12 Best Travel Laptops in 2017

When you are traveling, there are many things to worry about. As we live in the tech age, staying connected is a major concern for most – especially in these times. Your laptop can be your lifeline wherever you rest your head although finding the best travel laptop can be a tough task.

Most folks don’t want to lug around a large laptop when they travel, so we compiled our list with a key few factors in mind. All of the laptops had to be relatively small. That means between the netbook range at 10-inches all the way up to 15-inches. While some people may prefer larger laptops, most will want something easy to handle whether traveling by plane, train or bus.

Below we will discuss some of the things you’ll want to look for when choosing your laptop but for now, let’s take a look at the top 12.

Top 12 Travel Laptops Ultimate Table

Design Name Additional Options Convertible? Rating (1-5)
   1. Apple MacBook Air MMGG2LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop  No  No  4.5
   2. ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6″  No  No  4.5
   3. Apple MacBook Pro MLVP2LL/A 13-inch Laptop  Yes  No  4.5
   4. Microsoft Surface Pro 4  Yes  Yes  4.3
   5. VAIO Z Canvas 12.3″ Laptop  Yes  Yes  4.3
6. LG gram 14Z950 i5 14″ Laptop  Yes  No  4.3
7. ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA-DBM2T 13.3 – inch Touchscreen Laptop  Yes  Partial  4.2
8. Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop  Yes  No  4.1
   9. 2017 Premium Built Lenovo Yoga 710 High Performance 14″  No  Partial 4.1
   10. ASUS ZenBook UX303UB 13.3-Inch QHD+ Touchscreen Laptop  Yes  No  4.1
   11. Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop  Yes  Optional  4.1
   12. ASUS L402SA Portable Lightweight Laptop PC  No  No  4.0

To Consider When Shopping for a Travel Laptop:

These quick tips will put you on the path to finding the right laptop for travel.

  • Size – Before you take look at what lies under the hood, you will want to consider how large of a laptop you want to tote around. If you are a globetrotter, will it go in your suitcase or carry-on bag? If it’s the latter, you may also want to keep a specialized laptop bag in mind; this can ensure you get through the checkpoints swiftly.

Alternatively, if you work outdoors and travel with your tech a rugged laptop may be your best bet. They are usually larger than and not quite as sleek but can withstand the elements along with the occasional fall. If you are worried about losing power with a smaller laptop, don’t fret as most modern mobile PCs have plenty of horsepower. Just don’t dip down to the netbook range.

  • Battery Life – Once you have decided on a size and what you’ll use your travel laptop for, it is time to consider the battery. The specifications are important as well, but all the RAM in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t find a way to charge up.

A good rule of thumb to remember when shopping for a new laptop is better specifications and larger displays usually equate to less battery life. The bigger your display and more “bells & whistles” your laptop has, the more juice it will burn. All those extra components generally come at the expense of your battery; just ask owners of the decked out MacBook Pro.

Some laptops will also charge more quickly than others. That’s due to rapid charging tech used by manufacturers like Lenovo and Samsung. Those laptops are far from mainstream, but more become available with each upgrade cycle.

  • Hybrid Laptops – are They Laptops or Tablets? – This is a question plenty of consumers will find themselves debating in the future. There was a time when 2-in-1 devices were thought of as gimmicky, but those days are long gone. Hybrid laptops or convertibles, offer up several advantages over regular laptops due to their unique design.

As cool as it is to tear off your keyboard and go full slate, 2-in-1 laptops also have a few drawbacks. They generally are not as sturdy as a regular laptop, and some sacrifice power for portability. That isn’t always the case however as components get smaller each year and the some of the best hybrid laptops are in the flagship class.

Top 5 Best Travel Laptop Reviews

1. Apple MacBook Air 13.3” Laptop

If you keep up with the trends in the tech world, you are probably not surprised to see the Apple MacBook Air sitting atop our list. While expensive, it’s hard to beat what it offers up regarding style and performance. It isn’t as powerful as the PRO model, but it is considerably cheaper and lighter at right around 2.96 pounds.

