I'm moving to Santiago de Chile next week to teach English and will hopefully be doing a bit country hopping every year or so. I'm wondering whether or not to use my laptop bag, which is obvious advertisement, or should i just use another bag while using clothes for padding? Has anyone got any experience with this?
A laptop sleeve will save you money and also not obvious advertisement--put it in whatever daypack that you already have. If you want extra protection, put some clothes at the bottom of your daypack or wrap a t-shirt around it.
I did what Hien says for my laptop in the my big backpack and it was fine.
For my day pack I had a laptop sleeve and a strap that secures it in place.
I now own a very small laptop, and the sleeve is too big. So I bought a small cheap plastic document case(box) that the laptop sits inside, protected. The sleeve fits over it just right.
I agree with the laptop sleeve, that's how I've been travelling for the past 2 years. My laptop goes into my denim messenger bag together with my jacket, book, travel docs etc. Laptop bags are simply too bulky and unsightly.
You might want to be a little selective about the sleeve material though. Mine's apparently made of some special thing that is shock absorbent, but it's only plain black. There're fanciful designs but I've not seen something functional and pretty so far, the pretty ones tend to be more like a pillowcase for the laptop.
I have a crumpler hard suit, as I figured that with long term travelling, keeping the thing in my daypack, there'd be too much pressure on my laptop too often to quite trust a soft laptop sleeve. Definitely a good buy as far as I'm concerned, although I really wish they'd have a 12" hard suit, as the 13" I have now is just wasting space in my daypack.
And yeah, definitely stay away from laptop bags. I actually started my first backpacking trip with one, but it took me all of a month to realize how completely useless and impractical it was and ditch it.