Life as a digital nomad sounds exciting. Travelling the world, picking and choosing where you live as one of the growing band of remote workers is enticing. However, while it is relatively easy to put to gather a digital nomad packing list to work out what clothes to take, it can be more difficult to work out the best digital nomad gadgets to pack.
Your new “office” may not have the conveniences you are used to. No printer or scanner, you might not even have a proper desk. Adapting to your new workspace can mean you are working in a coffee shop, at your lodgings, a co-working space or in the back of a bus!
Just what essentials do you actually need for your new digital nomad lifestyle? Apart from a trusty laptop, unlocked smartphone and a good camera, what else should be on your list of gadgets that you might need?
Exchanging your conventional office or home office for the unknown can be daunting, I know I have been there. Let this guide to the best digital nomad gadgets help you work out what travel essentials you need and want to pack.
Recommended Digital Nomad Gadgets
Okay, so it is almost a given that you will take a laptop with you as a digital nomad. Whether you choose Apple products like the sleek design of the MacBook Pro, or prefer Windows-based laptops like the Surface Pro, it can be difficult to find lightweight laptops.
Invest in the best you can afford. Check the memory, the hard drive size, the battery power and of course, the weight!
External USB Ports
The latest laptops seem to have done away with USB ports and SD card slots. You may have to buy one to carry with you. Choose one that has multiple USB ports, slots for SD cards and maybe even an HDMI cable if you want to hook your laptop up to a TV screen.
Do make sure it is compatible with your laptop.
Having peace and quiet can be difficult if you are in a co-working space. Even if you are in your own place you may still need to block outside noise.
Use noise cancellation headphones either bud style or retro full wireless headphones to help you concentrate, or listen to your favourite podcast or YouTube video.
They will also give you peace when you are in transit between destinations. A good idea to pop them on for blocking out noisy people on the plane, train or bus while you sit and write your blog posts or update your social media.
They may be more expensive than the headphones which come with your devices, but the additional cost is worth it.
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Universal Travel Adapter Plug
When travelling around the world, you will find that different countries use different plugs. Taking an international plug adapter is one of the gadgets for digital nomads that you should pack.
You can choose a continent-specific adapter, but to cover all eventualities a universal travel adapter is worth the extra cost.
Extension cord and surge-protected power strip
Going hand-in-hand with a travel adapter is an extension lead. We can’t expect to have a reliable power source everywhere we go, so make sure you have surge protection in case of any power surges.
You may think that these are a bit heavy to carry with you, but in the long run, it is so much easier to be able to plug in more than one thing at a time! With the one below, you can switch plugs off individually which is a great plus.
Anti-glare filter for your screen
One of the downsides of being a nomad, especially in sunny countries, is the glare on your laptop screen if you want to work outdoors. A great way to cut this down and avoid squinting is to fit an anti-glare filter for your screen.
They come in different sizes and are an easy way to stop prying eyes from seeing what you are working on.
As there are so many different laptops, check prices for the best anti-glare filter for your laptop on Amazon.
Solid State External Hard Drive
For me, one of my digital nomad essentials is my external hard drives to carry all my gazillion photos and documents. They are in daily use and don’t add much weight.
External Hard Drives can either be HDD or SSD. HDD drives are cheaper, but are prone to breaking down and when they do you could lose all the info on them.
I would recommend buying an SSD, they are more expensive but having had experience of using both, I would recommend them. Go for as large a capacity as you can afford. I have a 2TB and a 1TB – one for each business.
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Carrying a USB stick or two can be a handy way of transferring files if you want to get things printed out or swap with other nomads.
Portable wifi router
Internet connections around the world can vary, hugely! From little to no reliable internet service to all singing and dancing 5G. To prepare yourself for the potential loss of an internet connection pack a portable wifi router with you.
Try the Skyroam mobile hotspot, Solis. The device works in 130 countries and is available as pay as you go or a monthly contract.
One of the most essential items to have when you are travelling is a power bank. There is nothing more frustrating than your phone battery running out when you are about to take an epic shot, need your Google Map, or booking code.
Of course, a mobile battery pack doesn’t just charge your mobile phone. Nowadays your tablet, headtorch, drone and all manner of other items can have their battery life extended with a portable charger and a USB cable. Try to get one with at least two USB ports so you can charge more than one item at a time.
Consider getting as high a Ah which will last you the entire day.
