Spring is here, and the urge to travel is upon many independent professionals. Joining the digital nomad population, even temporarily, can be exciting and adventurous. It can also be a challenge to make sure that you effectively deliver results to clients as you go.
In addition to the tools and gadgets that help tourists travel safely and enjoyable—like money belts, luggage locks, and electric converters—there are items that help a digital nomad stay connected and productive. While someone going to the other side of the world may need some additional tools compared to someone going to the other side of the state, there is a collection of must-haves no matter the distance traveled. Here are the essentials for a digital nomad toolkit.
1. Lightweight Laptop and Wireless Mouse
These are (of course) the minimum items for any digital nomad. Think this through, though. The laptop you use on your home turf may not fit a digital nomad life best. While the laptop should be lightweight—think in terms of carrying it around in a daypack all day—it needs to have the right components. Make sure you at least have these:
- USB A (at least 2)
- USB C
- Solid State Hard Drive
- Sufficient System Memory
Include a wireless mouse (and mouse pad), so you’re not limited to just the computer touch pad.
Like your computer, this is kind of a no-brainer. Also like your computer, your current phone may not be the best fit. For example, if you will be traveling internationally, you need an unlocked phone that will allow you to swap out the SIM card for one that works where you are. You also may need more memory and storage capacity than what you need at home.
3. Cables and Power Strip
Pack cables that correspond to the plugs in your laptop. Redundancy is a good idea, so pack extras of each type (including your laptop power cord). Always assume you won’t have enough electrical outlets and pack a power strip with USB plugs.
4. Smart Tablet and Wireless Keyboard
Your smart tablet can double as a computer with a small wireless keyboard. It can also serve as your ebook library for work as well as pleasure reading.
5. Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot
The nightmare digital nomad scenario is being without a connection to the internet. Even the most reliable connection can be lost suddenly for a number of reasons. Packing a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that fits your travel plans is “internet insurance” for your business.
6. Wi-Fi Booster
Even in accommodations with Wi-Fi, you may end up far away from the router with a spotty signal. Use a booster to ramp up reception.
7. VPN Service
A virtual private network (VPN) is critical, especially if you will be using public Wi-Fi networks. It may also be required by your client. A VPM will hide your IP address, online activity, location, and personal data. Bypass free VPNs and pay for a good service.
8. Portable Power Bank
Another digital nomad nightmare is running out of device power with no way to recharge. Pack a small power bank that can power multiple devices at once.
9. External Hard Drive and Smartcard
Data backup is always important. It is imperative for a digital nomad. Fortunately, small but mighty external hard drives are available with enough storage to take on your laptop backup. A smartcard can serve as a mini-storage solution and can be useful if you’re toting a digital camera and want to store your photos elsewhere.
10. Laptop Stand
Ergonomics can be a huge challenge for any independent professional, and the challenge can be compounded when on the road. Pack a foldable laptop stand that you can use while lounging in a hammock or working by the pool. You can even get a telescoping standing unit that will let you stand and work.
When put together, no matter how carefully, cables somehow get entangled. Save yourself some stress and make it easier to grab the cable you need by packing an organizer. This can also be the home for your wireless mouse and other gadgets.
Depending on your itinerary and mode of travel, you may need additional tools to set yourself up for success. Start with this list, do some research about your destinations to see if anything else is needed, and get ready for adventures!