For a digital nomad to thrive, there are certain gadgets and tools that are necessary. In order to be ready to set up your virtual office wherever you are, here are some tools and work efficiency tips for your journey:
In almost every digital nomad scenario, you’ll need a laptop with you at all times. It’s your main weapon in the battle to get your work done and thrive online. Find one that is in good condition, get a good case for it, and take care of that baby. It can be difficult and expensive to repair or replace it while you’re off on an adventure in a remote village somewhere.
Consider laptops that:
- Are light-weight and portable for easy travel,
- Keep a long battery life on a single charge, and
- Have a warranty to cover that unforeseen accident.
We all use our smartphones for pretty much everything. Get yourself one that’s reliable and and will last during your travels. It’s probably a good idea to invest in a smartphone that has a great camera, so you can capture important moments. Use a durable cover for it so it doesn’t shatter while you’re fumbling around trying to catch a train. Maybe even bring a backup if you have an old one lying around just in case.
Look for smart phones that:
- Holds a long battery charge (like your laptop) while on-the-go,
- Has a bright screen to see during bright sunlight or dark nights, and
- Is unlocked to let you swap SIM cards between carriers.
A decent backpack is another essential in our book. You’ll carry it everywhere, so make sure it fits you, is comfortable, and can hold your important belongings. We recommend getting one with a laptop sleeve, padding on the straps, and possibly a strap across your chest; this can help save your back when you’re hauling all your precious things everywhere.
Look for travel backpacks that:
- Have all the pockets and compartments you need,
- Is lightweight but durable for long treks, and
- Has quality stitching and zippers for the long haul.
Check out our rundown of our favorite travel backpacks.
Buy a power bank that lasts a long time and keep it charged. We can’t stress this one enough. What if you’re trying to get to the airport to catch your flight and your phone dies? You will almost always need your GPS and you can’t always post up to charge when you’re on a time crunch.
Consider power banks that:
- Feature more than one USB out to charge more than one device at a time,
- Has solar panels to recharge itself on-the-go, and
- Works for your device(s), be they phones, cameras or other.
Portable HD or USB
Backup all your files often, oh lawdy. Bring an external hard drive and/or portal USB drive with you with the essentials always. Having an iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox does the job too, but we suggest a physical local external drive for when you don’t have WiFi and can’t access your accounts.
Think about portal storage that:
- Has the space you need for your work,
- Is portable and doesn’t add 10lbs to your bag, and
- Comes from a reputable manufacturer for longevity.
Headphones are critical to just about everyone in this game too. Not only for entertainment, but you’ll likely need headphones for online calls. You may want to consider some noise cancelling headphones with a mic, that way if you’re in the airport or a cafe, you can hear what’s going on.
We recommend headphones that:
- Are easy to carry around in your bag or person,
- Connect via cord (versus Bluetooth) to simplify charging, and
- Both cancel background noise and have a good mic for calls.
Of course while on the go you’ll need Internet. In cases where you simply can’t get WiFi (or you’ve sworn off public networks,) you’ll need a WiFi hotspot. There are plenty of little devices online you can throw in your travel backpack and use almost anywhere. Most hotspots are small and takes up very little space, and will help you get your work done on time.
Look for portable WiFi hotspots that:
- Have service internationally or regionally as needed,
- Work with a plan that makes sense for your needs and budget (unlimited vs capped,) and
- Is lightweight to throw in your bag and pull out easy.
Bringing a universal adapter is smart. You should get the plugin that works for every country so you don’t have to bring 5 different pieces every time you go somewhere new. Don’t count on being somewhere that provides one for you, because they might not—and you got work to do!
Look for universal travel adapters that:
- Convert internationally if needed (EU vs USA for example,)
- Work for more than on of your devices to consolidate, and
- Are easy to wrap up and keep in your bag for when you need it.
Read more about the best universal travel plug adapters.
Traveling introduces it’s own challenges, and having to work while doing it turns it up a notch. Look for productivity tools that work for your gig. These fellas can be a great way to get all your tasks consolidated into one place to stay on top of important deadlines and objectives. Project management and tracking your hours is important for measuring productivity. Keep track, and you’ll have an easier time keeping up.
We recommend mobile productivity apps that:
- Log and track time you spend on a specific task (like Toggl and Boosted,)
- Consolidate multiple varied email inboxes (like Inbox,) and
- App-blocking apps to stay focused during specific times (like Block Apps)
Check out more in our article on the best 12 digital nomad phone apps.
With all the different internet providers out there you will be using, data security may be a threat. You definitely don’t want any hackers all up in your business. To help prevent unwanted intrusions, look to a VPN service to protect your private information and data. Some can be a bit pricey, so you may want to do a bit of research and compare prices. VPNs run in the background, on a phone or laptop, and tunnel your connection through a third party IP address.
Think about virtual private network services that:
- Offer fixed annual prices for a discount,
- Work on all your devices to consolidate your services, and
- Provide IP spoofing so you can mask your location to a specific location (ie: to see regional Netflix content)
We like using Skyscanner, Google Flights, or Kayak to find cheap last-minute flights. Using most of these providers you can set up alerts for notifications on cheap flights to specific locations. Compare against each other to find the best bang for your buck.
When hunting for cheap flight tickets, we recommend:
- Keeping an eye out for seasonal, site-specific deals,
- Making sure you check restrictions and fees (ie: surprise +$100 for that bag you thought was free,) and
- Using provider mobile apps to easily check on-the-go.
Read our guides on the best day of the week to buy airline tickets.
We hope this rundown of our favorite tools of the trade and productivity tips as a digital nomad help you on your next adventure. You may not think you need all of these listed above, but better to be over prepared than under prepared. Pack smart, light and efficient and you’ll be glad you did!