Always remember to recharge it overnight so that it is ready for the next day!
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Ipad or Tablet
Is an iPad or a tablet an essential digital nomad gadget? Are they really necessary? Obviously, there are times when space is tight on planes, trains or buses when pulling out your laptop is impractical. Having a tablet means you can still work while on the move.
If you are taking an iPad with you, I would recommend getting a travel keyboard to make it easier to type.
A Day Pack or Laptop Bag
If you are travelling around a lot, or even just going on a day trip, a day pack or laptop bag is one of the best investments you can make.
A supplement to your digital nomad backpack, a day pack can be lighter, but still strong enough to hold your camera, drone or maybe your laptop. Don’t forget to take a reusable water bottle with you, like a Chilly bottle!
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Cable Organiser and Holder
There is nothing worse than getting your gear out to charge and being confronted by a tangle of cords. Wasting time working out which is the right charging lead for your camera, drone etc.
Investing in a cable organiser will help you sort everything out and keep things neat and tidy and accessible.
Waterproof SD card holder
Have you ever lost an SD card? Fumbling If you are taking a camera, GoPro, drone or any other gadget that needs an SD card, it can be a nightmare to keep your spares safe in a waterproof SD cardholder.
VPN – Virtual Private Network
Okay so this isn’t really a gadget, but I would say that having a VPN on all your devices is a must to protect yourself from hackers. You never know who is trying to get access to your laptop and devices. It will also protect your credit card details.
Useful extras for Travelling
Mobile Phone Stand
Keeping your mobile phone close by when you are working can give you peace of mind. Pop it on an adjustable mobile phone stand so you can keep an eye on it… and your messages.
Using a laptop on a flat surface can hurt your neck and give you back pain after a while, so try a portable laptop stand. Even better, an adjustable laptop stand will let you change the angle and height. They are especially good if you spend long hours on your laptop.
A lot of people can’t get used to using a laptop without a mouse. A Bluetooth wireless mouse is easier to pack so you are not worrying about cords.
Taking a portable monitor with you when you travel might not seem like an essential item in the life of a digital nomad. However, if you need to have a larger screen – maybe you are a graphic designer, architect or such – it might be worth considering.
RFID Credit Card Holder
Protect your credit cards from being cloned with an RFID credit card holder.
Pin for changing sim cards
Depending on where you are travelling to, you may need to change the sim in your phone to a local sim card. Unless you have this done where you pick up your card, you will need a pin to pop out the card.
Phone Holder for Car
If you are driving and need to use your phone for directions to find your new location, it may be useful to carry a phone holder with you. They can be quite light and fix into one of the vents.
A small extra to carry is an in-car charger. Many modern cars have in-built USBs, but older models may not. Taking your own in-car USB charger will mean you can charge your devices on the go.
From helping to see where you are going in the dark, to lighting up a room when the power goes off, a headtorch is a useful addition and won’t add much to your luggage. Choose one that is charged by USB instead of batteries or a plug for ease.
How I worked out what Digital Nomad Gadgets I needed to take
For a few weeks, while I was making my plans for starting my digital nomad journey, I make a note of every item I used for work during the day. I marked down what the item was and how often I used it.
This helped me to whittle down what tools and gadgets I was actually using on a daily basis and which were just occasional.
I then went through the list again and looked at the weight of them and if there were digital alternatives. I did have a few deal-breakers.
I love writing things down on A5 or A4 notepads, but realised that I actually only used a small amount of paper, and not normally the whole page. I changed to A6 or even smaller notepads and it make me more concise in what I was using and also brought the weight down. Then I found Rocketbook Everlast Notebooks and I just carry one!
Final Thoughts on Digital Nomad Gadgets
We all have different needs and wants when we are travelling as digital nomads. What you take with you will depend on the type of work you do.
You may find in the long run that you jettison some of the things you thought you might need.
Whether you are embracing the nomadic lifestyle and going for long-term travel, or just going away for a short trip, you need to pack for what is the best digital nomad gear for you.
Don’t forget to pin this article so you can come back to it later
Larch was semi-nomadic until 2022, when she sold her house, packed up her belongings in a storage unit and set off on her travels around the world. Now fully nomadic, she combines her website design business and her drone flying with exploring the world. Her passion for travel aims to inspire over 30s to explore new destinations and expand their horizons.