleek device that’s comfortable to use no matter where you are — be it on a plane, at the beach, or at a remote cabin. In this article, you’ll find my detailed reviews of the best travel laptops in 2021.

I’ve put together these top picks based on my own professional experience as a digital nomad and long-term traveler. I’ve also done a meticulous amount of research and consultations with tech experts to make sure the information I’m providing is as accurate as it can be. Whether you’re a casual weekend traveler, a frequent business traveler, or an aspiring digital nomad, you’ll find fantastic laptops in this guide suited for you. I’ve also included tons of top tips to help you decide between all the different options, as I know it can get overwhelming!

Best Laptop for Travelers, A Laptop on a Table Overlooking the Sea

So, ready to find the perfect travel laptop for you? We’ll start off with a quick comparison chart of the most amazing 2021 travel laptops out there. Then, we’ll explore which important things you should keep in mind when looking for the best laptop for travelers, before delving into detailed reviews of each selected laptop.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about this in my disclosure policy.

The Best Laptops for Travelers in 2021

IMAGELAPTOPSPECSWEIGHT 
13” Macbook Air (M1)
Top pick
Apple M1
8GB RAM
Up to 512GB SSD
18 hrs battery life
2.8 lbs
(1.29 kg)

Dell XPS 13 (9300)
Digital
nomad pick
Intel Core i7
Up to 32GB RAM
512GB SSD
17 hrs battery life
2.8 lbs
(1.29 kg)

ASUS ZenBook 13 (UX334)Intel Core i7
16GB RAM
512GB SSD
12 hrs battery life
2.8 lbs
(1.29 kg)

14'' IdeaPad Flex 5
Business
travel pick
AMD Ryzen 5
16GB RAM
256GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
3.6 lbs
(1.6 kg)

13” Macbook Pro (M1)
Travel
blogging pick
Apple M1
8GB RAM
Up to 512GB SSD
20 hrs battery life
3 lbs
(1.4 kg)

14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3
Budget pick
Intel Core i3
8GB RAM
256GB SSD
6 hrs battery life
3.5 lbs
(1.6 kg)

HP Stream 14”Intel Celeron
4GB RAM
64GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
3.1 lbs
(1.4 kg)

Microsoft Surface Go 2
Minimalist pick
Intel Core m3
Up to 8GB RAM
Up to 128GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
1.2 lbs
(544 g)

Razer Blade 15 Base
Gaming pick
Intel Core i7
RTX 2070 Max-Q
16GB RAM
Up to 512GB SSD
7 hrs battery life
4.7 lbs
(2.1 kg)

Acer Chromebook Spin 311Intel Celeron
4GB RAM
Up to 64GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
2.6 lbs
(1.1 kg)

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
Top Chromebook
Intel Core m3
Up to 16GB RAM
Up to 512GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
3.1 lbs
(1.4 kg)

Apple iPad Air (4th Gen)Apple A14 Bionic
Up to 256GB SSD
10 hrs battery life
1.01 lbs
(460 g)

What to Look for in the Best Laptop for Travelers

Before looking at each of the best travel laptops of 2021 in detail, let’s cover some important things to consider when you’re deciding on the perfect travel laptop for you. Click on the recommended laptop links to jump to their detailed reviews.

👩🏻‍💻 Click here to jump straight to the laptop reviews

What will you be using your laptop for?

📩 Casual everyday tasks: (This includes browsing, streaming, emailing, social media, video calls, Microsoft Office apps, etc.) If you need a laptop to only do these kinds of simple and basic tasks, then a budget or mid-range laptop would suffice. You may even consider getting a Chromebook (which only allows you to use Android apps) to save some money or a 2-in-1 laptop for added flexibility. ⭐ Top Pick: 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3

📸 Editing photos: For the best visual experience, you may want to consider a laptop with a bright display (ideally 400 or 500 nits), at least 1920 x 1080 in resolution, and at least 8GB of RAM if you value efficiency. If you plan to edit large RAW photos on Lightroom or Photoshop, go for laptops with the powerful Intel Core i7 or Apple M1 processors. ⭐ Top Pick: 13” Apple Macbook Air (M1) or Dell XPS 13 (9300)

🎞️ Editing large 4K videos: For the best experience, go for laptops with the Intel Core i7 or Apple M1 processors, or a laptop with a graphics card (like a gaming laptop). You will also need at least 16GB of RAM for the most efficient performance unless you’re using a MacBook with the super powerful Apple M1 processor. ⭐ Top Pick: 13” Apple Macbook Pro (M1)

📝 Note-taking or sketching: While you can do this on any laptop, you might want to consider getting a flexible 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a tablet and that comes with a digital pen for the most pleasant and comfortable experience. ⭐ Top Pick: 14” IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD)

🎮 Gaming: If you’re just planning to play light games or browser games, a budget or mid-range laptop would suffice. But if you’re planning to play lots of graphics-intensive games, you should go for laptops with at least 16GB of RAM and either the Intel Core i7 or Apple M1 processors. For extremely hardcore games, get a laptop with a graphics card! ⭐ Top Pick: Razer Blade 15 Base

Which apps/programs do you need to run?

This will matter especially if you’re a professional with an already established set of programs and apps that you need to use. Some programs (such as Paint.NET) can only run on the Windows operating system, and other ones (such as Final Cut Pro) can only run on the macOS operating system. Lots of games are also only compatible with the Windows operating system.

💻 Tip: Figuring out which operating system your essential everyday apps are compatible with can help you decide whether you should get an Apple or PC laptop.

If you only need to use basic everyday apps such as WhatsApp, Spotify, and the Microsoft Office programs, you may even consider saving some money and getting a Chromebook, which runs on the restricted Chrome OS operating system and only lets you install Android apps.

