In this digital era, the right travel laptop can truly elevate your journey. Whether you’re a digital nomad hustling in hostel or a casual traveler capturing memories, having a light, reliable and altogether decent machine on your lap is must.

From the sleek and mighty powerhouses to the budget-friendly gems, our list is tailored for diverse itineraries and preferences. Imagine unwinding in a quaint café with a laptop that boasts a battery life longer than your layover, or editing your travel vlog on a device that handles heavy graphics like a breeze.

I put this guide together with one goal in mind – to help you find the best travel laptop for YOUR travel style. With the help of this epic guide, you’ll easily to be able to know which laptop is best for your needs, style, and budget.

Alllrighty then, do you wanna find out what the best computer for travel is? Well, let’s get to it!

danielle remote working from the jungle in thailand
Let’s get into this, shall we?
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

Quick answer: The Best Portable Travel Laptops


Macbook Air

  • Portability > 2.5 lbs
  • Battery Life > 18 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 256 – 512GB SSD
  • Processing Power > M2 chip
  • Operating System > Mac OS Ventura
macbook pro best laptops for professionals

16.2 Inch Macbook Pro

  • Portability > 6.4 lbs
  • Battery Life > 22 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 512 GB – 1 TB SSD
  • Processing Power > M2 chip
  • Operating System > Mac OS Ventura
Dell Xps Laptop for Digital Nomads and Travellers

Dell XPS 13

  • Portability > 2.7 lbs
  • Battery Life > 7 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 128 GB SSD
  • Processing Power > Intel Core i5-7200U 3MB cache, up to 3.10 GHz 8G memory 128G SSD
  • Operating System > Windows 10

Microsoft Surface Book

  • Portability > 3.34 lbs
  • Battery Life > 10.5 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 128 GB SSD
  • Processing Power > 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5
  • Operating System > Windows 10 Pro

Lenovo Ideapad

  • Portability > 5 lbs
  • Battery Life > 7 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 500 GB Hard Drive
  • Processing Power > Intel Pentium 4405U (2M Cache, 2.10 GHz), 2 cores, 4 threads
  • Operating System > Windows 10 Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

  • Portability > 1.7 lbs
  • Battery Life > 10.5 hour battery
  • Storage Space > 128 GB SSD
  • Processing Power > 3 GHz Intel Core i5
  • Operating System > Windows 10 Home

What Type of Traveller Are You?

My laptop has literally changed my life – not only can I earn money online but I can also stream Game of Thrones wherever I go… and I think we can all agree that that’s pretty damn important.

But what about your needs?

You see, “the best travel laptop” is a pretty broad statement since there are many different types of travelers. The question is – which kind of traveler are YOU?

Here are some extremely important things to consider…

1. Do you need to get work done on your laptop?

If you aren’t planning on using your travel laptop for online work, you don’t necessarily need to splash out on a top of the range laptop.

While it might be tempting to spend $2,000 on the new best laptop, the truth is that only digital nomads and other professionals really need that sort of tech. If you don’t have any work deadlines to meet, it might be better to keep it simple.

2. What will you use your laptop for?

Will you be working on the road (writing, editing, etc.), or mainly surfing the web? Do you need the processing power to run multiple editing programs, or is your prime concern staying connected to social media?

Identifying exactly what you need a laptop for will help you decide on which one is best for your travels.

3. Do you have any size requirements?

Are you traveling with minimal room in your backpack? Are you bringing a bag with certain size requirements?

For instance, some expensive daypacks can’t fit 15-inch laptops, or some laptop sleeves can’t fit larger than a 13 inch. If you buy a special backpack for your laptop, then most of your needs should be met. Either way, make sure to keep these in mind.

4. Are you traveling heavy or light?

The more powerful the laptop, the more it weighs. The difference between a 1.5 lb tablet and a 7 lb professional laptop is HUGE.

Remember that a light traveler is a happy traveler, so if you don’t need a heavier laptop, there’s no reason to cause extra strain on your body.

There are different specs you need to considers when choosing the best laptop for you…

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Best Overall Laptop for Travel – MacBook Air

macbook air the best laptop for travel

Two quick things….

