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HOW TO: Equip Yourself as A Digital Nomad

by Globetrooper Todd | 7 Responses
Universal Power Adaptor

The digital nomad movement isn’t new, but it’s becoming more and more popular as people realise there’s no point deferring all of life’s fun until retirement. We tried to convince you of this in a previous post, 7 compelling reasons to become a digital nomad. (Hopefully we succeeded.)

Once you see the light, once you realise the futility of a cubicle-existence, and once you just let go of normalcy, you’ll need to decide what to take with you on the road. Not what to wear or what to take photos with, but what to use to conduct business. The following list seems short. But don’t let the excitement of digital nomadism turn you into a a crazy consumerist shopaholic. Just take the basics, because less is best.

1. Macbook Pro

You could buy a Windows-based laptop, but please do yourself a favour and just buy a Mac. This isn’t about some misguided fandom for a well-marketed product, it’s first-hand experience and common sense. Macs just work (largely because the software is designed for the hardware and vice versa). Just turn the darn thing on and forget there’s even a device connecting you to whatever you need to do. Go for the new 13 inch model because its battery lasts forever (officially 10 hours = about 5 to 6 in practice). That means a lot less crawling around the floor of Starbucks looking for power outlets.

Macbook Pro

2. Skype

The first thing to download after turning your Macbook on is Skype. It’s free, unless you want to make calls to non-skype numbers, which is generally cheaper than using a traditional phone anyway. There are decent competing products out there, but again, Skype is the easier, quicker and more pervasive. Make sure you test it before you leave and plaster your Skype name/number all over your business website and brochureware.

3. iDrive

This is an online backup service. It’s super cheap, about $5 per month for 150Gb, works on Mac and Windows, is easy, reliable, and will save your life when your Macbook is stolen. You’ll need to download a small application, configure a few settings, then away you go. Now you can access your files from anywhere in the world using a web browser. Absolutely essential.

4. Amazon Kindle

Books are heavy, but reading is food for the soul. And only people who don’t read think you can read on a laptop. The Kindle is a must-have. You can use it to buy books wirelessly from anywhere in the world, it can hold 1000+ books, it’s battery lasts for weeks, but most importantly, it makes reading while in bed enjoyable. It will save your sanity when you wake up at 2am in a hostel bunk bed after a 5pm jet-lag crash the day before.

Travel Gadgets
5. Moleskine & Pen

Oftentimes, it’s just easier and more productive to brainstorm on paper. Whether you’re writing your memoirs, jotting down a to-do list, or scripting a play, sometimes you just need the flexibility and rawness of pen and paper. Don’t go for the no-brand varieties, because that’s akin to selling your soul on eBay. No seriously, afford yourself this one luxury, fork out $20 for a genuine Moleskine. When you need your genius and creativity to flow freely, you don’t want it interrupted by substandard paper stock, stiff spine material or an unruly vinyl cover.

6. Universal Power Adaptor

This is just a practical necessity. You can get an all-in-one adaptor to suit a large range of countries. It all fits in once small box and will help you skip effortlessly amongst power grids around the globe.

Posted in Gear & Gadgets, How-To Guides | June 13th, 2010

7 Responses to HOW TO: Equip Yourself as A Digital Nomad

  1. Haha! It’s funny how you’re sure my MacBook will be stolen D:

  2. Looks like I am becoming a digital nomad. In preperation for my big RTW trip I have taken the plunge and bought the 13″ MacBookPro, I downloaded Skype, have the Moleskine & have got the Universal Power Adapter. Instead of the iDrive, I have purchased a 500GB external harddrive. Now I just need to depart…lol!!!

  3. Hi Todd,

    Great list! Thanks for the recommendation on the iDrive – that’s one thing on this list I need and do not have.

    I love, love my MacBook Pro, Skype, Moleskine and travel adapter.

    One might also consider taking an iPhone (or smart phone) – even if you don’t use it for calls, you can use it for WiFi to quickly check things online or call on Skype without having to pull out the laptop. I also use the camera often if I need to copy something (e.g. photo of a sign with a phone number). Not to mention all the awesome apps you can get, like translators, notes, compass, etc :)

    Happy work & travels!
    – Lily Leung

  4. We have all of the above, except we use SugarSync instead of iDrive. We just got an iPod Touch and are finding it really handy too.

  5. What about the new Macbook Air 13″?

    • Hi Kim,

      What a coincidence :) We just put up our review of the 11 inch MacBook Air. Lauren’s had it for 3 months and it about to take it on her desert expedition. Personally, I’d go for the 13 inch, but the 11 inch is surprisingly small and still powerful enough for most people.

      Here’s the link


  6. To turn your Mac into a eBook reader, use Stanza to view eBooks and Nocturne to take away the eyestrain. Both are free, plus you can read in the dark.

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