We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
In today’s interconnected world, more people are adopting the remote work lifestyle, and the trend will only continue. If you have joined the club, you are in for a treat. Working remotely brings the opportunity to travel to vacation destinations you always dreamed of, and since a remote job also brings you money while you travel, you may even be able to stay in those destinations longer. You have more freedom to do and go where you love.
You also benefit from knowing the best ways to work on your next vacation. Here are some tips for working remotely while traveling to help you stay productive and make the most of your trip.
Items to Take for Your Remote Work Setup
Whether traveling to Mexico City, taking a remote work trip in Southeast Asia, or making video calls from Rio’s Copacabana Beach, the key to working remotely while traveling lies in the right gear.
Here is a handy list of items to prioritize when packing for your next remote work trip. These portable office items go a long way in maximizing your performance and are essential for those who work remotely. Go with your personal preference. You can fit all of them in a backpack and still carry everything else in a carry-on, saving you tons in baggage fees, especially when working remotely while traveling.
The items are also useful in creating an effective home office setup. That’s right; you can enjoy the same benefits at home and abroad.
Noise Cancelling Headphones or Earbuds
Working remotely requires only a few tools, but they should excel at helping you maintain optimal work performance. Noise-reducing earphones are one of them. You can do double duty using the same earphones for added quiet on your flight for added productivity, or go triple duty by buying one with microphone capability for phone and video calls. When working remotely, Carrying a large microphone can be awkward and waste valuable space in your bag.
You can buy ultra-compact designs that fit inside your ears or cover your ears completely. Both types serve the purpose of ensuring effective remote working.
The Right Laptop for Your Type of Work
A laptop may seem like a no-brainer, but if you are new to freelancing, this is the most important tool, and you benefit by having the right one for the job. Computers are not created equally, and the world of freelancing is competitive regardless of where you work. You should have a computer that is fast and with ample memory to store your remote work in the event you fall offline.
It should also have a large enough screen for remote work, allowing multiple windows to open simultaneously. One thing that is the most challenging about traveling is flipping from window to window on a small screen. A large screen makes life a lot easier, but you can connect one or more portable monitors that are easy to transport and set up wherever you are.
Video Camera for Zoom Calls
Your laptop may already have one, but if yours isn’t the best, you can buy a compact camera with strong resolution. Simply attach it to the top of your laptop, and you’re good to go.
You may lose or damage your laptop while you travel or work remotely or end up in a location with little to no internet capability, preventing you from accessing your cloud provider. Backing up your work on a thumb drive is a cheap and easy way to prevent losing all that hard work. This one is a must. Time is money in freelancing. Having to recreate your work can lower your profits, and the added time recreating your work can ruin your trip.
Backpack Designed to Hold Work Equipment
The last thing you want to do on a trip is damage your laptop and have to replace it – especially in a foreign country. You could lose important documents, and buying a device with the right tools and a keyboard in your language can be challenging. You are much better off protecting the one you have.
The same goes if you work remotely as a photographer. That equipment is expensive. The right bag can save you thousands of dollars.
Invest in a travel bag that safely holds your gear. Look for backpacks with padded protection for your laptop and lenses or room enough for a separate padded laptop case. You can also find backpack designs with specialized pockets for easy access to cords and separate access to water, food, toiletries, and clothing. Many have specialized storage for chargers and feeding the charging cord outside of the bag so that you can charge your smartphone while in your hand while navigating from place to place.
Portable Laptop Stand
This small item is a biggie in terms of items you can buy to improve your performance. Neck pain in remote work is a real thing. An elevated laptop stand helps you work longer to get more done and make more money. You can buy collapsible designs to save more room in your bag or suitcase.
The higher the tray goes, the better. And don’t worry if the keyboard becomes uncomfortable. My next recommendation will do the trick.
Many standard keyboards are small enough to carry with you, but you can also buy specialized designs that are ultra-small or fold down into a more compact design. They are worth every penny. Once you have your laptop elevated and start typing on a secondary keyboard, you most likely won’t go back, and even if you do, you still have a secondary typing option when your neck needs it now and again.
Elevated Smartphone Charger
Your smartphone is a fantastic tool for staying connected via text or getting notifications of calls, emails, and calendar events. Since it sits to the side of your laptop screen, you can minimize the pop-ups on your main screen for unrestricted productivity.
Though wireless chargers make keeping your phone juiced up easy, an elevated charger is the most effective tool. You can glance to your phone as messages come in and grab it easily when needed. You can buy magnetic or corded designs.
If you have room in your backpack or suitcase, you can transport your favorite mouse for optimal productivity. If you need to keep things ultra-compact, you can buy travel-size designs, but give them a good test before your next trip. Not all feel good in the hand after a full day of work.
You can buy zippable protective cases for any mouse or slip it into a tech case. Let’s dive into this type of case a bit more.
