Not all digital nomads are the same. Someone who writes code at a different beach every day will not have the same priorities as someone who organizes virtual events from their favorite pub.
That said, all digital nomads need similar things to make their lifestyles comfortable and sustainable. Here are the 13 essentials that every digital nomad should have:
1.) A Properly Optimized Business Website
To be able to run your business anywhere in the world and get the cash to fund a digital nomad lifestyle, having a well-optimized professional website is almost mandatory. A good professional website will help reduce the effort of finding clients and make being a digital nomad much more sustainable.
If you’re not a website designer yourself, don’t fret. You can easily find ready-to-use website templates or hire a front-end web developer who can create a bespoke professional website for you. Make sure to hire someone who can perform top-level search engine optimization for your site as well, as search engine visibility can make an impact on how many clients find you.
2.) A Reliable Laptop
If you’re going to do a lot of traveling (that is the point of being a digital nomad after all), you’ll want to have a laptop that rates highly in terms of hardware reliability, even if you have to sacrifice a bit of raw performance. Good battery life is also a huge bonus, especially if you’re traveling to less developed areas.
You might not have opportunities to have your laptop fixed wherever you’re planning to go, so it’s essential that the laptop you bring with you won’t conk out at random. Make sure to avoid models with a reputation for breaking or overheating.
3.) A Good Camera
Why bother traveling if you’re not going to document the places you’ve experienced? You probably already have a decent camera on your phone but having a separate high-quality DSLR, mirrorless, or point-and-shoot camera can really help elevate your travel experience. Make sure your camera is reasonably compact and lightweight so that it won’t be a pain to carry around.
4.) A Tech Backpack
Even if you do have a tough phone and laptop, there’s no sense in tempting fate by putting them in your regular luggage. A special protective backpack for your tech items will not only help make lugging your expensive tech investments easier, but it could help keep them in good working order wherever you find yourself.
5.) Travel Insurance
Unfortunately, you cannot completely avoid the risk of meeting an accident or getting seriously ill when you’re out traveling. This makes having some kind of travel insurance a must-have, especially if you’re going overseas for long periods.
Thankfully, you can now get insurance plans that are specially designed for digital nomads. These policies will help ensure that you’ll be able to bounce back should anything untoward happen.
6.) At Least Two Universal Travel Adaptors
Travel adaptors are a must-have, especially if you’re traveling overseas. After all, you’ll need electricity if you want to be able to maintain a digital nomad lifestyle. While one is better than none at all, you will want at least two travel adaptors so that you can easily charge or power all your devices with no worries.
7.) Multiple Data Storage Devices
While a lot of digital nomads rely on cloud storage these days, these solutions may not be ideal in areas that still do not have reliable broadband connections.
For this reason, a hard-disk drive or multiple high-capacity SD cards may come in handy if you ever need to back up your work. As a bonus, you could also use them to store videos and other files to enjoy during your downtime if you’re unable to get streaming services where you are.
8.) Cable Organizers
Between your laptop, phone, peripherals, and other devices you probably need a good number of cables. Having a couple of cable organizers will help keep things from being a tangled mess whenever you need to sit down and do some work.
9.) Reusable Water Bottles
These can be very handy, especially if you’re in a place without ready access to purified bottled water. Plus, it’s always a good idea to reduce plastic waste and minimize your impact on the local environment. Make sure to check out bottle models with built in water filters just in case you visit a place where the quality of water might not be up to usual standards.
10.) Credit Cards
Credit cards can be a lifesaver, especially for unexpected big-ticket purchases. For example, it may be tough to buy a new phone or plane ticket in cash at short notice. You will also need a credit card to enjoy different kinds of online services, including VPNs and other tools you may need for work.
11.) USB-C Hub
Having a USB hub is not something every digital nomad brings, but the ones who do will never be caught without them. A hub can greatly reduce the clutter and improve the convenience of your mobile workstation, making your life as a digital nomad much easier.
12.) Portable Charger/Power Bank
Having an alternative source of power is an absolute must for digital nomads. You will not always have the opportunity to plug your laptop and other devices into a wall outlet, especially if you’re at the beach or anywhere else relatively far from civilization.
Make sure to keep your power bank fully charged and in your tech bag to cope with these unforeseen situations.
While not every digital nomad takes a tablet with them, you could argue that no one should be without one when traveling. A tablet can serve a similar purpose to an extra computer monitor, serving as the main communications hub for managing emails, chat programs, and other secondary tools while the more powerful laptop does the heavy lifting.
Having this one extra tool will not only help you manage your work better, but it could also be key in reducing the cognitive strain that comes with relying on a small laptop screen.
What Else Should You Bring?
Granted, not all digital nomads will have the same needs. If you’re a digital artist, for example, you might need to take a drawing tablet with you. Of course, digital nomads should not forget basic items that all travelers need.
Things like laundry bags, a smartphone, sunglasses, sunscreen, sufficient amounts of local currency, climate-appropriate clothing, towels, and underwear are not “digital nomad essentials” per se, but you will probably regret not taking these with you.
In any case, if you’re a digital nomad yourself, feel free to get in touch with your recommendations as well as comments on real essentials we may have missed.