To Do List for the Digital Nomad


If you are a digital geek prepping for a nomadic lifestyle or simply an extended trip abroad, here are some tips and reminders to help prepare you for your next adventure.

(This post assumes you are traveling with a laptop and an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad)

1) Free Travel Apps

Download free travel apps for your iphone such as currency converters, language tools, wifi locators, flight status trackers, online banking apps, and free games to pass the time on long flights/trains/buses (Free Travel App review post coming soon… In the meantime, check out Best App Ever Awards for some more ideas)

2) Tread Lightly

Lighten your load by leaving the bulky travel guides and books at home. You can buy Lonely Planet city guides at the iTunes app store for about $5.99 USD or use free resources online such as lonely planet, Virtual Tourist or tripadvisor. Take advantage of the built-in iBook app to download hundreds of free classics or pay to download a new release.

3) Take Advantage of Sales

Before your trip, keep an eye out for sales on SD cards/USB drives/Portable Hard Drives. We have saved over 150 bucks by only purchasing SD cards and USB drives when they are on sale. Similarly, prices on portable hard drives can fluctuate by more than $20-30 USD which can easily cover a nights stay in Thailand. While the same is true for laptops, it might be a better idea to wait until the new model is released and snag the old model at bargain prices. (“Black Friday” in the U.S. is always a good time to buy electronics and gear)

4) Scan, Scan, Scan Everything

Scan your passport, visas, plane tickets, Eurail passes, and other important documents and upload to Dropbox*, save to a usb drive, and/or email them to yourself. Scan the receipts for all the electronic equipment you are bringing. If a customs official has any questions, pull out your iPhone and show them a copy of the receipt.

5) Batch Your Tasks

Find online services and/or applications that group your tasks together to save precious time on pay-per-minute wifi or when you have an unreliable connection. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are online tools which update multiple social media sites at once including Twitter, Facebook and Facebook Fanpages. They also have free companion apps for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Socialite, a mac only application, allows you to monitor and update Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, Digg, GoogleReader and Flickr. Take advantage of Evernote to jot down or photograph ideas, travel plans or anything else you want to remember. It is available free online, offline or on your Apple portable with the companion app and syncs when the devices are connected to the internet (iPhone required for full functionality since the iPod touch and iPad do not have cameras). Track your frequent flyer miles across all frequent flyer programs and have easy access to your upcoming flight information with AwardWallet (Thanks foXnoMad for bringing this website to my attention and for the free upgrade)

6) Online Security

Create a “private” link page on your website with links to the sites you visit frequently or use an online bookmarking service so that you can ensure secure access to websites while you travel. Bookmarking sites on your laptop’s browser is the best solution, but if you must log on at the internet cafe, you wont have to worry about language differences, phishing sites, or blocks placed on reliable search engines such as Google. I would strongly recommend against accessing vulnerable accounts at internet cafes, but if you must, research more about online security while traveling over at FoXnoMad. You can also find more tips on securing your own laptop at FoXnoMad.

7) Insure your Gadgets

Before you buy travel insurance, get a policy that also covers your electronic gear. Don’t forget to check the policy limits for electronic items and carefully read the policy language before you purchase. For example, World Nomads* California policy limits their “baggage” coverage to a maximum of $500 USD for all computers, cameras, camcorders and other electronics. $500 USD is barely enough to get you back on your feet with a netbook and cheap point-and-shoot camera and definitely will not cover your “professional” equipment. If you find a policy that covers all electronics that have a unique serial number, be sure to list your camera body and lenses separately since each have their own serial number (Thanks to TrailofAnts for the camera/lens suggestion).

8) Prepare your Pod

Actually sit down and organize your iTunes music collection. If you are like me, you have thousands of songs that are not organized, tagged or added to playlists. Spend a few evenings organizing your music into playlists which allows you to sync only the music you actually want to take with you. This saves precious space for photos, videos, documents, etc. Convert a few of your favorite dvds, the movies you can watch over and over again without getting bored, to an ipod compatible format and bring those along for flights, bus rides, or rainy days. I personally use RipIt for the Mac.

9) Leave the Alarm Clock at Home

Use your Apple portable as an alarm clock. There are many free alarms in the iTunes App store. I currently use Best Alarm Clock FREE + Weather and Temperature.

10) Don’t Forget the Ethernet Cable

They are small, lightweight and often can provide you with free internet at airports, hotels, etc. What more can be said?


Are you a Digital Nomad? How do you prepare for a digital life on the road? Did I miss any important planning tips?

8 thoughts on “To Do List for the Digital Nomad

  1. I’m gonna have to check out that RipIt software. I have a huge dvd collection that I’m getting rid of and I would like to rip my favorites before I do that.

  2. They claim a 99.9999% success rate. So, far I haven’t had any problems, but then again I have only ripped 2 or 3. Good luck and let me know how it goes or if you find a better application.

  3. We don’t have an iphone (or any phone) or even an ipod touch so we are rather lacking in that department. I completely agree that scanning things in (I just took photos as we didn’t have a scanner) is essential. I even took photos of my favourite recipes which is really handy now we have our own kitchen for a bit. Dropbox is wonderful – as well as a backup we use it to be able to access our files from either of our two laptops.

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