14 Must-Have Technology Items for Digital Nomads

The digital nomad lifestyle is driven by technology — devices and applications that allow people to work from any location while exploring new surroundings and cultures.

The MBO Partners 2023 State of Independence research study found that 17.3 million American workers described themselves as digital nomads this year, up by 2% year on year after a 131% jump from 2019 to 2022. The number of digital nomads who are independent workers — freelancers, self-employed, or independent contractors — increased 14% from 2022.

READ MORE: Workplace Trends 2024: Will WFH Survive the ‘Return to The Office’ Call?

While some companies are calling their workers back into the office following COVID-19 restrictions, many others are putting in place remote policies that allow their employees to work abroad for weeks or months in a year. Nomading has moved from a somewhat unconventional lifestyle to a mainstream work practice in just a few years, MBO Partners noted.

An important consideration for independent nomads and those who work remotely for companies is that working from various locations outside the office can expose them to greater IT security risks. Wi-Fi connections can be insecure, virtual VPNs less reliable, and theft and loss of devices more prevalent than in their home countries.

READ MORE: Best VPN Services for 2024

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Any nomad about to head out on the road needs to have the right tech stack in place to make sure that they can work effectively and safely on the move. Aside from a powerful laptop and smartphone — which go without saying — what are some of the must-have technology items for digital nomads?

14 Best Technology Items for Digital Nomads

Power Adapter

If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a plug adapter so you can keep your devices charged. A universal travel adapter contains plugs that slide out to fit power outlets in most countries, saving you from carrying separate adapters for different destinations. Gallium nitride (GaN) chargers are smaller and lighter than older generations while providing faster charging. Models that also feature multiple USB ports make it easy to charge multiple devices at once, which is especially convenient if you stay in accommodations with limited outlets.

Keep in mind, however, that an adapter does not convert voltage, so you need to check that your devices are dual voltage or support or range of 110-250 volts to avoid frying them or blowing out a fuse.

Power Bank

Portable power banks or backup batteries that allow you to charge devices on the go are essential for digital nomads who need to work from anywhere, even if there are no power outlets nearby. Small power banks are sufficient to charge mobile devices, and larger units allow you to charge your laptop. There are options with fast charging and multiple ports that can power up several devices quickly.

It is important to know, however, that some airports and airlines do not allow power banks with larger capacity (generally 20,000mAh) through security because of the risk of fires, and they must be carried in your hand baggage.

Unlocked/Dual-Sim Phone

Most smartphones are no longer locked to your home mobile network, so you can use a local pay-as-you-go SIM card with plenty of mobile data when you are abroad. You might want to carry a separate phone for this that you can also use as a backup to your main phone, or you can use a smartphone with a dual-SIM card slot so that you can have your home SIM and local SIM on the same device. Either option allows you to avoid expensive roaming charges and data limits from your home network.

Portable WiFi Hotspot

You can use the WiFI hotspot feature on your smartphone, although some carriers may limit your hotspot data. An alternative is to carry a portable hotspot device that allows you to connect to the Internet from anywhere, even if there is no WiFi network available. Stable and fast Internet connectivity is non-negotiable for any digital nomad, so look for a device that supports high data speeds and good coverage in locations where you expect to travel.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

If you expect to work in noisy environments such as big cities, busy co-working spaces, and airports, noise-canceling headphones can help you focus on work and avoid distractions. They are also useful for drowning out background noise in virtual meetings with colleagues or clients.

Portable External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is useful for backing up your work for offline access wherever you are and giving you enough storage space to save all your travel photos and videos. You can connect it to any computer to access your files and set up security features such as passwords or PINs to safeguard your work.

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VPN Subscription

Access to a VPN is important to protect your privacy and security while using public WiFi networks. A VPN encrypts your Internet connection and hides your IP address, making it more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal your sensitive work and personal data.

Ergonomic Accessories

A wireless ergonomic keyboard and mouse, as well as a folding laptop stand, can make working on your laptop more comfortable and efficient, saving your posture when you put in long hours on the screen.

Portable Monitor

Depending on the nature of your work, you might want to have a dual-screen setup. A lightweight portable can be a great addition to your digital nomad kit, especially if your laptop has a small screen.

USB Hub

If you have more devices than USB ports on your laptop, a USB hub allows you to expand the number of ports available. That way, you can connect multiple devices simultaneously, such as your external hard drive, phone, and other peripherals, making it easier to manage your workflow and stay organized.

Travel Locks

While exploring new destinations, safeguarding your tech gear is essential. A portable travel lock allows you to secure the door to your accommodation from the inside. Baggage locks protect your belongings in airports, co-working spaces, and other locations.

Portable Baggage Scale

A small electronic scale that you can stash in a pocket can save you a lot of hassle at airports — especially if you travel on airlines with smaller baggage allowances. You can weigh your bags before you get to the airport to make sure your baggage stays under the limit and distribute the weight evenly, saving you from having to repack or throw items away.

Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker

A smartwatch can be a useful tool for a digital nomad who need to stay connected while on the go. Nomads who are constantly on the move can find it hard to maintain a regular gym routine or make time for other forms of exercise. A smartwatch or fitness tracker can also be helpful for digital nomads who want to be more mindful of their physical activity and stay healthy.

Portable Air Purifier

A portable air purifier can be a useful tool for digital nomads who are sensitive to air quality and stay in parts of the world that have a burning season.

The Bottom Line

Setting off on a digital nomad lifestyle with the right tech gear for your work needs is key to a successful and enjoyable experience. By investing in a powerful laptop, chargers, WiFi hotspot, and other essential devices, you can navigate the challenges of working on the move while remaining productive.

Consider the work setup you want to have on the move, as well as what you need to stay connected and secure, and make sure you have everything that you may not be able to pick up along the way. And, importantly, find the right balance so that it is not too heavy to carry around the world!

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Nicole Willing

Nicole is a professional journalist with 20 years of experience in writing and editing. Her expertise spans both the tech and financial industries. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. She holds a degree in Journalism from City University, London. Having embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, she can usually be found on the beach brushing sand out of her keyboard in between snorkeling trips.