  1. If you are a digital nomad, working professional, or aspiring to work online. Do not pick this travel laptop.
  2. If you hate Macs or iOS. Do not pick this computer.

Everyone else. This is the best travel laptop. 

If you’re an Apple user, this is Apple’s best Mac laptop for the money and this was the first laptop I took traveling which was adequate for working online. The pros (as with any MacBook) are its integration with apple products, ease-of-use, trackpad and keyboard, design, and reliable performance. It’s also the lightest laptop for travel, so that’s a major win.

I’ve used MacBooks for 7 years now (my first one from 2010 is still alive and kicking!), and I’ve never needed repairs (except to replace an old battery). I can’t say the same for any of the PCs I’ve owned, which is why I think Macs are the best user-friendly laptops if you don’t have a computer background.

If you want a MacBook for browsing, streaming, social, and office, the MacBook Air is fast enough, especially with 2024’s updated processor speed and default memory. But if you want a Retina resolution screen, “Kaby Lake” processors, and more power for editing programs, you’ll have to fork out the money for a MacBook Pro instead.

I recommend you go for as much storage as you can afford if you plan on storing music, images or video because you can’t add storage to Apple computers after purchase. If your laptop is used for browsing and light document work (Excel, Word, etc.) the 256GB SSD should be fine.

  1. Fast and durable!
  2. Lightweight (super important)
  3. Can handle your internet needs and then some
  1. Not as powerful as other options
  2. Not good for working professionals

Is the MacBook Air for you?

If you are looking for a light laptop that can handle all of your basic internet needs and then a little bit more – the MacBook Air is my highest recommendation. It’s light and sleek design makes it ideal for travelers, and it comes at a reasonable price.

Best Laptop for Professionals – MacBook Pro

macbook pro best laptops for professionals

If you are interested in making money online, you need to invest in a great laptop. The MacBook Pro is my highest recommendation. Its starting price plus lack of ports can be a deal breaker for many, but I still think it is the most versatile, user-friendly laptop out there and mine has allowed me to start and run several businesses from all over the world. I love my MacBook Pro and investing in it was the smartest move I made.

Whether you are freelancing, doing graphic design, blogging or editing photo or video – if you are a traveling professional, it’s hard to beat the MacBook Pro. If you’re in the market for the best lightweight laptop that still has a ton of storage space, the 16.2-inch MacBook is the best choice for you. Weighing less than a 2 kg, this is the best lightweight laptop for travel. Overall, the MacBook Pro is one of the fastest computers on the market. It’s the best traveling laptop for digital nomads, but you have to pay for it.

This is a great choice for bloggers, freelance photographers, etc too. It outperforms the other laptops on this list, but if you’re not set on the Mac OS system, the Dell XPS and Microsoft Surface Book have competing specs for a much more affordable cost.

  1. Durable
  2. Powerful – can handle anything
  3. Great battery life
  4. Great for Digital Nomads or professionals
  1. Expensive
  2. Unnecessary for normal web users

Is the MacBook Pro for you?

If you can afford a notebook above $1800, or have to bite the bullet because of work, these laptops are going to be fantastic options because they have powerful processors, larger storage space, and better quality build.

High-end laptops are the best laptops for travelling photographers, videographers, laptop bloggers, etc., but not necessary for the average traveller.

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Best Midrange Travel Laptop – Dell XPS 13″

Dell Xps Laptop for Digital Nomads and Travellers

The Dell XPS is best mid-range laptop for travel because of its superb battery life, 7th-generation Core performance and excellent Wi-Fi range. I love that it has more ports than on competing laptops, as well as an SD port. It also has a touch-screen higher-resolution option (for a bit more weight and quite a bit more money).

As for its design, the Dell XPS has a comfortable soft-touch, carbon-fibre deck, infinity display, and rose-colour option. Often the trade off for a thin, best ultralight laptop is shorter battery life and too few ports. The XPS 13, however, gives you nearly 14 hours of battery power, and all the connection options you need while also remaining pretty light and compact for travel.

