The Best Tools For Working Remotely (2016 Edition)

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-willSaneBox prioritizes important email and summarizes everything else, leaving your inbox clean and prioritized. I have been blown away by how well its algorithms work and by the amount of time it saves me per month. E-mail is my least favorite work related task and this tool is the only way I get through it.

focus-at-willFocus 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-quality output for one hour long sessions at a time. The paid version allows for customizable time lengths and access to addition playlists.

nomad-listNomad List is my favorite web service that provides 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!

private internet accessPrivate Internet Access is an Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that allows you to securely access the Internet from untrusted wifi hotspots. It has the most numbers of remote server that I have seen which means you can get low latency access in more places around the globe.

cloakCloak is also a VPN but it excels with one absolutely outstanding feature. Cloak automatically connects your Mac and iPhone to the VPN without you having to remember to manually login. This is essential for untrusted cafe and hotel wifi connections.


worldtime-buddyWorld 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-mobileT-Mobile phone and data service – Creative people don’t like being locked into long-term contracts. I have used T-Mobile for over a year and am quite happy with it. 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 150 countries.

ookla-speedtestOokla’s 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.


xeroXero 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 mailEarth 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-layoutSwordsoft Layout is a wireframing 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.

skypeSkype 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-messengerFacebook Messenger is quickly becoming a new standard. 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

kensington-adapterThis 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 will need to power up.

apple-iphoneiPhone – I recommend using an unlocked iPhone while working remotely due to the phone’s abundance and availability worldwide and its ease of use. If something goes wrong, your chances of finding a replacement or fix while travelling is higher than with other smartphones.

apple-cableExtension Power Cable – When working remotely, I always pack an extension cable for my laptop charger. This is extremely useful for the much too frequent case 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-laptop-coverMoshi 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.

backpackGeneric 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-headphonesGeneric 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-proApple 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!

Just as an FYI, some of the links above are affiliate links. Regardless of whether you buy through these links, I stand by these recommendations. I have used each service and piece of gear above during my travels. The stuff above is fantastic :-p

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kate L.

    Hi Danny – great list, and your timing is even better! A friend of mine has been looking for background music to listen to while working at home, so I called her attention to [email protected] :)

    One question, though – your article refers to the “paid version” which makes me think there’s a free app/use somewhere, but everything on the site seems to point toward paid subscription. Is there something I’m missing?

    • Hey Kate! :-)

      The other version of Focus at Will that I was referring to was the free trial. I used that for many months. Hope that helps!

  • Tim F

    Perfect timing, I am just getting started with digital nomadism and this is exactly what I needed. Thanks Danny!

  • Wendy Mayo

    Hey Danny, any other suggestions for macbook pro covers that are grippy and don’t show the lit apple logo. Going to Mexico and don’t want to draw attention. Most of the covers I have found feature a see-through back so the logo shows. Thanks! W~

    • Hey Wendy, I fixed this problem by applying some Gaffers tape to the inside of the laptop cover. Gaffers tape, unlike duct tape, doesn’t leave sticky residue and is not affected by moderate leaves of heat. To be clear the tape is applied to cover, not to the laptop.

  • Thanks for the great list, Danny! If you’re looking for an effective time tracking tool for working remotely, I suggest you check out Worksnaps ( Helping team to stay on task and collaborate better by knowing who is working on what, Worksnaps provides visibility and reduces unnecessary interruptions.

  • Aishwarya Chaturvedi

    Hey Danny, nice list!

    Does Xero allow you to create client contracts too? If not, what are you using for the purpose?

    • No it does not but it does let you send quotes/proposals. For contracts I write them up in conjunction with a lawyer (or just use a boilerplate contract which I adapt) in Apple Pages or MS Word.

      • Aishwarya Chaturvedi

        Cool! I have been using Waveapps, instead of Xero. I think MS word is the best way to do contracts, as of now. ;)

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