Do you travel light or heavy?

Do you tend to carry a large backpack with everything you may possibly need, or are you more of a minimalist who prefers to pack light? Take note of the weight and dimensions of the laptop to make sure it fits your travel style.

⭐ Most lightweight travel laptops: Microsoft Surface Go 2 and Apple iPad Air (4th Gen)

A Laptop on a Table Outside With a Mountain in the Background

How much RAM do you need?

RAM stands for random access memory and in short, it’s what allows you to multitask and switch between different tasks on your laptop. For example, you might have some YouTube videos, a spreadsheet, and the Photoshop app open at the same time. RAM allows you to quickly switch between these different programs, remembering where you are in one task when you switch over to another one.

So, the question to ask yourself is: how much multitasking do you plan to do? And more importantly, how heavy are the tasks that you plan to do? Obviously, the heavier the tasks and the more apps you run at the same time — the more RAM you’d need. If your laptop doesn’t have enough RAM to sustain your tasks, you will notice a lag in speed and efficiency.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how much RAM you’d need for different tasks, generally speaking:

  • 4GB: Good for casual and light everyday tasks such as browsing, streaming, and writing on Word; could suffice if you’re traveling for fun
  • 8GB: Great for casual everyday tasks + light gaming + simple photo editing; good fit for business travelers who aren’t looking for a “main” work laptop
  • 16GB: Excellent for heavy multitasking even when editing large photos, 4K videos, and playing demanding games; best for digital nomads and those looking for a serious work laptop
  • 32GB+: Only needed if you’re doing very hardcore gaming or video-editing

How much storage space do you need?

Do you have lots of large photos or videos that you’d like to store on your laptop so that you can easily access them whenever you want? Are you planning to download files, apps, and programs that’ll take up a lot of space on your laptop?

If you’re a digital nomad or planning to build your business with your laptop, I recommend getting one with at least 512GB SSD. If you’re a business traveler who already has a main device at home and aren’t planning to download or store many files on your new laptop, then 256GB SSD or even 128GB SSD would suffice. If you’re a minimalist and don’t plan to download many apps, then you can save some money and go for 64GB SSD.

How much battery life do you need?

Do you need “all-day battery” life, or would you be okay with having to charge your laptop every 5 hours? Will you be working outdoors a lot, or will you have frequent and easy access to a power socket? How power-draining are the tasks that you plan to do on your laptop? Some laptops in this guide can last up to 18-20 hours on one charge, while others only around 6-7 hours. Make sure to take this into account!

⭐ Top travel laptop for battery life: 13” Apple Macbook Pro (M1) (up to 20 hours on one charge)

A Woman Working on Her 2-in-1 Laptop
A versatile 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a tablet

Do you want a regular laptop or a 2-in-1 laptop?

While a regular laptop is better for serious work, you might want to consider getting a 2-in-1 laptop instead if you’re only planning to do casual and fun tasks like note-taking, sketching, and light gaming. In fact, for those kinds of activities, having a laptop that doubles as a tablet (that can be paired with a digital pen) might just make the experience even more pleasant!

2-in-1 laptops are typically smaller, more versatile, and more portable than regular laptops. There are two kinds of 2-in-1 laptops: 1) Laptops with a 360° hinge that allows you to “fold” it into a tablet, a stand-up display, or a “tent” — making it easier to fit in tight spaces like airplane tray tables. 2) A tablet that can be paired with a keyboard to resemble a laptop. You can obviously pair either of these devices with a digital pen such as the Apple Pencil.

While most 2-in-1 laptops aren’t ideal for graphically demanding tasks like editing 4K videos or playing intense games, many of them run casual everyday tasks very fast and efficiently and are powered by the Windows 10 operating system. ⭐ Top 2-in-1 laptops: 14” IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD) and ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

And finally, what is your budget?

🏝 Digital nomads: If you want a very powerful and long-lasting travel laptop for building and growing your business, I recommend budgeting at least $1,000 USD for a quality device. ⭐ Best Value for Money: 13” Apple Macbook Air (M1)

👜 Business travelers: If you don’t need a laptop with earth-shattering power and are only looking for a casual device to work with on business trips, you can find great options in the $500 to $1,000 USD range. ⭐ Best Value for Money: 14” IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD)

👒 Casual holiday travelers: If you mostly just want a portable laptop to do light and fun tasks with (such as browsing, watching movies, and emailing), then you’ll find some great options under $500 USD. ⭐ Best Value for Money: 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Best Travel Laptops in 2021: Detailed Reviews

⭐ Best Overall Travel Laptop: MacBook Air (M1)

Perfect for digital nomads; incredibly powerful, lightweight & the best value for money

Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.29 kg)
Size: 11.9” x 0.63” x 8.3” (30 x 1.6 x 21 cm)
Storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3” | 2560 x 1600 | 400 nits
CPU: Apple M1 (8-core) | 8GB RAM
Ports: 2 x USB-C, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: Yes
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 18 hours
Operating system: macOS

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The new 13” Apple Macbook Air (M1) is hands down one of the best MacBooks ever made. Its revolutionary Apple M1 processor makes this laptop 3 times faster than any other laptop of its kind, and 98% faster than PC laptops. In fact, this new Macbook Air is not only super thin and lightweight; it’s also incredibly powerful — much faster and more powerful than MacBook Pros with quad-core Intel processors!

The 13” Apple Macbook Air (M1) can run multiple graphically intense apps at the same time while still performing at impressive speeds, allowing you to easily switch between different programs without any lag. Whether it’s streaming Netflix, gaming, or editing large videos and photos, this MacBook Air can handle it better than previous models of MacBook Pros! This is why it’s truly one of the best laptops for work and leisure for anyone who likes Apple products — from digital nomads to the occasional business travelers.

