The Chromebook is actually a fine tool for some content creation. If you are a writer it's likely to be all you need (the word processor part of Google Docs works offline so you don't need an internet connection) and it's cheap and portable. And the web browser is right there for research.
I will grant that it's probably not the right tool if you are creating audio or visual content, and it's clearly right out for CAD and the like. It can be made to serve to some extent by enabling developer mode and installing Crouton (a Linux user mode environment that runs underneath Chrome OS) but then you're back to the usual negatives of managing a desktop OS.
In some cases you can use your wireless tablet in foreign countries. First, you need an unlocked tablet that covers all the broadband frequencies so it will work in most countries; examples would include the iPad line and the Nexus 7. (LTE on your US-model tablet probably won't work outside North America but HSPA+ is fast enough for most purposes.) A phablet might also do nicely, especially the over 6" ones. (I love my Xperia Z Ultra! It's a bit large for holding up to your ear though it does work. But I rarely talk on my phone; it's primarily a portable data device.)
Then you need one of two things: one of the new T-Mobile plans that includes reasonably priced international data, or a locally purchased SIM. Prepaid plans with inexpensive data are available in many countries; buy one of those in a local shop along with a top-up card and you're good to go. If you can't deal with the local shopping there are companies on the internet that will sell you SIMs and ship them to you in the US so you have them before your trip, but you'll pay a bit of a premium for that.
Don't buy one of the "worldwide SIMs" that some companies offer except perhaps as an emergency backup if you end up in an unexpected location; the rates are very high. But it might be handy if you have to make an unplanned landing due to weather or mechanical problems on the plane. Most likely there will be some WiFi available in the airport anyway so you won't need your 3G data there. Just keep in mind that airports are prime locations for man-in-the-middle attacks and plan your web use accordingly. WiFi of unknown provenance is fine for checking schedules or sending a quick message home to let people know about the delay but I'd be wary of doing any shopping.
A major change when the US made its digital transition is that many stations moved to UHF. Stations operating on UHF are allowed to use more power and the UHF signals have better penetration of buildings and suffer less interference from household devices, so urban reception is generally superior, but reception at the edges of the station's fringe area may suffer.
Most high VHF (channels 7 through 13) were allowed to return to their VHF frequencies after the full digital transition but some chose not to, and some stations were allowed to relocate to high VHF frequencies. Low VHF stations (channels 2 through 6) in major markets were required to move to other frequencies; a few smaller markets still have stations on those channels.
Channel 7 here in Boston is an example of a high VHF station that moved to UHF. They briefly returned to their original channel but found that reception was problematic. This was in part because they were the only Boston station to return to VHF (Boston had also had stations on low VHF channels 2, 4, and 5, all of which were required to relocate to UHF) so most viewers had installed UHF-only DTV antennas. As a result, channel 7 got permission to go back to the UHF channel that they used during the digital transition (while analog and digital broadcasts were being done simultaneously) and shut down VHF operation.
Yes, that would qualify as a heavy plan. And it would cost a lot more in the US. From the major carriers, a comparable plan would be $70/month (T-Mobile), $80/month (Sprint), $120/month (Verizon), or $125/month (AT&T). And calls outside the US cost extra. T-Mobile no longer subsidizes phones; the other three carriers do. You can do a little better by going prepaid on a minor carrier ($55/month on Virgin Mobile and $60/month on Metro PCS are two examples), but can't get as low as your price.
If your phone is mostly a text and data device (you don't talk much) you can get substantially lower prepaid prices, such as $30/month from T-Mobile prepaid (100 minutes + 5GB data) or $35/month from Virgin (300 minutes + unlimited data).