Having the right digital nomad gear is critical for getting the job done AND being able to reap the benefits of a location-independent lifestyle (and there are many benefits!).
Working remotely, by itself, comes with its own set of unique challenges. Add travel and relocation into the mix and it can be hard to be as productive as you need to be on a daily basis if you’re not properly equipped.
Here are just a few of the tech-related challenges we’ve encountered working on-the-go in various parts of the world:
- Scarcity of power outlets for charging devices;
- Poor (or nonexistent) WiFi (A BIG ONE!);
- Poor cellular signal or expensive roaming charges for foreign carriers;
- Lack of good quality (or, simply lack of) electronics or replacement accessories;
- Unforgiving heat, humidity and rainfall;
- Frequent [and lengthy!] power cuts;
- And many others…
A little technology and preparation go a long way in preventing (and addressing) the tech challenges of the digital nomad lifestyle that can cost you both time and money.
But what tech gear is considered essential for a digital nomad lifestyle?
After all, if you’re constantly on the move, you don’t want a bunch of gadgets weighing you down.
Here is the digital nomad gear Lori and I have found indispensable over the past decade living a location-independent lifestyle.
▸ New Gear for a New World
A lot’s changed (and continues to change) since we published the first iteration of this guide five years ago. That’s why we update this list every year.
Our updates incorporate the latest versions of the gear we know and love, but also weed out the digital nomad gear that may no longer be relevant in this new era of working remotely.
Without further ado, here are our favorite digital nomad gear and tech gadgets for 2023!
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Top Tech Essentials for Your Digital Nomad Gear Packing List
First things first. You may be wondering, how in the world should I tote all of my digital nomad gear?
There are a TON of options of getting your gear from point A to point B, but perhaps none quite so well fitted for the task as the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack!
Why’s that, you ask?
It’s rugged and durable, has lots of pockets and compartments just the right size for digital nomad gear, it opens like a suitcase for easy access, AND it’s the full dimensions of a carry-on suitcase for maximum storage capacity without having to check your bag.
A lifesaver for all your kit and a must-have for your digital nomad packing list.
Getting not just one, but TWO rugged & water resistant external hard drives for storage and backup is one of the best digital nomad gear decisions I’ve made.
And the SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD might just be the best travel hard drive on the market today.
If you’re working on the road with your laptop, it goes without saying that you’ll want to back up all those hours of hard work.
Durability and weather-resistance are crucial considerations, particularly if you are work in the tropics like we do, where heat and humidity can wreak havoc on poorly made electronics.
If your hard drive does fail, a high-quality replacement drive might not be easily available (or cost-effective) in many countries, so best to get one that’s built like a tank from the get-go.
No moving parts, drop-resistant, weather-resistant and made by SanDisk, the only external solid state drive company we trust for work-related backups.
Simply a must for travelers and remote-workers in the age of ZOOM and beyond.
Of all the active noise-canceling headphones and earbuds out there, we recommend Apple’s phenomenal AirPods Pro.
Amazing sound quality, comfy, and way more discreet than a Bose headset. Perfect for long flights, Zoom calls, workouts on the beach, and everything in between.
What’s the difference between the AirPods and AirPods Pro? Both offer wireless bluetooth connectivity in an ultra-compact design. But the Pro adds active noise-canceling, which you DEFINITELY want if you take video calls in noisy public spaces or fly a lot.
There are so many reasons you might want to pack a portable solar charger, regardless of whether you plan to work in urban or remote areas with abundant sunshine.
And the NeckTeck 21w portable solar charger is one of the best in its class.
A solar charger can be a critical piece of digital nomad gear in urban areas if you experience frequent power cuts, work all day on a Tablet PC with no nearby power source, or use 4G/LTE on your phone for several hours on the go.
We especially love these for keeping our phone/ GPS device charged on multi-day treks as well.
There are a lot of well-built workhorse laptops out there. But I recommend a MacBook Pro (which has been my go-to for nearly a decade).
One of the biggest digital nomad gear mistakes we ever made was moving to a remote, tropical area of Central America with a cheap laptop.
Our thinking was, if anything happened to it, we wouldn’t be out a bunch of money. Well, yes…and no.
Within weeks, multiple components failed likely due to heat and humidity, with no viable replacement within hundreds of miles.
After a long wait, a colleague from the States ferried out a replacement.
That was 7 years ago. And the Mac we replaced it with? Still cruising along.
What Makes AwayGoWe Gear Guides Different
Why trust our travel gear recommendations? All of the gear on this list has been personally road-tested by us (unless otherwise noted).
While this page contains some affiliate links, we don't do sponsored content here on AwayGoWe and we don't accept requests to peddle anyone's product.
That means that our opinions and recommendations are 100% independent and unbiased (though we will admit we have a strong bias towards useful gear that's built to last!).
Let’s face it, digital nomads spend a lot of time in front of our laptops.
Be kind to your neck, shoulders, and the rest of your body with a portable stand (and standing desk).
We personally love the Roost V3 laptop stand for its lightweight and durable construction, adjustability, and small collapsed size.
In terms of essential digital nomad gear, this is one gadget that should absolutely be on your packing list!
I searched for years for a solid, compact, and virtually universal travel adapter, and finally found it in the Ceptics World Travel Adapter Kit.
This little beauty features surge protection, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x U.S. outlets, and SIX types of international adapters.
Heads up, this adapter does not convert voltage. However, most personal electronics do this now for you. Always check your gear specs and country voltage before using!
