Have Chromebook, Will Travel

Best Chromebooks for Travelers Android Central 2019

If you want to take a laptop with you on your trips, you want something that will help you get everything you need to do securely. Depending on where you're going or staying along the way, you might want a laptop that won't hurt your wallet too much if you have to replace it. Whether you want a portable powerhouse or an expendable essential, these Chromebooks are ready to see the world!

Reliable and replaceable: Lenovo Chromebook C330

Homework and magic

This is one of our favorite Chromebooks on the market right now. While it has a few scratches on the bottom, ours has held up like a champ through overstuffed backpacks and typing anywhere and everywhere around Walt Disney World over the last six months.

Its shiny, shimmery white shell doesn't show nearly the wear, tear, and dirt you'd expect it to, and the charcoal keyboard has good contrast for typing in the dim light of an airport bar or midnight hotel lobby. I can usually get 10-12 hours out of the battery, so hours and hours of reading and in-flight movies will not kill this bright little Chromebook until your flight touches down at your destination.

Since the C330 has been a popular model, there are tons of cases, skins, and keyboard covers available for it at low prices. Also, there's a wide selection of styles, allowing you to make this laptop your own. Additionally, since it's well under $300, if someone steals it out of your luggage or hotel room, you aren't out too much money replacing it.

Pros:

  • Great, long-lasting performance
  • Good keyboard
  • 64 GB of storage
  • Shimmery white shell stands out

Cons:

  • Not rated for durability
  • Only 1 USB-C and USB-A port
  • Shorter support life

Reliable and replaceable

Lenovo Chromebook C330

This is my run-and-gun Chromebook.

This shiny white Chromebook can last over 10 hours, won't weigh down your backpack during all-day hikes, and with 64 GB of storage, you won't run out of local space anytime soon.

Portable productivity: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

C434

Between its thin, solid construction, incredible battery life, and options for higher RAM and storage, the C434 is a Chromebook that can do it all. One of the few Chromebooks to offer a backlit keyboard, it's perfect for long nights and dim offices.

The battery life is excellent on the C434, and the screen is bright so long as you're not in full sun. Split-screening on this laptop is tops, making it perfect for multi-tasking — or ignoring your tab of research for a Twitch livestream.

If I have any complaint about this Chromebook, it's that the hinge doesn't quite bend the same as most 2-in-1s. This leads to the bottom edge of the lid supporting the back half of the C434 at most regular angles.

Pros:

  • 14-inch laptop in a 13-inch footprint
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Large trackpad

Cons:

  • Laptop sits awkwardly at times due to hinge mechanics
  • Speakers are tinny

Portable productivity

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

Ready for a vacation or business trip.

This portable powerhouse is light and compact enough to carry on long trips, with a full-sized, backlit keyboard that's a delight to type on and a 14-inch touchscreen that's great for in-flight movies and playing Tri-peaks during delays.

Delightful detachable: HP Chromebook X2

Detachable

The X2 has the very same 12.3-inch 2400x1600 IPS touch panel that you'll find on the Pixelbook or Samsung Chromebook Pro — except you can detach it from the keyboard to use as a tablet while chilling in your hotel room or sitting shoulder to shoulder in coach. With a productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, this detachable is worth every penny of its now pretty affordable price.

The active stylus included with the X2 is a beauty that makes you want to pull out a sketchbook app and get doodling, but there are still fewer apps to take advantage of that on Chromebooks than we'd like. A stylus is still quite handy for precious taps, in tablet mode, and I like using one for smoother scrolls while reading. This was the first Chrome detachable, and with the Pixel Slate still expensive and more prone to bugs, this is still the best Chrome tablet.

Pros:

  • Detach keyboard for tablet experience
  • Good battery life
  • Great screen quality

Cons:

  • Only 32GB of storage
  • Keyboard isn't backlit
  • No USB-A ports

Delightful detachable

HP Chromebook X2

Winner as a tablet and a Chromebook

HP's Chromebook X2 is our favorite Chromebook tablet/detachable right now, and as a detachable, it's perfect for travel. Between Android apps and a 2K screen, this is a rock-solid Chromebook for work and play.

Built for a beating: Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1

Dell 3100

This runner up from Best Chromebooks for Students may be more expensive than the ASUS C214, but it also has more ports, more configuration options, and a keyboard that can withstand more water being poured into it, up to 12 ounces.

The 3100 2-in-1 has two USB-A and USB-C ports — one on each side — as well as a microSD slot and headphone jack. While the extra USB-A port isn't necessary, spares are always appreciated when they can fit in basically the same size chassis. There's no stylus option here, which is a bummer, but performance is decent and there are configurations featuring 8GB RAM or 64GB storage (though strangely not both).

