What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who uses modern technology to work from anywhere in the world. They may travel to different locations regularly or set up camp in one spot for an extended period of time. Co-working spaces, libraries and cafes with Wi-Fi are popular spots for digital nomads to work from.
There are many different types of digital nomads out there. Some people travel around their own country by camper van or RV. Others live on sailboats or work from different coastal cities across the world.
Others stay in backpacker hostels or rent Airbnb apartments while flying from country to country. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all definition for a digital nomad; it’s a lifestyle that anyone can adapt to fit each individual’s needs and desires.
Many people dream of becoming a digital nomad, but there are some steps one must take before making the jump. Moving into this new lifestyle requires a transition period where you’ll need to set up your business and find new ways of working remotely.
Apart from that, you’ll need gear to sustain this way of life. In this article, we’ll try to provide insights into everything you need to become a digital nomad and work from anywhere in the world.
Best digital nomad setup
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely and travels the world. They often work from their laptop, so they need a lightweight and compact travel desk to improve their posture. A laptop, stand, keyboard, and mouse or trackpad are the most critical components of this setup. A secondary monitor is also beneficial for working on multiple projects at once. A stable internet connection and VPN are necessary for staying connected while traveling.
When working from a coffee shop, it’s crucial to have a setup to help you focus. Headphones can help block out the ambient noise and help you get into the zone.
Let us begin with the obvious. Your computer is the most critical item in your toolbox as a digital nomad, and it’s the only piece of equipment required.
When purchasing a laptop, it is essential to consider your needs and preferences. Some things you may want to take into account include the type of work you do, the amount of storage space you need, and how much money you are willing to spend. You should also check prices on Amazon before making your purchase.
My personal choice is Apple’s MacBook.
All of Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro laptops are powered by the company’s exclusive and powerful M1 processor. Although several configurations are available, this 14-inch model comes standard with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. Suppose you already own an iMac desktop computer, an iPhone, or an iPad. In that case, a MacBook Pro laptop computer can be configured to sync your data, documents, and files automatically as your other computers and devices via iCloud.
With a battery life of nearly 17 hours, this MacBook Pro allows you to work throughout the day and provides the computational power and convenience you want from a 3.5-pound laptop computer.
As for the Windows alternative, you can consider the Dell XPS 13 series.
With a 13-inch display, you can customize this Dell laptop computer with one of 3 Intel Processor combinations. Additionally, you may select a video card, RAM size, and storage drive capacity that meets your requirements. With a base price of $1,700, this flexible laptop computer runs the newest version of Windows 11 and comes equipped with the features and processing power needed to stay productive throughout the workday. The laptop weighs around 2.7 pounds and features a 14-hour battery life.
A laptop stand elevates your computer to eye level and assists you in maintaining a good work posture. The most popular laptop stand for digital nomads is “The Roost.“
If you’re the kind who only uses name-brand products, get a Roost.
If, like me, you prefer to pay less for basically the same thing, consider the Nexstand.
They’re tiny, extremely durable, and easily adjustable in height.
Mouse, keyboard and/or a trackpad
This is the point at which your digital nomad equipment may fluctuate. Because your laptop is elevated on a stand, you’ll need to supplement your setup with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (or trackpad).
The Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 are the most outstanding digital nomad keyboard and mouse combo for Mac users (or Magic Trackpad 2).
The second-generation versions support charging through a USB-C connection. This is handier than the trackpad, mouse, and keyboard from the first version, requiring AA batteries.
If you’re on a budget, you might be able to find any of these items used on Facebook Marketplace or in “refurbished” condition on Amazon.
The choice between a mouse and a trackpad is purely subjective. I own both but prefer the trackpad. If your profession involves a great deal of accurate clicking and dragging, the mouse is preferable.
A second monitor
Laptop computer screens are typically narrow and constrained, especially for those who enjoy multitasking or having numerous programs or browser windows open concurrently. A secondary screen for your laptop computer is an extra feature that increases your viewable area while allowing you to remain mobile.
When adding an extra screen to your laptop computer, several alternatives are available. Still, prices vary depending on the display’s quality, touchscreen capability, and the way the additional screen links to your macOS or Windows-based laptop.
