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There’s a lot to think about when you begin working from home for the first time; when you’re travelling and your home is constantly changing, there’s even more to think about!
I was kind of used to working on the go (or as used to it as you can be!) because I used to scribble blog posts in the back of a 3-hour bus journey home from work every day and carry my laptop around to work in a coffee shop during my lunch breaks, but it’s still a transition I’m getting used.
There’s one thing I quickly realised: Although lots of digital nomad jobs only require a laptop and a decent WiFi connection, choosing the right work tools – and maybe investing a little more before you jump on the plane and go – will save you a LOT of stress, money and time down the road. And the more stress, money and time you save, you more you’ll enjoy the travelling side of things.
In the four months since I started travelling full-time and working online, I’ve downsized, upgraded and decluttered a lot. Your own job might of course mean you need specialist tools or equipment, but this is all I need to work online as I travel. It should be more than enough for anyone working in areas like marketing, copywriting, social media marketing, blogging, and the majority of digital nomad jobs.
These are the items that go with me to make working remotely possible (and easier!). They help me maintain a nomadic lifestyle, but a lot of these products are probably useful for long-term travellers, remote workers and anyone who works from home.
Digital Nomad Tech Essentials
I’m pretty lucky in that I only need two things to do my work: a laptop and WiFi. But that doesn’t mean any old laptop will do.
The best laptop for digital nomads?
Until last month, I was working on an ASUS Zenbook ux305. It’s a fantastic laptop and, weighing just over a kilo, is perfect for travelling. I’ve used the ASUS for the last two years and loved that I could squeeze it into my handbag for any opportunities to blog. It’s the perfect laptop for blogging on the go – but I needed something more.
I held my breath and hit “buy” on the HP Spectre x360. It’s a massive upgrade but I absolutely LOVE this laptop. It makes my workflow much faster and more efficient than ever, so I can whizz through tasks quickly and get out to see the world. The quad-core i8 processor also means I can multi-mask – something that’s especially useful when waiting for a video to export.
The thing I love most about it, however, is the tablet function. The Spectre x360 is a 2-in-1 laptop and tablet, which means I can use it in cramped spaces like planes, where I’m usually too scared that the passenger in front will recline their seat and squish it.
I’ve only been using this laptop for a month, but so far I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s a great example of how investing a little can streamline your entire workflow.
Portable WiFi in your pocket
Until recently, I was relying on local SIM cards (confusing!) and café/co-working WiFi.
When I arrived in the USA, however, I started using the iVideo pocket WiFi device for the first time and it changed everything. Not only do I no longer need a local SIM card because it can connect up to 10 devices, I never have to worry about wasting time searching for WiFi.
During the driving days on our US road trips, it also meant I could catch up on emails and admin in the car, saving my ‘real’ office time for the important things (and more time for exploring!).
iVideo pocket WiFi is currently available in Europe, America, Asia and Asia. You can find out more here and get 10% off with my discount code JODIEDEWBERRY.
Useful things for working online
None of the below are technically essential, but I still carry them with me in my ‘portable office’ because they’re useful. They either save me time, help me work more efficiently or just make the experience more enjoyable.
Travel adapters, cables and plugs
When I first started travelling, I used to carry spares for everything. Then I realised how easy it is to replace a lost cable no matter where you are in the world and travel with the bare minimum.
Cables: The bare minimum consists of two Android cables (because most of my electronics use this type of cable and sometimes I need to charge two devices at once), one iPhone cable (because I only have one iPhone!) and a combination cable that I can pop in my bag when I’m out exploring.
A powerful portable charger: When I’m out and about, I always carry my Anker portable charger for any urgent top-ups. It’s by far the best portable charger I’ve ever tried, charging my iPhone 6s 4-5 times. Trust me: the time you don’t take a portable charger out with you will be the time you need it most!
A USB plug with one than one socket: This is SO important! Some hotels and apartments have very few plugs – or very few accessible plugs, at least – so having a USB plug with two ports means I never have to worry about finding enough sockets to get everything juiced up. One less plug also means one less adapter, plus it makes for one less thing to carry!
The best travel adapter I’ve found: Until last month, I never found a travel adapter I was happy with. The all-in-one travel adapters that convert from everything to everything seem like a good idea, but they’re usually clunky and always seem to fall out of the wall – not to mention that you’ll be adding a lot of bulk to your luggage if you need to charge more than one thing. On the other hand, the single adapters are small and convenient for single trips where the sockets will all be the same, but not so practical for long-term travel.
Minimising the number of things in my suitcase is always a priority and, surprisingly, finding a travel adapter that’s good for travel is kind of hard – despite the fact that it’s one of the few products designed purely for travel! I finally found a worthy replacement. It converts everything to the three main types of plug (American, British and European), is super lightweight and fits into a tiny case. Sadly and for some unknown reason, it doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but this one has an identical set-up.
There are few things I use every day that don’t really fall under the tech umbrella but definitely fall into my remote work essentials.
The Manfrotto camera bag I bought earlier this year is smaller than my previous hand luggage bag, but so much easier to organise. It has a compartment for all my camera gear at the bottom, a laptop sleeve at the back and a top pouch with plenty of room for all my toiletries, notebooks and extras (but no room for much more – which is a GOOD thing!).
Last month I bought this pretty little pink bag to keep my cables, SD cards, batteries, SSD and anything else that could go missing organised. It’s split into two compartments, one bigger and one smaller, and has plenty of elastic ties, pouches and zip-up areas for keeping everything neat and safe. Best of all, it’s the perfect size for that top pouch on my Manfrotto bag, leaving just enough room for my notebooks and toiletries.
I used to separate everything into smaller pouches, but now I use the pink bag as my portable desk drawer so I always know where everything is. I can leave it in my bedroom while I’m out exploring, popping any spare batteries or SD cards into a small pouch for the day. If you have lots of cables and small bits and pieces for your work, this is an absolute life-changer!
The only thing I do still carry outside of this is a small wallet to store any non-local currency. As you can imagine, I have quite a collection of coins and notes floating around! Having a spare wallet means I’m not constantly fumbling around looking for the right currency.
Notebooks and diaries
I know a lot of people can work efficiently with nothing but digital resources, but sadly I’m not one of those people. I’m far more productive and far more focused when I have a pen and paper in front of me for scribbling ideas, jotting down lists and ticking things off throughout the day. Plus, a cute notebook always makes work more fun!
Insurance for digital nomads
If you’re lugging a lot of tech around the world with you, you’re going to want insurance. Most insurance policies will only cover you for up to 60 days at a time, so make sure your insurance provider can cover you for the length of every trip.
If you’re travelling for longer than 60 days, I recommend World Nomads. It’s the insurance I use because it’s designed for digital nomads and people who travel long-term. It’s a little bit pricier than regular travel insurance, but worth it to avoid being caught out by the sneaky terms and conditions on regular policies.
If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad or already working remotely, I hope you’ve found this useful. If there’s something you use and think would be useful to include, leave a comment below and I’ll add it in :)