The rugged build, abundant ports, and long battery life combine into a workhorse Chromebook that's compact and ready for working business trips or just the life of a seasoned traveler.

Pros:

  • Spill-resistant keyboard
  • 2 USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Rugged rubberized body

Cons:

  • New and expensive
  • Odd configurations

Built for a beating

Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1

Made for the classroom, rugged for the real world.

Dell's been making laptops for a long, long time, and they know how to make one that takes a beating. This compact model still has all the ports you want, an 11.6-inch touchscreen, and a rugged chassis with a spill-resistant keyboard.

Made for clumsy travelers: Lenovo 14e Chromebook

14e is ready to go

Most 14-inch Chromebooks are either non-touch bargain-bin budget models or premium ultrabook types like the ASUS C434. The Lenovo 14e is a model that straddles the two with its two models: there's a non-touch model that's under $300 (that you really shouldn't buy if you're not a school buying in bulk), but the $410 touchscreen model may be the most affordable Chromebook with a backlit keyboard around.

With a 1080p touchscreen, backlit keyboard, and a sturdy construction that's drop resistant and MIL-STD rugged, the 14e is a Chromebook that's built for business and built to last. At a little over 3 pounds, it's not the lightest Chromebook around, but it's also $100-$200 less than most other Chromebooks with backlit keyboards, so I'm not complaining about that.

The 32GB of storage inside is a bit on the small size, but there is a microSD slot, which you can load up with movies and music to entertain yourself (or your kids) during those long flights and more extended layovers.

Pros:

  • Water-resistant backlit keyboard
  • 14-inch touchscreen
  • Great price
  • Mil-spec durable

Cons:

  • Not a 2-in-1
  • Don't bother with non-touchscreen model
  • Only 32GB storage

Made for clumsy travelers

Lenovo 14e Chromebook

This Enterprise Chromebook is ready to work on the go.

With premium features in a nondescript shell, this unassuming Enterprise Chromebook is made for working wherever you find yourself, whether it's a bustling conference or a beachside cabana.

Big screen beauty: HP Chromebook 15

Chromebook 15

15-inch Chromebooks are still relatively rare, but if you intend to travel with one at all, you'll want to steer yourself towards the i3 model of the HP Chromebook 15. This is the first Chromebook available for consumer purchase with a number pad, which will make it an excellent machine for teachers and salarymen who have a lot of numbers to crunch.

HP has tried to keep the dimensions down as much as possible with thin bezels and a narrow frame, but a 15-inch laptop is still slightly unwieldy to stuff in a backpack and travel with. On the flip side, though, you and the three rows behind you will be able to watch your in-flight movie on that mini theater in your lap — and while this has B&O speakers, be courteous and use headphones, please.

There are a few configurations of this Chromebook for purchase, but this configuration at Walmart is your best option. The Pentium model with 64GB of storage is $449 at HP or Best Buy, but this one has an i3 processor and 128GB of storage, which should make it a long-lasting Chromebook for a professional on the go.

Pros:

  • Thin bezels and frame
  • Backlit keyboard with numpad
  • 128GB storage

Cons:

  • i3 models are harder to come by
  • 4 pounds is heavy for travel
  • White/blue shell shows wear

Big screen beauty

HP Chromebook 15

Ready for number-crunching or Netflix-bingeing.

With a big screen, full keyboard with a number pad, and a battery to match, the HP Chromebook 15 is made for getting things done. While it's a little large for traveling light, it is still light enough to haul around for grading papers on the plane or watching Hulu in the hotel.

Bottom line

When selecting a Chromebook for travel, you'll want a compact, durable machine that's lightweight and long-lasting. If you're planning to carry a laptop around all day with you — something I do a lot at Walt Disney World with the Lenovo C330 — smaller is definitely better, especially when you throw in mil-spec durability of the Dell 3100 2-in-1. A keyboard being able to withstand 12 ounces of liquid is nothing to sneeze at when unexpected turbulence could send your seatmate's tea into your Chromebook with no warning at all.

While bigger screens are better for media watching or productivity, they also are inherently bigger, heavier, and more expensive. If you simply have to have a larger screen for your in-flight or in-room entertainment, there are some larger Chromebooks that are still light enough for travel. With a 14-inch screen in a 13-inch shell, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is small enough to haul across terminals to catch your connecting flights.

As a reminder, one of the many reasons Chromebooks are handy for international travel is that they're quick and easy to Powerwash before or after a trip through the Customs office if you suspect someone tampered with your machine, and all Chromebooks feature the same Enterprise-grade stability and security that you can rely on while visiting unfamiliar territories. If you're looking for something beyond our selections here, you might find something more to your fancy in our Best Chromebooks guide.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Ara Wagoner themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing help and how-to's, she's running around Walt Disney World with a Chromebook. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco. If you see her without headphones, RUN.

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