What's the Best Laptop For Your Round-The-World Trip?



Thinking of buying a laptop for your round-the-world trip? While most travellers can get by with just a smartphone or tablet, many still want a decent keyboard, larger screen and plenty of computing power on tap. Handheld gadgets are catching up fast, but especially for those who work from the road, notebooks and laptop/tablet hybrids remain firmly on the packing list. Here's what to look out for in 2015.


Apple Macbook Air


If you're an Apple fan, the decision is easy. The Macbook Air is a thin, lightweight, durable and attractive laptop, with enough speed and storage options to keep all but the most demanding users happy. While the 11” base model is very limited, spending an extra couple of hundred pounds yields major benefits. For £979 you'll get 8GB of memory for a faster, more useful machine, and a 256GB drive so you won't run out of space for photos before the end of your trip.


The Air is backed with good support, especially if you're travelling in one of the 16 countries with physical Apple stores where it can be dropped in for repair. If you'll be on the road after the initial twelve month warranty runs out, it's worth paying extra for Apple Care to extend it for another two years.


Dell XPS 13


Dell released an updated version of the XPS 13 in January, and it's one of the best travel laptops out there. The company has managed to squeeze a 13” screen into an 11” body, so it's easy to fit in a small daypack. It weighs 2.8lbs, and unusually for Dell, the base model is actually worth buying. For £1099 you'll pick up a machine with a speedy i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB drive, up to 12 hours of battery life and a super high-resolution touch screen.


Like the Air, the XPS 13 is extremely thin, but making the body from aluminum and carbon fibre means it's still durable enough to handle the inevitable knocks. The laptop comes with a 12 month next business day warranty, which can be upgraded up to an extra three years. For under fifty pounds you can also get accidental damage cover for liquid spills, drops and power surges – all of which are depressingly likely on the road.


Microsoft Surface Pro


Hybrid laptop/tablets are becoming increasingly popular, letting you have a full keyboard when you need it and a touch-screen entertainment device when you don't. There are dozens of hybrids out there, but one of the best is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.


It comes with a high-resolution 12” touch screen (including a stylus), and has the power to run Windows 8 and almost any app without skipping a beat. It's a remarkably light 1.8lbs, although the fancy clip-on cover that includes an integrated keyboard for doing real work does add a bit of extra weight.


The Surface Pro doesn't come cheap, unfortunately – for a comparable specification to the Air or XPS 13, including the Smart Cover, you're looking at £1219. Still, if you can bag a special offer, this is a great device to travel with.


Asus Chi T100 

If you like the idea of a hybrid Windows laptop/tablet, but can't justify spending £1000+ on it, check out the Asus Transformer Book range instead. While they aren't really designed for handling high-end tasks, writing documents, editing photos and browsing the web aren't a problem, and you'll pay a lot less for them.


Asus has just announced updates across the range, and although the release date hasn't been announced yet, the T100 Chi looks like the one to beat for travellers. It will come with 2GB of RAM, a 1920x1200 screen and up to 128GB of storage, is just over 7mm thick and includes a  detachable keyboard. By itself it weighs less than 1.3lbs – the keyboard adds an extra pound or so.


The best part? If the US pricing is anything to go by, the starting price should only be around £300 when it hits UK shelves.

Did I miss any? What's your choice of travel laptop?


by Dave Dean

Five things I have learnt on my round the world trip


Last week I was kayaking towards the amazing Angthong National Marine Park in Thailand. Today, I am sat on my balcony, overlooking Lake Toba on Samosir Island. Travelling round the world comes with its own challenges and after seven weeks exploring SE Asia, I have learnt a lot of lessons that I would like to share with you.

Expect travel issues

This is the last thing you want to read when you’re planning a round the world trip, but things happen that are out of your control. You will find yourself in stressful situations, like struggling to find your hostel late at night, flight delays, and occasionally being ripped off. I’m afraid it happens. Just take a deep breath, smile and remember that your family and friends are either sat in an office working, or getting drenched cycling to work.

Travel light

Prior to starting my RTW trip I spent countless hours deciding if I should take one cabin size backpack, or, check in a large backpack. My concern was that the airline could lose my luggage, and I wouldn’t be in one place long enough to get it back. In the end I opted for a 46-litre backpack. I jump off the plane (of course, not literally!), through security, and walk straight past the baggage claim area, with a smug grin on my face.

For clothing, pack three of everything; so three t-shirts, three pairs of shorts etc. After you’ve packed your backpack, go through it again and remove any items that you don’t really need – be strict with yourself, you will not regret it.

Don’t look vulnerable

When you arrive at a new destination, walk through that exit with confidence – big striding steps, smile on your face, sending out the message that you know which direction you are heading in and how you are getting there. Walk around looking like a lost little sheep will send out a signal that you’re vulnerable, and the locals will pounce.

I walked through Kualanamu International airport in Medan, Indonesia looking stressed because my bankcard wouldn’t work in the ATM, and local tricksters pounced on me.



Be a responsible traveller

I have a problem with animals like elephants being used to entertain tourists, and cringe at the thought of them being made to do stupid acts like kick a football and do circus tricks. So, while in Thailand I went to an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai where I learned more about the dwindling numbers of elephants in the country (approx. 3,000 left), and helped feed them. Of course, this tour was aimed at tourists, but it was much more ethical in my eyes. It is important that you are responsible about the places that you visit on your travels.

Have a great travel agency behind you

Having a reputable travel agency behind you can be the difference between a trip of a lifetime, and a trip from hell. There is no doubt that your travel plans will change, and having the support of a travel agent helps make the trip stress free. I wouldn’t have said that five years ago, but for a round the world trip they’re an essential part of it.

by Darren Cronian

Disclosure: Darren is travelling on a Navigator round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months and is date changeable free of charge. His RTW consultant is Stuart, the handsome one.

round the world tips



Today, I am sat in a café overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the small town of Kaikoura, New Zealand; it’s a beautiful place.  Reflecting the last five months of my round the world trip, it has been a thoroughly positive experience, but here are some tips that I would like to share.