Apple is a little slower than some manufacturers when it comes to updates, but each year the MacBook Air gets a refresh. That means new features and better specifications come into play. It is not the type of notebook you have to be concerned about when it comes to future-proofing however. Many of Apple’s products run well long after their expiration dates and hold their value on the resale market as well.

Currently, the 2017 version of the MacBook Air comes in two models with 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch sizes. The larger model has better specifications with a Core i5, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s no Retina display, but you will get better battery life due to the lower resolution.

2. ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02

Sometimes it is nice to have something that can take a beating on your travels. If you need something that can handle a bit more than most laptops, the ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 is your best bet. It is the smallest laptop to make our Top 5 and the only one that’s water-resistant. That’s far from the only fun feature.

While not a full-blown 2-in-1, the C202SA-YS02 laptop’s display can rotate 180 degrees. This allows you to use it in some interesting conditions, especially considering it can withstand water and is ruggedized as well. As for that ruggedness, the manufacturer claims it can handle a drop from up to 3.9 feet without missing a beat.

ASUS has plenty of Chromebooks in its arsenal, but this one is our favorite. From that anti-glare display and rugged exterior to its portable nature, it is a great fit for travelers that don’t need many extras. The only knock on the laptop is the OS. This one runs Chrome, so some of your favorite apps and games may not run on this particular PC.

3. Apple MacBook Pro 13.3” Laptop

When it comes to beastly laptops with power and panache, the Apple MacBook Pro series is always at the top of any list. It was a lock for our best travel laptop list as well considering its performance, specifications and that cool Touch Bar. As it’s their top tier laptop, you will also get a Retina Display which pushes pixels to new heights.

Like it’s lighter little brother, the MacBook Pro comes in two flavors with a 13.3-inch and 15.4-model. Both have models with Retina displays, and the configurations vary with the Touch Bar, more storage, and a few other tweaks. Obviously, the 13.3-inch model will be easier to tuck away in a bag, but the larger model doesn’t leave a massive footprint by any means.

On the downside, the battery life has never been outstanding on the Pro model, something to definitely keep in mind. It’s also very expensive if you get the fully decked out MacBook Pro. In other words, it isn’t the type of gadget you want to lose on a trip or have stolen.

4. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

You can’t have any “Best PC” list without including something from Microsoft. The Mac OS has its fans, and the Chrome operating system made a splash, but there is no getting around (or away from) Windows. The latest version of the Microsoft Surface Pro will run Windows 10 Anniversary Edition out of the box and is ensured to receive plenty of updates long after its expiration date.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is also a fully convertible device. That means it can be used as a full laptop with keyboard and its built-in kickstand. It’s also outstanding in tablet mode and has PixelSense tech which allows you to write on the display with the Surface Pen. That display is quite nice as well at 12.3-inches with a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824.

It may not look like a laptop, but the Surface Pro is customizable. By that we mean you don’t have to stick with the base model as these go from the Core M and 4GB for RAM all the way up to the Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. It is a great option for a travel laptop and works just as well if you are a student, designer or homebody.

5. VAIO Z Canvas 12.3” Laptop

VAIO is a name plenty of consumers will be familiar with, but you may be in for a surprise if you have been out of the loop for a few years. Sony no longer handles the VAIO brand, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The VAIO Z Canvas still looks like it hails from its previous owner’s lineup but is more portable and flexible than its predecessors.

The VAIO Z Canvas is another convertible like the Surface PRO but with some major differences. They both run Windows 10 and are convertibles that work with digital pens. They also both have 12.3-inch display although the VAIO’s resolution is slightly lower due to a different aspect ratio. This one is more like a laptop that the Surface and it will be twice as sturdy thanks to a chassis cut from a solid block of aluminum.

Sturdy, stylish and powerful are three words to come to mind with the VAIO Z Canvas. Expensive would be another. Its price tag isn’t too far behind the beefy 15-inch MacBook Pro coming in at north of $2000 for the i7 chip, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a great laptop to take on vacation or business trips doesn’t have to send you into a panic. You also don’t need to spend weeks digging through reviews and forum posts. If you follow our simple guidelines and set your price beforehand, you can quickly find the best travel laptop to fit your needs with plenty of time to pack.