Need a laptop that’s good for travel? Something small and lightweight, but which is still powerful enough that you can perform your everyday tasks on it? Perfect – that’s exactly what I will be talking about in this review!
I will show you 10 excellent laptops for travel, in all different price ranges. From $200 Chromebooks to Mac and Windows laptops that cost well over $1000 – whatever it is that you are looking for, I’m sure you will find something suitable right here!
At A Glance: Our Top Travel Laptops
I’ll start you off with some portable Windows laptops, and then I will move on to the MacBooks and Chromebooks. So, scroll down to your preferred operating system to find the best laptop for travelers and digital nomads!
best lightweight travel laptop
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BEST WINDOWS TRAVEL LAPTOP
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BEST APPLE TRAVEL LAPTOP
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BEST CHROME OS TRAVEL LAPTOP
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best budget travel laptop
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If you’re okay with Windows 10 Home, then you’ll really like this laptop. This Dell XPS 13 has a 13.3” 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display, which is amazing for any graphic work.
And not to mention that you’ll have an amazing experience watching movies and TV shows on this Dell.
There are two storage options on the Dell XPS 13– one includes a 512 GB SSD, and the other one includes a 1 TB SSD. The difference between the two is only $100, so I would definitely recommend you go for the 1 TB device.
Both storage space options feature 16 GB of RAM, so you will easily be able to multitask on this laptop. The Dell XPS 13 version here features an i7 processor, so you can be sure that it will easily handle any task you throw at it.
But it is not all great with this Dell XPS. This lightweight laptop has a camera at the bottom of the display, which could be an issue if you’re not used to it. It is a really weird angle, so you might want to go for a different laptop if you spend a lot of your time video chatting.
And then there’s the battery life, which varies significantly depending on how you use it. The 4K resolution is quite demanding, so if you spend a lot of time watching 4K videos, the battery won’t last too long.
However, if most of your day includes web browsing and emails, this could almost get you through the workday on a single charge. Which is pretty great.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Dell XPS 13 laptop is recycle-friendly. Around 90% of its parts can be reused or recycled, and the packaging trays it comes with are 100% recyclable. It’s not a very important feature, but it’s always a plus in my book when companies care about the environment.
By now, you should be familiar with the Microsoft Surface computer. The Microsoft Surface Book is the most powerful lightweight laptop out of the bunch, and it’s an amazing all-in-one machine. What makes it one of the most popular travel lightweight laptops is the (only 3.62 lbs), versatility, functionality, and amazing battery life.
You can easily get over 10 hours of battery life with normal use in laptop mode, which is pretty good. However, if you want to use it only as a tablet, you will need to keep the charger handy. The battery life is nowhere near as good when you detach the actual batteries from the display – you could get some 3-4 hours at best.
The detachable display of the Microsoft Surface is amazing for on-the-go, and it is a great option for people who spend most of their time drawing. It allows you to leave the keyboard part of the laptop at home and shed even more weight.
Make no mistake, this is a powerful machine, with some specs only seen in gaming laptops. With16 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, and Windows 10 Pro preinstalled, this is capable of handling pretty much any task you can throw at it, including some demanding PC games.
And the one thing that truly pains me is that you will still experience the usual Windows glitches on this. It’s a lightweight laptop made by Microsoft, so you would expect that Apple level of hardware/software compatibility. But, they never cease to surprise us.
The one upside is that the Microsoft Surface Book 2 wonderfully takes advantage of the fact that Windows 10 was designed for both laptops and tablets.
If you’re a hardcore Windows user, then you have several amazing options – the X1 Carbon is one of those. It’s an amazing travel laptop that just so happens to be very portable, because of its lightweight. At less than 2.5 lbs, this one of the lightest laptops in this entire review.
The X1 Carbon comes with 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD storage space, and a stunning 14” touchscreen display. Don’t let the small size fool you – this is a very powerful machine that is capable of handling nearly every task.
You get up to 15 hours of battery life on the X1 Carbon, depending on how you’re using it. And with Lenovo’s Rapid Charge technology, you can juice up your laptop to 80% battery in just one hour. Which is pretty insane.