8▸ Power Bank
Travel days, power outages, inconveniently placed outlets, and working outside can all wreak havoc on your ability to keep your digital nomad gear charged and ready for action.
A reliable high-capacity power bank has become an essential part of our kit, allowing us to work more efficiently, keep our communication devices in working order, and charge devices on the go.
Our current power bank is getting up in years. When we do get around to a refresh, the Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000 is at the top of our list.
A dependable cordless mouse is another item I thought I’d never need as a digital nomad.
But after several hours of “gesturing” on a modern trackpad my whole hand can feel like it got slammed in a door.
Enter the Logitech MX Anywhere 3. This is the one I currently use (and I love it!). Lightweight, compact, fast-connecting, and has a rechargeable battery that lasts forever.
Might just be the best mouse I’ve ever owned. For me, this is definitely a digital nomad gear essential.
Got an iPad? Use it for work? The Logitech Combo Touch keyboard case is the perfect accessory for digital nomads that instantly turns your 7th-, 8th-, or 9th-generation iPad into an ultra portable laptop!
No more wasting precious time tap-typing long emails, notes, and memos! Plus it protects your precious iPad from the rigors of life on the road.
One of our top recommendations on this list for significantly increasing your productivity and peace of mind, leaving you with more time to enjoy a location independent lifestyle!
Having a single, solid, dependable phone that you can use ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD saves you time and money.
And there may be no more rugged and versatile unlocked dual-band (GSM/CDMA) phone out there than the latest unlocked iPhones!
With an unlocked iPhone, you’ll be able to take advantage of prepaid call/text/data rates at local prices (with a local SIM card or phone plan), which is typically way cheaper than roaming.
Long time users of iPhones, ourselves, we love these particular phones for their durability, ease of use, and how they work seamlessly with our Macs and iPad.
If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to make sure you get an “unlocked” iPhone (NOT a phone tied to a telecom company like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.).
You grab that perfect spot with a stunning view to catch up on email only to find the WiFi signal doesn’t reach.
Plug the NetGear AC1900 WiFi signal booster in and stop banging your head against the hammock post.
This wifi booster has a compact folding design that works great with both Windows and Mac based computers.
This little puppy is something I never thought I’d need…UNTIL I refreshed my MacBook Pro a few years back and discovered they had switched exclusively to USB-C…AND…in many cases only give you TWO USB ports (and one’s the charging port)!
The solution? A USB-C hub with 3 old school USB ports, USB-C charging port, SD/micro, HDMI, and ethernet ports, all at your fingertips.
We recommend the Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2 (which is also what Apple recommends on their website), which should work seamlessly with most laptops with a USB-C connection.
If you are a freelancer working in photography, video production, web design, real estate, running your own blog or vlog, or just want to capture high-quality images of your travels, your mobile phone will only get you so far.
For everything else, a compact mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses is your best bet here in 2023. After eight years using the Canon 6D, I traded up to a Sony a7iii and have been 110% satisfied with the decision.
The current offering, the Sony Alpha 7 IV has all the latest specs and technology.
Further Considerations For Your Digital Nomad Gear Tech Packing List
I’ve listed 15 tech gadgets here that Lori and I have found incredibly useful at one point while working and traveling overseas.
While I strongly recommend adding many of these to your digital nomad packing list, I do want to stress that the gear that works for us and our circumstances may not necessarily work for you and yours, and vice versa.
▸ Cost vs. Durability
You may have noticed that some of these items are quite pricey. Lori and I are frugal and fairly minimalist when it comes to buying stuff. When we do buy something, it’s been carefully researched and we want it to last for years.
If we invest in digital nomad gear, it’s for the long haul — and believe me, you are rewarded for it traveling full time or living in developing countries.
I’ve had too many experiences in the past where I’ve bought crap and it couldn’t hold up to the daily rigors of a tropical climate, dust, public transport, or whatever. Never again.
▸ Digital Nomad Gear Safety & Security
You might also be wondering about safety and carrying around a $1,400 laptop, etc. Personally, I’ve never had a problem (knock-knock). I know people who have, and most of them neglected to use common common sense strategies at the time.
I known more people who’ve had their laptops and phones grabbed from them at Starbucks or walking down the street in Washington, DC than while traveling in Africa or Central America.
Don’t flaunt your stuff. Don’t walk around with it at night. Keep your digital nomad gear hidden/secure when you’re not using it. And consider getting trip insurance or a personal articles policy. Done.
▸ Global Compatibility
It’s worth noting that all the items listed here either work on 110v-220v power, or plug right into your computer via USB, so you should be all set in that respect (along with the help of a good travel adapter (see above)).
▸ Pack Smart
Finally — and most importantly — you probably don’t need all this gear. I certainly don’t need all this gear —at least not all at once.
But I’ve used each of these items (or some previous version) at one point or another in the last decade depending on the job or the living situation, many of which have boosted my productivity or made remote work way more enjoyable.
I prefer to pack as light as is practical for the situation. Packing for a move overseas is hard enough without bringing a ton of unnecessary gadgetry.
Add what you truly think you’ll need from our list to your digital nomad gear packing list and forget the rest.
Pack smart. Find out which digital nomad gear works for you and what doesn’t. Then, do it better the next time.
Thanks For Reading Our Digital Nomad Gear Tech Essentials List!
What do you have on your digital nomad packing list? Let us know in the comments below.