Traveling with your laptop

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by C5dad, May 9, 2017.

  1. HaveMotorcycleWillTravel

    HaveMotorcycleWillTravel Currently overthinking something...

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    I think bringing a laptop on a RTW trip is a great idea. There WILL be situations where having the convenience of a laptop can have huge impact on your day to day and your trip. Having the luxury of a laptop while in a foreign country can allow you to get out of your own head for a bit and connect with others (advrider/facebook) and bring you a sense of not being so alone, which Im sure every long-distance independent traveler will experience at some point or another... Thule Vectros is a great case for the Macbook Pro and is what I use after having tried Speck and Tech21 cases and seeing them both fail. Take w/GOS
    #21
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  2. FlatFifthFury

    FlatFifthFury Adventurer

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    As a working photographer who prefers to travel by motorcycle for projects when possible I'm not sure that I'd bother with a laptop on a big trip. Even on my two week trips I don't bring a laptop. If you want net connectivity then you have your phone which is easier to pack, keep charged and harder to destroy. A tiny netbook might be the solution. They are small, cheap and if you are only shooting jpg and not a raw file will be able to crop and upload photos to your blog or whatnot. If you kill the netbook you are only out $150 or so. They will have two usb ports so that you can back up your images to external drives. I do suggest solid state be it a flash drive or an external SSD as they are much more rugged than spinning drives. Another solution would be a small tablet but to me that is essentially just a more expensive option than the netbook. I tried that a while ago and ditched it.

    Now I'm just using my phone with an OTG card reader/hub for end of day backups. Besides, when I'm traveling I want to spend my time enjoying what I rode so far to see and not processing photos and blogging if at all possible.
    #22
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  3. kdowell

    kdowell Adventurer

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    I second FlatFifthFury's suggestion. ALthough, I too have had a need and I will also give a big thumbs up to the pelican laptop cases. Very durable and waterproof. I have taken it on the bike through some pretty narely stuff and have taken it on a jetski for 600 miles of ocean riding. Never damaged a laptop.
    #23
    hansen likes this.
  4. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil.

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    I keep mine in a neoprene sleeve and then it sits on the top of the stuff in my hard case. Fits perfectly. Its a 10inch Dell so its not real expensive and has a solid state hard drive so it is less likely to have issues with vibration. I have used it on my Trans Labrador trip and also my James bay trip and plan to keep using it in the same manner. I use mine for notes, uploading photos and video from my cameras to external solid state drives and using Basecamp for my GPS as well as reading books. So far it has worked out great for me.

    KR
    #24
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious.

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    I bought a 14" laptop a number of years ago (http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/help-me-find-a-budget-laptop.321700/) and used to carry it around with me in a neoprene case that I put inside my clothes bag which went inside a Pelican side case. Never had trouble with it on the road at all.

    But even for it's time, it was pretty bulky and heavy.

    When I travel nowadays, I'm like FlatFifth. I can mostly rely on my phone. I've recently bought an iPad which is essentially a big version of my phone, but it allows me to get on Facebook, ADV, pay any bills I might need, and of course access to porn. Currently, there's nothing an iPad can't do that I'd need to carry a laptop for, and the savings in size and weight are very valuable.

    Jamie
    #25
  6. Dan Lorenze

    Dan Lorenze Been here awhile

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    It seems like every time I bring my laptop on a trip/vacation I just never use it that much as I thought I would and I always tell myself "next time I'm not bringing my Laptop." lol I like the idea of having extra memory cards for cameras and making sure my phone has enough memory for the trip. For my Alaska trip this summer my laptop will be sitting at home in my safe.
    #26
  7. hansen

    hansen airhead addict

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    +1

    I am carrying a small laptop for more than 10 years now. The current one is a 10" netbook, bought it used and pimped it to my needs (memory upgrade, solid state disk, high res screen). I use it for e-mail, notes, writing the diary, and backing up photos and gps tracks, with SD cards serving as a second backup just in case. Charging on the road is done with a DC/DC-converter, if necessary.

    I keep it in the sleeve that came with it, on the road it's stuffed between clothes in the panniers. Never had any issues.