If you are a PC user, the Dell XPS 13″ is the best travel computer within the $1000 range. Though if you want more memory than 256MB, or an i7 processor, you will have to pay more money. This is a high quality laptop at a great price…

  1. Incredible value
  2. Powerful – good for those who work and travel
  3. Great alternative if you don’t like Apple products
  1. Pricey for a PC
  2. Touch screen option is very expensive

Is the Dell XPS right for you?

For under $1000, you should be able to find a high quality travel laptop for many of the specs that matter most to the average traveler: weight, portability, and reliability. If you are willing to spend a couple hundred more, I would recommend picking up the Dell…

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    Best Value for Money Laptop – Microsoft Surface Book

    microsoft surface book

    This is definitely one of the best-value laptops/tablets for travel! You essentially get the portability and ease of use of a tablet with a detachable keyboard. The Microsoft Surface book is lightweight and portable, but you can still run programs like Lightroom and upload your travel photos and videos. The Stylus Pen is a truly innovative and amazing addition as well.

    While this isn’t the cheapest laptop in this guide, the Microsoft Surface book is definitely one of the best value laptops on the markets since you are getting a great tablet and computer all-in-one. When it comes to weight, size, features, battery, I think this is the best travel laptop for your money but if you are going pro and embracing the digital nomad lifestyle, I would recommend getting a Macbook instead.

    The Microsoft Surface book is a great laptop for photographers and allows you to run Lightroom, Adobe Premier, and other intensive programs.This is the best Windows 10 option for creatives and travellers needing versatility, speed, and power. While technically a powerful laptop, this is also one of the best tablets for travel. It has a battery on the detachable screen and actual computer. When both are charged you can get up to 12 hours battery life.

    The 6th generation processor is not as speedy as the 7th generation in the MacBook Pro, but it’s a bit more affordable. The Surface Book also has a leg up on graphics performance in comparison to the MacBook Pro.

    1. Great value
    2. Laptop AND a tablet
    3. Overall pick for best value
    1. Not powerful enough for professionals/Digital Nomads
    2. Not as durable

    Is the Surface right for you?

    People who need discrete graphics, want a powerful computer that is also a 2-1, and Microsoft program integration will find this laptop to be one of the best options out there.

    To take full advantage of the separate graphics chip and power, you have to invest more than the starting price and pay for an upgrade, but it’s totally worth it.

    Best Budget Travel Laptop – Lenovo Ideapad

    lenovo thinkpad best laptop for travellers

    The Lenovo is one of the best ultra-lightweight laptops in the budget price range. This Windows OS laptop has 9 hours of battery life, a nice design, and is one of the cheapest light laptops for travel. The performance is good enough for web surfing, editing documents, and viewing movies. The keyboard and touchpad’s quality, however, is less than subpar.

    Overall, this is a cheap laptop and a solid choice for the minimal traveller, who wants to stream online and run basic programs. This is definitely not adequate for anybody who needs to work online and certainly the Lenovo cannot handle Lightroom or other photo editing programs.

    The team felt this was a great option for those with pretty basic needs looking for something lightweight, affordable and that performs well enough given the tasks expected of it. For those working mostly on word processors and looking to store their travel photos, this is a great option. The standard edition comes with a massive hard drive too making it great for storing and doing some basic processing to travel photos on the road.

    1. Cheap
    2. Good for basic surfing and Netflix-ing
    1. Heavy
    2. Not durable
    3. Basic

    Is the Lenovo right for you?

    If you are trying to get any work done or be productive, the Lenovo is NOT for you. This is a budget computer that can handle some basic browsing and streaming for the few years it lasts. If that is what you need it for, then this is one of the best budget options!

    Best Budget 2-1 Laptop – Microsoft Surface Pro 7

    microsoft surface pro 4

    This is one of the top travel laptops out there because of its versatility and price range compared to the competition. However, the biggest drawback is that the Surface Pro Keyboard must be bought separately (and costs an extra $120)! The Surface Pro can easily function as an ebook reader, travelling tablet, sketchpad, and video player all-in-one, making it the best tablet for travel, hands down. Plus, I can say from experience that it has awesome resolution and a sharp screen, making it great for watching movies on a plane/bus/train.

    Its most stand out features are its touch screen and surface pen stylus. The pen has been tested by comic artists and graphic designers for its accuracy and real-feel! (The pen even learns your handwriting!)

