As lockdown slowly loosens, the best travel laptops will once again be an essential bit of kit for creatives. Whether you're moving tentatively out to a shared office space, to the local cafe, or just packing in some travelling to get out the house, we've selected a range of great travel laptops for all budgets.
A laptop that's robust, portable and reliable will be invaluable if you want to be able to work on the move. And, to make the hunt for the best travel laptop a little easier, we've gathered the best options available now below, factoring in everything that makes each one the perfect travel companion, from price point to weight.
Looking for a more general list? See our guide to the best laptops for graphic design or the best laptops for programming. We've also put together a guide to the best laptops for animation. And if your planning a trip, also see our guides to the best travel accessories for designers and the best hotels in London. Meanwhile, read on after the list for some tips on what to look for before buying your next travel laptop.
This is a great laptop for when you're out and about, serving brilliantly as a secondary travel laptop if you want to leave your heavy duty work horse in the office.
The Lenovo Flex 5 14 (opens in new tab) is a 2-in-1 device, which makes it that little bit more, well, flexible. You can fold the screen back to use it as a supported tablet, ideal if you want the screen only to watch media on long journeys. And with its 14-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution display, the image is crisp and clear. And, it's specs include an impressive 16GB RAM, and a super fast and stable 256 solid state drive – perfect for when TV shows turn into a work project on the move, as it'll run the most common creative design software without breaking a sweat. With the Lenovo's Active Pen Stylus, digital artists should be happy too.
Add to that a nice array of ports, including a USB-C and two USB-A ports, plus an HDMI port in case you want to connect to an external monitor, and this is a fantastic allrounder at a affordable price. In short, it's the best travel laptop around.
The diminutive sibling to Google's higher-end Pixelbook (opens in new tab), the Pixelbook Go starts around under the $700/£700 mark, and is truly great value for money. For sheer class and ease of use, due the stellar components that you get, this is a great bargain, and one of the best entry level Chromebooks out there for travel.
Of course, being a Chromebook, this will work on Google Chrome OS operating system, running cloud-based applications and storing a lot of data online, so a solid internet connection for its user is essential. Its design is slim and light, its frame made from magnesium alloy with a matte finish, and it weighs in at 2.3 pounds and is 0.5-inches thin. On top on that, it offers a back-lit keyboard, and a 1080p front-facing camera, two elements that you won't find on most of the laptops here.
For years, Dell’s XPS line has topped many best laptops list. The XPS laptops are simply some of the best in their class. And, the newest 2019 models don’t fall far from the tree.
However, rocking 10th-generation Intel Core processors, as well as a battery boost from the previous model, the Dell XPS 13 is more powerful than ever for most computing tasks. More importantly, Dell has finally fixed that awful webcam placement under the display – the webcam, which has also been improved with four lens elements, is now sitting in its rightful place above the screen. When video chatting with friends and family back home, they won’t be looking up your nose any more.
The InfinityEdge display has been updated as well, with thinner bezels so it looks fresher than ever. Speaking of looks, it now also comes in Frost for those who think black is boring. Finally, if size is a major concern, the Dell XPS 13 is one of the smallest laptops out there. It’s the perfect travel companion, if you prefer to jet-set with just a single travel bag.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch may have been the talk of the town when it launched in late 2019, but it’s still a bit too big for jet-setting Apple fans. Luckily, Apple has also updated its 13-inch MacBook Pros, making them better than ever.
The thin and light 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch is touting Apple's own M1 chip, but also features like Apple’s Retina display and that convenient Touch ID. The non-Touch Bar models have been phased out, so fans of the Touch Bar feature will be happy to know that they won’t be paying extra to get it. Better yet, this 2020 model keeps its predecessor’s price tag, so you won’t be paying more for these fresh updates.
Bear in mind though that the MacBook Pro 13-inch won’t be able to handle the more intensive tasks like video editing and AutoCAD design. Also, it only has Thunderbolt ports available. However, if you’re only looking to send emails, write up documents and stream videos – and maybe squeeze in some light photo editing every now and then – this is the best travel laptop for you.