One thing I absolutely adore about this laptop is that it has an integrated ThinkShutter – a cover for the webcam. If you’re as paranoid as me and tend to cover up the webcam on all your laptops, you will love this feature.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, two USB C ports and an HDMI port on this thing. And the laptop also has a fingerprint reader, which allows you to log in in a matter of seconds.
The X1 Carbon comes with Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) preinstalled, so no surprises there. If you’re a business user looking for the perfect Ultrabook, I think this might just be the best laptop out there for you.
If you want a really good Windows laptop for your life as a digital nomad, but can’t afford a really expensive one, this is a good option. The catch is that it is a refurbished laptop, but it works and runs like new.
Plus, the price tag is pretty amazing, especially when you take a good look at all the specs of this Dell laptop.
It has 16 GBs of RAM and a 256 GB SSD storage space, so it will be able to handle anything you throw at it. The high amount of RAM also makes it an excellent option for multitasking, especially if you’re one of those people that always have 20+ tabs open in Chrome.
The laptop comes with Windows 10 Professional preinstalled (64-bit), which is great. The (touchscreen) display is Anti-Glare, so you should be able to use these even in sunlight.
In addition to that, this laptop also features a backlit keyboard, which is awesome.
One downside is the battery life. It’s nowhere near as great as with most other laptops I’ve shown you. In fact, it’s exactly what you’d expect from an older, used Windows laptop – some 3 hours on average.
But if that is okay with you, then by all means take a really good look at this laptop.
The price point is really good for the performance you get. Plus, it is small and lightweight, so it’s a really great option for travel. As long as you’re okay using this plugged in most of the time, you will really enjoy the Latitude 7370.
The MacBook Air is a classic, so you bet it’s going to be at the top of our list. It’s the perfect laptop for those who are always on the go because it is reliable, lightweight and has a monster M1 chip and battery life.
One of the reasons to get the latest M1 Macbook Air from 2020 and beyond is the new M1 chip from Apple. This chip is a game-changer, and not in the way that Apple or other computer companies usually say. It is fast, powerful and does not suck the life out of the battery. I ran a video compression tool recently that used to take 1 minute per minute of video, and it compressed an hour in 5 minutes!!!
So, if you do any heavy-duty work on your computer like gaming or video editing then this will change your life, seriously! Bonus tip: You can check out Veed– a powerful video editing software that works on your Mac computer, with no software download or plugin required.
The 13 inch Macbook Air also has a Retina display, with a much higher native resolution than the previous model. And Apple has solved that pesky butterfly keyboard issue from a few years ago.
You will have zero issues with a light workload – if it’s mostly replying to emails and writing, you won’t ever hear your computer operating (there is actually no fan), and your battery will last you a long time (18 hours according to Apple, but in reality less).
But if you’re looking for Apple’s best portable laptop, then you’ve found it – the Macbook Air. It weighs less than 3 lbs, the display is just the right size that you can do anything on it – from watching Netflix or gaming to editing videos and programming – and the battery can last you a really long time, depending on what you’re using the computer for.
I have had my original Macbook Air 13 inch for nearly 6 years. And sure, the battery does not last like it used to, but it’s still one of the lightest and best machines I have seen amongst other travelers.
The MacBook Pro was never really considered a portable machine. But that was in the days of yore when it was still a fat, heavy laptop. Nowadays, the smallest Pro is as light as the MacBook Air, and it is the perfect option for all of you who need an incredibly powerful travel laptop.
It weighs only 3.02 lbs, so the difference between it and the Air is almost negligible. Especially when you consider just how much more powerful this machine is; if you consider yourself a Pro user, then this is definitely the travel laptop you should be getting.
There are two versions of the 13” Macbook Pro to consider – the one with the Touch Bar and the one with the regular F keys.
If you are old-fashioned like me, go for the older Macbook Pro model – not only does it look exactly like a laptop should, but it is also about $400 cheaper. And if you like trying out new things, go for the Touch Bar version – it is a convenient feature for people that edit a lot of videos or photos.
The Macbook Pro that I am talking about here comes with 8 GB of RAM, and there are two SSD options – 256GB and 512GB storage space. It has four USB-C ports and a battery that can last up to 10 hours, depending on what your workload looks like.