    The device doesn’t have as much storage space or processing power as its sister product, the Surface Book, so an external drive is crucial! Though you can upgrade to 256MB or 512MB, it will make the surface pro significantly more expensive.

    1. Best tablet for travel
    2. Affordable
    3. Super light
    4. Spectacular resolution
    1. Lacks power/storage
    2. Not ideal to get serious work done

    Is the Surface Pro 7 for you?

    The Surface Pro 7 is the best tablet for travel, and with the keyboard one of the most versatile laptops on the market and is definitely worth considering.

    What are 2-1 Laptops? They are travel tablets that can be converted into full laptops. Unlike conventional tablets, they’re made to be used offline and can run computer programs. Moreover, unlike with normal tablets, 2-1 laptops allow you to upload data (music, videos, photos, documents).

    Just keep in mind, 2-1 laptops rarely have enough storage space for a lot of videos and photos. A 2-1 tablet/laptop isn’t the best laptop for GoPro users or videographers either since they cannot run intensive video editing programs without sacrificing performance and speed.

    Other Great Budget Laptops for Travel

    Samsung Chromebook 3

    1. Samsung Chromebook

    The Samsung Chromebook Plus offers a decent design, long battery life, touchscreen, and a hybrid hinge that turns it into a tablet, and is the lightest Chromebook on this list.

    Unlike other ChromeBooks, this one is using the sister system, that allows you to download Android apps and use them offline, making it a great Chromebook for travel.

    As an alternative to expensive and heavy Macbooks, the team felt the Samsung Chromebook Plus was a really viable option for those not wanting to travel with that kind of laptop but wanting similar performance levels.

    Acer Chromebook for Digital Nomads and Travellers

    2. Acer Chromebook

    The Acer Chromebook is one of the better budget lightweight laptops on the market. The laptop has ultra portability, a comfortably sized keyboard, and a touchscreen. The downside is it does feel very “cheap” with a plastic like frame. At 1.1 Kg and 11.6 inches, this is one of the best budget laptops for surfing the internet, and a great option if you’re looking for a small, portable laptop to stream movies on or run other basic tasks with.

    Note: I have listed the starting price for the storage space available. Often you can add more storage space for a higher price.

    lenovo yoga 2-1 traveler computer

    3. Lenovo Yoga 910

    An alternative to the Surface Pro and another one of the best tablets for traveling is another hybrid with cool features like a fingerprint sensor. At 1.4kg (3.09lbs), the Yoga 910 is a heavier than most 2-1s, but also has more storage space to start, an all-metal finish, the latest Kaby Lake processors (i7), and 14in HD display.

    It’s reasonably well-priced for a hybrid of this quality, but there is a cheaper, more basic version called the Lenovo Yoga 710 if you’re trying to save some cash. The 910, however, is the best no-compromise option for work and pleasure making it one of the best laptops for travel and digital nomad life.

    The Best Overall Travel Laptop?

    Tie Between MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 for the best travel laptop

    Macbook Pro vs Dell XPS 13 comparison for the best travel laptops

    MacBook Pro

    MacBook Pro is the best laptop for travel for Mac users, who want the fastest, most reliable computer on the market. The MacBook Pro uses Kaby Lake processors (Intel’s seventh generation chips), has a sleek design, retina (2560 x 1600-pixel) display, touch ID, and the best rated audio sound.

    Dell XPS

    The Dell XPS is the best Windows 10-based laptop. It comes with 13.3 HD display, nearly 14 hours of battery power, and all the connection options you while remaining plenty light and compact for travel. This is a great choice if you want to save a bit of cash and avoid Macs…

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    What Specs to Consider Before Buying the Best Travel Laptop

    1. Price

    Price is probably the most important factor when choosing the best laptop for traveling.

    Unless you are working online, you really don’t need to spend $1000+ to get the best travel laptop. There are several cheap travel laptops and mid-range options that make great laptops for travel.

    Remember that high-value items, such as a top of the range laptop, are often harder to claim for on insurance. There are some cheap lightweight laptop options on the market too and overall the price of laptops continues to come down… You get what you pay for though so if you need a laptop for work, I recommend not going for the cheapest laptop option.

