In 2006 we took a three week trip to Europe. I carried an Averatec 3270 notebook for those three weeks. The notebook was light (4.5lbs) and portable (only 12.1”) but it was still too much for a backpacking trip.
It’s possible that one of the newer ultra portable netbooks, like an Eee or Acer Aspire One would work well, however, I wanted to mention the latest toy that we took on a one week trip to Mexico. I recently acquired a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. The N810 is now the predominant model, and they are about the same price. The N810 adds a keyboard and GPS, so it’s a reasonable upgrade.
The requirements that I had for a traveling device was that it be able to read SD cards (the N800 has 2 SD card readers), have a USB host port for reading USB mass storage devices (the N800 needs a USB female-female converter to make that happen), have wifi (check) and have a high amount of configuration/hackability (check, it runs Linux). The N800 met all those requirements and was a breeze to travel with. When we arrived in Mexico my credit card company began refusing charges (this was very frustrating, given that I called and notified them that I would be traveling). The N800 has Skype and Gizmo, so I was able to call the credit card company from our hostel, in Merida, Mexico, using the Nokia.
Typing on the device is very slow. If I were going to go on a long trip again I would probably take a bluetooth or USB keyboard. Also, the device refused to get a wireless connection at our last two stops. That is probably due to a DHCP bug which should have been recently resolved (be sure to run the latest version of the OS). Because the internet tablet is able to use a USB mass storage device, I was able to back up pictures from my camera’s SD card to my 4GB USB stick. If I had wifi access I would also have been able to upload the pictures back to my house over SSH. It was never questioned while traveling through airport security, neither in Mexico nor the US. I was able to load it up with several games. The maemo platform (the OS that the Nokia runs) has support for FBReader which means I was also able to take Les Miserables with me, which I am currently reading. All in all the device fared well, and I will certainly not be taking a notebook when I travel anymore. I very well may add a keyboard to my travel kit, however, so that sending emails would be easier.