The 13” Macbook Air (M1) boasts an incredible 18 hours of battery life, which comes in really handy when you’re outdoors with no access to power sockets. Its beautifully bright and high-resolution Retina display also makes it perfect for photographers, vloggers, and travel bloggers. If you need to take online meetings, you’ll love that this laptop is also incredibly quiet as it has no fan. What’s even better is that it doesn’t get hot either!

🍏 Top Tip: Because the M1 processor is new, there are some applications that are still incompatible with this laptop (at least for now), so they may either crash or run slower. If you’re an established professional with a fixed set of apps/programs you need to use, I highly recommend checking if they’re compatible with the M1 processor before buying this laptop. Most software programs will be updated to suit the M1 processor at some point in the near future, so this incompatibility won’t be a long-term issue. However, if you need them urgently, you should check beforehand.

If you’re a photographer or travel blogger, as of November 2020, Adobe Photoshop CC is compatible with the M1 processor and runs like a dream on this laptop. Other Adobe apps such as Lightroom and Premiere Pro are set to be updated for the M1 sometime in 2021, but are currently already running faster on this 13” MacBook Air (M1) than the previous Intel processor Macs!

Overall, the 13” Apple MacBook Air (M1) is definitely the best travel laptop to get in 2021 no matter what you plan to use your device for. It offers extremely good value for money given that it’s one of the cheapest MacBooks out there, and yet is also incredibly light, faster, and more powerful than most laptops around nowadays! If you’re an Apple fan, choosing this laptop is truly a no-brainer.

Pros
  • Incredibly fast & powerful at graphically demanding tasks
  • Very lightweight & thin
  • Superb Retina display
  • Very long battery life
  • Quiet (no fan)
  • Doesn’t heat up
  • Extremely good value for money
Cons
  • Some apps may be incompatible with the M1 processor for the time being

👩🏻‍💻 Best Laptop for Digital Nomads (PC): Dell XPS 13

The most powerful Windows laptop for those who want to build their business on the go

Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.29 kg)
Size: 11.6” x 0.58” x 7.8” (29 x 1.4 x 19 cm)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.4” | 1920 x 1080 | 500 nits | touchscreen
CPU: Intel Core i7 1. 3GHz | 16GB or 32GB RAM
Ports: 2 x USB-C, microSD card slot, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: Yes
Facial recognition: Yes
Battery life: up to 17 hours
Operating system: Windows 10 Pro

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The lightweight and thin Dell XPS 13 (9300) is the best laptop to travel with if you’re a location-independent professional who needs a durable and powerful laptop to build and grow your business with, and you aren’t keen on Macs. Though the Dell XPS 13 (9300) edges on the pricier side, it is definitely worth investing in because it’s truly one of the strongest, fastest, and most portable PCs out there.

🍏 Note: If you also like Apple, the previously mentioned 13” MacBook Air (M1) is a better laptop for digital nomads — it’s even more powerful and faster than the Dell XPS 13 (9300)!

For non-Mac users, the powerful quad-core processor and 16GB RAM of the Dell XPS 13 (9300) are a few things that make it the best laptop for on the go business. You can run multiple graphically demanding software on this laptop (such as Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, or games) and still get really fast response times and performance quality. This laptop’s battery lasts up to an incredible 17 hours, making it perfect for digital nomads who enjoy working outdoors.

The Dell XPS 13 (9300) is equipped with a microSD card slot (which the Apple MacBook Air M1 is not), a convenient feature for travelers who use GoPros or drones. This laptop also has both a fingerprint reader and a facial recognition feature. Another thing I love about it is its webcam, which delivers sharper video than the typical webcam and also uses advanced noise reduction — ideal for taking business meetings or teaching online wherever you are. This is also a touchscreen laptop, which makes it perfect for sketching and note-taking too!

Overall, the Dell XPS 13 (9300) is the best laptop for travel and work if you prefer the Windows operating system and are willing to invest in something truly powerful, long-lasting, and versatile. Its fast & responsive touchscreen feature is also a great plus as it can help you get work done faster!

Pros
  • Very powerful at graphically demanding tasks
  • Super thin, lightweight & portable
  • Very long battery life
  • Touchscreen display
  • Fingerprint reader & facial recognition
  • MicroSD card slot
Cons
  • Edging on the pricier side (but worth the investment)

👩🏻‍💻 Best Alt. Laptop for Digital Nomads: ZenBook 13

The best travel laptop for digital nomads who don’t need earth-shattering power

Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.29 kg)
Size: 11.9” x 0.73” x 7.4” (30 x 1.85 x 19 cm)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3” | 1920 x 1080 | 250 nits
CPU: Intel Core i7 1.8GHz | 16GB RAM
Ports: 1 x USB-C, 2 x USB-A, HDMI, microSD card, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: Yes
Battery life: up to 12 hours
Operating system: Windows 10 Pro

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

If you’re a digital nomad, the ASUS ZenBook 13 (UX334) is a great alternative option if the previously mentioned Dell XPS 13 (9300) is out of your budget and if you don’t need to do very graphically demanding tasks such as editing large video files or running multiple Adobe apps at once. Weighing 2.8 lbs (1.29 kg), this portable laptop costs a lot less than the Dell XPS 13 (9300) and performs super well on the typical everyday tasks such as browsing, streaming, video calling, and running Microsoft Office programs.

Unlike the Dell XPS 13 (9300), this laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen function. However, it has a 5.65” interactive touchscreen trackpad that essentially doubles as a secondary display, which is pretty cool. In fact, you can launch apps like WhatsApp or the calculator directly on the trackpad, drag different windows from your main screen onto the trackpad, and even watch YouTube videos directly on the trackpad so that your main screen can be used for something else. This feature is excellent for productivity.