    2. Portability

    Portability is especially essential for the on-the-go, minimal traveler, and an important factor to consider when choosing the best laptop for travel.

    You want something lightweight so that your backpack doesn’t end up weighing too much (As we say in the hiking world, ounces add pounds and pounds add pain!). If you haven’t yet picked up a backpack for your trip, check out this post for plenty of backpack inspiration. 

    Your laptop’s size is also important (usually correlating with weight) to easily pull your computer in/out of your bag at the TSA security line, etc. The smallest travel laptops and tablets have less storage space and processing power, but they are also cheap and highly portable. If you are going to be on the road a lot, I recommend trying to find a lightweight laptop.

    If you have a smaller unit, you can also invest in a smaller laptop bag. So portability not only applies to the laptop itself, but what you’re going to use to carry it.

    3. Battery Life

    It’s always nice to have a reliable battery life, especially if you are taking your laptop up into the mountains. The best laptops on the market have at least 8 hours of battery life, and some can last for an entire day. If you are spending a lot of time off the grid and still need access to your laptop then consider picking up a portable battery capable of charging a laptop.

    Quick travel tip: make sure your wi-fi and blue tooth are turned off (when you’re not using them) to save battery!

    4. Storage Space

    Most of the top travel laptops (with ample battery life and affordability) lack a large amount of storage space, and if you’re going to store a lot of photos and videos from your travels, it’s important to have ample hard drive space!

    I’ve found it’s well worth investing in a cloud drive and/or an external hard drive, especially since photos and videos take up a lot of room. This way you don’t have to sacrifice laptop portability for storage space on the actual laptop.

    My first backpacking laptop, a MacBook Air, didn’t have too much storage space so I kept a lot of my photos and videos on Dropbox and stored my movies on a nearly bulletproof portable hard drive.

    Typical external drives with 1 terabyte cost around $80 USD, and cloud storage (through Google, Dropbox Microsoft, etc.) average around $10 a month. It’s also important to back up your files in case your travel laptop gets stolen (like my friend Ana’s did in Costa Rica)!

    5. Processing Power

    If you are running editing programs and high-resolution videos, you should also prioritize the processing power.

    The CPU is like the “brain” of your computer. At the moment, Intel Core i7 is the highest performer, but also the most expensive. Intel Core i5 should work for most of the best travel computers, and anything older is fine if you’re just surfing the web.

    A separate graphics chip allows gamers, 3D designers, and high-res video editors to run their programs without taking up a ton of RAM and slowing the overall performance of the computer.

    An integrated graphics chips (one that shares system memory) is just fine if you don’t have these needs.

    If you want a separate graphics chip, keep in mind Apple only puts separate graphics chips in their MacBook Pro 15in computers. The 15 inch MacBooks are more expensive, and in my opinion, anything over 13 inches is too large to be considered one of the best laptops to travel with.

    6. Do you prefer Mac, Windows, or Chrome OS?

    Most laptops run one of these three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS, or Mac OS X (for MacBooks only).

    Windows notebooks offer the largest range of options for the best travel laptop. The newest window computers offer cool features like touch screens, 2-1 convertible tablets, fingerprint readers, and dual graphics chips.

    Mac’s newest operating system, MacOS Sierra, comes with all Apple computers. Once you get the hang of Apple’s programs and trackpad/keyboard short cuts, Mac is the best user-friendly laptop (in my opinion) for the average person who knows nothing about computer engineering or coding.

    Macs are expensive, but also reliable, which is important when you are travelling around the world and don’t have time/money to take a computer in for repairs.

    Chrome-OS is Google OS’ – simple and secure operating system, usually available on small portable laptops. The drawback? It’s mainly limited to surfing the web, checking email, and navigating social networks, not doing stuff offline. Still, ChromeBooks are the best cheap and light laptops for the minimal traveller.

    Conclusion? Most travellers are going to need to prioritise versatility, weight, battery life, and price when picking the best travel laptop. Digital nomads and travellers working remotely are going to need powerful laptops for travel to handle multi-tasking and intensive programs.

