It’s the dream that more and more of us fantasise about: working from a beach in Thailand, or maybe from the mountains, with only your laptop for an office. The reality, of course, is that it’s hard to find a job that doesn’t require your presence at all in an employer’s or client’s office, and then when you are abroad you’re often struggling to find a reliable Wi-Fi connection and worried about your computer getting stolen or your data hacked. With that in mind, I’ve amassed a whole lot of paraphernalia for when I’m travelling and need to keep up with emails, presentations, blog posts, not to mention staying in touch with friends and family…
Here’s my take on a packing list for a digital nomad:
Laptop plus charger: I’m an Apple girl and I travel everywhere with my 11-inch Macbook Air. It’s lightweight and slim, fitting into handbags and backpacks but still holding sufficient capacity for my business and blogging needs. (For a long time the memory was full and I couldn’t understand why, until I discovered that iMovie had kept drafts of old videos that I had created or downloaded. I deleted these and since then have had no more problems!) Before travelling to Asia, I bought a Kuzy Hard Cover in black to make it look less like a Mac and the Coodio Laptop Case in grey to protect it (this came with a practical zip pocket as well as a little case where I could put the cables). I also make sure that I’ve backed everything up via Apple Time Machine and with the new FileVault that came with Yosemite I now also encrypt the hard drive to make it harder to hack.
iPhone plus charger and earphones: I always travel with my iPhone, although when I went to Asia I left my new 6 plus at home and travelled with my old 5S. It’s useful for making calls, of course, plus these days there’s Wi-Fi almost everywhere so you can get onto WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, whatever your poison… (Travelling in South America, I had put on a black case to make my phone at the time less conspicuous – but that didn’t prevent it from being stolen!) You may also want to consider bringing an extra battery pack (e.g. Mophie) or solar charger for when you don’t have access to sockets; though I have to say that my phone battery lasts much longer when I’m abroad since I turn roaming off and don’t constantly check it as I do at home.
International adapters: The Apple World Travel Adapter Kit is great for Macs and iPhones, and includes six plugs that work in countries including the US and the UK, Japan, China, continental Europe, Korea, Australia and Hong Kong. It’s also worth bringing along the specific adapters for the countries you’re visiting for any other chargers you have (camera, Kindle etc.) or an all-in-one universal travel adapter.
D-SLR camera: I almost always have my Nikon D5100 with me these days, usually with just my Nikon 18-200mm Lens plus the charger. I also have a Nikon 50mm Lens as well as the Manfrotto Lightweight Travel Tripod and a Hoya polarising filter.
Memory cards: Taking lots of photos and video clips means that you need a lot of memory. I bought large, fast memory cards for both the D-SLR (SanDisk Ultra SDHC 32 GB) and the GoPro (SanDisk Extreme Micro SDXC 32GB). This might seem a bit excessive but since I rarely delete photos and videos from my memory cards, keeping them as an extra back-up, it’s very convenient to have such a large capacity to play with.
Memory card reader: To save photos onto my computer (or rather my USB stick), I bought the Hama SD / MicroSD Card Reader, which connects to the USB port. (I also have one that works directly with my iPad.) That way I can choose and upload photos to this blog while travelling. I still keep all my photos on the memory card, I don’t delete them while travelling, so this means that I have an extra backup in case one or the other is lost or stolen.
USB sticks: Since my Macbook Air doesn’t have a lot of memory, I bought massive USB sticks to be able to put my photos and heavy files on, one 64GB and one 32GB, both from Kingston. I also found a little case to keep the USB sticks, extra memory cards and card reader all together.
Kindle: I no longer bring books when travelling as they just take up too much space, and they’re heavy. I bought a canvas case on NotOnTheHighStreet.com to protect my Kindle, and to make it look less like a Kindle when in South America and Asia. (I did the same with my iPad when I first travelled with it instead of my laptop.) *Update* These days I tend to just read on the Kindle app on my iPhone, but I think if I were travelling in some particular countries I would still prefer to have my less conspicuous and less indispensable Kindle when out and about.
GoPro camcorder plus charger: I’ve recently started bringing my GoPro HERO3+ on trips although I haven’t started doing anything yet with the footage! *Update* I now do my filming on my iPhone so the GoPro generally stays at home.
Selfie stick: A genius invention! For narcissists, yes, but when you’re a solo traveller it’s incredibly useful to have this so that you can get good photos of yourself without (a) having to ask a stranger (who’ll usually take a shitty photo) or (b) having your big fat arm in the picture. I bought the QuikPod Explorer 3 monopod, it’s lightweight and works with both my iPhone 5S and my GoPro. If you’re in the US you can buy it directly from QuikPod, otherwise I found mine on eBay. You can also buy these at much cheaper prices while travelling, especially in Asia – I just don’t quite trust them and when you’re extending it out over the side of a boat, off a mountain, or in a swimming pool at the top of a 55-storey building then you sure as hell want it to be reliable…
*Phew* that’s it! It sounds like a lot but many of the bits are small and don’t take up a lot of space. You also don’t need lots of adapters if you’re only going to one country.
Anything missing from the list that you can’t live without, or that’s made your life easier when travelling as a blogger or while running your business? Share your tips in the comments below!