Digital Nomad – What does a wanderer need?
Oh well you roam from town to town
you go through life without a care
‘Til you’re as happy as a clown
With your electronics made of metal, well you’re going everywhere.
Once you’ve decided on the clothes and fashion accessories you want to take you need to start thinking about the other bits, the tools of your trade, your entertainment makers. The little bits and pieces that will keep you sane on those long, lonely bus rides to who knows where. What will you need, what will you need it for and is it practical? They’re your big three questions.
What’s it going in?
You should know by now what your bag is going to be, if not, have a look here. We’ll wait… Right, now that you have your bag picked and ready to pack you need to make sure that your electrics will fit, and that they are going to be tucked up all snuggly and safe inside. It’s not ideal putting your way of living into an empty bag and then into a coach hold to rattle around like a bag of bones. In all honesty, this is probably quite unlikely. I’d wager that you are more likely to be found ‘effing and jeffing’ at various pieces of clothing you have to put on as you are desperately trying to make an inch of room to close your bag. Still, it could happen. Should you find yourself in a position where you have too much excess space you should make sure that your valuables are incredibly well wrapped up in your clothes. Give them all of the surrounding protection that you can. If you don’t like the idea of placing your expensive equipment in the hands/(sleeves) of your old, scroggy t-shirts you should look at buying a protective sleeve to go inside your bag. They won’t take up much extra space and will hopefully give you that extra peace of mind. A few examples of them can be found here and here. Obviously this advice can be applied to every electrical item you own but it can get a bit excessive. However, should you have a Nokia Lumia 630 phone and want a case you should probably just get this one. I have it and it’s pretty great.
What can’t I cope without for work?
The biggest question you should be asking yourself. It’s kind of self-defeating trying to be a graphic designer and not having the right design tools, just as it’s insanity attempting to be a photographer without a camera. It’s a fairly obvious and straight forward point but it’s easy to overlook the space the tools of your trade are going to take up. As the idea of being a digital nomad is essentially to work from anywhere hopefully you won’t have too much kit to carry but you might be surprised how it can all add up. A photographer for instance won’t just need a camera, they will also need a few lenses, maybe an extra flash thing, possibly a tripod, a spare battery and something to edit the images on. I’m fairly confident that you can get all of these things in an incredibly compact form but still, at least 6 extra items is going to add a fair bit of weight to your bag. You should make sure you’re accounting for these extras before you pack your favourite pillow. Organisation will be your friend here, you don’t want to rush and push everything into the first space you can find. That will just lead to tangled leads and frustrated faces, if you travel ‘cable heavy’ you might want to think about a dedicated cable bag like this*. It has plenty of space for the even the biggest technophiles collection of leads, sd cards and the rest. Plus, it’s cheap.
*What kind of world do we live in when ‘cable bags’ are a real thing? You know what I used? A plastic bag, a free, scroggy, ripped plastic bag… My cables did get broken on my travels though….
Other modern-day devices you might want to enhance/burden yourself with are external hard drives, very handy if you suffer from lossitis (the fear of losing your laptop or spilling a drink on it). Although you could back up to the skies which is much more modern and digital nomadish I guess. You might also want to look at portable power packs, they can get you out of a jam if you’re low on battery life but high on ideas.
Oh, always take an adapter plug!
Based on the average remote jobs the bare minimum you will need is a laptop, if that sounds like your job, fantastic! Get yourself a laptop bag, a jazzy laptop bag or this stylish laptop bag and keep it with you at all times in luxury ‘inside’ travel whilst your big old bag of belongings gets bashed about below.
Meh, that’s not enough. I like luxury items in my working life.
Okie dokie you show off. If you have more money and space than sense you can make your way working around the world that little bit more bearable by adding things like external keyboards, a wireless mouse, a portable wi-fi router or a stand for your tablet. You’ll be the envy of
no-one everyone I’m sure.
How bored do I get?
