I've decided not to do any computer purchases when visiting my parents in the US this time. My 3 year old Dell Vostro V13, which came with and still runs on Ubuntu, is still fine. It has an i3 processor and is quite fast enough for my needs. It's just that this machine has a very poor battery and is a bit large for traveling, though last year I took it both to India and the US. When in the US last year i did replace the battery, but it didn't help much, and it's back to about half an hour on a full charge.
I also have a four-year-old eeePC 1005PE, and that's the one I'm going to take to the US and probably for my 2 months in India this year. It has a slow Atom processor, a 1024 x 768 pixel 10 inch screen, and is actually quite heavy for its size. That machine impressed reviewers at the time it came out with its long battery life - it lasts 8 - 11 hours on a full charge. Now my battery is down to about a third, so I've ordered a new one at $35.
The eeePC, which I originally got for my wife, runs on Windows 7 starter, though I hardly ever use that. I run it on Puppy Linux (Slacko) on USB. I've customized the distro quite a bit, adding LibreOffice, GIMP, Emacs and many other programs. On Puppy, the eepc is still fast enough. For email, modern AJAXy interfaces are a bit slow so it's better to use Sylpheed. The 1024 x 768 screen and cramped keyboard are still annoying, but it's a matter of using the machine wisely.
I can also use the Puppy on thumb drive on my Vostro, and do that sometimes instead of Ubuntu.