Most travellers don’t require a travel laptop to take on their trips because most everyday tasks can be done using a smartphone, which is much more compact and lightweight to pack. Additionally, for tasks that might need a slightly larger screen, such as watching movies, there are plenty of excellent tablets on the market which are both lighter and cheaper than travel laptops.
Still, for those who work remotely or travel while working, you won’t do without a proper laptop. A digital nomad will soon discover the many limits of a mobile device when trying to get their work done. Many professional tools are limited or not available for mobile operating systems, and most tasks, from writing content and coding to editing photos and video footage, are both easier and quicker to accomplish on a laptop than any other device.
There is a huge range of laptops available that are well-suited to travelling. However, it can be difficult to know which is best given the massive compromises you often have to take with travel laptops. Do you prioritise portability or power? Functionality or price?
I have put together a list of my top travel laptops for digital nomads in 2021 to help you determine which device best suits you and your remote working needs. I am confident that these are the best laptops for travellers, each having something unique to offer. Whether you’re on a tight budget or have an unlimited laptop fund, whether you are a full-time traveller or need to work on your upcoming vacation – I have you covered with my top travel laptop picks!
The Best Travel Laptops for Digital Nomads 2021
When looking to purchase a laptop for travel or for working remotely as a digital nomad, there are many factors to consider. It can be tricky to know what to prioritise when choosing the best travel laptop for you and your line of work. Below, I have reviewed some of the best lightweight and compact travel laptops for digital nomads to hopefully aid you in your decision.
One of my top travel laptop picks is the Dell XPS 13. This portable laptop has it all – strong battery life, solid performance and a functional design. After years of Dell refining the XPS model, I can confidently say that the Dell XPS 13 is one of the best laptops for digital nomads in 2021.
The first thing I noticed about the XPS 13 is its incredible compactness. Weighing in at just 1.2 kg, this travel laptop is exceptionally small and perfect for slipping in your backpack or hand-luggage. The 13″ inch screen is plenty big enough to get all your jobs done but doesn’t take up too much room. This well-sized screen coupled with its slim, tapered body makes this the ideal laptop for travelling. You can easily get some of your work done on an airline tray table with this easy-to-transport, lightweight travel laptop.
It may be small, but boy is it powerful! Despite its compact size, the Dell XPS 13 portable laptop is packed full of high-end components and functionalities. Dell sells it as the most powerful laptop in its class, and I can confirm that it is all true. This travel laptop is available with the latest Intel 11th-generation i3, i5 and i7 processors, with up to 32 GB of RAM. The battery life of this laptop also doesn’t disappoint, lasting up to a whopping 19 hours from full charge, so you never have to worry about running out of power while on the move.
And, it’s not a bad looking laptop either. As well as the classic silver and black designs, Dell offers a sophisticated white version of this travel laptop. Without being too flashy, this portable laptop is both stylish and practical. Even the little charging lights look good in an understated way. The keyboard is nice to type on, feeling sturdy and accurate despite its minute size. The track pad is also smooth and on-point, making this travel laptop super easy to use.
Overall, there isn’t much not to like about the Dell XPS 13 laptop for travelling. With its ideal blend of size, power and price, this is definitely up there for my top pick of laptops for digital nomads in 2021.
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is by far on the of the best value laptops for travel out there. With its detachable keyboard, this travel laptop offers the portability and simplicity of a tablet but the functionality of a great laptop. The included stylus pen further adds to this portable laptop’s ease of use.
While it isn’t the cheapest travel laptop available, in my opinion it is the best value option. You are getting a great tablet and laptop all in one neat and compact little package. You can transform this impressive piece of tech into a shockingly lightweight 15-inch tablet which can conveniently slip into the smallest of luggage spaces. When you need a full laptop to do your work, simply attach the handy little keyboard and you’re good to go.
The keyboard is one of the best that I’ve used, being super comfortable to type on given the tiny amount of space it takes up. Both the keyboard and mouse pad are very reliable and run smoothly. And, its battery life is also very impressive for such a small and lightweight laptop.
However, this travel laptop is fairly pricey and certainly won’t be suited to all digital nomads. For creators who are looking for a powerful laptop for travelling, you can probably get more power elsewhere for a similar price. Meanwhile, those who want a laptop purely for media purposes, this travel laptop might let you down when it comes to speaker quality.
When it comes to budget-range travel laptops, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 is definitely one of the best. This Windows OS portable laptop has an impressive battery life, a cool design and is one of the most affordable laptops for travel.
This portable travel laptop feels both lightweight and sturdy, being the perfect size to carry around, but big enough to work on documents and presentations. It features a small and tactile keyboard and a 14″ screen. The Lenovo IdeaPad travel laptop possesses a simple but effective design that should suit most digital nomads very well. While there is nothing particularly impressive looking about it, its simplicity and minimalist design is one of the things that makes it so great.
The aluminium laptop body feels surprisingly sturdy given its light weight and compact design. This sturdiness means that it can handle being lugged around through airports and on flights to different destinations. The only slight downside of this compact portable laptop for digital nomads is its rather small touch pad.
Although the performance of this travel laptop isn’t anything too amazing, relative to other laptops in this price range, it beats most. This portable laptop’s performance is powerful enough for web surfing, editing documents, watching movies and putting together presentations.
#4 MacBook Air
The ultimate classic when it comes to small, light and powerful laptops for travel – Apple’s Macbook Air consistently makes it to the top of “travel laptop lists”. It is the most reliable travel laptop option, combining everything you need to get your work done on the move.
Apple’s switch from using Intel chips to using its own custom version has helped hugely improve both the speed and battery life of the Air, now making it the best Apple laptop to travel with. As with most Apple products, this lightweight laptop is well-built and super reliable. Featuring an M1 processor, 8 GB RAM, this travel laptop packs a lot into a very small space.
Contradicting its power, the Macbook Air travel laptop weighs in at just 1.3 kg, giving it a truly compact design. Unlike some laptops for travelling, the Air has two USB C Thunderbolt ports which can conveniently double as charging sockets. However, other than the headphone jack, there are no other connector ports which means that you could end up with numerous additional accessories to make remote working as seamless as possible.
Other Apple laptops have had some issues with their keyboards, but the Air has now been redesigned to avoid sticking and non-working keys. Yet, the track pad on the Air remains one of the best, with its ideal size and smooth running. Offering 15 hours of battery life from full charge, this portable laptop will allow you to work hard for long periods of time without having to connect to a charger. It will easily get you through a whole flight or to the end of your work day.
Overall, there isn’t much that the latest Macbook Air doesn’t get right for digital nomads. Small, light, excellent battery life and plenty powerful for any work task. As with all Apple laptops, you should expect to pay a premium price, so this one might be reserved for the big spenders.