Personally I get bored a lot, very quickly and very easily. I am told it is an infuriating trait of mine but alas, what can you do? The dullest part about being a digital nomad for me personally is the waiting. Once you’ve seen 7 train stations in 3 days they all start to look the same, especially if you only have an hour or two to wait. Not enough time to explore your surroundings but plenty of time to start gnawing at your own hands through boredom. If you are anything like me you’re probably going to need something to do, but what can it be? This neat segue leads us nicely on to the next section.
What can’t I cope without for fun?
My ‘fun’ zones (the top pocket of my bag and my inside coat pockets) usually hold all the things I need to stop myself going temporarily insane with boredom. It’s not a ground breaking list but it’s all I need to get by. At any one travel time you will find a phone or two, a tablet, an MP3 player, two pairs of headphones and possibly one of those old 999 in 1 games, the knocked off tetris version.
The first phone is a given, it’s just a phone, it has some music on. It’s not unlocked as it’s 2017 and I don’t call anyone over the phone anymore, also, I don’t really have many friends.. Still, many people will tell you to get an unlocked phone so you can pick up cheap sim cards from anywhere in the world and use them. You could do that, or you could use wi-fi, it’s usually free you know. Just turn your roaming off when you’re not using it. I understand people saying ‘Oh, but what if there’s an emergency?’ Fair enough, but most phones will connect to the local provider anyway and if the emergency is that bad are you really going to split hairs over an extra few £’s? If you love collecting sim cards fair play to you, get an unlocked phone, if not, it’s not necessary.
The second phone is my luxury battery phone for general internet use, game playing and music listening. It has no sim card in, it’s rubbish, but it does the job. Many a long coach ride has been spent listening or pretending to listen to music to stop people talking to me. Phone number two also holds my collection of e-books, at last count I think I was up to 4. The second phone may be a little bit excessive but like I said, I get bored easily, I can’t take the risk of being left with nothing. Also, should I get mugged, I can give them the rubbish back up phone instead of the good one!
The tablet is pretty much a must for me as well, I read Batman comics on it. Yes, I am a grown man.
The Mp3 player is definitely a luxury, I rarely listen to it, I think the battery is on the way out and it’s battered and bruised. Still, I’ve had it about 8 years so I’m loathe to throw it away until it goes completely.
With two phones and Mp3 player come two sets of headphones, you may only need one pair. I have a knack for breaking them so I always carry a reserve pair.
Obviously, the 999 in 1 game is for fun. You should get one.
Meh, that’s not enough. I like luxury items in my ‘fun’ zone life.
Ah, you again, well if you haven’t spent all of your money on wireless mice and external keyboards you can put the rest towards incredibly posh, expensive noise cancelling headphones (be careful when you cross the road), a portable bluetooth speaker or two (everyone loves my music right? Right?!). A posh DSLR camera (just for those ‘arty’ social media shots), a GoPro (be original, put it on your head and walk around, everyone will want to watch that video, honestly), and, if you want to be an absolute legend in the eyes of me and the majority of sane people on the planet, a selfie stick (get out. I was being sarcastic).
Will I need my own sub station to charge it all?
If you take all of that, yes, yes you will. That’s why I have 2 phones, a tablet and an Mp3 player, 4 times the battery life, 4 times the chances to charge them. If you are a particularly full up with tech digital nomad you might want to consider getting more than one portable power supply. If you are a full up with tech and wealthy digital nomad you might even want to get one of these.
Is it all safe?
As long as you’re not daft it should be. All laptops, tablets and phones can be tracked and remotely switched off if you use the correct software, Prey is an example, so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding things should you misplace them. You can buy locks for your laptops and as long as you look after yourself your belongings should be fine. Obviously enjoy using what you own but be sensible, don’t walk around rough areas snapping away on your £3000 camera without getting a feel for it first, I’m not saying you will get mugged but you might be advertising yourself.