This ViewSonic 15.6-inch monitor provides a 1080p resolution, a USB-C connection, and an integrated stand and cover. The display includes integrated speakers and a two-way power connection that powers both the screen and your computer concurrently. With a weight of fewer than two pounds and a thickness of 0.6 inches, the monitor should fit comfortably beside your laptop computer in your existing backpack or carry-on.
Second monitor connection
All that remains is to connect the two displays to complete your digital nomad office arrangement. There are various methods for accomplishing this, and some are more effective than others.
If you own a relatively new Macbook and an iPad (specific criteria are listed here), you can use Sidecar for free. This is the current version I’m using, and it’s pretty great.
You should install the Duet app on your tablet or laptop if you use Windows or have older Apple equipment. This is the strategy I used before updating my computer, and it performs rather well. It’s a one-time payment of $20 for the wired connection or $20 each year for the wireless connection.
Even if you have Sidecar-compatible devices, Duet comes in useful if your Wi-Fi connection is unreliable.
Finally, if you purchase an external portable display, it will provide instructions for connecting it to your laptop. Specific monitors are connected through wires, while others are wireless.
Depending on where you need to work, a dependable, fast and secure Internet access or open Wi-Fi hotspot may not always be accessible, particularly if you’re traveling overseas. Owning a personal (and safe) Wi-Fi hotspot enables you to connect to the local 4G LTE (or, in some circumstances, 5G) cellular service and quickly construct a personal Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop and all of your mobile devices.
An alternative to purchasing a separate personal Wi-Fi hotspot equipment is to upgrade the cellular service on your smartphone to include the ability to activate and produce a personal Wi-Fi hotspot; however, this will not always save you cash (especially if you reach the monthly limit).
As for the device – we recommend Skyroam Solis Lite.
What makes this personal Wi-Fi hotspot so fantastic is that it works in over 130 countries (and with the whole United States) and doubles as a power bank for charging your smartphone or tablet. For less than $10 apiece, you may get unlimited day passes for Internet access, pre-pay for a month’s worth of unlimited data, or purchase a non-expiring pre-set quantity of wireless data access.
This gadget is SIM card-free. Establish an account, switch it on, and it links to the local mobile network wherever you are, creating a personal Wi-Fi hotspot that supports up to ten devices concurrently. The Solis’s sole shortcoming is that it does not offer 4G LTE connectivity (not 5G). On the other hand, the battery lasts all day, and the gadget is readily portable at 0.85 ounces.
If you intend to work from public Wi-Fi or unprotected networks (and you will), you would also require a VPN. I’ll save you the intricacies of how they operate, but they serve two primary functions:
- Protect your private data from hackers (e.g., when logging into your digital nomad banking)
- It enables you to appear to access the internet from a separate location.
This second bonus helps access websites that are only available in specific countries; being locked out of accounts when traveling; and streaming movies on Netflix, Hulu, and other services.
If you’re not concerned with streaming or rerouting to certain places, TunnelBear is an excellent free VPN that I’ve been using for years. This is appropriate if you just want anything to safeguard you when login into your bank account regularly.
NordVPN is the greatest value for money if you’re looking for something faster and more versatile.
When you need to block out ambient noise to concentrate on what you’re doing or ensure that you hear everything that’s going on during a critical business call (and that you’re heard as well), using earbuds or headphones with noise cancellation technology and a built-in mic will be extremely valuable for your work-away-from-home life.
The Sony WH1000XM4s are my go-to pair.
Additionally, I carry these Apple Airpods Pro sweatproof earphones. These are my workout headphones, but they also come in useful when I’m not feeling like carrying about the large over-the-ear headphones.
Being a digital nomad does not require you to purchase expensive headphones if you’re on a budget. They undoubtedly improve comfort at work, but you may always upgrade later.
Avoid cramming all of your accessories into your traveling office bag; they will break. This is particularly true with Apple Magic gear, and I’ve painfully learned this lesson after my $100 trackpad smashed inside my backpack. Sad, but true.
To safeguard your accessories, I recommend a Hermitshell Hard Protective Case:
This enclosure is the ideal size for the keyboards and trackpads mentioned above (apart from the Logitech mouse, but it’s pretty sturdy on its own). If you have a special keyboard, make sure that it fits properly.
