The bedrock principles of being a digital nomad are portability and convenience: You have to be able to work anywhere at any time. Basically, if you can connect to wifi with your favorite device, and you can get all of your work done, you can be a digital nomad.
As long as you can do your writing, video editing, photography, or audio creation, and upload and share your work with your clients, you can work from anywhere. You could also be a bookkeeper or accountant, virtual assistant, IT specialist, or HR professional and still work as a digital nomad.
There are a few things you’ll need before you convert your van, move into a tiny house, or pack your bags and head to a long-term Airbnb.
You need the hardware
You need the right tools to actually do your work. Tablets, laptops, and smartphones help people to do their work on-the-go, but you have to have the right kind of tool to do the work. It’s especially important that you have the tools that will manage peak workloads. If your workload requires a laptop for a few hours a week, don’t try to get by with a tablet. If you need major processing power and memory for video editing, you can’t get the cheapest laptop to run your software.
Laptops have been around for decades and hold a valuable position in the workplace because of their portability. They have batteries that can run for hours, but you can still plug into an electrical outlet to charge the battery and keep working.
Tablets are similar to laptops in that they are less powerful computers, but they don’t have keyboards or a mouse pad. You can connect those with Bluetooth, but the tablets just don’t have the horsepower that a laptop has. They’re a little slower, but they’re ideal for checking emails, surfing the web, reading news, or even watching movies and TV streaming services.
Smartphones are great communication devices and you can use them for video conferencing and phone calls as well as file sharing and light email, but they’re primarily communication devices, not work devices. Smartphones can also serve as wifi hotspots, which means you can connect your laptop or tablet to a smartphone and use cellular data to complete all your online activities.
Mobile wifi hotspots use cellular data to connect your tablets and laptops to the Internet. It’s about the same size as a mobile phone, but doesn’t have any communication capabilities; its only purpose is to serve as a wifi connection when you’re unable to connect to wifi anywhere else.
If we had to pick the devices we would need as a digital nomad, it would be a laptop and a mobile phone. If we had limitations on our phone’s data plan, we would add a mobile hotspot. A tablet is nice to have, but if we have limited space and power options, tablets are a luxury, not a necessity.
You need software
You also need the right software to be a digital nomad. There’s not a lot we can tell you, because you know what you need to do your job: graphic designers need Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; accountants need QuickBooks; writers need Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs.
The big issue is whether your software can work on your device. You can be a writer with a tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard, but you can’t be a graphic designer. You can be a salesperson with a phone and a tablet, and might not need a laptop at all. Whatever you use, make sure you have enough horsepower and storage to operate your software.
You need power
All digital nomads need access to reliable power. Coffee shops and libraries are typically open to people setting up shop and working for a couple hours because they have power outlets and wifi networks. (Just make sure you buy something in the coffee shop every couple hours.)
When we think of a digital nomad, we usually think of someone traveling in a van, stopping in state parks and campgrounds, although that’s not always the case. Still, if that’s you, you’ll definitely want solar panels and a storage battery, plus a power inverter that lets you plug regular wall plugs into it.
You need space
Being nomadic involves travel but that does not mean that you must do everything in your vehicle. It’s part of the nomad’s philosophy that you shouldn’t work in the same place you sleep. That’s fine for working from home where you have multiple rooms, but it gets a little boring to wake up, sit up, and start working.
My friend, Erik, is a digital nomad himself, working as a professional blogger and social media marketer for several companies. He shared with me that he works at a coworking space to get his work done, renting a desk month-by-month and going in whenever he wants. He also works in different coffee shops, especially when he travels, so he never actually misses an office.
You can find fast-food restaurants or coffee shops, or could even rent virtual offices or coworking spaces if you wanted that separation between work and home. They have power and wifi, and it’s a change of scenery from your van, camper, tiny home, or Airbnb. Again, just remember to buy something every 90 minutes to two hours if you’re going to camp there all day.
You need a bag
Last but not least, try to have a single bag for your work items. If you don’t have a travel bag, try to find a bag that will accommodate every piece of hardware for your professional life. This way, you can pack and go to your next work location, set up for 30 minutes or several hours, and then pack up and head back home or wherever you’re sleeping that night.
Consider one of our Platinum® Elite backpacks, briefcases, or small suitcases</a, or a Travelpro Bold backpack . They’re all easy to carry and can protect your equipment and documents securely and comfortably, wherever you go.
Are you preparing to be a digital nomad or are you one already? What tips and tricks do you have to share with us? Give us your best ideas on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.