If you want to be a freelancer because you love to travel, it’s absolutely possible. It may seem like a dream, but it only feels impossible because you haven’t done it yet. There are plenty of people out there living abroad while working as a freelancer.
But before you head out the door, make sure you’ve got everything you need from your digital nomad packing list.
What makes freelancing abroad different than remote work at home? Besides all the extra photo-worthy selfie opportunities? Not much!
You still have to do everything you’d normally do when working with remote clients: lining up and scheduling new work, having follow-up conversations, invoicing, etc.
There are some logistical concerns, however, that you should know about and prepare for before you step off your home soil.
Here are six essentials to ensure you can navigate working overseas and come out on top. Even if you’re not planning to head overseas, these are items that are also handy to pack for a staycation or even just to have at home! (You never know when your computer may crash!)
Looking for tips on how to work abroad? Find out how to work as a digital nomad here >>
1. Reliable Computer (and Back-Up Computer)
Your computer is 100% your key to making money overseas and, if anything goes wrong, you’re in deep trouble. You need to plan for some kind of back-up, whether it be a small portable keyboard to sync with your phone or tablet or even a small, back-up laptop.
And don’t forget your chargers. You need a charger and back-up charger for all your devices. You can’t afford to be without a reliable computer or charger if you’re working while abroad. You might even want to pack an extra charger. It can’t hurt, right?
2. Video Conferencing Technology
This isn’t something you’re packing, of course, but you do need to ensure your video conference technology is set up and working properly before you step out the door.
Many, if not all, of your client meetings will take place over video and not the phone. Phone calls have really become something of the past. Download and set up Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype and ask your client if they have a preference for their video conferencing software.
Of course, you can also use this technology to make international calls. Use your phone if you need to, but online video conferencing will save you a ton in roaming charges.
3. Portable Wi-Fi for a Strong Internet Connection
You could rely on your hotel, Airbnb, or hostel to offer Wi-Fi, but the connection is often unreliable and weak. You also need to be sure you have Wi-Fi that isn’t attached to the home’s power source in case you lose power.
You could also rely on cafés for free Wi-Fi but that’s not always reliable or strong either. I recommend an international Wi-Fi hub like Skyroam.
4. A Cloud-Based Storage Solution
Again, this isn’t something you pack necessarily, but you do need a cloud-based storage solution figured out before you travel. If your computer and backup computer are on the fritz, you can still head to an internet cafe or library or other place where you can jump on a public computer and access your files from the cloud.
If you don’t already, make it a habit of saving files to the cloud—not on your desktop.
Did you know that the voltage varies from country to country? For example, while the U.S. uses 120 volts, Europe uses 220. This means even if you’re using an adapter, there’s a chance it could fry your electronics.
Pick up a converter instead. This option has space for three plugs and converts the voltage to minimize the risk of fried electronics. It also comes with adapters that will cover you in more than 150 countries. Nice!
6. Keyboard Protector
Spend the few bucks on getting a keyboard cover, especially if you tend to work in coffee shops or eat while on your laptop. Keyboard protectors are very cheap (usually under $10) and fit your specific computer model. A quick search online will find the right one for you (for example, this one fits the MacBook Air).
Nice-to-Have Tools of the Digital Nomad Trade
While the above items are musts, here are a few extras that the Fired Up Freelance team consider nice-to-haves.
- Blue light glasses. This style reduces headaches from too much screen time.
- Notebook. We love the classic, rule pages Moleskine notebook (hard cover so it can withstand travel!).
- Laptop cleaner and brush combo. In addition to the keyboard cover, this brush and microfiber pad combination set from OXO are our go-tos for keeping a clean machine.
- Wipes. These wipes are compact enough to throw in your laptop case and are individually wrapped to avoid drying.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. This is especially critical if you’re planning on working in public places like coffee shops. This pair by Bose is our favorite.
If you’ve worked while traveling, what’s on your digital nomad packing list? If you haven’t traveled while working, what do you like about the idea? What are your concerns? Let us know in the comments below!