    I tried a tablet too but ditched it because I missed the keyboard.
    #27
  8. CO303

    CO303 Been here awhile

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    I leave my laptop at home. I've been using an ASUS 10.1 transformer tablet with keyboard on bike trips. Mostly for emails, facebook, Advrider and sending pictures and videos home. I put it in a neoprene sleeve with a writing pad, a pen and my reading glasses. It gets stuffed in my clothing sack in either hard or soft bags. Three years of this and no problems. If it dies or disappears, I'm out $150.
    #28
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  9. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler n00b

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    Laptop traveling is always challenging. Like others have said, if I absolutely don't require it, the thing stays home but the iPad 9.7" Pro will be with me at all times in Airplane mode (although I should keep it on verizon in case the bike is stolen as a sort of tracker but I prefer to not chew up the battery on it needlessly).

    When I do travel with the laptop, it doesn't stay on the side of the bike. Too likely to get crushed in a crash. It's usually behind me in a backpack mounted to the pillion seat which has a waterproof rain cover (Manfrotto Camera backpack) with pretty much all of my technology. if the bike flips over, it goes with it and will probably come out okay but when I go inside a restaurant, the backpack is the only item that comes off my bike.

    The only reason I'd say you must take it with you is if you shoot a lot of photos & videos on an old school camera and need to offload those to a drive. You can do most of your writing on an iPad and web browsing and it's far less susceptible to damage and fits in most tank bags.

    Every night, I offload my data from SD cards to the laptop and sync to the cloud while I'm sleeping if I'm in a hotel. If not, I have a bus-powered 1TB HDD that I plug into the laptop for a spare copy for my data. nothing critical, just photos and videos.

    You're better off though spending $250 on a dozen memory cards than risking your laptop be stolen or destroyed in an incident. I plan on moving to that model.
    #29
  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious.

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    Apple sells an SD reader to transfer photos to a mobile device. It's an extra part, but it works well. When I take pics on my regular camera, I back them up on my iPad.

    And for those who want a real keyboard, there are tons of Bluetooth keyboards that work great with any mobile device.

    Jamie
    #30
  11. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler n00b

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    and with my 256GB iPad and iPhone 8, you make a good point but I shoot video constantly on two cameras so I fill up two 256GB SD cards every day so a 5 day trip is 2 terabytes. This is a valid solution for some people but the transfer speeds are very slow and you can't charge your device while the transfer is taking place.

    I've considered getting one of these - https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1191268-REG/sanho_shdcsudma32tb_2tb_colorspace_udma_3.html
    #31
  12. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler n00b

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  13. HarveyM

    HarveyM Been here awhile

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    I bought the earlier version (spinning hard drive) for an Africa (car) trip. It worked well, but was slow to backup SD cards (mainly stills). Hopefully the newer version will be faster.
    #33
  14. mikegc

    mikegc Long timer

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    I traveled on my motorcycle for work and did many cross-country trips where a computer was necessary. As others have said, I used a padded sleeve and put it in a pannier between my clothes. I never had an issue. I'm retired, now, so I travel a bit lighter, without all the work crap. I've tried tablets and an iPad but they really weren't satisfactory. Finally, I settled on a Macbook Air with an accompanying 1TB external drive. Prior to each long trip, I'll back the Air up to that drive and I still have more than enough room for all my photos in RAW. Every couple of days, I'll log into MyCloud and shove all my photos there, too. If the 1TB drive dies, I've still got everything.

    Mike
    #34
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  15. SmittyBlackstone

    SmittyBlackstone Been here awhile

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    Do you have a link to this product?

    It would solve a few things for me.

    Could not find it on the Givi USA site.

    Thank you.



    #35
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    It looks like they may be discontinued, but still available from some stores. I ordered from a store in Italy, but here's one in NZ.

    http://www.moto1.nz/givi-computer-satchel-gi-t467
    #36
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  17. SmittyBlackstone

    SmittyBlackstone Been here awhile

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    Thank you.
    I'll have it in 2 days.
    Found it on Amazon with your much appreciated help.


