Working from a laptop while traveling the world sounds like a sweet gig—because it is—but it can be trickier than you might think. Tom Wahlin, a remote worker, traveler, and founder of Pack Hacker, shares his 10 favorite pieces of gear that will help you get the job done!
One of the most common things remote workers hear from non-remote workers is something along the lines of, “Oh, I couldn’t get anything done if I worked remotely.” And sure, working remotely can be distracting. You also don’t have the typical comforts of an office desk, which is a problem for some.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
I’m here to tell you that it is possible to work remotely while living out of a backpack without sacrificing your productivity. I did it for three years with great success, and I’m still doing it—albeit, more intermittently—today. The key is having the right tools for the job.
With that said, here are my top 10 pieces of versatile gear that will help you succeed as a remote worker.
This is an absolute must for any world traveler. Instead of buying a dedicated adapter every time you visit a new country, you can just grab this one that works with every (known) outlet in the world. Plus, it can be used as a fun Transformer-style toy when not in use. Hah, transformer. Electricity jokes.
Working from a laptop for long periods of time can be incredibly uncomfortable, bad for your health, and bad for your wallet (chiropractors are expensive!). A laptop stand can combat all of this and keep you more productive on the road with a true desktop-style setup. I’ve tried a bunch of them, and the Roost comes out on top every time. It does its job well, but it’s also incredibly compact, lightweight, and durable.
We’ve all been there. You arrive at a packed coffee shop, somehow manage to find a seat, open up your laptop to start working and…realize you’ve got 8% battery left. But, of course, all of the outlets are taken.
Well, with this simple outlet splitter you can be the hero everyone didn’t know they needed. By transforming 1 plug into 3, you can pop into an outlet without inconveniencing the previous occupant while also adding another plug to the mix! I’m not going to say everyone will cheer for you, but I’m also not saying they won’t…
You never think you need an ethernet cable until you really need an ethernet cable. Getting stuck offline can mean an entire day of work down the drain (whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you). Ethernet cables can truly save you when you’re experiencing WiFi issues. This one is great because it takes up almost no space and, since it retracts, you won’t have to deal with a cable salad in your backpack.
Trying to get work done in a noisy coffee shop or coworking space can certainly be tricky, but that’s where noise-canceling headphones come in. I love the Jabra Elites because they’re super minimal and discreet, they’ve got a microphone for conference calls, and they use an awesome audio pass-through feature so you can hear yourself talking. This helps avoid the whole, “why are you yelling at me?” thing.
Unless you’re a video editor or something, you probably don’t need to be carrying around a bulky external hard drive. But it is always great to have a physical drive you can use to backup files or transfer if you’re having connectivity problems. This thing holds a quarter terabyte—more than most people would ever need—and is the size of your thumbnail.
Your desk has drawers, but what about your coffee shop? Chances are, no drawers. A couple of pouches can be great for keeping all your gear well-organized and within reach at all times. I love using one pouch for all my tech gear like chargers, cables, adapters, and other accessories.
If you haven’t heard of Hydro Flask yet, you’re missing out. Their water bottles are super insulated, keeping cold stuff cold and hot stuff hot—sometimes even too hot, to be honest. Hydration is important, people! And having a water bottle handy will help you stay focused and productive throughout the entire day. If you’re looking for a lighter or more compact option, try out the Vapur Eclipse.
Let’s be honest. As nice as coffee shops are, they can get expensive when you work—and eat—out of them for weeks on end. These Stasher Reusable Bags function just like a Ziploc would, but you can wash them out and reuse them over and over. I love keeping a few of these in my pack while I’m traveling so I can stock up on cheap, healthy snacks at the store. Just make sure your coffee shop allows outside food!
This one might sound a little puzzling, but having a multitool on the road can be indispensable. It’s one of those things you don’t think you need until you need it—like when there’s a loose screw on your chair that’s causing some serious wobble. This one is great because it’s super minimal and TSA-approved.
For more tips on working remotely and staying efficient on the road, check out Pack Hacker's Guide to Working Remotely