I use Lightroom 3 and travel constantly with my 15" MacBook Pro. The 15" is quite heavy and I'm looking to downsize to a 13". My on road work is primarily limited to downloading, importing, backing up and converting to DNG, no heavy developing or Photoshop work which happens later on my studio Mac. Question: is the 13" (with max memory and SSD) a viable option? Is the MacBook Air a silly thought?
I work on the road quite a lot as well and I use a 13.3" Dell Vostro V131 and it serves me well. It is so much smaller and lighter than my previous XPS 15, Iove it!
Yes, you get less space to work with, but you can always minimise some of the panels in Lightroom if needed.
I was on the road for 6 weeks (SE Asia, Australia, NZ). I bought the MacAir just for the trip. I found the MacAir to be the best compromise (ie no perfect solution), and I was coming from a long PC background. I was able to work on versions of my images while travelling (Lightroom and Photoshop), keep blogs and web sites updated, web and email access etc.. Most importantly, it was the engine for keeping my data backed up.
1. If data collected will fit on the Mac Air then MacAir plus 1 x USB disk backup.
2. If data collected is greater than available space on MacAir, then Mac Air plus 2 USB disks.
I started with option 1 and moved to option 2 somewhere around mid trip.I always kept one disk at least separate from the MacAir in case of theft, disaster of some kind, etc.
Also, MacAir has ssd drive, so reduced risk of failure.
I also sometimes (depending on the nature of the trip) use a Hyperdrive Colourspace UDMA unit and installed an SSD. In the field I can back up my Compact Flash cards to the Hyperdrive (ie 1 button hardware based backup to a fast solid state device, low power consumption). When I get back to hotel or office, all my cards are on the Hyperdrive. I can plug in a USB cable and I have a superfast means of copying my data onto my base system (or to my Mac Air in the hotel at nighttime). Also, I do not have to copy cards individually (if more than one), but can copy them all with a single click. You can automate further with Lightroom or other tools.
If volume of data small, then use Dropbox or equivalent service.