A tech case is a lifesaver. Sure, you may have a backpack with segmented cord storage, but a tech case keeps everything together, so you don’t have to dig through your bag. It also cleanly separates each item for ultra-fast and organized access wherever you are.
Finding a place to charge your devices can be a pain on the road, so you’ll benefit from having as many products as possible connected to one system. A USB hub keeps your Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and an external monitor connected to your laptop, and since it only requires one plug into your laptop, you never have to struggle with choosing what items need to stay plugged in. The device stashes away easily in your bag or (cord management system thingy). You only have to plug one item in, and you’re ready to go.
Your laptop’s power cord supplies the right power you need at optimal speed, but some are big and cumbersome. You can pick up a smaller, more portable solution online. Find one with the same power performance to work best with your laptop battery. Using a fast charger also improves the charging speed, which is handy while on the road. It’s not always easy to find a plug.
Yes, you likely already have one, but even if you think it may take up too much room in your bag, taking it or investing in a smaller portable notebook is smart. You never know when you will come up with that next big idea. Stay juiced up to make an electronic note.
Pen and Pencil
What good is your notebook without a writing tool? I recommend both a pen and a pencil. A standard or mechanical pencil helps you avoid the annoying issue of your pen breaking or leaking during a flight. You’ll still need a pen for that customs form.
Airbnbs, hotels, and hostels aren’t always the cleanest. Also, having items spread around makes it easier to lose them. A simple valet tray can fold flat in your bag and become a handy bowl to hold everything from your wallet and keys to your phone and hotel room card.
This one is good to have when you need it and for multiple reasons. You can take notes more easily than relying on the light of your laptop screen, and you can also create light behind your laptop screen, which helps prevent eye fatigue. You may have seen pictures of home office setups with lighting strips behind computer monitors. The same concept aids with remote work.
A Pomodoro Timer comes as a Chrome extension or an app. It is surprisingly helpful. The timer notifies you when to work and when to take a break, and breaks are important for long workdays. You can stretch, answer emails, go to the bathroom, and stay hydrated. You also stay more focused on a task instead of ditching it due to fatigue.
Not all jobs work well with Pomorodos, such as programmers who need to stay fully concentrated without breaks, but it has done me a world of good as a writer.
Carrying a water bottle ensures you stay hydrated, which is crucial for concentration, especially during long work hours. But it also brings other benefits. For instance, using a reusable water bottle reduces the consumption of single-use plastics, making your travels more eco-friendly. Plus, buying bottled water can add up over time. Filling your bottle, where safe, can save money.
Consider investing in a quality insulated bottle that can keep beverages hot or cold, depending on your preference. Some even come with built-in filters for purer hydration.
Yep, you read that right. Pick up a drink coaster in a design you love to bring fun and color to your workspace while preventing water rings in Airbnbs, B&Bs, and hotels. It’s hard to create a place that feels like home on the road; a favorite cup holder is a great way to do it.
Other Pro Tips for Working While You Travel
Having the right products for remote work is a great first step. Here are a few considerations to remember to ensure you stay productive.
Keep Your Work Items With You When in Route
You don’t want to risk your equipment becoming lost or stolen. You also never know when you will gain a few hours for work, such as before a delayed flight or when traveling on a flight or train ride.
Pick a Safe Destination
Before deciding on a remote work location, research the local safety situation, including ongoing conflicts, crime rates, and public health advisories. Also, check travel advisories issued by your government. These provide up-to-date information on potential risks. Keep in mind both your living accommodations and the location of your preferred work area.
Maintain a Budget
Ensure you have a comprehensive budget that factors in all potential costs of doing remote work, including connectivity charges, workspace rentals, and tech upgrades or replacements.
One of the biggest challenges of a remote job is unnecessary spending. Scenic sites and exotic food come at a price. Maintain a daily allowance and stick to it. Save bigger purchases or excursions for special days.
If you’re flexible, you can also consider ‘digital nomad’ friendly destinations that are known to be cost-effective. Countries in Southeast Asia, parts of Central and South America, and some Eastern European nations often offer a lower cost of living than Western countries.
Be aware of the exchange rate and bank charges when accessing money abroad. Digital banking and international payment platforms can often provide more favorable rates and lower fees.
Choose a Quiet Area to Work
It doesn’t have to be perfect; just as quiet as possible in your circumstances. For example, it may not be easy if you are traveling in a hostel or staying in a touristy area of town, but the quieter it is, the easier your life will be. Simply trying to minimize the noise helps. Earphones will help cut the noise further.
Consider a Hotel Business Center
Some hotels have a designated work area that may be worth using and may still be quiet enough for effective work. The chairs in these spaces are true desk chairs, helping you work comfortably for long periods. Even if people are working next to you, the mutual pursuit of success may keep you productive. You may also gain access to other equipment you need. Plus, a snack bar may be close by.