Depending on where you work, fast, secure, and stable Internet access may not be available. However, the ability to backup critical data, documents, files, images, and your computer is vital for the remote worker. To do this, you’ll need a dependable and robust external solid-state drive (SSD) with sufficient storage space.
Check out Sandisk Extreme Pro:
What’s remarkable about the SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD V2 is how tiny and lightweight it is (it practically fits in a pocket), yet how durable it is, with a read/write speed of 2000MB per second.
It is dust and water-resistant to IP55 standards and can withstand drops of up to six feet without sustaining harm. Of course, it also saves up to 2TB of data, so whether you’re establishing a local backup or storing your most critical files, the procedure is simple, and your data is secure.
If you’re traveling with a laptop and this SSD, keep them in different locations to ensure that if one is lost or stolen, you’ll still have access to your most crucial information and backups.
When working remotely, there will be occasions when you lose access to electrical AC power outlets, or there are insufficient plugs to power or charge your laptop, portable devices, and other gear. Having a battery-powered power bank, as well as a compact extension cable and a power strip, on hand is frequently necessary.
We recommend Arroe Power Bank:
This ultra-thin power bank from Arroe features a 2000mAh rechargeable battery and a variety of ports, as well as a wireless charging pad, allowing you to charge your laptop computer and mobile devices concurrently and significantly increase the battery life of the device when working remotely—all without having to find an electrical outlet.
The battery bank weighs slightly less than 2 pounds and measures 11.23 x 7.88 x 0.59 inches, making it compact enough to tote with your laptop computer.
There is a good chance that there will be insufficient AC power outlets to charge your laptop, tablet, smartphone, watches, headphones, and other electronics wherever you work. While traveling with your power strip, when working remotely is necessary, a PowerCube is handier.
This variant has a five-foot power cable (an extension cord) and five outlets.
The majority of laptop computers come equipped with a fixed amount of ports for attaching additional equipment and accessories. Consider installing an optional (and incredibly portable) hub to quickly increase the number and kind of ports accessible on your Windows or macOS-based laptop.
We recommend Hiearcool:
This hub connects to any computer through a USB-C connector and adds extra ports, including an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C port (with pass-through power), and an SD and FT memory card slot—all in a compact travel-size gadget.
Many people who work remotely require a printer but cannot connect to those provided by a hotel’s corporate office, for example. Carrying your own printer enables you to print from practically any place.
Canon’s Pixma Wireless Portable Printer is perfect for on the go printing:
The ability to print documents on standard Letter or Legal size paper (in black-and-white or full color) enables a remote workplace to be transformed into a fully functional remote office. The Canon PIXMA TR150 inkjet portable printer weighs about 4.5 pounds and fits neatly into a suitcase or carry-on. Connect it via cable to your laptop computer or use it wirelessly (yes, it supports AirPrint for Apple fans) with your computer, smartphone or tablet.
An additional battery pack is accessible as an option. The printer prints black-and-white pages at a rate of nine pages per minute, so it’s pretty efficient.
Once you’ve gotten all of the equipment and gear necessary to work remotely, you must be able to pack and transfer everything safely and effectively across locations, so you waste less time packing and unpacking and more time working productively outside of a typical workplace.
The Carry-On suitcase from Away is perfect for the digital nomad lifestyle.
When it’s time to travel with your remote working gear, Away’s The Carry-On provides a roomy but airline and TSA-compliant method to transfer your possessions safely. The outer shell is constructed of exceptionally durable polycarbonate, and the four wheels include a 360-degree spinning function that makes it simple to move the suitcase along most surfaces.
What’s impressive about this carry-on is that it has a detachable battery pack and two USB charging ports on the exterior of the suitcase (near the retractable handle), allowing you to charge your mobile devices while on the go.
On the whole, an increasing number of people are transitioning to becoming digital nomads, which entails working remotely and traveling the world while still maintaining a steady income.
Hopefully, this article helped you learn more about the gear required to become a true digital nomad and jumpstarts you on your new journey to becoming a digital nomad.
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