Although the main display of this laptop isn’t the brightest (250 nits), the screen itself is beautifully sharp and colors look great there. This laptop lacks the fingerprint reader feature but is equipped with facial recognition, so you can log in hands-free. It’s also ultratough and boasts military-grade durability. One more thing I love about this laptop is that it has a wide variety of ports, including the USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, and a microSD card slot!

Overall, the ASUS ZenBook 13 (UX334) is an amazing laptop for traveling professionals who don’t need to do heavy video editing or play graphics-intensive games. It runs really fast when working with Microsoft Office, browsing, streaming, video calling, or even editing simple photos. It has a decent battery life of up to 12 hours and lots of cool features such as the interactive touchscreen trackpad.

Pros
  • Very thin & lightweight
  • Relatively affordable
  • Fast & powerful with everyday tasks
  • Ultratough
  • Touchscreen trackpad doubles as a second display
  • Wide array of ports
Cons
  • Not powerful enough for graphically demanding games or intense video editing
  • The display is relatively dim
  • Heats up sometimes
🍏 Note: If you’re an Apple user, the previously mentioned 13” MacBook Air (M1) is hands down the best laptop for digital nomads and performs even faster on Photoshop and gaming tests than both the Dell XPS 13 (9300) and the ASUS ZenBook 13 (UX334)!

👜 Best Laptop for Business Travel: 14” Lenovo Flex 5

A fast and flexible mid-range 2-in-1 laptop perfect for non-full-time travelers

Weight: 3.6 lbs (1.6 kg)
Size: 12.6” x 0.82” x 8.5” (32 x 2 x 21 cm)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 14” | 1920 x 1080 | 250 nits | touchscreen
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U 2.3GHz | 16GB RAM
Ports: 1 x USB-C, 2 x USB-A, HDMI, SD card slot, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: Yes
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: Windows 10

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The 14” Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD) is the best travel work laptop for you if you already have a main computer at home and would like a portable and flexible device to take on business trips. For this reason, this 2-in-1 laptop + tablet is not as powerful or big in storage space as the laptops for digital nomads mentioned above. However, it’s also considerably cheaper because of that and offers great value for money. This flexible laptop + tablet is perfect for frequent or occasional business travelers who would like a strong travel laptop without breaking the bank.

Weighing 3.6 lbs (1.6 kg), this flexible laptop is very portable and easy to travel with. It also comes with a digital pen for the tablet function, which is perfect for note-taking during online meetings, sketching, and editing photos. Its 16GB RAM and AMD Ryzen 5 processor are what make it very fast and powerful for essential everyday tasks, which include streaming movies, working with Microsoft Office apps, browsing the web, and using the Adobe Creative Cloud apps. Yes — you can edit photos and play light games on this laptop without seeing a lag in speed!

The 14” Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD) is equipped with a wide variety of ports, such as a USB-C port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot. It also has a fingerprint reader which allows you to log in with a simple tap. Its battery lasts up to 10 hours, which is less than the laptops recommended for digital nomads, but still very decent for its price point.

One reason this laptop has a mid-range price is that it only has 256GB of storage space, which is why it’s perfect for travelers who aren’t planning to use this as their main device. Although its 14” inch screen is relatively dim (250 nits), it’s a touchscreen and therefore more interactive. It’s also worth noting that if you’re planning to edit large files of videos or play graphics-intensive games, then this is not the best laptop for you.

Overall, the 14” Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 (AMD) offers amazing value for money as it is very fast and powerful (unless you’re dealing with graphics-intensive video-editing or hardcore games), has a great range of ports, and excellent flexibility as a 2-in-1 laptop + tablet. If you don’t need an insane amount of storage space, then this device is definitely the top contender.

Pros
  • Very portable & lightweight
  • Fast & powerful at everyday tasks
  • 2-in-1 versatility as a laptop + tablet
  • Touchscreen & fingerprint reader
  • Wide array of ports
  • Digital pen included
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • 256GB of storage space
  • Display is fairly dim
  • Not powerful enough for graphics-intensive video-editing/games

✈️ Best Laptop for Travel Blogging: Macbook Pro (M1)

The fastest & most powerful 13” laptop in the market; ideal for editing photos & videos

Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
Size: 11.9” x 0.61” x 8.3” (30 x 1.5 x 21 cm)
Storage: 256 GB or 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3” | 2560 x 1600 | 500 nits
CPU: Apple M1 (8-core) | 8GB RAM
Ports: 2 x USB-C, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: Yes
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 20 hours
Operating system: macOS

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The 13” Apple Macbook Pro (M1) is the best travel laptop for photographers, travel bloggers, and vloggers for a simple reason: its beautiful Retina 500 nits display is brighter than most other portable and lightweight laptops in the market (be it Mac or PC). Moreover, thanks to its powerful Apple M1 processor, this laptop is also the fastest 13” laptop in the market today. Both of these advantages will greatly enhance your experience and productivity when working with graphics-demanding programs like the Adobe Creative Cloud apps!

Speaking of Adobe — Photoshop runs like a dream on this laptop thanks to the M1 processor. Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and other Adobe software will be updated to suit the M1 sometime in 2021, but they already run a lot faster on this Macbook Pro than they do on the previous Intel processor Macs! So if your workload involves a lot of photo or video editing, then this MacBook Pro is the ultimate laptop to get for efficiency.

The 13” Macbook Pro (M1) has a 20-hour battery life, so you can enjoy editing photos and videos in the beautiful outdoors without having to worry about running out of juice. The best part about this powerful laptop is that despite its incredible efficiency, it’s also extremely lightweight and thin. In fact, at 3 lbs (1.4 kg), this Macbook Pro weighs almost the same as the 13” Macbook Air (M1), which weighs 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg), and the dimensions of these two laptops are actually exactly the same!

