Should I take the laptop - yes or no?

Should I take the laptop - yes or no?

The question whether to take a laptop computer on a round-the-world-trip will be answered by anyone you ask in a different way.

10 February 2008

After reading through a lot of advice on travel forums, I guess it comes - for me - down to answering a couple of questions.

  • How long is the journey?
  • Are overnight stays planned mostly in individual hotel rooms?
  • Blogging a lot?
  • Need to edit photographs?
  • Have a light / small laptop?
  • Renounce to a laptop in case of loss or theft?

There are actually a couple of answers which might point in favor of lugging my old, bulky Acer Travelmate 2300 (3kgs) with me. It is so old, that I don't really mind anyone stealing it. But then, what's the point of bringing it along if I don't mind not having it anymore. Yes, I like to crop, edit and resize photographs - so that my shots will look perfect when uploading them to the blog. But do I really want to spend my time in the evening - somewhere in the Mongolian desert for example - editing pictures?

It seems that the only true problem to be solved on such a trip, is the backup of all the valuable pictures - not whether to use a laptop computer or not. However, solving this problem is quite easy these days: Photo shops all over the world will burn digital pictures from memory sticks (or other media) to CD or DVD - which then can be sent back home. Heck, even Internet-Cafés are doing this. Sure, there's the (real) issue of having a CD infected with a virus - but a good backup strategy - using several CD's and memory cards - still seems to me being more sound than carrying the extra weight of a Laptop.

Weighing into this decision is the fact that my mobile phone (Nokia E61) is happily surfing the web using any (open) WiFi access point. Its browser is decent, supports Javascript, Flash, etc. - so it is a viable solution for booking that next hostel through the Internet. Actually, this is one of the reality checks, I already figured out back last spring in the U.S.: The seat-reservation I made for the return flight on Swiss airlines, was done using my Nokia by sitting outside in a parking lot of a Chicago shopping mall - using the free WiFi from a "Subway" fast food restaurant.

Moreover, the trusty Nokia E61 has become - over the past few months - my MP3-player of choice. It's just so much more convenient to have everything in one device (which I tend to carry around anyway). For more music choice, I might want to ramp up the 1GB SD-mini card, though.

So this is the technology gear I plan to carry around (see picture above):

from top left, downwards: Noise cancelling earphones from Sony (I won't leave home without them anymore), small pouch (reusing an old Logitech webcam bag for protecting the chip cards), two USB sticks (512MB noname, 8GB Sony), USB cable for the Sony W-200 digital camera (Sony, I already hate you now for this stupid, proprietary and heavy cable), power charger for the camera, a bunch of memory sticks (4GB, 1GB, 128MB, 32MB, 16MB), USB adapter for memory sticks (camera), spare battery for the camera, my trusty and 20 year old plug-converter from Lufthansa (this thing has been several times around the world by now), earpiece with microphone (Nokia), Nokia E61, original Nokia SD-card 64MB, USB adapter for SD cards, Nokia GSM bluetooth device (I might want to Geotag my pictures - we'll see), solar power charger with built-in battery and a ton of adapters (mainly to charge the Nokia devices on the road), cinch audio adapter (Nokia) with two spare headsets (Panasonic), USB cable (Nokia), spare battery for the phone (the single most expensive piece of equipment and Nokia doesn't even provide a protective cover for this), car charger (Nokia), power outlet charger (Nokia), (The Sony W-200 digital camera obviously is absent from the picture).

All of this gear fits in a small, spare toiletry bag. It is actually quite amazing how quick these little devices add up: All of the above gear, plus the camera and toiletry bag weigh 1,8 kg! However, altogether this is still small and light enough to be carried along on smaller trips in the daypack. And it will give me some peace of mind in situations where I'll have to leave the Rucksack unsupervised.

I might still throw in the bluetooth keyboard from Nokia - but it is horribly expensive and I'm unsure whether this is really needed. I might as well just spend one extra hour in an Internet-Café blogging directly during bad weather. And another piece of electronica just simply adds more weight. Sigh!

Having said all that, there is still some hesitation about whether or not to take the laptop. Only reality will tell whether my ultimate decision was a sound one or not.

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