One of the most appealing parts of making a living as a digital nomad is how flexible the job is. As a general rule, you won’t need to lug around much fancy equipment with you as you work and travel around the world. In fact, you’ll be able to do your job with just what fits in a backpack.
The one and only piece of work gear digital nomads really do need to have is a reliable laptop. In fact, it’s so important, that you should give careful consideration to which device you choose.
It needs to be travel-friendly, remote-work-friendly, and nomad-friendly, having features and requirements that perhaps wouldn’t be as important to somebody buying a laptop for office, home, or school use.
Criteria to buy a “digital nomad friendly” laptop
- Weight: It’s crucial to have a laptop that doesn’t weigh you down or take up too much space in your backpack on your journeys.
- Functionality: As a digital nomad, you’ll need a laptop that is powerful and has all of the features that you need to do your work, whether that’s design and development software or productivity and communications tools. You’ll probably also need to be able to video conference with clients and family, so a built-in webcam is a major plus.
- Battery: On the road, you’re pretty likely to find yourself in a situation without anywhere to plug your laptop in to charge. For that reason, a decent battery life is crucial.
- Price: Many digital nomads are working on a budget. That makes a powerful but still affordable laptop option highly attractive.
- Meets Your Needs: Every digital nomad has different laptop needs based on the type of work that they do. A video editor, for example, will probably need to invest in a good graphics card and a fast processor whereas a writer might be able to get away with something with less storage and power.
- Ease of Repair: What do you do if your laptop breaks on the road? Unfortunately, accidents happen and it’s important to be able to maintain your laptop in good working condition from all around the world. Some brands are easier to fix than others, with more or less internationally-located authorized repair locations.
- Durability: Chances are, as a digital nomad, you won’t have the ability to replace your laptop every other year. Choosing an option that lasts is critical.
- Familiarity: If you want to get work done on your laptop as soon as you buy it, you might want to go with a brand you’ve used before so you don’t have to waste too much time learning the device’s ropes.
The best laptops for digital nomads in 2019
Based on the previous criteria, what are the best travel and remote work-friendly laptops for digital nomads in 2019? Here are some remote work-friendly laptops you can easily take and rely on to accompany you on your digital nomad travels.
Priced at around 225$, the ASUS C202 is a popular laptop with travelers thanks to its compact size and fantastic battery life of up to ten hours – perfect for when you’re working in the wilderness or in a cafe that doesn’t have an available power socket.
It’s shockproof, so it can take a fall without much problem, and the spill-proof keyboard is great for working by the pool or on the beach. The anti-glare screen is great for working outdoors, too. Not only that, but because it’s a Chromebook laptop, everything is backed up in the cloud. That means that if it’s stolen, you can still access all your work when you buy a new one.
The downside is that this laptop has limited functionality – though it has a webcam, it’s really a glorified internet browser. It’s fine if you’re just working in Google Docs, but the 16GB hard drive is rather limited. It’s enough space for storing documents, but you might find yourself running out of room if you store too many photos or movies on it. An external hard drive would easily solve this problem, or cloud storage if you have a reliable WiFi connection.
The Acer Chromebook is a durable laptop choice for digital nomads. Its impressive 12-hour battery life makes it a great choice for travelers. With its thin aluminum design, it looks like a MacBook but, at around $270, it’s a fraction of the cost.
Its built-in HDR webcam and enhanced wireless speeds make it perfect for video calls, while 32GB of storage gives you plenty of space without having to rely on an external hard drive. An anti-glare screen means you can use it outside and experience reduced eye strain.
You can pay thousands for a Microsoft Surface Book, but the cheapest model, while still pricier than other laptops on this list at around $550, makes a great choice for digital nomads who might not have that much money to spend yet.
It’s a tablet and laptop rolled into one, making it incredibly versatile. You can use it as a standalone tablet or with the full traditional keyboard. It has front and rear-facing cameras that make it perfect for HD Skype calls, and with a whopping 13.5 hours of battery life, you won’t run out of juice mid-call.
For a cheap, basic, travel-friendly laptop, you can’t do much better than the Lenovo Ideapad. It’s perfect for work that doesn’t require too much processing power, such as copywriting. It’s very lightweight and has a battery life of eight hours, meaning you should get a day’s work out of it without needing to plug it in.
64GB provides ample storage for photos, movies, and work documents, and there’s a built-in camera for Skype calls. Available for around $160, it’s not going to be too much of an upset if it gets stolen or damaged while you’re out and about.
The MacBook Pro is considered state-of-the-art for a reason. It’s beautiful, powerful, and easy to use – but you’ll pay the price. The cheapest model, at $1,299 comes with a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 8 GB of memory, and 128GB of storage, meaning it’s quite fast and powerful (though you’ll have to upgrade to a more expensive model for the really impressive speed and storage).
It comes with a built-in camera automatically linked to Facetime, making it easy to stay connected. The battery lasts for 10 hours, which is plenty for the day, and the impressive collection of applications available is highly appealing. However, you will probably need to buy several accessories, as the laptop doesn’t come with a disc drive or USB, HDMI, or SD ports.
The Dell XPS has just as much memory and storage as the cheapest MacBook Pro, with a bit more powerful of a processor and a lower price of $949. It weighs in at just under 3 pounds with a durable, all-aluminum unibody.
The Dell XPS offers a solid 12 hours of battery life, letting you get a lot of work done on the go. It even comes with a fingerprint reader for added security and ease of mind as you come in contact with a large number of strangers.
The Lenovo Flex is a great option for digital nomads who want a decently powerful yet budget-friendly option. At just $377.99, the Flex has a 128 GB hard drive with 4 GB of memory. It weighs in at a reasonable 3.65 pounds and offers 8 hours of battery life with a quick charge time.
The laptop also comes with a shuttered webcam, giving you full control of what your camera sees, which should ease the mind of travelers worried about privacy. And perhaps most excitingly of all, the Lenovo Flex is as versatile as its name suggests: you can write on the touch screen with a digital pen (sold separately), and it can be used in Tent mode, Stand mode, or Tablet mode.
The HP Spectre comes in at a fairly expensive $1,299, but it’s much more powerful than the similarly-priced MacBook Pro. The Spectre boasts a 4 GHz processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB hard drive, plus a whopping 14 hours of battery life. That should be plenty even for more intensive jobs, like video editing.
And even with all that power, the HP Spectre weighs only 2 pounds and three quarters. Plus, it has all sorts of cool features like a touch screen and facial recognition. It’s sleek, fast, and versatile, making it a great choice for digital nomads who want to invest their money in a powerful machine.
Last, but not least, if you’re looking for something highly portable, the Asus Zenbook proudly calls itself “the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop.” At only 2.6 pounds, 17 millimeters thin, and smaller than your standard A4 paper, it sure is tiny.
In addition to size, this laptop is a great option for anybody looking for a great display, high resolution, crisp color, and large screen area. The laptop has got everything: an ergonomic keyboard, 512 GB of storage, 14 long hours of battery life, facial recognition, and a myriad of built-in ports. And at only $849, it’s much more affordable than you’d expect for all that it offers.
If you’re looking to buy a digital nomad friendly laptop, you’re then likely looking for more remote work related gear! Take a look at some of our other posts for recommended kit to take with you, including:
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Mobile hotspots
- Backpacks for digital nomads
- International travel insurance
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