Overall, if you’re looking for an Apple laptop that’s portable but still capable of handling even the most demanding software, the 13” Pro is undoubtedly the right option for you.
Size-wise, this is probably the best macOS laptop you can get. It’s the smallest Apple laptop that exists these days, since the 11” Macbook Air was discontinued a while ago. It is a pretty powerful laptop, and it will be able to handle most of the tasks that you throw at it.
But what makes the regular MacBook one of the best travel laptops that exist is its portability. Out of all the laptops in this review, this is easily the lightest one, as it weighs in at mere 2.03 lbs (1 lb lighter than the Macbook Pro). It will fit into your every backpack and purse, and you will barely feel that it’s there.
Now, there are two types of the MacBook to choose from. There’s the 256 GB SSD model, which comes with an Intel m3 processor, and a 512 GB model that features the Intel i5 processor. The two CPUs are very different, so you should choose the model based on what you tend to do on your laptop.
Go for the m3 version if you spend most of your time editing videos or gaming – this is the one area where this CPU really outshines the i5. However, the i5 is the better choice in all other areas – it is faster and more efficient.
The MacBook has a great battery life of up to 10 hours and a stunning Retina display that really allows you to enjoy videos, even when you’re watching them on a really small display.
The C302 Chromebook by Asus is a great option if you’re looking for a portable and affordable laptop. It currently costs less then $450, which is a pretty great price point for a laptop. And it is very lightweight, at only 2.65 lbs.
The battery can last you up to 10 hours, which is pretty great. But, you’re only getting 64 GBs of SSD storage space, and that is quite disappointing. The good news is that this Chromebook supports a microSD card, and you can add up to 256 GBs to it. Plus, SD cards are usually cheaper than external hard drives, so you will save some money there as well.
The 360 hinge allows you to use this laptop however you want, which is very convenient. You can play Android games on it in tablet mode, and then reply to emails and do some light work in laptop mode.
However, the 4 GBs of RAM are a little bit disappointing. Especially because most smartphones these days have at least 8 GBs. But it’s a completely different processor, so it should be enough for a light workload.
Keep in mind that you can’t really run any demanding software on this and that you are limited to apps like Google Docs, Gmail, etc.
Overall, if you’re in need of something affordable and efficient, this laptop is a good option for you. Especially if you like the idea of being able to use it as both a tablet and a laptop.
If you’re on a really tight budget, I suggest you check out this Lenovo Chromebook. It is one of the most affordable laptops in this review, with a price tag that is under $250. Yes, for a laptop – I don’t think you can even get a smartphone for that amount of money these days!
This laptop is a good option for you if most of the work you do is online and you don’t need a lot of storage space. You can watch movies on Netflix, and do pretty much anything in Chrome. However, it only has 32 GBs of eMMc storage, which is just too little these days.
Another thing to consider is that it has eMMc storage, which is slower, less reliable and efficient than an SSD. But it is also a lot cheaper, hence that super attractive price tag on this Chromebook.
You also get 4 GBs of RAM, which hurts my heart a little bit. But, I consider myself a pretty heavy user – if you’re not, 4 GB should be plenty for light web browsing and work.
The Lenovo laptop features a 360 hinge, which means you can use it both as a laptop and a tablet. And honestly, when you look at its storage specs, it is a pretty decent tablet. If you’re okay with mostly being in touchscreen mode, you will really like this computer.
One issue I have with this laptop is the size of those bezels. It’s 2019 – haven’t we moved on from those thick nasty bezels? They are a bit of an issue, especially considering how small this laptop is – the actual screen is even smaller than that.
Samsung’s Chromebook 3 is one of the most affordable laptops in this review. It is small, lightweight, and pretty efficient for people who are comfortable with chromeOS. It does not have a touchscreen, so keep that in mind.
One interesting thing to note is that I am talking about the most expensive Chromebook 3 here – the one with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMc storage. There are two options with less storage, which are even cheaper than this one.
Samsung claims you can get up to 11 hours of battery life from a single charge, which sounds a bit optimistic. But you can get some 9 hours of light use without any issues, and that is still pretty good.
