I am on my first week of my Laravel journey, and so far so good. I setup my development environment using Bitnami, settled on Atom as my editor and began learning Laravel using Laracasts.
Laravel Environment Setup
You have three installation options:
Laravel Homestead is an official, Vagrant virtual machine that comes pre-installed with all of the Laravel requirements. The benefit with Homestead is that you will not have to install anything on your machine.
I chose the Bitnami WAMP stack option, and so far it has worked for me. Download version 5.6, because the newer versions do not have Laravel installed.
As part of the setup you are going to need to settle on an IDE or editor. It seems the Laravel community prefers Sublime Text, but I settled on Atom, my favorite editor.
If you prefer a full blown PHP IDE, then PHPStorm might be an option.