🍏 Top Tip: It’s worth noting that the 13” MacBook Air (M1) — the top 2021 travel laptop — is perfectly suitable for travel bloggers and photographers as well and is also cheaper than the 13” MacBook Pro (M1). While the MacBook Pro is more powerful than the MacBook Air, you won’t notice a speed difference at all when it comes to photo editing with Lightroom or Photoshop. The MacBook Pro is faster when it comes to highly intensive tasks like video editing or rendering, though. So if your work mainly involves photo editing and not much video editing, I recommend sparing a few hundred bucks and getting the 13” Apple MacBook Air (M1) instead!

If your work involves lots of intense video editing and rendering, then this 13” MacBook Pro (M1) is definitely the best travel laptop to get. Its battery life is also a little bit longer than that of the 13” MacBook Air M1 (20 hours vs. 18 hours), and its display is brighter (500 nits vs. 400 nits). If you do decide to go with this MacBook Pro, I suggest getting the one with 8GB RAM — it’s been tested and proven that the difference in performance between the 8GB RAM and 16GB RAM MacBook Pros (M1) is so minimal that it’s not worth spending the extra $200 USD on the 16GB RAM device.

Pros
  • The most powerful & fastest 13” laptop in the market
  • Super lightweight
  • Very thin
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Extra bright & beautiful display
Cons
  • Some apps may be incompatible with the M1 processor for the time being
  • More expensive than the 13” MacBook Air (M1) without too much increase in quality

💸 Best Budget Travel Laptop #1: Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Great bang for your buck; ideal for essential everyday tasks, streaming, and casual gaming

Weight: 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
Size: 12.8” x 0.79” x 9.5” (32 x 1.9 x 24 cm)
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Display: 14” | 1920 x 1080 | 250 nits
CPU: Intel Core i3 2.1GHz | 8GB RAM
Ports: 3 x USB-A, SD card slot, HDMI, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 6 hours
Operating system: Windows 10

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a cheap travel laptop that can easily handle everyday tasks. At 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg), this lightweight laptop is perfect for browsing, streaming movies, light work (such as Microsoft Office, emails, Zoom, etc.), and casual gaming. It’s also very affordable and offers great value for money — in fact, you probably won’t be able to find a faster and more powerful laptop at this price point!

Performance on this laptop is really impressive; despite its Intel Core i3 processor, the 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3 performs at the same level as Intel Core i5 laptops and can handle lots of basic tasks without slowing down. This includes casual gaming and simple photo editing! This laptop also boasts a sturdy build, a comfortable keyboard, fans that never get too loud, an SD card slot, and an HDMI port. It also runs Linux flawlessly with no driver issues.

The 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3 isn’t a good fit for you if you need to do graphically demanding tasks such as heavy video editing or intense gaming, as you will see a lag in speed. This laptop’s battery lasts up to 6 hours, so that’s another thing to consider if you plan to work outdoors a lot. Overall, the 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the best cheap travel laptop for students and professionals who don’t need earth-shattering power but still value speed and productivity on everyday tasks.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Fastest & most powerful laptop at its price point
  • Lightweight & thin
  • Strong performance on everyday tasks
  • Fans are relatively quiet
Cons
  • Display is fairly dim
  • Lacks “all-day battery” life
  • Not suitable for heavy gaming or heavy video-editing
  • No USB-C port

💸 Best Budget Travel Laptop #2: HP Stream 14″

One of the cheapest small laptops for casual everyday tasks & great battery life

Weight: 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)
Size: 13.2” x 0.70” x 8.8” (33 x 1.8 x 22 cm)
Storage: 64 GB SSD
Display: 14” | 1366 x 768 | 185 nits
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 1.1GHz | 4GB RAM
Ports: 3 x USB-A, HDMI, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: Windows 10 S

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The HP Stream 14” is a great laptop to get if you’re on an extremely low budget because it’s even cheaper than the previously mentioned 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3. This means that it’s also slower and less powerful than its Lenovo competitor. However, it still handles the casual everyday tasks pretty well. In fact, if you mostly just need a laptop for light tasks such as web browsing, watching Netflix, or using the Microsoft Office apps, then the HP Stream 14” might just be all you need. It also has 10 hours of battery life, which is really impressive given its low price point!

The HP Stream 14” can also handle the occasional photo or video edit, but don’t expect a super-fast performance speed for that. This laptop is good enough for playing light browser games such as Angry Birds, but it won’t be able to handle more graphics-intensive games. The HP Stream 14” comes with three USB-A ports and an HDMI port, which comes in handy if you want to connect your laptop to a bigger screen. Weighing 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg), the HP Stream 14” is also really portable and easily fits in a backpack.

It’s worth noting that this laptop operates on Windows 10 S, which is a limited version of Windows 10 that only allows Windows-compatible apps to be installed. However, you can easily switch off the S mode via the Microsoft Store if you want to download Apple or other non-Microsoft apps. Another downside of this laptop is that its display is quite narrow and relatively dim.

Overall, the HP Stream 14” is a great laptop for students and travelers on a super tight budget who don’t need a very fast or powerful device. If you can afford the previously mentioned 14” Lenovo IdeaPad 3, then definitely get that one because it’s a stronger and less-limiting laptop. But if you really want to spend as little as possible, then the HP Stream 14” provides great value for money.