Another cool thing about this laptop is that it has a water-resistant keyboard. So if you’re anything like me and you tend to spill stuff a lot, you will find that pretty convenient. Especially if you’re always eating or drinking something while using your laptop.
This is a great option for people who don’t need a powerful machine. If you’re happy with Google’s apps, Play Store, and the 11.6” anti-reflective display, you will find that this laptop is a good fit for you. Plus, it is so small and lightweight that you can carry it wherever you want, and you will barely feel its weight.
There are lots of options and specs when it comes to laptops, so it pays to know what you want, more or less, before you start. The following will help you find the perfect laptop, to go in that handy travel backpack along with your travel router!
Obviously, choosing the best laptop for travelers is going to involve finding one that is lighter and smaller than your favorite 17” machine. Because of that, I’m only showing you laptops up to 14” in this review. I know, there are some 15” laptops that are pretty lightweight and portable, but they just didn’t make the cut.
A 13-14” laptop is just easier to carry around, you can’t argue with that. It will fit into most backpacks and purses, and it is almost always going to be lighter than anything larger.
Plus, if you just can’t live without a large display, you can always get yourself a portable monitor.
I will show you three types of laptops here – Windows laptops, Apple laptops and Chromebooks. And it is important to know what you can expect from each of them.
If you’re already a Windows user, then you’re probably looking for a Windows laptop for travel. You will see several excellent options here, from the best manufacturers. If you’re considering getting a Windows laptop for the first time, you should know that it is a full-grade OS, which is capable of pretty much anything.
The same cannot be said for Chromebooks – even though they are perhaps the best travel options because they are cheap and lightweight, they are not capable of much. The ChromeOS on these laptops is designed around Google’s browser. So, you can’t run any demanding software on these laptops – forget about Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, and even Microsoft Word. Instead, you will need to make due with various online programs – Google Docs, Pixlr or even Microsoft Office Online.
Some of the newer Chromebooks can run many Android apps, so they’ll be great for playing the casual phone game. In general, these are a great option if you want something inexpensive, which you can use to reply to emails, browse the Internet and watch a movie on Netflix.
If you’re an Apple user, then you already know exactly what to expect from macOS. It’s a full grade operating system with a remarkably simple and intuitive UI. It is also more reliable and efficient than Windows, in terms of bugs, RAM usage and energy impact.
Laptops are not cheap toys, and I think you know that. So, I will try to show you options for different budgets – from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Here’s the thing – if you want a cheap and portable travel laptop and you want it now, go for one of the Chromebooks. They will get the job done if you need something for simple tasks and the occasional movie, and they’re usually in the $300-500 range.
The Apple and Windows laptops are going to be a lot more expensive than that. You will rarely see anything below $1000, with a few exceptions of course.
But if you’re looking for a full-grade OS in a portable and travel-friendly machine, that’s the amount of money you will need to cough up for it.
Not sure which is the best travel laptop to pick up? Go for one of our favorites – they are the best value for money in each category!
If you want a Windows laptop, I’m recommending the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It is an amazing laptop – slim, lightweight, and incredibly powerful. It will be able to handle any task you throw at it, so it’s a good option regardless of what you primarily use your laptop for.
It has a great battery life, a built-in fingerprint reader, and a very inviting keyboard that makes replying to emails an enjoyable task. The Dell XPS 13 is also a popular option, but I prefer the Lenovo.
If you’re looking for an Apple laptop, then the MacBook Air is probably the best option. It is really good value for money. But you’re sacrificing that Retina display, which won’t really be that big of an issue.
This is a thin and lightweight laptop that you fit into almost any backpack and purse, and that has amazing battery life. The Macbook Pro is obviously way more powerful, but it’s just too heavy for travel.
And if you are a very light user and just want something cheap and efficient, go with the ASUS C302 Chromebook. It’s one of the best Chromebooks you can buy, and it’s actually a solid laptop.
The 360 hinge allows you to use it as both a laptop and a tablet, while the backlit keyboard lets you work in the dark. It’s one of the few Chromebooks that features an SSD, so you know it will be fast and reliable.
Head over to Amazon to see the prices of all of these laptops, and see all of the configurations that are available.
Check out our related posts to get some other gear for that travel laptop you choose!