Navigating Technology While Traveling: What You Need to Know
The ultimate guide to navigating technology and staying connected while working and traveling with Remote Year.
Phone service in Palermo’s town square, internet wifi by the ocean in Cape Town, or navigating two display screens in Lima – part of being on Remote Year means being connected at all times. As a fully-remote global company, we know just how important it is to stay connected and online while on the road. To help you stay productive no matter where you are in the world, we asked our community to share their best travel tips and resources when it comes to using technology and electronic devices on the road.
Finding the perfect phone plan for you
Spoiler alert—we haven't found a "one size fits all" phone plan that works for each Remote Year traveler. When it comes to selecting the best phone plan for you, you'll need to determine your specific connectivity needs, data usage, and whether you plan to use your phone as a hotspot while you travel. To learn more about selecting the right phone plan as you travel, read our blog post all about finding the best phone plan for international travel here!
Computers - the lifeline to remote work
For all Remote Year travelers, a laptop computer is the best way to connect with your remote job from any of our destinations around the world. If shopping for a new laptop (or looking to fix an existing laptop), we highly recommend taking care of that in your home country before departing on Remote Year. If you’re looking to invest in a new travel laptop, this blog post provides ten different options with information like specs, portability, battery life, and storage space listed.
Deciding to purchase a new laptop before traveling? One of our favorite technology hacks is checking if your credit card’s loyalty program offers repair or replacement insurance. If your laptop needs to be repaired, shipping it back to your home country is recommended, as repairs can sometimes be more complicated or expensive in foreign cities. That being said, in the event that you need to handle any repairs locally, our City Teams are happy to share some recommendations for repair shops. Is one laptop enough?
Consider bringing an extra laptop if it's crucial to you to keep your personal and business items separate, or if you feel you need both smaller and larger screen options (like a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro). The tradeoff here is that it will add a bit of weight to your luggage.
Tablets - the device you didn’t know you needed
Instead of carrying around two different laptops, many Remote Year participants utilize a tablet alongside their computer. A tool for plane rides, a second screen for streaming services, and a safety net if something happens to your computer – tablets are great devices for a variety of reasons. Here’s what Remote Year travelers have enjoyed about using tablets on the road:
“A great option if you’re worried about having a backup device and are conscious of extra luggage weight.”
“If you're doing side trips with lots of travel, having an iPad can be a good setup option, as it's more lightweight and can be powered by an external battery, whereas a laptop cannot.”
“Tablets are great for travel days—games, TV shows, movies (hello, Netflix offline downloading) and more.”
To travel with two monitors, or not to travel with two monitors…
Love having a set of screens when working? While a dual monitor system sounds lovely when logging on in the coworking space, there may be a few points to consider before packing an extra display in your bag. In addition to carrying your monitors to a new destination, you’ll also have to bring the extra monitor wherever you plan to log on each day. When it comes to using two screens while traveling, here’s what Remote Year travelers had to say:
A popular app we use is Duet Display, which allows you to hook up a laptop to an iPad, allowing you to use this as a second monitor.
"I used two monitors before Remote Year and decided not to bring a second one. Transitioning from two screens to an 11-inch MacBook Air was an adjustment, but I ended up liking it. I probably never really needed a second screen. Be honest with yourself on whether or not you truly need it to do your job effectively."
Don’t forget your adaptors and converters!
Whether you’re logging on in Istanbul or Hanoi, chances are you’ll need an adapter. Adapters do not convert electricity—they allow you to plug in a device from one country into the wall outlet of a country with a different socket. You will not be able to plug a foreign phone charger or laptop charger directly into a wall outlet in Europe; you will need an adapter.
A converter converts the voltage of an electric product like a hairdryer or an electric razor. It’s recommended to use them for a shorter period of time rather than continued use. You can use ungrounded appliances (two plug pins) with converters.
Here are a few insights to know when it comes to purchasing and traveling with adapters and converters:
Most products sold in the US or EU will have a label that defines acceptable voltage. Look for the "input" section in the label—it should say 100v-120v / 200v-240v (if not, something similar). If it doesn't span both ranges, it's not auto-switching. Try to make sure everything you bring is 110 <> 220.
Google your laptop model to double-check, but it shouldn’t need a converter. Most laptop chargers (definitely Apple products) have those built-in.
You’ll likely need an adapter, but probably not a converter.
If you need to buy an adapter and/or converter in the city you’re traveling to, it's usually not a big hassle or expense. Your local electronic store or online technology storefront should be able to give you good insight with their recommendations and ratings for both converters and adaptors. If looking for more advice, below are a few specific recommendations from the Remote Year community:
Any small Euro plug to US plug adapter, paired with this small cube that creates three outlets.
Stay connected, pack an external battery
No day trip or weekend adventure is going to keep you disconnected – not with an external battery. Many Remote Year participants enjoy having a battery pack for long travel days, especially those small enough to fit in a pocket or purse. Here are some popular external batter options Remote Year travelers recommend:
Get distracted easily? Investing in a pair of active noise-canceling headphones will allow you to turn white noise on or off with the flip of a switch. The downside is that these headphones can be pricey, and they require charging or batteries. Evaluate whether or not you need these for work or personal purposes. When it comes to headphones, here are some popular options from fellow Remote Year travelers:
If you’re working a job that requires a more secure connection, a VPN may be the best tool to guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured (especially if working from a new location – like an internet cafe, or hotel room on a side trip). Some VPNs can cause security and connectivity issues, so we suggest researching these before you travel. Start with the options below, used by Remote Year travelers, to determine which VPN will work best for you:
Working remotely from Africa, Europe, Asia, and even South America can be seamless, productive, and (most importantly) fun – all you need is the right tools and technology! We hope our travel guide to all things tech helps you feel confident and prepared ahead of your Remote Year adventure. If you still have questions about the best technology and devices to use on the road, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org - we’re happy to help. We’ll see you (and your laptop) soon!