As the name suggests, being a digital nomad requires a lot of technology to achieve and maintain, just like most jobs nowadays. Everyone has numerous gadgets at a hand’s reach at all times, but the tech required to facilitate the remote worker lifestyle is more specific and not always so obvious. If you are just starting your digital nomad journey it can be challenging to figure out what you need to bring along, as you want to strike the right balance between too bulky of a luggage and not having the proper tools to do the job. As I have acquired a bit of experience through the years, here are my recommendations for what’s the best tech to buy, as a digital nomad:
This one should be obvious, but I have personally seen people lugging a desktop computer around the world, so it bears repeating. Modern laptops are sufficient for 90% of office jobs out there, and if you are a remote worker you will most certainly need some kind of a computer, pushing that number up to 99%. If you do plan on doing some extremely intensive work that requires a powerful PC, then you are in a very specific situation and have my blessing to go traveling with that PC. But, considering that the vast majority of people that are digital nomads are in marketing, coding, writing, design, or editing, I think that a good laptop is the way to go. I love working from different spots, be it a charming coffee place, a co-working space, or my balcony and half the charm of being a remote worker is having the freedom to do your work wherever you please. Don’t preemptively shoot yourself in the foot by bringing your gaming machine along to Thailand, just because you have a bunch of important files on your PC. After all, there are hard drives for that.
This is another piece of tech that seems too obvious to mention, but there is a good amount of people that carry multiple USB flash drives with them and have developed a complex workflow of switching between them. In reality, all you really need is a hard drive, and for some people a cloud storage service. Hard drives are relatively compact and quick and can carry a lot of information, making them great for video editors and other creatives, but cloud storage is where it’s really at. If you work in a collaborative environment remotely, it’s a must to have a shared drive with your teammates or clients. There are many options out there, but it’s a good idea to research and possibly pay for one (there are some great free ones like Google Drive) before you set off on your journey. That way you can store any important files on the cloud before you leave home and know that you will have everything that you need, even if your laptop breaks, gets stolen or you decide to get a new one.
If you have ever had to do important work in a cafe, on a plain, or at a coworking space that is having a Friday afternoon party, you know that a good pair of noise-canceling headphones is a must for the digital nomad. I don’t need a perfectly silent environment when I’m working, but the noise can get out of hand at times, especially when you are constantly moving around, and if you need to focus, putting on a pair of those headphones is a godsend. While it can be pricey to get a really good pair of headphones, I think it is worth it to spend a bit more and get the best available ones, as the current leaders on the market are amazing and the noise cancelation borders on the magical. Traveling without a pair has become unthinkable to me since I got them, and they are worth their weight in gold, just for the added productivity. Of course, you can also use them for leisure, like watching a movie in a hostel or listening to some music on a noisy bus in Asia.
We’re starting to enter the realm of tech that isn’t a necessity, but certainly comes highly recommended! When I implore you to buy a good camera, that doesn’t need to be a very expensive and professional camera, but can simply be a newer smartphone. I know that many digital nomads are frugal and like to hang onto their phones for a long time, often not caring about all of the bells and whistles newer phones have, but it is always sad to see someone traveling around the world without a decent camera. You should live in the moment, but snapping a couple of good photos on your journey can be a very fruitful experience, and I often look back at the photos from my adventures. In more practical terms a good camera can also be useful when you need to take a picture of yourself for LinkedIn or some other project that requires that, and in today’s world, a good front-facing camera for video calls is a must. While this is certainly a piece of technology that you can skip, I do think that if you have the money and luggage room for a nice camera, it’ worth it to get one. After all, social media is quickly becoming a top marketing channel.
Again, this might seem like a frivolity, and the more spartan travelers will scoff at the idea of a tablet or an e-reader being a necessity. However, I like to read books, prefer to read them in English, and also like to not have to carry them around. It’s possible to get your hands on some books in larger cities, but the further away you go from Western civilization, the harder it becomes to find a good thing to read unless you have one of these. You will need decent internet for almost any job that you plan to do as a digital nomad, and if you have internet, you have access to millions upon millions of books and other material. An Ipad can be used as a toy or an extension to your laptop, but you can also read Dostoyevski on a boat in the Mekong delta if you are feeling like it. Paper books are bulky and heavy, so stuffing your luggage or backpack with a bunch of them is not an efficient or comfortable way to do things, especially considering how cheap tablets and e-readers are these days. Do yourself a favor and get yourself one of these, it’s worth the investment.