Pros
  • One of the most affordable laptops out there
  • Lightweight & thin
  • Amazing battery life for its price
  • HDMI port
  • Great value for money
Cons
  • Display is narrow & fairly dim
  • Slow when editing photos or performing graphics-intensive tasks

💼 Best Small Travel Laptop: Microsoft Surface Go 2

One of the most lightweight & versatile 2-in-1 laptops perfect for casual everyday tasks

Weight: 1.2 lbs (544 g)
Size: 9.6” x 0.33” x 6.9” (24 x 0.8 x 17 cm)
Storage: 64GB or 128GB SSD
Display: 10.5” | 1920 x 1280 | 400 nits | touchscreen
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 1.7GHz or Intel Core m3 1.1GHz | 4GB or 8GB RAM
Ports: 1 x USB-C, microSD card slot, 1 x Surface Connect port, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: Windows 10

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

Weighing a mere 1.2 lbs (544 g), the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is one of the lightest and tiniest travel laptops out there and is actually a very versatile 2-in-1 laptop + tablet that fully runs Windows 10. It has a beautiful design and is perfect for casual everyday tasks such as browsing, emailing, streaming, and working on Microsoft Office. This lightweight travel laptop measures only 9.6” in length (24 cm) and 0.33” (0.8 cm) in width, so it barely takes up any space in a backpack. It’s also obviously a touchscreen and is pleasant to use even with just one hand.

For the average Windows user, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the best small laptop for travel because it is very affordable and handles casual everyday tasks without any fuss. Whether you need to work with the Microsoft Office programs or get on a video conference call, this 2-in-1 laptop + tablet will perform spectacularly. When used as a tablet, this device is also amazing for drawing and taking notes. Its battery life is quite good considering its size and price point — it can last up to 10 hours!

💻 Top Tip: You can choose between the basic Intel Pentium Gold or the superior Intel Core m3, and also between 4GB RAM and 8GB RAM. If you require the Adobe Creative Cloud apps, I highly recommend going for the Intel Core m3 1.1GHz + 8GB RAM because you will see a lag in speed with the Intel Pentium Gold. If you need to do heavy video editing or intensive gaming, then this simply isn’t the best laptop for you.

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is equipped with a USB-C port as well as a microSD card slot. It also has a beautifully bright 400-nits display. Its storage space goes up to 128GB SSD, which is not a lot, but perfect for students and professionals who don’t need to store very large files. Another great thing about this 2-in-1 laptop is that it operates silently and has no fan.

One thing to note is that this device resembles a tablet more than a laptop and does not come with a keyboard; you will need to buy that separately. The most affordable one is the Arteck Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover. For the same reason, this 2-in-1 laptop also doesn’t stand as firmly on the lap as a regular laptop would, so you might require a hard surface to put it on.

Overall, the 10.5” Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the best lightweight laptop for travel if you don’t need an incredibly powerful machine and prefer the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop + tablet. Given that this device is extremely portable, affordable, fast at casual tasks, and has a very decent battery life — it definitely offers incredible value for money.

Pros
  • One of the lightest laptops out there
  • Affordable
  • Doubles as a tablet
  • Relatively good battery life
  • Fast at casual everyday tasks
  • Operates quietly
  • Beautifully bright display
Cons
  • Keyboard not included
  • Not suitable for graphically demanding tasks
  • 128GB of storage space might be limiting
  • Doesn’t stand as firmly when used on the lap

🎮 Best Travel + Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade 15 Base

A very portable, fast, and high-FPS laptop ideal for gaming, working, and editing videos

Weight: 4.7 lbs (2.1 kg)
Size: 14” x 0.70” x 9.2” (35 x 1.7 x 23 cm)
Storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6” | 1920 x 1080 | 300 nits
CPU: Intel Core i7 2.6GHz | 16GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060 or RTX 2070 Max-Q
Ports: 3 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 7 hours
Operating system: Windows 10

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The Razer Blade 15 Base is the best laptop for travelers who plan to play graphics-intensive games while abroad. It comes with a dedicated graphics card, which makes it more powerful than any other laptop in this guide when it comes to graphics-intensive games. You can choose between the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, the RTX 2060, and the RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics cards depending on your budget and how much power you need. Gaming laptops are typically very heavy, but this one weighs only 4.7 lbs (2.1 kg), making it one of the most lightweight gaming laptops out there.

The Razer Blade 15 Base has a beautiful 15.6” full HD 1920 x 1080 display and a 144Hz refresh rate panel that provides incredibly smooth on-screen action and a very fast visual experience. Colors are very vivid on this laptop; its display covers 107% of the sRGB color spectrum, which actually makes it more colorful than many other powerful gaming laptops out there! At 300 nits, the display is not the brightest but is still decently bright for this laptop’s price point. The audio system is very impressive; the speakers are super clear and crisp and can catch lots of small details from games.

In terms of performance, the Razer Blade 15 Base beats a lot of its competitors on speed and FPS. It very smoothly runs graphics-intensive games like Grand Theft Auto V and Hitman 2 and powers them on at least 65 FPS. When used for other tasks such as Zoom meetings, Microsoft Office apps, and web browsing, it also performs really fast. In fact, you can open up 20+ tabs on Google Chrome without noticing a drop in speed, and even play multiple YouTube videos while streaming several games on Twitch without seeing a slowdown.

Another great thing about the Razer Blade 15 Base is that it doesn’t get too loud and has a good variety of ports such as two USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port, which will enhance speed for online games. This laptop does heat up quite a bit when playing intensive games, and its battery life lasts up to 7 hours, which is not exactly “all-day battery” power.

Overall, the Razer Blade 15 Base is a fantastic travel + gaming laptop to get if you’re looking for an incredibly fast and portable gaming laptop that doesn’t break the bank. It’s perfect for graphics-intensive gaming as well as working or editing 4K videos, making it a very attractive device for traveling professionals and digital nomads with a love for gaming.

