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My partner Javi and I are highly experienced international travelers and digital nomads. We’ve each visited over 30 countries and speak over 7 languages between the 2 of us (5 for Javi, 2 and counting for Lily). Due to the nature of our work and my SEO conference/DJ schedule, we spend the majority of the year working from other countries. This is us:
It is very important to both of us to avoid any and all potential conflicts or interruptions while traveling, which is even more crucial when the travel involves working from another country. As a digital nomad, travel isn’t all fun and games; it means being able to work effectively and without a hitch wherever you go. Especially if you don’t work for yourself!
Frequent travel and working abroad also means being able to maintain a sense of “normalcy,” even when you are in an entirely foreign place. For example, it’s easy to fall out of a fitness routine or gain a lot of weight when in a new environment. As a couple who frequently travels, we care as much about staying as healthy and fit as possible when we’re traveling as we do when we’re at home.
Why you should trust our travel recommendations: in all of our travels, we have always steered clear of any avoidable conflict, delay, or inability to work from our temporary ‘home.’ Not only do we get our work done effectively when abroad, we also usually feel *more* productive in our travels and also like to think that we very much travel in style!
Below are 25 products we feel are essential to seamlessly working from other countries without skipping a beat. These products will ensure you feel comfortable and productive, no matter where you’re working from.
1. Power adapter (and a power strip with multiple plugs)
It goes without saying that having a power adapter is one of the most important items you can bring with you in your travels abroad. Don’t get stuck without one and get roped into buying an overpriced option at the airport. Or worse, forgetting you need one until you arrive at your destination and then realizing they are nowhere to be found!
We love this EPICKA power adapter, which is solid, sturdy, and comes with a carrying case and 4 USB ports:
Be sure to pick the USB configuration that works best with your devices. As a couple, we usually bring at least 2 of these along with us in our travels.
But 2 power adapters are often not enough when setting up a remote desk. Power strips really come in handy when multiple electronic devices are involved. We love the Mifaso power strip for when we are in Europe.
For one, it has a long, sturdy cable, so it can reach the power outlet even when your desk might be far away from it. It also has 3 USB ports, which is helpful for when you might not have enough wall chargers. You can also choose a model that has 2 USB A ports and 1 USB C port.
Be sure to look for a similar model with a plug that is compatible with the country you’re traveling to. Or, to keep things simple, there are power strips like this one, that come with various ports for different countries and also serve as 220V to 110V converters.
Incorporating Apple Airtags into your travel routine is a gamechanger, especially if you’re traveling with valuables or going to a place that’s notorious for pickpocketing or theft. Although Airtags are a bit pricey, having the peace of mind that you’ll know where your valuables are – should they go missing – is worth every penny.
We bought this 4 pack of Airtags and split them between us, so we each have 2 to choose from when deciding which of our backpacks or luggage should be ‘tagged.’
We like to swap out our Airtags into different bags while we’re traveling, depending on what we’re bringing with us. Or you can choose to keep the Airtags as part of your keys with a keychain holder like this one. Having Airtags is also helpful as a way to track your bags at the airport – it will give you peace of mind knowing that your bag made it onto the plane (or not)!
3. Portable power bank
Another travel essential is a portable power bank to charge your phone and other devices when you’re on the go. These chargers come in handy all the time, especially for long flights where power outlets may not be available on the plane. Also, for long days when you’re on the go, portable chargers are crucial, especially if you’ll be relying on GPS or other apps that quickly drain your phone’s battery.
We love this Anker portable charger with a USB-C port that works for iPhones, Samsung Galaxies and other types of smartphones. It only weighs 7.5 ounces, so it doesn’t add much weight to your carry-on our day bag.
4. Long iPhone / cell phone charging cable
No matter what type of phone you use, it’s a great idea to bring an extra-long charging cable. This one is 15 feet long, which may seem excessive, but you’d be surprised how often you end up in a situation where the outlet is far away from where you need to charge your phone.
We also like the braided nylon material surrounding the cable, which is sturdier and less likely to break.
5. Fitness gear (yoga mat, micro foam roller)
Many people find it hard to maintain a consistent fitness routine when traveling abroad, especially for an extended period. However, for digital nomads, travel is a lifestyle and no excuse to stop exercising. Especially when there is so much delicious food to try during your travels!
