Digital nomadism, or the practice of using remote work as a means to support long-term travel,
…is becoming increasingly more popular as more jobs are available to do over the internet. Whether your background is in journalism, art, software design, or a myriad other fields, there’s work out there available for you.
But how do you maximize the potential of your mobile office while minimizing the hassle?
Here are some important tools that you’ll want to make sure you have:
The Right Gear
As a digital nomad, you’re going to really want to make sure you’re comfortable with everything that travels with you – both in terms of using it as well as carrying it.
- A great bag — You’ll want a bag that will fit any and all devices and their related components (cords, keyboards, or whatever else), of course—but make sure that’s it’s also a bag that’s well-constructed and comfortable to carry around since you’ll be traveling with it.
- A comfortable headset — You may find yourself participating in remote meetings wherever you can get WiFi or a good cell signal, which may mean in public. A good headset to help keep your conversations private is critical.
- Extra batteries or portable chargers — Even if you aren’t used to needing backup batteries back home, you might find yourself in situations when you’re traveling that require them—for example, you might have a long bus ride where you’d like to watch movies on your phone or you might find that your accommodation is remote enough that there are no outlets. Plus, if you need a specific type of battery for a camera or something else, you might have a difficult time finding it abroad. In order to ensure that you can still get your work done, throw some extra batteries or portable chargers into your bag.
- Twist-ties — No seriously, twist-ties can be seriously useful if you’re a digital nomad! Trying to keep all those wires from getting tangled in your bag? Wrap them up and secure them with twist-ties. Need to punch one of those tiny reset buttons or a SIM tray release button? Strip the plastic off the end of a twist-tie and voila. They’re small and lightweight, so there’s no reason not to throw a few in your bag just in case.
One of the key tools that you’ll want to set up on all your devices prior to leaving home is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (you can read reviews of popular VPN services at SecureThoughts and PixelPrivacy). A VPN will give you a more secure browsing experience to help you ensure that you aren’t a victim of identity theft while you’re connected to public WiFi, as well as allowing you to access sites that are unavailable in your current country due to geo-blocking (think Netflix, Hulu, etc.). It does this by encrypting your network traffic (so hackers can’t see what you’re up to or hijack your internet connection to load your computer with viruses) and by hiding your true IP address (so websites think you’re located somewhere else). Definitely a handy tool to have for both work and personal use!
A Cloud Backup Service
When you’re traveling and working, you need to make sure your documents, photos and whatever else constitutes work information (or important personal information) is backed up. Rather than carrying around a bulky external hard drive that could get damaged, why not use a cloud service? There are plenty of options, and which service you choose will vary depending on the type of documents you need to back up. Key features to look at though are amount of storage per price level, types of files that are supported and ease of usability.
Although a lot of remote work communication is possible via email and messaging, there are certain situations that will probably require you to talk directly with your employer(s) or employee(s). Rather than pay steep international calling fees on your regular phone plan, look into free voice-over-internet (a.k.a.’peer-to-peer’) calling through Skype, Google Hangouts or other programs. Even if you’re looking to call a phone number rather than another user, their rates are more than fair — with Google Hangouts, you can even make calls for free to US phones!
An Unlocked Smartphone
Even if you’re using VOIP for your international calls, it can be useful to have an unlocked smartphone with you. Not only can you use it for local calls (with a local SIM), but there are tons of apps to help you navigate, find things to do, work remotely or whatever else. What’s more, if you buy a data plan for your smartphone, you can often share wireless from your phone to your computer when you’re in areas with slow or non-existent reception.
If you’re a digital nomad, there are plenty of tools you can use so that you can spend more of your time enjoying your new surroundings and less time frustrated by your work. These are some of the best tools out there—but there are plenty of options.
Are you a digital nomad? What tools are there that you can’t live without?