The new HP Spectre x360 13T is gorgeous, with its elegant gem-cut design that will be the envy of everyone on your train. However, this light and portable laptop isn’t just all looks. Designed to compete with MacBook users, it also boasts plenty of power – more than enough to convince hardcore Apple fans to switch over to Windows.
Not only that, but the HP Spectre x360 13T is feature-rich as well, making it in many ways better than the newer MacBook Pro models. It offers a good variety of ports, for one, so you can connect all your non-Thunderbolt devices. It also boasts great Bang & Olufsen speakers, an exquisite touchscreen display and a whopping 12-hour battery life. More importantly, it has a hybrid design so you can work in traditional laptop mode, play games in tablet mode and stream your favourite shows in tent mode.
This is one of our favourite laptops for 2020, and among the best travel laptops for creative professionals who prefer the Windows environment.
The new Surface Laptop 3 (opens in new tab) continues Microsoft’s tradition of crafting excellent – albeit pricey – portables. This time around, the Surface Laptop 3 comes in both the 13-inch and 15-inch models, with the 15-inch touting the latest AMD processors.
It’s the 13-inch, however, that we’re singing high praises for as far as Ultrabooks for traveling. These thin and light laptops come fitted with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, plenty of memory for most computing needs and decent storage options. It delivers such an excellent performance, and boasts Microsoft’s impressive keyboard and trackpad as well, although these might be a bit of a departure from the predecessor’s.
However, what really makes this among the best travel laptops out there is its weight. At up to 1.27 kg, this is lighter than most of its 13-inch rivals, so if weight is a top priority for you, this must be at the top of your list of options. For more details read our Surface Laptop 3 review (opens in new tab), or see how it compares to its predecessor in our Surface Laptop 2 review (opens in new tab).
Razer is no stranger to excellent gaming laptops that boast mind-blowing power, but it’s the Razer Blade Stealth 13 that’s really impressed us. While most gaming laptops are big and bulky machines, this 13-inch model has fitted all that gaming prowess in an Ultrabook laptop, so you can play all those latest games smoothly at 1080p while on the go.
This updated Razer Blade Stealth may not be the cheapest gaming machine out there, but thin does come at a price. If you’re willing to pay it, this delivers enough power and boasts a stunning display. It’s not just for games, mind you – it can handle creative tasks like photo and video editing as well. There’s even a 4K option for an even better image quality. And the sophisticated and sleek non-gaming aesthetic is a bonus.
How to pick the best travel laptop
Not every laptop can be a good travel laptop. Some are powerful yet too heavy to go traipsing around with, while others just aren’t powerful enough to be reliable, especially for digital nomads whose computing demands are more intensive than that of regular users.
The best travel laptops must combine portability with power and durability. They must be thin and light so you can easily slip them in your backpack or carry-on, and not have to worry too much about the added weight. Anything under 1.59kg (3.5lbs) is ideal. After all, traveling as light as possible is one of the key things for a more relaxing – and cheaper – trip.
They must also be powerful enough to handle your needs, whatever those may be. If you’re just looking to do travel research, stream movies and chat with friends, a less powerful laptop will do. However, if you’re planning on working while traveling, not just any laptop will do. Luckily, there are excellent mobile workstations out there that are fitted with powerful processors and plenty of memory.
The best travel laptops must also be extremely durable, robust enough to not only handle hard bumps, but also accidental drops. MacBook Pros, for example, are tough enough to survive a high fall.
A long battery life is also extremely useful. While most cafes, airports, stations, trains and planes provide outlets for laptop users, a portable that will last you a while on a single charge is preferred in case you find yourself stuck in a place where charging just isn’t possible. It wouldn’t hurt to have plenty of storage space, either – although Cloud storage (opens in new tab) and best external hard drives are readily available, if upgrading to a bigger storage space proves too pricey for you.