Today I am excited to release my list of the top gear and services I use for working remotely. These tools enable me to run my business while actively pursuing my Life List.
Skip To The Best:
Best Services for Digital Nomads
Focus at Will is a music service that is based on the neuroscience of getting and staying focused. This service streams music that consistently enables me to focus and produce high-output work for hour long sessions at a time. The paid version allows for customizable time lengths and access to addition playlists.
HotelWifiTest.com is a new service that shows you the speed of wifi at hotels around the world. While the service does allow for direct polling of wifi speeds, most of the entries are estimated. I use this service now and am excited to see the list of true speeds grow in the future.
Nomad List is a relatively new web service that provides you with a sorted list of cities that are friendly to digital nomads and remote workers. The service lists up-to-date advice on the best co-working spaces, phone providers, cafes, weather and a great deal of other relevant information. It is free, constantly expanding and useful!
WorkFrom.co is my favorite resource for finding work-friendly cafes while traveling. It contains information on Internet speeds, food selection, hours and background noise. Right now it is limited in the amount of cities it includes but its list is growing steadily.
World Time Buddy is my favorite tool for managing timezones and for scheduling global meetings. The tool uses an intuitive grid layout that makes it easy to see the applicable time in multiple timezones. It is free, web-based and easy to use.
T-Mobile phone and data service – Creative people don’t like being locked into long-term contracts. I recently switched over to T-Mobile and am quite happy with the service. Not only does it over LTE support all over the United States, it also is contract free, offers unlocked devices and most importantly, has no extra cost international 3G data in over 200 countries.
Ookla’s SpeedTest.net is a free app and website that tests and records the speed of your current Internet connection. I use this every time I connect to a new wifi hotspot and want to see if the Internet connection will be fast enough for my planned work.
Private Internet Access is an Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that allows you to securely access the Internet from untrusted wifi hotspots. Better yet, the service offers servers all over the world so you can both decrease your latency and increase your service availability.
OpenVPN is a free and open source app that lets you connect to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) on your iPhone or Android device. The advantage to this app over the built-in VPN in iOS is that this app doesn’t disconnect when the phone auto-locks.
Xero is a cloud based accounting service. I recommend it over frontrunner, Freshbooks, due to price, design, and usability. It is easy to get up and running and is simple enough for a non-accountant like me use on a weekly basis. I especially like the auto-learning rules that make double entry bookkeeping much less tedious.
Earth Class Mail is a company that scans and forwards postal mail to the e-mail address of your choice. In addition, it deposits checks (for a fee), saves PDFs of your postal mail online and offers in-person pickup and package signing. It isn’t cheap but it is essential for US based digital nomads.
Best Software for Digital Nomads
Swordsoft Layout is a wire framing and brainstorming application that is a clone of the industry standard, Balsamiq. I use and recommend this version because it is Mac-friendly (App Store), inexpensive, and provides me with all of the layouts and templates that I need to do website and software wireframes.
Skype is the leading and near ubiquitous VoIP provider. It offers free high quality video chats and calls from anywhere with an Internet connection. It is the ideal communication tool for both business meetings and friendly video conversations. In a pinch, it also offers a paid service that allows you to call internationally.
Facebook Messenger is a new addition to my list. It has emerged as an excellent tool for communicating with people regardless of whether you have their phone number or username. It has most of the same features as Skype (because it runs Skype in the background) and is free.
Best Gear for Digital Nomads
This Universal Travel Adapter is my Swiss Army Knife of electronics. A good travel adapter will allow you to plug any country’s plug into any other country’s plug. As long as you have an converter to regulate the current (all Apple products have these built into their power supplies) then this is the only tool you need to power up.
iPhone – I recommend using an unlocked iPhone while working remote due to the phones abundance and availability world-wide and its ease of use. If something goes wrong, your chances of finding a replacement or fix while travelling is higher than other smartphones.
Extension Power Cable – When working remotely I always pack an extension cable for my laptop charger. This is extremely useful for the much too frequent cases where I am unable to plug the bulky power adapter directly into an outlet (either because space is limited or I am too far away from the outlet). Many times this single piece of equipment has saved me from a wasted work day.
Moshi makes a line of laptop covers are perfect for making your expensive laptop look less flashy to potential thieves. The main draw is that it keeps your laptop clean and scratch free while covering the lit Apple logo that can otherwise bring you unwanted attention.
Generic Backpack – Many new travelers make the mistake of hiding their expensive laptop in an also expensive laptop travel bag. This is a huge risk! When laptops are stolen abroad they are almost always taken while stored in a bag. Don’t draw attention to your prized possession, allow it to blend in.
Generic Headphones with built-in microphones are essential for video chats, media consumption and as a sign that you don’t want to be interrupted while working. I recommend carrying two pairs of headphones with you while traveling due to their small size and tendency to get misplaced.
Apple Macbook Pro is the top-of-the-line professional series laptop offered by Apple. I use it for hours everyday and it handles everything from intensive video compression to complicated code compilation without problem. It is the most valuable thing I own and the most important tool for accomplishing my daily tasks. It is worth every penny I paid for it.
That is the complete list! Short isn’t it? That is intentional. When traveling, you want as little gear as possible. Use the comments below to Let me know if I forgot anything! I’d love to hear what other amazing tool all of you are using!