Try a Co Working Space
Coworking spaces are popping up in nearly every major city. These dedicated office spaces can be great for those who crave structure. They also offer a chance to meet other remote workers and gain access to business equipment for a fee.
Step Into a Local Coffee Shop
Coffee shops remain a beloved choice if you prefer ambiance and the murmur of background chatter. If you travel to an area known for being the home of digital nomads, you will often find digital nomads using coffee houses as their Wi-Fi home. However, remember that free Wi-Fi in coffee shops might not always be as secure or reliable as in coworking spaces.
Maintain a Reliable Internet Connection
Nothing hampers the work experience like a poor internet connection. Whether you are working remotely hotel room, a coworking space, or a coffee shop, always double-check the Wi-Fi speed by doing a speed test. Tools like speed tests can be invaluable. If Wi-Fi availability is spotty, consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data or even a global roaming plan.
Have a Piece of Warm Clothing to Combat AC
Even in hot countries, indoor spaces with AC can be chilly. Carry a lightweight sweatshirt, sweater, or shawl. Some clothing also works well when transitioning from warm outdoor temperatures to cooler indoor environments. Merino wool, for example, is breathable in heat and insulating in the cold.
Everyone’s tolerance to cold is different. Always be prepared, especially if you’re someone who tends to feel colder than others.
If you’re in a co working space or cafe and find the AC too cold, don’t hesitate to ask staff if they can adjust it. They’re usually receptive to it, especially in areas that cater to remote work. If not, you’ll have your backup sweater nearby.
Understand the Time Zones
Working remotely abroad often means grappling with time zones, which can be challenging for remote teams. It’s essential to sync with your remote team and set a work schedule that keeps you connected to them when needed. Tools like Google Docs can help bridge the time zone gap, allowing for real-time collaboration.
Respect and Adapt to the Local Culture
Working remotely from a different country is a privilege, so be sure to show your thanks by respecting the new city you are in.
Follow Your Work Visa Requirements
If you have a long stay in one location, you may need a work visa and adhere to its requirements. Be sure to follow the rules to avoid tax and residency issues.
Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a must when venturing beyond your home country. From health emergencies to lost travel bags, being prepared can save money and stress. Also, plan ahead for your work mode. Save important files offline, have backup solutions, and always check in with your remote teams.
Manage Your Finances Wisely
All that vacationing may leave you thinking you can spend a bit more than usual, but living life as a remote worker means staying disciplined about finances to ensure you experience the financial benefits. Additionally, know how to convert that money into spendable funds on your journey and understand the tax implications of working abroad to avoid legal issues.
Create Optimal Work Hours
Every individual has a unique internal body clock or circadian rhythm. Recognizing when you’re most productive (early morning, late night, or mid-afternoon) can help you optimize your work schedule. You can boost efficiency and reduce fatigue while working remotely by aligning your tasks with your energy levels.
Establish Clear Communication Protocols
If you run a team, clear and frequent communication is essential to ensure all team members are aligned and aware of their responsibilities. Remote work can make this a challenge, so you will benefit from creating a strategy that works for you and them. This might include regular check-ins, setting availability hours, and using the right communication tools for different purposes (e.g., instant messaging for quick queries and video calls for detailed discussions).
Use Effective Task Management Tools
Tools like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com help organize tasks, track progress, and ensure you meet deadlines. They also allow team members to collaborate, keeping everyone on the same page.
Stay Updated with Global News
Being a digital nomad means you might be hopping between countries. Staying updated with global news, especially concerning travel restrictions, geopolitical events, and weather issues in your area and the areas where your coworkers and other remote workers are, will only benefit you.
Set Boundaries with Housemates or Family
When working remotely from a shared space, disruptions from family members or housemates can be a challenge. Setting boundaries ensures that you have uninterrupted work periods. It might mean setting specific “do not disturb” hours, using visual cues (like a closed door), and discussing the importance of focused work time.
Prioritize Tasks and Set Goals
Remote workers often juggle multiple tasks and projects. You can stay on track and meet deadlines by prioritizing tasks and setting clear daily and weekly goals. Tools like task lists, calendars, and project management software can help you organize and track your progress.
Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Long hours of sitting and screen time can adversely affect your health. Regular physical activity, like stretching, exercising, and taking short walks, can boost physical health, elevate mood, and improve concentration.
Network with Other Digital Nomads
If you’re in the same area, engaging with other remote workers can offer insights into better work practices, new tools, or even local tips. Spend time with other remote workers you meet. Also, platforms like Meetup or digital nomad forums can be a great place to start in a new city.
Stay Connected with Colleagues
Isolation can be a downside of remote work. Connecting with colleagues through casual chats, virtual coffee breaks, or team-building activities can foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie. It not only enhances team cohesion but also promotes mental well-being.