Challenge yourself every day

Remember that this is a trip of a lifetime, one that you will be talking about when you’re older, so make sure you don’t waste any opportunities, challenge yourself every day and get the most out of your round the world trip.  Take yourself out of the comfort zone (without putting yourself in danger of course!) and do activates that you would not usually do back home.   I am not a strong swimmer, but it wasn’t going to stop me going kayaking alongside the stunning Angthong National Marine Park, or, snorkeling in the Whitsunday Islands.  

Passport and wallet security

Your main priority as you travel around is to look after your passport and bank cards; if you lose either item, it could end a trip of a lifetime, or at the very least, create a lot of stress. Many budget hotels do not offer safes, so, find places where you can hide them without the risk of housekeeping destroying them. (I say this because a friend thought it would be a good idea to hide his passport under the bed sheets – the cleaner took the sheets and washed them along with his passport).  

I hide mine in the first aid kit, underneath the plasters, and other items. The first aid kit is kept away from my main bag, so should someone break into the room and just swipe the bag, my passport and wallet would not go with it.  Most opportunist thieves would want to be in and out of the room quickly, and who’s going to steal a first aid kit!

Umm, maybe I revealed too much information there.

Bank machines

Imagine the scenario, you have arrived in a small town in the middle of nowhere, you need to pay for your hotel but they do not accept debit cards, so you find the only bank machine in the town, and it is out of order.  Yes, this happened to me, thankfully, the hotel accepted my passport as guarantee, and I paid my bill the next morning, but it could have ended completely differently.  It’s always a good idea to research ahead when you are visiting an island or small town, don’t assume that they have the same banking facilities as cities and larger towns.

While I am on the subject of bank cards; I realise most people know to do this nowadays, but make sure you inform your bank that you will be travelling for an extended period of time, and tell them where you’re travelling to. That way your card isn’t blocked, and you don’t end up in any sticky situations.




Save money on accommodation

Reduce the cost of accommodation by volunteering for a few weeks. In Australia I knew it was going to be expensive to spend six weeks travelling around the country, so while in Melbourne I volunteered for two weeks; three hours a day, in return for free accommodation and food.  In Australia you can volunteer under a tourist visa, providing that the majority of your stay is travel related.   Less so in New Zealand, where you have to apply for a visa to volunteer, so it is always worth checking the visa conditions before agreeing to volunteer.

There are a number of websites that allow hosts to list their volunteering opportunities and my personal favourite is Helpx.net. You pay a nominal fee for a premium account and set up a profile.  Then, contact the hosts and tell them a little bit about yourself, your experience.  Read the listing to make sure you understand the type of work and hours they will expect you to work.  If in the listing it does not state how many hours they expect you to work then ask. I have heard a few horror stories where hosts have expected volunteers to work 6 or 7 hours a day, for 7 days a week.  

I hope you find these tips useful to help you prepare for your round the world trip.

by Darren Cronian


Disclosure: Darren is travelling on a Navigator round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months and is date changeable free of charge.

Best for History and Cultrure

There isn’t a country in the world that doesn’t have a fascinating story to tell; but it’s also true that in some places it’s particularly easy to uncover parts of the local history which will appeal to your interests. Here are five countries where it is the historical and cultural attractions which are the main draw for international visitors.

India’s most famous symbol, the Taj Mahal, is even more beautiful with your own eyes than in any film or picture; that is, once you’ve battled through the army of touts at the entrance. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site for Sikhs, offers a much calmer, more welcoming and refreshingly hassle-free experience. For the ultimate immersion in Indian culture, nothing can match a dawn boat trip on the Ganges in Varanasi, to see the burning cremation ghats.

If your interest lies in 20th-century history, the vast Cu Chi Tunnel network is bound to appeal. Used as shelters, military HQs and supply channels less than 50 years ago, the tunnels are now a popular tourist attraction. Vietnam’s history goes back much further, far beyond the French colonial buildings of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Head to Hue, the former imperial capital, or visit Hoi An, an important commercial city since the 1300s and still home to a maze of narrow alleys with traditional artisan workshops.

Angkor Wat is high on the list for most visitors to South East Asia, and rightly so; you need at least three days to see the major temples, with ruins spread over 30 kms apart. In the capital Phnom Penh, the lavish Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace complex is the stand-out highlight. Meanwhile the horrors of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge years are easy to access (but impossible to comprehend) at the Killing Fields site at Choeng Ek, and at the Tuol Sleng Museum in the city centre.  

Sri Lanka
You cannot fail to marvel at the men who built the 5th-century palace on the top of the rock at Sigiriya; the 200 metre climb is hard enough carrying nothing more than a bottle of water, although the views across the old royal grounds and surrounding countryside reward what is a very sweaty workout. The nearby caves at Dambulla are home to an impressive cave temple system, while the ruins of the ancient capitals of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura still contain an impressive collection of temple buildings and giant Buddha statues.

The Pyramids of Giza remain one of the world’s most instantly recognisable sights. Along with the Sphinx and the priceless collection of mummies and sarcophagi in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in nearby Cairo, these offer an unforgettable introduction to Egypt’s ancient treasures for the first-time visitor. Further up the Nile meanwhile, a river cruise provides access to the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, the sprawling Karnak Temple complex, and the Philae Temple at Aswan.


Best for nature


While planning a round the world trip may involve plotting a course between major cities, it’s often encounters with the local wildlife which create the most memorable moments of a trip. So what are some of the natural attractions worth going out of your way to experience? Here are a few suggestions.