We like to bring a small kit of portable but highly effective workout gear with us everywhere we go.
This kit includes:
A jump rope like this one. It can be difficult to maintain a cardio routine in some places, like tropical locations or jungle environments where there may not be places to jog, bike, or visit a gym. Jump ropes require minimal space but can pack a big punch in terms of cardio impact.
Fitness bands are small, virtually weightless, and versatile for exercise. They also come in various resistance levels to diversify your workouts.
A travel-size foam roller comes in handy even if you’re not big into exercise. Sitting on a plane or at a desk all day or sleeping on a bed you aren’t used to can cause a lot of pain and soreness to your back and other muscles. A foam roller provides instant relief. Plus, because they come in smaller sizes, they don’t have to take up too much room or add too much weight to your luggage.
6. Cushion for desk chair
One of the biggest challenges we have encountered in our travels is finding a place to stay that has desks for two people to work. In fact, most accommodations don’t even have one! So, we have had to get creative with making makeshift desks out of dining chairs and tables, barstools, coffee tables and more.
It took us a while to realize that it’s a good idea for us to travel with a small cushion for the bottom and backrest of a chair; one that could make sitting at a dining chair more comfortable for an extended period. This has dramatically improved our ability to work in places without dedicated workspaces.
The below set of cushions is a favorite of ours, and it also acts as padding in your suitcase, should you be transporting anything fragile. Just note that it does take up a decent amount of room in your bag, so plan accordingly.
7. Travel monitor
Travel monitors have been life-changing for us in our travels. They allow you to extend your laptop display onto another device, are extremely lightweight and don’t require an external battery. You can easily fit them in any backpack or carry on. Plus, you don’t have to remove them from your bag when you pass through airport security.
These Dell travel monitors come with us everywhere we go. Even to the nearby coffee shop! They take up minimal space and weight and allow for so much more productivity at work.
8. Selfie lamp
If your job requires you to show your face on virtual meetings, lighting is important, but often unpredictable in new environments. Selfie lamps are a great solution for this and relatively easy to squeeze into your suitcase.
In some cases, you may have a window behind you or natural light that makes it hard to see your face on virtual meetings. Selfie lights can help with this! Plus, if your desk lacks a light, selfie lights are bendable and can serve as a great way to create more light in your workspace.
I’ve been using this selfie lamp for years! When I visited my dad, he even liked it so much he got the same one for himself. This selfie lamp is bendable and can clip onto desks and other surfaces. It has 3 different lighting tones and a range of brightness options. It has lasted me such a long time, despite its low price, and I can’t recommend it enough.
9. Noise cancelling headphones with microphone
Noise cancelling headphones are a must for many reasons, but most importantly, they make a huge difference during plane rides and they make it easier for two people to work in the same room without driving each other crazy!
Javi swears by these Bose headphones and I like to use a combination of AirPod Pros (which can switch between noise-cancelling and transparency modes), plus these Jabra headphones for work, which also include a noise cancelling feature. I like the Jabras because they have a high-quality microphone I can use for calls, podcast recordings and more.
10. Flashlight or bike light
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but trust us. It’s a good idea to pack some type of flashlight or bike light in your main bag. Even better, keep one on your keys. Just last month, we were in Argentina during several heat waves when the power went out, and the light I packed in my bag for biking came in handy.
On that note, if you’re like us and like to ride bikes in your travels, bring bike lights with you (and batteries)! They can be hard to locate, but make a world of difference in your safety when biking after the sun goes down. As stated above, the bike lights might also come in handy in other ways you didn’t plan for. They easily latch onto any surface or you can use them to look through your bag late at night.
11. Chrome backpack
Having a backpack that’s comfortable, spacious, and good for the elements is crucial while traveling. The backpack doesn’t necessarily need to be made by Chrome, but we certainly love our Chrome backpack. This backpack seemingly fits *everything,* and it’s 100% waterproof.
The waterproof feature has saved us a few times when out on foot or on the bike and a rainstorm sneaks up on us (avid travelers know this happens a lot)!