The digital landscape evolves rapidly. Remote workers should invest time in continuous learning to stay updated with the latest trends, tools, and best practices in their respective fields. It enhances employability and ensures they bring the most current and efficient strategies to their work.
Monitor Mental Health
Working remotely can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation, stress, or burnout. Regularly checking in on your mental health, seeking support when needed, and adopting practices like mindfulness or meditation can help you maintain a balanced mental state.
Working On the Go
You’ll quickly find that working while traveling differs from working from your home or hotel. Here are some things worth knowing about each mode of transportation.
How to Work Remotely on Planes
Planning to fly out to your next destination? Here are some effective ways to work while in the air.
In-flight Wi-Fi often operates on a satellite-based connection, which results in latency. Be patient and avoid activities that demand high-speed real-time responses, such as online gaming or real-time trading.
Some airlines offer tiered pricing for Wi-Fi with faster speeds at higher prices. Consider investing in the higher tier if your work is time-sensitive and requires better connectivity.
Make use of offline applications. Tools like Google Drive and Microsoft Office have offline modes, which can be invaluable when working with intermittent connectivity.
Not all seats have power outlets, so research or enquire about electronic plugs when booking your flight. Even if outlets are available, they might provide limited power. Laptops requiring a high wattage might charge slower or maintain their current charge rather than gain battery life. You will benefit from traveling with a fully charged device to ensure you can work or stay entertained longer.
Consider investing in an external laptop battery pack for critical tasks or longer flights.
Space is at a premium on planes. If you anticipate working for an extended time period, upgrading to business or premium economy class for the added workspace and comfort might be worth the investment.
To optimize your working environment, bring accessories like a laptop stand or a portable mouse, but always be conscious of the limited space and your fellow passengers.
Overhead lighting can sometimes be insufficient, especially during nighttime flights or when cabin lights become dimmed. If you plan to read or work during these times, you can use your portable reading light.
If you’re working on sensitive material, consider using a privacy screen on your laptop to prevent prying eyes from neighboring seats.
Remember, while planes provide an opportunity to get work done in transit, they also offer a chance to relax and recharge. Depending on the duration and purpose of your trip, decide on a balance that works best for you between work and relaxation.
How to Work Remotely on Trains
Working on a train is easier than planes and other forms of transportation. You can work comfortably and easily stretch and take a walk when needed. Here are some ways to ensure it is as productive as possible.
While Wi-Fi is becoming more prevalent on trains, it’s important to remember that not all train services offer it, especially in less developed regions. If connectivity is crucial, check with the train operator beforehand.
Even if Wi-Fi is available, streaming or video conferencing may be challenging due to bandwidth limitations. Tailor your tasks accordingly.
In addition to onboard power outlets, consider traveling with a portable power bank or laptop battery extender for times when a power outlet might not be nearby or functional.
Always check the type of plug and voltage on international trains. While a universal adapter can handle most scenarios, the voltage can vary, and some devices might need a converter.
If you anticipate working for several hours, consider reserving seats in advance, ensuring you have access to a table or a more comfortable seating arrangement.
Carriages specifically for quiet work, known as “quiet zones” or “silent carriages,” are available on some trains. These are ideal for concentrated work.
When booking, check for trains that offer business class or premium services. These often come with added comforts that facilitate work, such as more spacious seating or complimentary refreshments.
How to Work Remotely on a Cruise Ship
If there is one mode of transportation that provides you with plenty of optional free time, it’s a cruise ship. Here is how you can stay productive on the water.
To save on connectivity costs, consider purchasing an internet package in advance or during promotional periods onboard. Packages are often cheaper than pay-as-you-go rates.
Check the ship’s daily itinerary. You might find faster and cheaper internet options onshore when the ship is docked.
Cruise ship cabins, especially older ones, might have limited outlets. Consider bringing a power strip (without surge protection) to charge multiple devices. However, check with the cruise line beforehand, as some have restrictions on the types of power strips you can use.
Invest in a high-capacity power bank. This ensures that you can continue to work or stay connected even if you’re away from your cabin or during shore excursions.
Beyond dedicated workspaces, consider other serene spots on the ship, like the library, certain cafes, or even private balcony areas if your room has one.
Early mornings or port days when most passengers are off the ship can be ideal times to find quiet workspaces in common areas.
While cruise ships are generally stable, occasional rough seas can occur. If you’re easily seasick, consider bringing motion sickness remedies or wristbands.
Embrace Your New Flexibility and Freedom
The beauty of being a digital nomad is the freedom to set your own schedule. You can still see much of what you want and make adjustments to make everything work. You can head off on weekend trips or visit locations during the work week instead of on busy weekends, saving you time and money. The choice is yours, as long as you can switch to work mode when needed.