Gone are the days when most people have to be chained to an office to get a paycheck. Now, digital nomads make up a growing sect of travelers; and “workations” and other remote working opportunities are not only possible, but also popular. Sure, certain jobs have more flexibility than others; for many people who do their work digitally, it’s possible to do it from anywhere in the world. And you don’t need much — in fact, some people can get by with nothing more than their laptops. But, if you’re going to be working remotely — outside of your office and your home — for any significant amount of time, it’s worth it to invest in a few handy tech accessories that will make your life easier.
“When you travel and work at the same time, you’re often in unknown places and you have to get adjusted to a lot of new stuff,” said Nikolaj Astrup Madsen, founder of Refuga. “You need some kind of base; and especially with work, you need a setup that you trust and that you always know works. You will end up in too hot and too noisy cafes and coworking spaces, so you don’t want to be thinking about gear issues also.”
Get your remote workstation ready with these 8 handy products.
Don’t rely solely on your primary phone and computer chargers — after all, if they get lost or damaged, your work could grind to a screeching halt. Instead, carry a backup of each (the cord and the plug), as well as a couple external battery packs that can juice up your devices if you’re in an outlet desert. If your computer has a USB-C power port (like the latest MacBook models), the Anker PowerCore+ can charge that and your phone at once; while the Crave PowerPack is compatible with several laptop brands and models. And considering how quickly phone batteries can die (especially if you’re snapping photos of your travels between work sessions), it’s a good idea to bring a couple slim battery packs — and perhaps a battery phone case — so you have plenty of power on hand.
International Outlet and Voltage Adapters
If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you have an adapter that will allow you to charge your devices in different sockets. Items like the OneAdaptr Twist World Charging Station and the SublimeWare Power Plug Adapter both offer multiple outlet configurations (which work in 150 countries) in one, so you don’t have to worry about losing the various pieces; and the latter also includes a voltage converter, which may be necessary depending on where you are. Be sure to look up the voltage in the country you’re in and compare it with the voltage your devices are compatible with (the information should be printed on the charger itself) so you know whether or not it’s necessary to convert.
“Finding a quiet place to write from is my biggest challenge,” said Charity De Souza, a travel writer and copy editor. “I always carry around noise cancelling headphones, so I can work from a hotel, cafe, airport, train or wherever.” Take the time to find a pair of headphones that work for you and that you find comfortable. Going with a wireless pair, whether it’s earbuds or over-ear headphones, will help eliminate unnecessary cord clutter — especially when traveling and working with multiple devices.
Similarly to De Souza, Madsen said he goes for noise-canceling headphones and recommended the Bose QuietComfort 35 model. “I love these headphones,” he said. “They are great for the flight, but also great for working in any setting where there is noise. I often just use them without music, but just to shut noise out. …They can be a workday saver!”
“Never expect good WiFi,” Madsen said. “It’s always worse than you would think, so invest in getting your own solution.” Both Madsen and De Souza said they purchase local SIM cards with data for their phones when they’re in foreign countries; that way, they can use them as a wireless hotspot if needed.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
If you have the space in your bag, it may be worth it to include a wireless keyboard and mouse, which Madsen noted “can massively improve how you work” — especially if your laptop is very compact.
De Souza uses Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which she said is “lightweight and easy to pack, while its battery lasts around a month, even after having it for over a year.” Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard is also a solid option for travelers with limited space. As for the mouse, you can find a super slim option from brands like Logitech and Sabrent; the latter requires a USB connection, but the retractable cable adds minimal bulk.
Chances are, when you’re working remotely, you spend a lot of time hunched over your computer, whether at a low coffee shop table or in airports and hotels (taking the lap part of laptop to heart). Investing in a compact laptop stand can help get your computer on your (eye) level. Madsen said he uses Satechi’s Lightweight Aluminum Portable Laptop Stand, which collapses into one flat piece that you can easily slide into your bag. De Souza recommended the Nexstand Laptop Stand, which also folds up and fits into a lightweight carrying sleeve. “Working from cafes and hotel beds while traveling wreaked havoc on my neck and back, so investing in this laptop stand that collapses into a small compact case has been essential for long work days,” she said.
If you need to connect multiple additional devices (like a camera, flash drive, external hard drive and more) to your computer at one time, consider traveling with a USB hub to give yourself additional ports and keep everything streamlined. Anker’s USB 3.0 7-Port Hub gives you an additional (you guessed it) seven slots for devices, while Bourge Design’s Arc Hub, which is made for USB-C power computers, includes a variety of ports (like an SD card slot and an HDMI port).
External Hard Drive
Technology can be fickle, so it’s smart to back up your devices in multiple places. You can set up automatic backups to the cloud (whether through Apple, Google, Amazon or another service of your choosing), but it may also be worth it to use an external hard drive in case something goes wrong in the digital ether. De Souza recommended WD’s My Passport 1 terabyte drive. “I’ve had computers crash and files get lost...so I always use this external drive to save while on the go,” she said. “It’s lightweight, making it super easy to add to my travel gear, and I haven’t even come close to maxing out its storage capacity.”
Spencer Jentzsch, the CEO of Hacker Paradise also recommended backing up anything you need day-to-day onto your phone, so if your computer goes on the fritz and needs repairs, you can still do at least some of your work. And, he added, be prepared for any device emergencies. “Depending on where you are, it can be really difficult to replace certain items,” he said. “Make sure you have a backup plan for critical items that are hard to replace.”
Of course, these types of accessories can add up in price — De Souza noted “many digital nomads sign up for insurance to cover them in a worst-case scenario” — but if you can spare the funds, they’re worth investing in. “Don’t try to save money on your work gear,” Madsen said. “You need so little to be working remotely; but the stuff you need, you just need to be reliable and of a good quality.”