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Published on August 11th, 2013 | by Daniel


12 Essential Items for Digital Nomads

Although the location independent life is one of freedom, it can be advantageous to make some practical preparations for it. Below is an overview of tools to consider for the life as a digital nomad – besides your normal travel packing needs as clothes and underwear of course ; ). I use all these items currently or have used them in the last 3 years.

Laptop and Accessories – I go with a 13 inch Samsung Ultrabook (I am probably a minority in digital nomad land not typing away on an Apple. Most digital nomads I know love to use Macbook Air or Pro for their work). Furthermore I always like to use a keyboard, so for instance a tablet is a no go, but I want to travel as light as possible. So a 13 inch screen is perfect for me. I combine this with a Logitech wireless mouse, as I cannot work on only the touchpad. Doing marketing and design work on just a touchpad is very annoying. Of course, you mileage may vary depending on your line of work.

Internet – The lifeline of the location independent lifestyle. The quality of the internet can sometimes make or break your working day. In order to get WIFI internet everywhere, you can consider buying a local 3G USB Wifi modem or Airport Express (Apple).

VPN – I always use a VPN (virtual private network) when abroad. It ensures secure browsing and makes sure no one can tap your online bank transactions for instance. Besides that you can browse the internet bypassing any local firewalls. Good providers are StrongVPN and HidemyAss.

Headset and Mic – A good headset with microphone makes VOIP (i.e. Skype) calling much more convenient and provides better conversational quality.

Online Backup – Some need it, some don’t. It depends on your line of work online. However, I can recommend you to do a backup of your works once in a while. In case you are wary of putting your stuff online, you can consider bringing a “normal” external hard drive with you.

Online Banking and Credit cards – In most cases your personal bank can cover banking and ATM transactions abroad but sometimes it is cheaper to get a specific online banking service as well. Personally I go with Moneybookers/Skrill (and their issued credit card). They have good and easy to use online banking system and I like their low fees for ATM transactions abroad. Another good provider is Payoneer.

Smartphone – I do not want to carry my laptop all the time so I am happy with my old IPhone 4, which I take almost everywhere with me. Besides that, the google maps app with its GPS on your phone is a great help to find your way when you are motorbiking / hiking in the mountainous areas of Laos or Thailand for instance. You do not even need internet to use it (just preload the maps before your hikes).

Power Adapter – Absolutely necessary when you travel a lot. This thing saved me many times abroad after arrival and looking for power, just to find out that the power outlets in that particular country were different than those back home. A power adapter that can fit on any power outlet imaginable will gives you the peace of mind that you can get electricity everywhere in the world.

Toiletries – Consider what you need for your daily needs and what you can buy abroad. For instance some types of contact lens fluids are not available everywhere abroad – and think about your medicines of course. Also the special travel sets for your liquids are almost a must when you travel by plane often.

A handy suitcase – Personally I like to travel light. So I have a suitcase on wheels that I can take with me as hand luggage, no check-in required.

Insurance – I am not a fan of the principle of insurance but sometimes it is needed for legal reasons and sometimes it is just stupid not to have it. So I did go with the travel insurance of World Nomads. It is relatively cheap and it covers the important basics.

Language Tools – Learning the languages of the places you visit can be very rewarding and will often increase your experience to a large extent. This is especially the case in those places where the amount of English speakers is low. Some good tools to learn foreign languages are LiveMocha, Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

Whether you need all these things that’s up to you of course. And for your line of work you might need some additional tools on the road (i.e. for my online marketing I use a vast amount of software tools) – but for me this list above covers all the important basics. As you can see I like a more minimalist approach. You can use 1001 items, tools and apps but you will get crazy when you try to use all of them. I think it is better to have the basics covered without fluff and work from there.

In case you use essential tools that are not mentioned on this list, leave a comment or let me know and I will add it to the list. Also check out our resources section – with more handy stuff for the location independent lifestyle.

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  • DALI

    passport with plenty of empty pages
    run-away money

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