Traveling Europe with a 13” Macbook

I just came home from a 24 day trip across France and Spain. My trusty white 13” Intel Macbook has a lot more miles on it… but worked like a champ. My AC adapter for power and charging was 100-240 volt compatible, so I didn’t have to worry about a voltage converter, just a plug adapter for the European style sockets. Wifi is strong on this older Macbook, and I got good performance in most hotels I stayed in. The size of this smaller Macbook is perfect for lugging around on the road – and much lighter than my 17” Macbook Pro.

Before the trip I upgrade this machine with a new battery, new 500 gig hard drive, and installed the latest Mac OS X 10.6.7 and Lightroom 3. I stored over 300 gig of images on the laptop hard drive, backed up with an external 500 gig hard drive, and kept the shot memory cards for almost all of my images. My mentor Dr. Michael Roach had a horrible wreck on his way back from a long trip to Morocco, and many disks of his two sets DVD backups of images were damaged – but luckily he was able to use unbroken disks between the two sets that he had in different pieces of luggage, and he didn’t lose any images. So for this trip, I decided in advance to take enough memory cards to not have to format and re-use cards, plus backups on two different hard drives.

I carried the Macbook in my photo backpack by Crumpler – a unique design that opens from the strap-side of the pack. It would be next to impossible to steal anything from this pack with it on my back, a feature I really like. The laptop sleeve is removable, so I was able to take that weight out of it when I reached a town that I would be in for several days.

Lightroom was usable with the max 2 gig of RAM, but I made one big mistake – I took along a card reader that would read both memory cards I was using on the trip (Compactflash and SDHC)… on the surface this seemed like a good idea, but in use this particular model turned out to be incredibly slow in reading either memory type. I was daily downloading anywhere from 400 to 1,000 images for me and another photographer, so I wasted a lot of European hours in the hotel downloading images. My next upgrade for this kit is a “faster-than-USB 2.0” Firewire 400 reader.

All in all though, a great trip, made better with my Macbook. Now all I have to do is pay all the bills… and download my Lightroom catalogs into my Mac Pro at the house.

{click for larger image}