Pros
  • One of the lightest gaming laptops out there
  • Very fast & powerful for gaming & video edits
  • Beautifully vivid display
  • Very good sound system
  • Lots of ports
  • Doesn’t get too loud
  • Decently priced
Cons
  • No “all-day battery” power
  • Heats up while gaming

Best Travel Chromebook #1: Acer Spin 311

An extremely affordable and versatile device perfect for browsing and staying in touch

Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.1 kg)
Size: 11.6” x 0.79” x 8.1” (29 x 2 x 20 cm)
Storage: 32GB or 64GB SSD
Display: 11.6” | 1366 x 768 | 300 nits | touchscreen
CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 or N4020 or N4000 1.1GHz | 4GB RAM
Ports: 2 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, microSD card slot, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: Chrome OS

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is one of the best laptops for travelers who are on a very tight budget and plan to spend most of their screen time online (i.e. social media, YouTube, Netflix, etc.). Given that this device is a Chromebook, it runs the Chrome OS operating system rather than the Windows or Mac ones. What does this mean? Mostly that it can only perform the tasks that you can do in the Google Chrome browser. You can, however, also install and use any Android app including Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, WhatsApp, Netflix, Spotify, and the Microsoft Office apps.

Weighing only 2.6 lbs (1.1 kg), the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is super portable and easy to fit into a backpack. In fact, it’s even smaller than a sheet of A4 paper! This 11.6” touchscreen laptop is also incredibly flexible and versatile. You can rotate it by its 360° hinge to transform it from a regular laptop into anything you need it to be — a stand-up display for movies, a “tent” that fits on narrow spaces like airplane tray tables, or a regular tablet for note-taking and games. This laptop’s 360° versatility is truly what makes it perfect for travelers — it’s easy to use anywhere and everywhere!

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is decently fast and efficient when performing everyday tasks such as opening up dozens of Chrome tabs, playing music, and chatting on Slack. It also has a good range of ports, including two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and a microSD card slot. Its battery can last up to 10 hours, which is really good given its price point and very suitable for traveling. This laptop is also very durable and robust; it was built to survive knocks and bumps. I also love that the touchpad is very responsive and pleasant to use.

💻 Note: It’s worth noting that Chromebooks aren’t powerhouses and cannot replace laptops if you need to do serious work. This laptop is in fact not a good option for travelers who want to edit lots of photos, videos, or play high-profile PC games (it can handle light browser games, though). Sure, you can install the Lightroom and Photoshop Android apps, but because this Chromebook is limited to 4GB of RAM, you will need some patience while using them. The storage space only goes up to 64GB SSD, which is enough for a casual travel laptop but definitely not for a main work laptop.

Overall, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 offers excellent value for money. It’s extremely cheap, fantastically flexible, has a great battery life, and performs fast on casual everyday tasks. If you just want a lightweight and portable device for basic activities and don’t mind being limited to Android apps, then this is definitely a fantastic laptop to get. It’s perfect for browsing, emailing, social media, and working with the Microsoft Office apps — just don’t expect fast speeds if you need to open up a hundred tabs at once.

Pros
  • Very lightweight & portable
  • Extremely flexible: tablet, tent & display modes
  • Very decent battery life
  • Fast at casual everyday tasks
  • Has lots of ports
  • Fantastic value for money
Cons
  • Only Android apps can be installed
  • Not powerful enough for photo/video editing or gaming
  • Limited to 4GB of RAM
  • Storage space only goes up to 64GB SSD

Best Travel Chromebook #2: ASUS Flip C434

A powerful and extremely versatile device perfect for browsing, streaming & photo editing

Weight: 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)
Size: 12.6” x 0.62” x 8” (32 x 1.5 x 20 cm)
Storage: Up to 16GB SSD
Display: 14” | 1920 x 1080 | 300 nits | touchscreen
CPU: Intel Core m3 1.1GHz | Up to 512GB RAM
Ports: 1 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, microSD card slot, headset jack
Fingerprint reader: No
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: Chrome OS

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is an excellent device to consider if you would like a more powerful Chromebook and aren’t on a super tight budget. This elegant and portable device is very similar in versatility to the previously mentioned Acer Chromebook Spin 311, with a big advantage over it, though: it has up to 16GB of RAM, which allows for much more efficient multitasking. This laptop is, in fact, a much better Chromebook for editing photos & videos and playing games.

Weighing 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg), the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is very portable. Its 14” touchscreen display is bigger than its Acer competitor’s (which is 11.6”) and has a higher resolution, which makes it better for watching movies and other visually-oriented tasks. The sound quality of this Chromebook is also spectacular; it’s as crisp and powerful as that of much larger laptops, bringing you an immersive experience for both video and music streaming.

Just like the previously mentioned Acer Chromebook, you can flip this device 360° degrees into the tablet, “tent”, or stand-up display modes, making it super versatile to use anywhere you are. This laptop’s battery lasts up to a solid 10 hours, and it has a good range of ports including a USB-A port, two USB-C ports, and a microSD card slot.

Much like the Acer Chromebook, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is powered by Chrome OS and therefore cannot replace a regular laptop. You can only install Android apps and do whatever it is that you can do on the Google Chrome browser. As mentioned before, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is more powerful and responsive than its Acer competitor though, so you’ll see faster performance when browsing, streaming, editing photos/light videos, and using the Microsoft Office apps.

Overall, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is a fantastic travel laptop to get if you want an ultra-versatile device with a beautiful high-quality display and a good amount of power for casual creative/artistic tasks. It’s perfect for traveling professionals or students who don’t want to spend too much on a laptop, who would love a flexible 2-in-1 laptop + tablet setup, and who don’t mind being limited to Android apps.

