Have you ever imagined discovering a glorious place with a breathtaking panorama where you could allow nature to teach you how to write? Or would you love to get away for a few days, book a room with a view, and let uninterrupted inspiration flow through your fingertips? One of my goals is to book a week-long train trip across the country, typewriter in tow, and pound out endless pages of creative prose.
Packing a typewriter for a skip across the street to a favorite cafe or carefully guarded under your arm for a flight overseas is becoming more common. As a result, we find that typewriters suitable for traveling fly right out of the shop.
There are many vintage typewriter brands and styles portable enough and with a slim profile that can easily slip into a messenger bag, backpack, or weekender tote. For those on the hunt for a travel typewriter, I decided to start a list of portable machines that would be easy for those writers who always seem to be on-the-go.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. In fact, I’m inviting you to leave a comment with those machines that you find are suitable travel typewriters; then, we’ll add them to this list!
I’m fairly certain nearly all typewriter enthusiasts would agree that the Hermes Rocket should be at the top of our list of the best travel typewriters. Superior mechanics, slim profile, fantastic colors – what’s not to love about the Hermes Rocket?! This particular machine is a 1958 model and the leatherette case was in perfect condition. Easy to carry and slip under a seat. Some models have a metal snap cover instead of the leatherette case.
COLE STEEL PORTABLE TYPEWRITER
Originally from Germany, this petite typewriter was sold in the USA by the Cole Steel Equipment Company. It comes with a hard shell snap cover and base with a handle. They were only manufactured for a short time so they are hard to find. This particular machine is a 1959 model. Despite their short stint in the typewriter world, it’s a great machine and we found it to be a good quality.
If you like the 70s vibe, you’ll love the Webster XL-747. It’s smaller than most portable machines, making it a perfect travel typewriter, especially with the low-profile zipper case. It’s very lightweight, which is a plus for a travel machine. Designed as a budget machine and manufactured under a variety of brands. Slip a few pieces of paper in the case and keep it in your car or backpack for a lunch-time reprieve or last-minute drive into the country. The typewriter pictured is a 1972 model in excellent condition.
OLYMPIA SF DELUXE
Olympia fans rejoice! Yes, you can get the same great smooth-like-butta typing machine in a compact size. I bit heavier than most travel machines (of course) but still lightweight and thin. This one has a zipper leatherette case. The one pictured is 1963 with a Czech keyboard. Definitely not a budget machine. This one is for those who are writing from a hotel balcony sipping a latte rather than cliff-side with a Yeti.
SMITH CORONA SKYRITER
The Smith-Corona Skyriter was manufactured from 1949 to 1963. Some have a soft-sided zipper case and other a hard metal shell cover that snaps on directly to this ultra-portable machine. Perfect for poolside. The model pictured is a 1954.
My very first typewriter was a Royal Signet. The sleek lines make it very attractive and it types fairly well, though I would not consider this to be of high quality. This one has a snap case, which is a little thicker than some of the other travel typewriters I mentioned in this post. But it is still smaller than most portables, making it a good coffee shop choice. The model above is a 1962.
One of the prettiest little typewriters I ever saw was the Royalite. All metal, the yellow is original and adorable is best word for it. No bells and whistles and not the highest quality machine, but for a lovely lady writing a bit of poetry or letters, it is perfect.
What do you think of our list so far? What typewriters are best suited for traveling? Let me know in the comments or send me an email with photos of your travel typewriters! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
10 thoughts on “Travel Light: 7 Best Vintage Travel Typewriters”
I’ve gone many places in the world with my Hermes Rocket. It actually fits in my daypack if I want it to. The only drawback is also a good thing: people come and talk to me constantly when they realize it is a typewriter. It is like every social barrier just disappears. This has been true in the US, Mexico, Poland, Austria, Russia. The TSA enjoy it. Sometimes they make me type a sentence on it.
Christina, thanks for sharing this! I absolutely LOVE IT!
I forgot to say I also have traveled with my Olivetti 22. The Rocket has more snap when typing, but some people prefer the Olivetti. Both are light compared to most typewriters. The Rocket was developed to be a journalists’ machine, so it is made for rugged use.
Great points and I hope readers enjoy the feedback and tips.
The Empire Aristocrat / Hermes Baby are the toughest and lightest ultraportables you can get. They are both the same machine, the former manufactured in the UK and is often much cheaper to buy as many people do not know what it is.
I recently purchased a Hermes Baby – Brazil bright orange, identical to the Olivetti 82. I love the look but learning to type with such a heavy keystroke is a workout! I assume it will get better? Are some portable typewriters still light keystroke?
Hi Magda, Oh- I bet your Hermes is gorgeous! I’m not sure if it will get better as it’s been awhile since we’ve worked with the Hermes Baby but I would try wiping the type keys with either a small brush or Qtip dipped in mineral spirits.
I love my Underwood 18! It’s so small that it almost looks like a toy until you type on it and realize it is an actual typewriter. When I’m not using it, I put it on its side and shelve it like a book.
I’ve never seen an Underwood 18. Will have to keep an eye for it. Thanks for sharing!
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