    #37
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  18. max384

    max384 Bandaided

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    Although I'm not in a position to do RTW trip, when I do take bike trips, I like to take something I can play movies on, type on, and store photos, etc. I think a tablet is a much better option than a laptop for a few reasons.
    1. They are generally a bit more rugged, unless you're buying the no-name cheapie tablets
    2. They all have SSD drives, and most non-Apple ones have micro SD slots for unlimited storage.
    3. They pack smaller - generally much smaller.
    4. External keyboards can connect via Bluetooth, and it is almost the same as using a laptop. I'm actually typing on this keyboard with mousepad right now, which is almost the exact same size as my Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VRC6U2C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    5. They are charged via USB. This is a huge deal on a bike. I don't have to rely on AC power to charge it. I usually keep it plugged in while it is in the pannier, so it is fully charged when I stop for the night, whether it is in a five star hotel, a paid campsite, or stealth camping in the middle of the forest.
    6. Most tablets have better battery life than laptops (which many exceptions, of course). My tablet will last 10 hours watching movies with the volume on high and screen pretty bright. If I dim the backlight, keep the sound down, and don't have wifi or bluetooth on, it can play for 13-14 hours.

    As far as protection, I have a small folio-type case that provides a small bit of protection on it's own. In the pannier, I keep it wrapped in my sleeping bag... Though I think I'm going to invest in a pelican tablet case.
    #38
  19. Mr. Mota

    Mr. Mota Been here awhile

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    I've been on the road for almost 4 years now with the same laptop which I bought in 2012. Plenty of shaky offroad and couple of crashes to boot, still working though some screws like to get loose over time. Replaced mechanical hdd with an ssd a year ago so no more worries about that anymore (not that I worried). The laptop is kept in a soft foam case much like this one: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Neopren...400974&hash=item2849192ec9:g:MPkAAOSwAHBaLQWb

    The laptop always sits snug in the top case on top of the tent and the sleeping bag. Keeping it nice and tight to stop it from moving will help for sure. Never put the laptop on its side in the panniers, preferably always flat. In the beginning I used these shock resistant hdd's: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Transce...432359&hash=item48a7d93bba:g:6Z4AAOSwWMhaaxEv. Great hdd that can take a hit. Since they don't sell a 4TB version and my video collection keeps growing I've switched to the Seagate Expansion. Don't plan on dropping those, keep them in a case. I always have two copies of pictures and videos on separate harddrives. One hdd is always kept in the inside pocket of my riding jacket. The others in the Tank bag. Very little vibrations in your jacket close to your body.

    When riding with panniers and a top case you have to be in some deep shit for the laptop to get wet if you put it in the top case. Panniers will stop the motorcycle from completely tipping over in the water. Without this setup while planning to cross some serious rivers a drybag is recommended. Mind you that when traveling in humid/wet conditions and you put a big wet item like a tent with the laptop in the topcase/pannier, there is a good chance the laptop will get wet still due to the humidity. Remove the battery in that case and if you can't do that avoid putting wet items and the laptop in the same case. Had a rough run because of that in New Zealand due to days of rain and wet items. Almost lost the laptop there. If starts acting up leave it alone a couple of days near a heat source (remove battery of course). Keep it protected, in place and dry and you should be good.
    #39
  20. 3SportBiker

    3SportBiker Adventurer

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    Aloha!

    Sorry I'm so late to this party but here are my thoughts;

    I'm a HUGE fan of the Chromebook. Goggle's universe is just so easy to live with. And Chromebooks are inexpensive, and seem to be very durable.

    I put mine in one of those simple Neoprene Zipper Pouches, and pack it in my Tank bag. It's never had a problem in thousands upon thousands of miles. I'm on my third Chromebook but only because I wear them out. I run my business on them, and I Blog, listen to music, watch video, you name it.

    I have been trying to get "OFF-GRID" lately, and stay primitive when camping instead of at places where I hook up to electric. One way to go this route easily is with Apple or Android TABLETS instead of Laptops or Chromebooks or Netbooks. iPads (and Tablets) charge via USB instead of proprietary chargers and connectors and that's very easy and very nice.

    I have a 25000 mAh SOLAR USB Battery Charger that I carry with 10 foot USB cables. If you go totally off grid but have your iphone (or Droid) and an iPad, you can charge the iPad easily with a solar USB charger. And you can get a nice keyboard case for an iPad to make it function just like a laptop. That solar USB charger works amazingly well. I can charge my iPad and my iPhone Simultaneously even on cloudy days. At night, the battery in the solar charger is still there for more charging if you need it.

    The drawback to a Chromebook or Laptop is that typically they take an odd Charging input and you need that charger with barrel connector that plugs into 110 volt AC. USB power and charging just makes more sense when you go Moto-Camping off grid, but still want to connect to the world electronically without an AC hookup.

    -3Sport
    #40