Pros
  • Portable & lightweight
  • Extremely versatile
  • Beautiful & high-quality display
  • Up to 16 GB RAM capacity
  • Super-fast at casual everyday tasks
  • Good speed when editing photos
  • Strong battery life
Cons
  • Only Android apps can be installed
  • Not powerful enough for graphics-intensive video-editing/games

📱 Best Travel Laptop Alternative: iPad Air (4th Gen)

A very powerful, lightweight & versatile tablet perfect for artists, gamers & photographers

Weight: 1.01 lbs (460 g)
Size: 9.7” x 0.24” x 7” (24 x 0.6 x 17 cm)
Storage: 64GB or 256GB SSD
Display: 10.9” | 2360 x 1640 | 500 nits | touchscreen
CPU: Apple A14 Bionic
Ports: 1 x USB-C (no headset jack)
Fingerprint reader: Yes
Facial recognition: No
Battery life: up to 10 hours
Operating system: iPadOS

🛒 See price on Amazon

Detailed Review

The Apple iPad Air (4th Gen) is a fantastic alternative to a travel laptop if you need to do intense work such as photo/video editing and prefer to do so on a touchscreen with a pen rather than on a regular laptop. The iPad Air (4th Gen) runs on the powerful Apple A14 Bionic processor, which according to Apple, is twice as fast as a top-selling Windows laptop. This is why you can seamlessly edit 4K videos, run Photoshop CC, and play graphics-intensive games on this device without seeing any lag in speed!

Weighing a mere 1.01 lbs (460 g), the iPad Air (4th Gen) is extremely portable and ideal to travel with. It has a beautifully bright 500 nits display and features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor as well. If you’ll be traveling somewhere with no WiFi, you can also get the WiFi + Cellular model of this iPad to stay connected with fast mobile data wherever you are.

Pair this iPad Air with the Apple Magic Keyboard to turn this tablet into a mini laptop that stands firmly on any surface (including your lap). The Magic Keyboard is very responsive and has a built-in trackpad and backlit keys. You can also pair this iPad with the wonderful Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) and use it to paint a colorful portrait, mark up documents, or take notes. The speakers and mics on this tablet are also excellent, and it’s a fantastic device for video calls and online conferences.

Overall, the iPad Air (4th Gen) is a spectacular alternative to a travel laptop if you want to have an incredibly lightweight, versatile, and powerful device that performs super fast not just on everyday tasks, but also when you’re editing 4K videos or playing graphically heavy games. Paired with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, this tablet is truly one of the most responsive and pleasant travel devices to use: it can be your notepad, scanner, mobile office, canvas, and film studio all at once. What more could you ask for?

Pros
  • Incredibly powerful & fast
  • Super thin, lightweight & portable
  • Fast at graphically heavy tasks
  • Amazing versatility
  • Great battery life
  • Supports cellular data
  • Great speakers & mics
  • Excellent video-call camera
Cons
  • Relatively pricey if you pair it with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil

Final Thoughts on the Best Laptops for Travelers

In short, the ⭐ 13” Apple Macbook Air (M1) takes the prize for the best laptop for travelers in 2021. It is truly one of the most powerful lightweight laptops in the market today, and at its price point, you won’t be able to find a stronger and faster laptop. If you’re not a fan of Apple products, then go for the ⭐ Dell XPS 13 (9300) — the runner-up best laptop for travel in 2021. Though it’s not as powerful as the Apple Macbook Air (M1), it’s still one of the fastest and most responsive Windows laptops out there.

A Girl Working on Her Laptop on the Beach
I hope this guide on the best laptops for travelers has been helpful!

For other product guides and travel inspiration, discover:
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🔭 Best Lenses for Sony A6400 in 2021: The Ultimate Guide + Reviews
🥾 50+ Best Gifts for Hikers, Campers, & Backpackers (2021 Gift Guide)
🌎 Top 32 Dream Destinations You Have to Visit Once in Your Lifetime
🇺🇸 37 Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US
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7 Comments

  • Michelle December 2, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    This is such a well organized post. I love how you how broken down the information into categories based upon the needs of the consumer!

  • Rachel December 2, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    This is such an amazingly detailed and complete guide! I love that you compare and contrast between models as you go, too, so I don’t forget that maybe one of the previously discussed models is better based on my interests and needs. Saving this for my upcoming laptop purchase!

  • Krista December 2, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    I just recently got the MacBook Air and I have been LOVING it for travel. I used to have a very heavy laptop and it was a nightmare to carry around. This article is insanely helpful for anyone looking for a laptop and needs details on each one! Well done!

  • Sarah December 3, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Ooooh I’m definitely bookmarking this for when I’m ready for a new computer. This is one of my biggest struggles – investing in a laptop. This is so helpful!

  • Destiny December 3, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    I wish I would’ve seen this before Black Friday! Haha! I’ve been debating on splurging on a new laptop but honestly don’t know anything about the differences and had no clue where to start– so this is BEYOND helpful! I will totally be using this to decide and keep an eye out in hopes of the one I choose going on sale!

  • PAtri December 12, 2020 at 4:16 am

    I have the Microsoft Surface Pro and I love it! Love my pen, love my removable keypad and love how light weight it is!

  • Ophelie December 12, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    So good to see all the informations in this article dedicated for travellers! I personally have the MacBook Air and happy with it (except I wish I would have more space on it). It’s matching all my needs and it’s not too heavy to travel with!

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    Welcome to my travel + photography blog!

    I'm Jiayi, a Chinese-Italian photographer who's been on the move since age 6. With this blog, my goal is to provide you with invaluable tips to help you plan epic trips to both popular and unpopular destinations, and to photograph them the way you'd want to. Happy Travels! :)

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