12. Portable mouse / keyboard
Working off of a laptop can be physically constraining, especially if you’re limited to using the trackpad to control your computer’s cursor. A portable mouse and keyboard are small and easy to pack, but make a world of difference when it comes to work productivity.
13. International cell phone service that works as soon as you land
If you spend a good portion of the year in other places, you can’t get by with a cell phone plan that doesn’t work as soon as you land in another country (and breaks the bank in the process).
We are both fans of T-Mobile’s cell phone plan for this reason. We usually upgrade to the 15 GB option as soon as we land in different countries and the speed is generally as fast as it is at home.
14. Protein bars (and chocolate!)
Eating healthy while traveling can be a big challenge, especially during long flights or drawn out days at the airport. Sometimes it can take hours to get from the time when the plane lands to actually settling into your new accommodation. And access to food isn’t always easy when you arrive. I love to pack protein bars for this reason. They’re small and easy to pack into any bag, but filling enough to hold you over until the next meal.
These are some of my favorite protein bars, based on their protein and calorie content (and flavor of course):
Think thin bars – these can hold you over for hours
Any Raw Rev glo bar – these are vegan, delicious, and made from all natural ingredients
15. Laundry detergent
It has come in handy many times to pack a small amount of laundry detergent in our luggage. I have even found myself hand-washing gym clothes in the hotel/Airbnb bathroom before, when access to a proper laundromat was difficult. Luckily, Tide makes travel packs specifically for handwashing, or you can just buy a small pack of their regular laundry detergent.
16. Mini first aid kit
I love keeping a small bag of essential first-aid items that I can quickly throw into my bag during every trip. This thing comes in handy on nearly every trip.
I’m certainly not a doctor, but based only on our experiences traveling, I would recommend having the following in your first aid kit:
- Medical tape
- Small scissors
- Anti-nausea medicine
- Eye drops
- An epi-pen if needed (this saved me once!)
17. HDMI cable (and adapter)
HDMI cables come in handy when you want to play something from your computer on a TV. We’ve found ourselves in this situation many times… who doesn’t love watching Netflix or YouTube from a bigger screen? We always bring at least one HDMI cable (and a USB-C adapter for Apple products).
18. Long ethernet cable
Consider packing a long ethernet cable for situations when the Wifi might not be great and a direct connection to the modem will get you faster speeds. A long ethernet cable ensures you’ll be able to plug in and (hopefully) reach your workstation, regardless of where the modem is.
19. Downloaded video content
This isn’t exactly a product, but for long trips, always come prepared with downloaded video content on your favorite streaming devices. I like to download educational videos on YouTube and my favorite shows on Netflix and HBO Max. Some airlines offer wifi but it’s never a good idea to rely on plane wifi. I recently made the mistake of doing this on a long Delta flight which is normally wifi-enabled, and learned the hard way that I wouldn’t be getting any work done that day.
Download all those videos and even podcasts you tell yourself you want to listen to, you won’t regret it when stuck on a long flight.
20. Fanny pack
Packing bags within bags is always a useful travel hack, and we love packing fanny packs for multiple uses. Fanny packs are small and super portable and come with us all the time in our travels. I use mine while going out for runs or bike rides.
This fanny pack from Lululemon has been a favorite of mine for years:
21. Set of large plastic bags
It’s always helpful to arrive at your location with a few large plastic bags. Whether for laundry, trash, or carrying something, large plastic bags always come in handy.
22. Bottle and/or wine opener
There is nothing worse than arriving in an accommodation and wanting to open a beer or a bottle of wine but not having the means to do so. Keep bottle and/or wine openers on your keys or in your luggage, we can guarantee they will come in handy.
23. Combined passport/vaccine card holder
Some countries still require proof of COVID vaccination. If you are vaccinated, consider carrying your vaccine card in the same place you carry your passports. It really speeds things up when passing through customs in countries looking for vaccine cards, like Colombia.
24. Phone case with built-in card holder
Javi and I both swear by our Spigen phone cases that carry our most important cards. We usually pack our IDs, one debit card and one credit card. Having easy access to your most important cards will come in handy all the time.
25. A lighter
Last but not least, don’t forget to pack a lighter in your bag. These always come in handy, whether for lighting candles, power outages, or cooking with gas stoves.