Many digital nomads try to live a minimalistic life. Since they often carry around everything they own, they want to reduce their possessions and only bring the bare necessities. Some even try to limit their virtual dependencies and want to set themselves free from unnecessary baggage. However, there are certain devices and apps, and programs that are super useful and an absolute must-have for every location-independent long-term traveler. Check out the, in my opinion, most important digital nomad tools you need to have to be successful with this lifestyle and to simplify your life.
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Must-Have Digital Nomad Tools
The following list will show you a combination of apps and devices that I find indispensable for this lifestyle. If you are looking for more apps, check out my other blog post with the best apps for digital nomads.
Quite obviously, you need a proper piece of luggage to carry all your belongings. Personally, I always go for a backpack instead of a suitcase. At the moment, I’m a huge fan of the Deuter Transit 50 because it is the perfect combination of a backpack, shoulder bag, and day bag and it often works as carry-on luggage, too. Not to mention the outstanding quality.
If you want to find more great digital nomad backpacks (and a combination between a backpack and a suitcase), check out the linked blog post. It shows you 5 super handy backpacks, incl. prices, measurements, and everything else you need to know.
Quite likely the most important digital nomad tool: a laptop. Many nomads go for the classic, a MacBook Air. If you prefer Windows, you could go for an Asus ZenBook or an Acer Swift. I have had both of them in the last couple of years and I was very happy with their performance.
All three are ultrabooks, which means they are super thin and lightweight. They also have a great battery duration of 10+ hours. Perfect for the digital nomad lifestyle!
Not less important: a smartphone. Again, you will find many nomads going for an Apple product and use the iPhone 7. Equally popular is the Samsung Galaxy S8. In case you don’t want to spend that much and only need it for the usual apps and features, you could also go for the Chinese competitors, such as Huawei or Xiaomi. You will get great quality for the price.
It doesn’t matter if you want to stay in contact with your family, listen to music or make important client calls: one of the most important digital nomad tools is headphones. Make sure you buy noise-canceling ones, in case you need to make calls from a busy café or airport and that they have an integrated microphone.
5. Global Hotspot
Being a digital nomad you need to have reliable internet most of the time. There is no way around it. Unfortunately, you will l find yourself at places with terrible or no WIFI. The solution? A global hotspot, e.g. Skyroam. I always carry this little device around with me for emergency situations, when I really need the internet and can’t find any local connection. It has saved me from business/client disasters more than once.
Check out this review I wrote about Skyroam to see if it is the right gadget for you, too.
6. External Drive
As a digital nomad, a big portion of your life will be digitized. The problem: There is no way you can fit all of your data on your laptop in the long run. Although online backups are a great solution, I also recommend having an external drive as a second security method. The advantage of that is that you can access your data when you are, for example on a bus or train, and don’t have internet.
7. Electronic Cable Organizer
Sounds simple? It is! But also so efficient. As a digital nomad, you will naturally carry quite a few electronic devices around with you. Usually, each and every device comes with its own charging cable. In the end, you have your entire bag full of cables, which will create a snarled mess. A cable organizer keeps all of that neat and structured. One chaos less.
8. Productivity Planner
One of the biggest struggles of many digital nomads is staying productive in a working environment full of distractions. This productivity planner helps you stay on track. You can set weekly goals, review your achievements and rate your productivity. Inspirational quotes in the planner keep you motivated. A great tool that every digital nomad should use.
9. EBook Reader
Although an eBook reader is usually not exactly linked to the success of a digital nomad, it is still a great tool to keep you motivated. There are many wonderful books out there that are full of information and inspiration for aspiring and seasoned digital nomads.
The ultimate digital nomad bible is, of course, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. But also books like Vagabonding by Rolf Potts or The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau are fantastic resources and absolute must-reads.
If you want to find more brilliant digital nomad books and ebooks, check out the linked article with the 17 best ones out there.
10. VPN Service
When you travel around the world and work online you will have to use many different internet networks, which can be a significant threat to your data security. That’s why you should always use a VPN to access the internet. There are hundreds of providers out there to choose from. Personally, I have been using NordVPN for quite a while now and I’m very happy with their service.
If you want to find out more about NordVPN and why I think it’s the best VPN service for digital nomads, check out the linked review.
This is my number one app for booking accommodation for years. Not only do they have the best prices for a massive range of hotels, hostels, guest houses, etc. at no additional fees. They also have a great rating system for digital nomads. There is a separate review section for the WIFI quality in every place! How handy is that? This is usually one of the first things I look at when I want to book a place. I couldn’t imagine using any other booking system than Booking.com.
I find Airbnb a very affordable and handy option to book accommodation. You can find unique places, live like a local, and actually get to know locals in Airbnb places.
If you want to learn more about how digital nomads find accommodation around the world, check out the linked article where I tell you my personal best practice.
Skyscanner is another service that I can’t live without. They scan a wide range of airlines and I always find the cheapest flights on there. In addition, I like the fact that you don’t need to know your exact dates but can search for the entire month and see the prices for each day. If you type in a country or region, the app shows you the cheapest available airports. Perfect for every savvy digital nomad with a flexible schedule and destination.
14. Health Care Insurance
It is out of the question that you should get health care insurance when you are traveling the world. You might be able to pay for occasional doctor’s consultations and medication from your pocket money. But as soon as you have an accident, you wished you had insurance covering the costs.