    Choosing the best travel laptop FAQs

    Q. What is the best laptop for the money?

    In my humble opinion, the best value laptop is definitely the Microsoft Surface Book – from a specs / weight / price ratio, this laptop outperforms all the others.

    Q. What is the best cheap laptop?

    The Lenovo Idea Pad is the best cheap laptop on the market at the moment. It is adequate for streaming movies and casual web browsing but that’s about it… Still, for less than $300, it’s a steal.

    Q. What is the lightest travel laptop?

    The MacBook Air is the most compact, thinnest and lightest laptop for traveling on the market… If space and weight is your primary concern, this is the laptop to choose.

    Q. What is the best laptop for blogging?

    The Macbook Pro is the best laptop for bloggers and photographers – it can handle whatever you throw at it and edit photos without any problems, even on very advanced, space hungry, software.

    Q. What is the smallest travel laptop?

    The Macbook Air takes the gold again for the smallest laptop for traveling…

    Q. What is the most durable laptop?

    The Macbook Pro is the toughest laptop in this list and if you put it in a case it can take some knocks… Still, be careful with it.

    Q. Should I travel with a laptop or a tablet?

    A 2-1 will give you a lot more versatility than just traveling with a laptop or a tablet. If you ARE a fan of tablets, I recommend that you consider getting a 2-1 laptop / tablet combo rather than just a tablet. The Microsoft Surface 7 Pro is definitely the best 2-1 laptop / tablet on the market.

    Best Travel Laptop
    NameBattery LifeStorageProcessing PowerOperating System
    MacBook Air18 hours256 / 512GBApple M2Mac OS
    MacBook Pro22 hours512GB / 1 TB SSDApple M2Mac OS
    Dell XPS 13″14 hours128Intel Core i5-7200UWindows 10
    Microsoft Surface Book10.5 hours128GB SSDIntel Core i5Windows 10
    Lenovo Ideapad9 hours256AMD Ryzen 3-3200UWindows 10 Home in S mode
    Microsoft Surface Pro 710.5 hours12810th Generation Intel® Core™ i5Windows 10 Home
    Samsung Chromebook10 hours64Intel Celeron 3965YChrome OS
    Acer Chromebook9 hours162.16 GHz celeronChrome OS
    Lenovo Yoga 9109 hours256Core i7Windows 10

    How We Tested The Best Travel Laptop

    There is no perfect or exact science when it comes to testing out what the best work travel laptop is. Having been digital nomads for a number of years, we think we’re in a decent position to give our 2 cents on the matter!

    So when it came to assessing the best travel computers, we looked at a few different factors like specific performance for certain jobs and tasks, memory, storage, speed, weight and durability too. Of course, when it comes to the best laptop for travel and work, much of what is needed is individual depending on your needs. But we tried to cover most of the common uses as well as generalised purposes for travelling with a laptop.

    Finally, we also take into account how an item is priced. Travel computers vary wildly in price and the most expensive isn’t always the best for your needs and your trip. However, we did scrutinise the more expensive laptops and gave the cheaper ones a bit more leeway.

    FAQ about the Best Travel Laptop

    Still have some questions about the best laptops for travel? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

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      Final Thoughts on the Best Laptops for Travel

      There you have it!

      Our epic reviews of the most versatile laptops, the most cost-efficient laptops, the best laptop for blogging and digital nomads and, of course, the best budget laptop on the market.

      Overall, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the listed choices. I personally tend to lean towards MacBooks because of their reliability and my own personal experiences.

      However, some of the newest Microsoft, Lenovo, and Dell laptops have unique, useful features like touch screen, and 2-1 convertibility that give them a leg up as the best traveling laptops.

      If you just want the best cheap travel laptop to surf the web and stream online, one of the budget laptops or Chromebooks would be perfect for you.

      You will need to upgrade from the ChromeBooks and budget options to one of the travelling tablet 2-1’s or more expensive laptop options if you want to store data but you can get around this by buying a portable hard drive. Personally, I’m a big fan of Macbook Pros but what does the data say? When we compare all the factors, what is the best laptop for traveling?

      Digital Nomad in Malta
      Happy Nomadding!
      Photo: @joemiddlehurst

      And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!