As a digital nomad, having the right tools can make all the difference in your ability to work efficiently, stay organized, and make the most of your travels. From productivity and time management tools to travel planning and booking apps, there are countless tools available to help make the digital nomad lifestyle easier and more enjoyable. In this article, we’ll share 20 categories of the essential tools that every digital nomad needs. Whether you’re just starting out as a remote worker or you’re a seasoned pro, these tools will help you stay on top of your game and make the most of your adventures as a digital nomad.
Productivity and Time Management Tools
Without the structure of a traditional office environment, it can be easy to lose track of time or get distracted by the many other activities and experiences that come with the digital nomad lifestyle. Productivity and time tracking tools can help digital nomads to stay on track, manage their time effectively, and improve their overall productivity. These tools can help to improve productivity, manage billable hours, stay focused, and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Time Tracking Apps
There are many time tracking tools that are popular with digital nomads, as these tools help them to stay productive and make the most of their time while working remotely. There are several popular ones, but Toggl and Harvest are some of the most popular. Both allow you to track time, generate invoices, and integrate with many other apps that you may need (i.e., Quickbooks or Trello).
To-do list apps are essential tools for anyone working remotely to stay organized and on track. They’re crucial for ideas that need to be written down quickly, especially if you are frequently on client/discovery calls. Depending on how you use these apps, you can even use this as a to-do list as well.
Project Management Tools
The last thing you need is for important client tasks to go through communication channels without a main hub to help categorize and prioritize them. That’s the best way to lose everything. Having this capability is important if you’re a solo freelancer, and even moreso for digital nomads that are part of a team. I would recommend Trello, Wrike, or Asana. Those have both great desktop and mobile versions. Other PM apps like Monday or Teamwork are great, but their mobile apps are complete garbage.
Communication and Collaboration Tools
If you’re coordinating with other remote employees or clients, this is a no-brainer. The communication and productivity that comes from video capability are crucial. Go-to apps are Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and even Facetime for casual calls.
Instant messaging tools are essential for digital nomads because they provide a quick and easy way to communicate with team members and clients from anywhere in the world. The standouts here are Slack, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts.
Travel Planning and Booking Tools
Flight Search Engines
You’re likely always on the lookout for deals on airfare. Sometimes this is going to be on a schedule, and sometimes it’s just going to be what’s cheapest regardless of the day. Either way, you want to be aware of the prices for various places, especially if you are flexible with your destination. The big players here are going to be airfarewatchdog, Skyscanner, and Hopper. Of all of them, Skyscanner and airfarewatchdog are my favorites. I’ve bought from both and saved a massive amount of money each time.
There are many booking platforms that digital nomads typically to find a spot to crash while travelling and working remotely. My personal favorites are HostelWorld, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb. They all have their merits, and some may suit your needs more than others. If you want to go a little more standard, Booking.com and Expedia might be better for you.
Travel Insurance Providers
Travel insurance can provide comprehensive coverage for their unique needs as remote workers. Unfortunately, many travel insurance providers require you to adhere to specific times/dates/locations. This creates an obvious problem for digital nomads. Even so, you’ll still need to have some protection from emergency medical costs or major accidents. Providers that might fit what you’re looking for are SafetyWing or World Nomads (mostly for US citizens).
Language Translation Apps
Language translation apps are essential tools for digital nomads who travel to countries where they don’t speak the local language. Even if it’s only short bursts of conversation, sometimes it’s crucial to say the right thing. Some of the tools that might be most helpful are the trusty Google Translate or DeepL Translate.
This is highly dependent on what country your in, as not every place will have Uber or Lyft available. For example, some countries in South America are focused on Cabify, while Grab is the go-to app in Southeast Asia. Whether you’re hailing a car or a motorbike, you’re certain to need some of those apps during your nomadic adventures.
Workstation and Connectivity Tools
Laptop and accessories
A laptop is a given, duh. However, don’t forget about the accessories that go along with that. Some of them are touched on below, but others include specific connectors, portable desks, or even small monitors. Whatever your accessories are, make sure that they fit in your backpack!
In our world, we can’t provide for ourselves if we don’t have a reliable internet connection. Between video calls and running intense software, we definitely plow through our fair share of data. Because of this, we need a global hotspot that is up to the task. Skyroam or GlocalMe devices are great fits here. They both serve well over 100 countries, so they are sure to give you the maximum amount of connectivity no matter where you are.
Portable Power Banks
Easily one of the most important items on the list. If you choose your power bank wisely, it can serve as an actual charger in lieu of a charger. There are plenty of times that you just don’t have the juice or outlet available to plug in. Aside from that, you will probably be operating multiple devices, which will make this a true lifesaver.
Personally, I couldn’t live without these. I have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 in my laptop bag at all times. I prefer the over the ear versions, as it keeps out noise better than anything else I experience. Whether you prefer over ear, ear buds, etc, you’ll definitely need something while being mobile.
How much of this that you have will largely come down to how often you are stationary vs mobile. That said, a perfect example of an ergonomic piece of equipment that most digital nomads need at one point or another is a mouse. The wrong mouse can make for an extremely uncomfortable day, so make sure you get one that’s durable and fits well within your hand.
Security and Privacy Tools
In my opinion, the main advantages of using a tool to keep passwords organized are security and collaboration. Tools like Lastpass make it easy to store passwords safely, as well as share them with team members across the globe.
Antivirus and Malware Software
You won’t always be on the most secure connections, let’s be honest. Having the right software to help combat nasty stuff getting into your computer is absolutely essential. Not just for the sake of your computer, but the contents on it as well! Most all of us have sensitive information, especially that’s work-related. Keeping that information protected with tools like Malwarebytes and AVG is a must.
want need a VPN. Not just for security, but sometimes you just need to look like you’re in another place. Think about the times you need to test how a website looks from a certain country, or what type of search results are brought back in different locations. There are many reasons you’ll need a VPN, but security is easily at the top of that list.
Financial Management Tools
Digital Wallets and Payment Platforms
There are several options here. Most people have Google Pay or Apple Pay, but there are also most niche digital wallets that allow for more flexibility. For example, Airtm is popular in South America and has dollar + cryptocurrency capabilities. Or Bitwage, a payroll solution for individuals that want to get paid in cryptocurrency. Whatever your choice of digital wallet, make sure to look at options that fit your specific lifestyle.
This will apply to you specifically if you run your own business primarily. But for those of you that do, this can be a lifesaver. I use Quickbooks personally, and it gives a really good snapshot of all the finances going in and out of my business. However, it also gives my accountant everything they need to get in and get their hands dirty as well. Regardless, having the necessary financial calculations in the cloud and available wherever you are is an absolute must as a business owner.
So Many Tools!
Whether you’re on the road all year, or only a couple of months out of the year, having the right tools can make all the difference in your productivity, communication, and overall well-being. The tools outlined here cover a range of categories, including communication and collaboration, productivity, travel, remote work, health and wellness, security and safety, and entertainment and leisure. But it’s important to note that these tools are just a starting point, and you should experiment with different tools and find what works best for your unique needs and work style. That’s true whether it’s a video conferencing software to stay connected with team members, or a meditation app to manage stress.
Ultimately, with the right tools and mindset, digital nomads can thrive in their work and personal lives, all while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of a location-independent lifestyle.
Jared has worked remotely for 15 years in various marketing capacities, and has managed hundreds of marketing campaigns along the way. He has held freelance, agency, and in-house positions for companies large and small.