I strongly recommend World Nomads because they don’t only cover all kinds of medical expenses but also your electronic gear. Super important for digital nomads.
If you want to find out more, check out this review I wrote about World Nomads.
15. Wise, formerly TransferWise
This is my number one money transfer service. If you have a bank account in one country and want to send money to another one, you usually end up paying high fees or a rather unfair exchange rate. With Wise, formerly TransferWise, you get the real exchange rate that banks are using and only pay a little fee. They are super-fast, reliable and cheap.
Check out this review I wrote about Wise to learn how it works and how you can save money with them, too.
Evernote is a kind of digital notepad that helps you to organize all kinds of different data in your life. The app allows you to save and structure photos, notes, websites or files. A great tool for the oh-so-busy digital nomad to organize travels, business, and private matters.
Toggl is an app that helps you increase your productivity and thus, your revenue. It is a time tracker that allows you and your team to monitor the time you spend on certain tasks, projects, and clients. If you want to can set an estimated timeline and budget and later check if something is overdue or over budget.
A fantastic analyzing tool that is simple to use and boost your productivity.
Trello is probably one of the most popular digital nomad tools. It is a free project management app where you can create boards, lists, and cards in order to organize and prioritize different projects and tasks. In addition, you can exchange these notes with team members or clients, leave comments, upload files and set deadlines.
A very powerful tool that is worth checking out.
19. Tomato Timer
Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? This is a time management method with which you can break your work down into intervals. These are usually 25 minutes in length with a 3 to 5-minute break in between two intervals. After four pomodoros, you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This helps your brain to relax and start the new “sprint” with more energy.
The Tomato Timer is an easy-to-use website that lets you set your intervals and tracks your time. Helpful productivity tool!
YouNeedABudget is a personal budgeting program that helps you to control your money. The idea behind it is that you become more intentional about what you spend your money on. As soon as you get money, you can decide what you want to do with it. A goal-setting method helps you to stay within your budget and reach your money goals faster.
As a digital nomad, your expenses might be more diversified than before. YNAB is a great way to keep track of your money and spend it on the right things.
I’m not going anywhere without my Maps.me app. Before you arrive in a new city, download the according map and you can use it offline once you get there. This is a great solution for everyone who likes to travel a lot and needs offline maps because often you don’t have mobile internet in a new place. Of course, you can create routes and easily find points of interests.
Another benefit is that they have integrated all of the hotels, hostels, and guesthouses you can find on Booking.com and their rating. So once you have booked your accommodation on Booking.com you can head over to Maps.me and bookmark the location. Never get lost again with this unbeatable system.
22. XE Currency
Being a digital nomad you will probably have to deal with a lot of different currencies. That’s why a currency converter is one of the must-have tools for you. I always recommend XE Currency. It is simple to use, shows you the exchange rates for several different currencies at the same time and it is free.
Many digital nomads practice meditation. It is a fantastic way to reduce your stress level and to keep your mind focused while dealing with many different kinds of tasks and struggles. It is a great way to increase your productivity and to find balance.
Headspace is an app that helps you meditate the right way, even if you only have a few minutes every day.
Another must-have digital nomad tool is an app that tells you where to find good places to work from. Workfrom is such an app. It shows you the best cafés, pubs and coworking spaces near you. Check out the quality of their WIFI, noise range and meal options and prices. Get the best insider information from the digital nomad community itself.
25. Nomad List
There is absolutely no way I can write a list with the most important digital nomad tools and not mention Nomad List. This website lists the best cities to live and work for digital nomads. The ratings are based on costs of living, weather, internet quality, safety and much more. I always check Nomad List when I consider moving to a new place.
26. Every Time Zone
The struggle every digital nomad will come across: different time zones. You are living in Vietnam, your client is in Canada and your team members are in Europe. Sometimes it can be a nightmare to find a meeting time that works for everyone. Every Time Zone is a handy website that shows you all your different time zones with one click. One problem less.
I love Pocket and I’m sure many other digital nomads agree with me. Imagine this: You scroll down your Facebook feed and find an article that is super interesting but you don’t have the time to read it now. Simply save it in Pocket and the app will automatically download the article incl. images and links and you can read it offline later. I always save a couple of articles and read them once I’m in trains, planes or busses where I don’t have internet. Super handy!
Another issue that many digital nomads face: Upon entering a new country you have to prove that you leave the country again, usually by showing a return flight ticket. However, most digital nomads love their flexibility and don’t want to book anything in advance.
Services like BestOnwardTicket provide you a real flight ticket, which is valid for 48 hours and serves as proof for leaving the country again. Problem solved!
The toolset of every digital nomad should include a translation app. You will find yourself and countless situations where no one speaks English and you don’t speak a word of their language. The app iTranslate doesn’t only translate the words you type in. It also helps you read, write and speak in 90 languages. Don’t worry about pronunciations anymore! The apps even read the translation out for you. It couldn’t be any easier!
Simplify Your Digital Nomad Life
As you can see, there are plenty of digital nomad tools out there, that simplify your life. These can be actual devices, such as headphones or hotspots, or websites and apps for working remotely. You don’t need to master this lifestyle on your own or reinvent the wheel. There is an abundance of information out there and it is easily accessible. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for help in your private life as a digital nomad, the business or the traveling part. You will find a tool for (almost) every problem out there.
Do you have any other helpful digital nomad tools that you can recommend? Let me know and share them in the comment section below!