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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
I’ve been a digital nomad since the moment I graduated college in August of 2018. In March of 2022 (when I’m writing this post), I’ve worked remotely from eight countries around the world: Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Morocco, Honduras, Switzerland, Croatia and Ireland. In a couple weeks, I’ll be packing up my digital nomad gear and moving to Southeast Asia, where that country-count will quickly skyrocket.
I LOVE being a digital nomad. I love running my own business and I love the freedom that comes with the lifestyle. However, you can’t be a successful digital nomad without the right digital nomad gear.
If you’re itching to become a digital nomad but not sure how to make it happen, download my free guide below, “The Best Remote Jobs for Digital Nomads.”
Must-Have Digital Nomad Gear
If you plan to work remotely and travel the world, or if you already are, keep reading for my list of digital nomad essentials. There are tons of other important items to add to your digital nomad packing list, but this post will focus on the tech essentials you need to successful make money remotely.
Let’s start with the basics – you can’t live the digital nomad life without a laptop. I’ve always been 100% on board the Apple train, so I swear by my MacBook Pro 13-inch. The touch bar is incredibly useful when it comes to crafting social media captions, since you can use it to add emojis.
After seven years using my old *MacBook Pro, I finally upgraded in 2020. Since they come with a hefty price tag, I ended up signing up for an Apple credit card, which allowed me to pay off the laptop monthly over a 1-year period. For a digital nomad just starting out – $200 + change each month was way more attainable than $1,200 upfront.
*Quick tip for digital nomads: Consider traveling with a backup laptop. When I lived in Roatán, I was hundreds of miles away from the furthest Apple store. Had my laptop crashed, I would have been forced to spend hundreds on a flight and probably would have lost a week of work. When I go to Asia, I’ll be traveling with both my new laptop and my old one.
Another basic of the digital nomad lifestyle – your smartphone. Like I said, I’m loyal to Apple, so I’ve been traveling the world with my iPhone 11 Pro Max for the last two years. It doesn’t matter which smartphone you prefer, as long as it’s unlocked. If your carrier locks your phone, it means it won’t be able to accept foreign SIM cards. Trust me, it’s not fun to find out your phone is locked at an airport SIM kiosk with an attendant that barely speaks English and no way to place an international call.
I’m a nomad on-a-budget, so I didn’t see the appeal of dropping hundreds of dollars on a new travel backpack. I decided on The Backpack in Black by Béis Travel. At $78, it comes with a padded laptop sleeve (big enough to fit both my laptops), two drink holders, a roomy interior and chic leather trim.
If you’re looking to splurge on something longer-lasting, check out the Tortuga Women’s Setout backpack and the Osprey Fairview 40 Women’s Travel Backpack (the Osprey would be my choice if budget wasn’t an issue).
I also swear by this day pack from LL Bean. It’s not laptop friendly, but it’s the perfect sized travel pack for a hike or a half-day trip. Plus, it conveniently folds up into itself so it’s easier to pack!
As a Christmas present, my Dad gifted me with the Anker Ergonomic Vertical Mouse. It encourages a “handshake” hand and wrist position that reduces overall strain. When you’re on the computer all day everyday, it’s something to think about.
I also find that the movement and use is smoother than other, traditional wireless mouses.
Anker Bank Portable Charger
I can’t tell you how many times this portable charger has saved my ass while traveling. As a remote worker, it’s important that your clients can reach you during business hours. If your phone dies, you’re not reachable and you might get a reputation for being a bit unreliable.
It’s especially important to travel with a portable charger if you know your phone doesn’t have a great battery life. In my iPhone 7 days, I never left the house without two, fully charged battery packs. This Anker Bank was, and continues to be, my favorite portable charger on the market.
Erin Condren Life Planner
I’ve always loved the look and feel of a paper planner. I used Erin Condren LifePlanners for years in college since they were fully customizable and, in my opinion, the most durable on the market. *In the past, I haven’t always had room for a physical planner while traveling. I’d like to change that in 2022 since I feel that a physical planner keeps me more organized and on-track than a digital version.
*When I can’t bring a physical planner, I use Trello to keep my tasks and events organized.
I recently invested in my first Apple Watch (Series 3 – I’m not that fancy), and I honestly can’t believe I went so long without one. I handle most of my business through WhatsApp, not email, so it’s incredibly useful for reading and replying to client messages on-the-go. It’s also great for taking calls while moving around.
Although I love my Apple Watch, Apple sells some seriously boring bands to accompany such a great piece of technology. Thankfully, Casetify sells some adorable Apple Watch Bands like this leather color block band in blue.
AirPods are another item I can’t believe I went so long without. For years, I was using two pairs of Apple headphones (since my phone has a different jack than my computer) that were so old the cords were more yellow than white. Not only were my cords constantly tangled in my crossbody or backpack, but it was incredibly inconvenient to have to switch back and forth.
