What you need to quit your day job and become a digital nomad

Last Updated December 2019

Freedom and adventure await when you begin your life as a digital nomad. Working remotely is profoundly liberating, if a little overwhelming; you can travel anywhere in the world — as long as you have internet connectivity. No longer are you tethered to living in one spot. Gone are lengthy commutes, stifling offices, and meddlesome coworkers.

Though the digital nomad lifestyle may seem like a carefree existence, it’s critical to have a well-developed plan in order to properly execute the transition from office life to traveling freelancer. After you’ve secured a remote job and any necessary travel visas, it’s time to obtain what you need to succeed as a digital nomad.

The key to this lifestyle is balance and efficiency, and there are some important items to consider in order to optimize both work and travel.

1. A multifunctional travel pack

Your backpack may be the most essential asset you acquire ahead of traveling. You want something large enough to fit all your clothing and electronics — especially since you’ll be carrying all your belongings with you — but also something light enough for effortless mobility. The more pouches, compartments, and removable pieces, the better.

The ideal backpack will depend on your destination. If you’ll be spending more time in tropical locales, it’s better to opt for a hiking backpack. These will be more durable, optimized for food and water storage, and may include a convenient outside pouch for an easy-to-reach beverage or speaker.

If your travels will take you through bigger metropolis areas, then you want something smaller and perhaps more stylish but still durable enough for daily use. This will make it easy to take only what you need when you set out for urban exploration.

You should also consider your travel; if you’ll be taking more planes than buses, pick a travel backpack that can fit in the overhead compartment – losing checked luggage can be a huge hassle, especially if you’re regularly on the move.

No matter your destination or mode of travel, you’ll want a separate, protective compartment for your laptop and a strong enough outer layer that items inside won’t get squished or broken.

2. A way to get your work done

Your laptop is essentially your lifeline as a digital nomad; it facilitates your ability to work remotely and, by extension, to continue traveling. It’s worth investing in a quality computer ahead of your newfound nomadic life — the last thing you want is to find yourself unable to meet your deadlines due to technical difficulties.

Above all else, you want a dependable machine. Beyond that, your choice will be dictated by the type of work you’re doing; a smaller screen is fine for writing and editing documents, but a slightly larger one is optimal for graphic design. Aim to balance out lightweight and compact with power and battery life.

DID YOU KNOW?

Solar-powered devices and portable chargers will keep your electronics at full strength in any circumstances.

3. Tech to boost your efficiency

A wireless mouse is always preferable to the trackpad on your laptop, as an ergonomic configuration keeps your wrist and arm protected from regular work. The wireless connection also keeps the cable count low — a must for any mobile office setup.

Be sure to bring a portable charger because you never know when you’ll be away from an outlet for too long during travels. A portable USB hub is also useful for charging all of your devices simultaneously when you have access to limited power outlets. Lastly, it’s smart to have a flash drive on hand, whether to back up important information or to quickly transfer data offline.

4. Extras to enhance your travel

In addition to the work necessities, you’ll want some fun tech to supplement your travels. A portable Bluetooth speaker is a must; they offer convenience, high sound quality, and are often made to be durable and weather resistant.

A pair of wireless headphones, preferably noise-cancelling, are useful when you can’t play music aloud. They also come in handy for work meetings or interviews if they’re equipped with a microphone.

Reading is a great way to pass the time while traveling from place to place. While physical books take up a lot of space, an E-reader is convenient and efficient, storing boundless novels and magazines at hand.

5. Protection for your valuables

  • Purchase a money belt to add some safety and security for your valuables while staying on your person.

  • Buy a protective case for everything: your laptop, smartphone, e-reader, and headphones.

  • Acquire a VPN if you’re likely to use a lot of public Wi-Fi networks for work and social media.
     

6. The digital nomad starter kit

  • Backpack: Regardless of where you travel, you want a backpack that’s comfortable and optimized for space and convenience. eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is one of the best for working while on the move due to its integrated laptop pouch, its water bottle pocket, and its stowable straps.

  • Portable speaker: A travel-friendly speaker should fit in your bag and withstand weather. VicTsing has a Bluetooth shower speaker that makes the perfect travel speaker because it’s waterproof, lightweight, and comes with a carabiner to easily attach to your backpack.

  • USB port: To juice your many electronic devices, Anker offers a wall charger featuring five ports, which should cover headphones, e-reader, speakers, and phone all at once. Make sure you have the USB cables for all your devices before you set out on your travels.

  • E-Reader: Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is one of the top e-readers for its price. This particular model is ideal for travel because it’s thin and light, plus it features large storage and is now waterproof. If you have an Audible subscription, you can even connect your Bluetooth headphones to listen to audiobooks on the go.