As more and more people are choosing to work remotely while traveling abroad, whether temporarily or as a permanent working situation, the resources for these digital nomads are continually improving. Websites like Nomad List, Remote Year and Hacker Paradise give advice on travel and help international remote workers find the resources they need. Not only has information sharing made it easier to find the most interesting places to travel and the best spots to work in those places, but technology has improved to the point that remote work is possible from almost anywhere. If you’re ready to give the digital nomad lifestyle a go, check out these four tech essentials and prepare for the ultimate work/life adventure.
The number one travel essential is a great smartphone. Your smartphone can function as a communication device, map, camera, a translator, e-Reader, flashlight and so much more. Look for a device with no less than 16GB of storage, good battery life and a high-quality camera. The travel tech website Too Many Adapters recommends the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Whatever smartphone you have, the most important thing is to be able to stay connected wherever you go. Talk with your carrier about an international service package. A great option for international travel is T-Mobile, which allows customers on their One Unlimited and Simple Choice plans unlimited data and texting in 120 countries at no additional charge. T-Mobile plans also include in-flight texting and an hour of free Wi-Fi on any Gogo-equipped flights, including all British Airways and Beijing Capital planes.
2. Lightweight Laptop
While the casual traveler can get away with leaving their laptop at home, working while abroad means you’ll need to bring yours along. The biggest assets in a travel laptop are low weight, battery life, durability and storage space. For those on a budget who can deal with a simple operating system, the website Indie Traveller recommends the Acer Chromebook. The 11-inch Chromebook is ultralight and portable, and its small storage space can be beefed up with cloud-based storage or a USB external hard-drive. For a more traditional laptop, try an ultrabook like a Macbook Air or Dell XPS 13.
3. Portable Travel Router
The bane of a digital nomad’s existence is finding a good wireless connection. You’ll often get to a hotel or AirBnb and find an unsecure or unreliable Wi-Fi connection. A portable travel router will convert a wired connection into a secure wireless network. Lifewire recommends the HooToo TripMate or the RAVPower FileHub Plus. Both cost around $40 and are small enough to slip in a backpack or computer bag.
4. Mobile Hotspot
Of course, there are times when you won’t be able to find a reliable Wi-Fi or wired connection. This will inevitably be when you have an article deadline or a Skype meeting with your boss. For those times, you’ll be grateful for a mobile hotspot. Purchase a local SIM card and you’ll be able to connect all of your devices to a local carrier. Modern Traveller recommends the TP-Link M7350 Hotspot, which is lightweight and has a battery that will last up to 10 hours, which is perfect for when you can’t or don’t want to work in a traditional workspace.
5. Noise Cancelling Headphones
As a digital nomad, your workspace can be anything from a coffee shop to a beach to a noisy train car. Sometimes, you’ll want to take in all the ambiance of these environments, and sometimes, you need to buckle down and get that work done. For the latter times, you’ll be happy you brought a good pair of noise cancelling headphones (note: these headphones are also essential for sleeping in hostels bunkrooms, on crowded buses and in hotel rooms with thin walls). CNET recommends Bose Quiet Comfort 35 for over-ear headphones and Bose Quiet Comfort 20 for noise-cancelling earbuds.
6. Portable Power Bank
While traveling, an outlet might not always be available when your devices need a power boost, and Murphy’s Law dictates that your devices will always be low on power at the exact moment when you are lost and need to access your phone’s map, or have a Skype meeting scheduled. Keep the low-battery panic at bay by carrying a portable power bank with you at all times. The Wirecutter tested over 40 USB portable battery packs and recommends the RAVPower 22000 mAh Ace Series Portable Charge when a powerful charger is needed.
7. Bluetooth Speaker
Although not necessarily essential for the traveller’s working day, a lightweight Bluetooth speaker goes a long way to making a hotel or office space a little more like home. Techradar rated the top Bluetooth speakers and found the B&O Beoplay P2 to be the best micro speaker. At only 9.7 ounces and up to 10 hours of battery life, this speaker was made for travel.
8. Bluetooth Mouse
Most digital nomads spend a majority of their working time on their laptop, and a Bluetooth mouse can save you from stress ailments that often come from repetitive computer use. However, many of the ergonomically designed mice are too bulky for travel. Lifewire recommend the Microsoft RVF-00052 Arc Touch Mouse for both travel and comfort. This mouse runs on AAA batteries and can be bent to conform to your hand, and then flattened for storage.
9. Universal Electricity Converter
For anyone that travels, an electricity converter is a must-have. For most countries (except India, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland), the Worldwide All in One Universal Travel Adaptor is a great choice that includes a two USB ports to charge electronics and built-in fuse protection. If you have a bit of extra room, grab the All Power Chargers Travel Charging Station (good everywhere except Iceland). The unit has four USB ports and 4 AC outlets and offers surge protection.
10. Travel Printer
In the past, lugging around a printer was an impossible luxury for most travelers, but not so anymore. PC Word recommends the Printstik PS910, which at only 1.5 pounds is small enough to throw in your computer bag, is perfect addition to the digital nomad’s office. The Printstik connects via Bluetooth and can print from a computer, tablet or smartphone. For those times when you desperately need to print a document, a travel printer will be a lifesaver.
11. External Hard Drive
When you are not in a traditional office, with IT support and constant access to reliable hardware and internet, you need to be extra vigilant about backing up your data. Not only should you have a good cloud-based service, but you also need to invest in an external hard drive. Digital nomads should look for a hard drive with a good amount of storage that is both lightweight and durable. The website Too Many Adapters, which reviews technology for travelers, recommends the Transcend StoreJet. The StoreJet comes in 1 or 2TB models and features “military-grade shock resistance” to help your data survive whatever your travels may put it through.
12. Privacy Filter
One thing that will probably be lacking in your new office set-up is privacy. Without a dedicated workspace, you run the risk of anyone in the coffee shop or on the beach looking over your shoulder and seeing sensitive work data. Protect your work with a simple privacy filter, which adheres to your laptop screen and minimizes the viewing angle. The blog Nerd Techy recommends the privacy screens by Akamai Office Products and 3M, which come in a variety of sizes and finishes.