I finally invested in 2nd generation AirPods and they were 100% worth the price tag.
A laptop sleeve should definitely be on your list of essential digital nomad gear! Since my laptop sleeve was purchased for my freshman year of college in 2014, I figured it was time for an upgrade. I decided to splurge a little and settled on this customized leather MacBook case from a seller on Etsy. For only $35, the leather is high quality and it fits my laptop perfectly.
For something a little more traditional (with more padding), I love these MOSISO sleeves. They come in the best colors and even have a convenient little handle on top.
Laptop Shell + Matching Keyboard Cover
After realizing the effects that sand can have on a MacBook, I immediately purchased a laptop shell and a matching keyboard cover to protect my laptop from the beach. Amazon has a ton of affordable options that come in great colors. I’ve purchased this set multiple times over the years (it’s plastic, it won’t last forever).
A rubber keyboard cover can be great for keeping sand, dirt and dust out – but it can also trap moisture in. Be conscious of this fact when using a keyboard cover in warm climates.
Casetify Phone Case
After buying cheap plastic cases most of my life, I finally decided to invest in a phone case that would actually protect my phone. After spending two full hours browsing Casetify’s never-ending options, I finally settled on this Lanikai iPhone Case by Ann Upton in olive green (to match my iPhone). I added corner bumpers for extra safety!
As much as I love my new case, a part of me will always regret not buying the Banana Corgis. *sigh*
Blue Light Glasses
The world is extremely divided on the effectiveness of blue light glasses. Half say they love them and the other half swear they don’t do anything. I’m not sure who is right, all I know is I stopped having so many headaches after I started wearing them.
If you’re going to add blue light glasses to your digital nomad gear, make sure to check out these cute options by Free People. They’re a steal at only $28!
Universal Travel Adapter
When it comes to essential digital nomad gear, a universal travel adapter should be on the top of your list. If you travel around a lot, you need to be prepared for all different types of plugs and voltage. This Ultimate World Travel Adapter Kit with a surge protector is great for travelers that frequently travel between countries and continents. Keep in mind that this adapter does not convert voltage, but most electronics will do this automatically nowadays.
Mobile Wifi Hotspot
Although, as a digital nomad, you should make it a habit to choose destinations with a reliable wifi connection, sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned. In the event of a power outage cough cough Roatán or a broken router, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup.
For reliable and portable connectivity, GlocalMe is a great option for travelers. They offer tons of portable wifi options to fit the need of every digital nomad (depending on the country).
External Hard Drives
When you take as many RAW photos as I do, it’s important to have, not one, but THREE external hard drives. Even if you’re not a travel photography enthusiast, it’s never a bad idea to have a few external backup hard drives in case of a catastrophic laptop emergency (knock on wood). I love these Seagate portable hard drives in either 1T or 2T.
If you REALLY want to make sure your laptop is backed up, consider investing in a LaCie Waterproof External Hard Drive. They come in sizes 1T, 2T, 4T and 5T.
When you have a laptop, cell phone, iPad, AirPods and an Apple Watch to charge at the same time (while straightening your hair)…you might want to invest in a reliable power strip. I would definitely recommend getting a compact version with a surge protector, like this option on Amazon.
Memory Card Case
When I started taking enough photos that I had the need for multiple SD cards (5 to be exact), I knew I needed a way to organize them and keep them safe. I invested in this Pelican Memory Card Case and never looked back. It’s a great way to organize SD and Micro-SD cards and make sure they stay safe from the elements.
Lightening to SD Card Camera Reader
I’m honestly OBSESSED with this tiny gadget. It’s one of my favorites on this list of digital nomad gear – especially when you love to take photos of your friends while traveling. It can be a nightmare to sort through hundreds (or literally thousands) or RAW photos and separately send everyone’s photos to them through Dropbox or Google Drive. Nobody has 20+ hours of time to do that shit.
Instead, invest in a Lightening to SD Card Camera Reader. Simply pop in your SD card, hand it to your friend, they’ll plug it into their iPhone and transfer their photos in seconds. For $32, it’s literally that easy.
Multiport USB Hub
If you weren’t already aware, the new MacBooks no longer come with USB ports. They now use USB-C ports instead. If you already owned anything you wanted to plug into your Mac…this is a huge pain in the ass.
My advice? Get ahead of it and order a Multiport USB Hub the second you purchase your new Mac. Don’t buy the individual ones from Apple, it’s a huge waste of money. I use my USB Hub to plug in my Anker mouse and external hard drives.
Although I personally don’t use a laptop stand (even though I probably should), many digital nomads swear by Roost Laptop Stands. They make spending countless hours a week online a little kinder on your neck, back and shoulders. The stands are easily foldable to fit in a carry on and expand easily to your desired height!
With the essential digital nomad gear on this list, you’ll be ready for any situation life, work and travel throws your way. If you think I missed something, drop a comment below with your must-have digital nomad gear! And, if you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my related posts below.