The digital nomads in your life are awesome people. They can be a little hard to buy for, though — after all, they’re trying to keep their luggage weight down. Presenting 8 items that are multi-purpose, easy to send their way, small / light, and incredibly useful for any digital nomad or always-on-the-move type.
Oh, and there’s nothing that’ll break the budget, either — everything on this list is under $100, and most items are under $50. Where possible, I’ve used pictures of my own gadgets instead of stock photos.
Power your smartphone anywhere you go
If Amazon is any indicator, there are roughly 13 billion types of portable batteries (AKA external batteries AKA power banks) out there. While I’d recommend the Anker brand, four things matter with devices like these:
- The number of mAh (millamp hours), or how much of a charge these things can hold. The more, the merrier.
- The number of USB ports it has. Two is a great number, but some have more.
- How many amps those USB ports put out. Charging an iPad needs more amps to charge at full speed, but most have at least one port that puts out more amperage.
- Whether it has some other fun features (one example includes a solar power charger to charge the battery, a car adapter, etc.)
Have a life-saver on hand
To most digital nomads, their #1 tool in their adventures is their laptop. I would submit, however, that the #1 tool should be your laptop charger / adapter. If something happens to that, you’re screwed. That these things are always getting shoved in and out of bags or maybe dangled in weird ways doesn’t help things.
While your best bet remains a laptop charger specific to your brand, a universal laptop adapter covers lots of companies and models. Buy one adapter, which comes with a set of tips, then pick the tip that physically fits in your laptop — the adapter regulates the power going to it.
I’d recommend this one based on the number of tips it has, but again, I’d consider this a backup to a replacement for their specific laptop model .
Quick note: these ‘universal’ adapters are typically for Windows machines only — if your travelers works in the world of Apple, browse the Apple-specific charger.
My hair and beard trimmer has already saved me whatever the local cost would be for plenty of haircuts. To be sure, it does take a bit of practice to trim your own hair in the mirror, but I no longer have to worry about communicating my hairstyle of choice or paying a stylist for a simple cut.
This grooming kit is an all-in-one sort of kit, and I’ve had my Norelco trimmer for quite awhile now. I’ve tried the Philips Norelco OneBlade hybrid electric trimmer and was impressed, though needing to buy new blades every few months might be difficult to find
Keep the luggage organized
Packing cubes and compression bags are two slightly different offerings with two slightly different goals. Packing cubes are essentially zippable sacks that keep things organized amidst a larger piece of luggage.
Compression bags feature a one-way valve that let air out, but don’t let it back in. Load it, seal it, then roll or squeeze the air out. The result: stuff takes up less room.
For packing cubes in six colors, the AmazonBasics brand is a worthy buy.
For Samsonite quality, their 12-pack of compression bags is a great price.
Keep everything powered up
The external battery is great while you’re out and about, but a power strip with USB plugs keeps the battery charged up. Whether giving everyone a chance to power up makes you a hero at the airport or the hostel, everyone needs electricity. (No, my own power strip doesn’t have any USB plugs — and you can see how bulky even small USB plugs can be.
When buying, make sure it’s a plug at the end instead of a ‘block’ or ‘brick’ (which can block other outlets). Also, consider where your traveler is and where they’re going – Europe uses round pins, as only one example.
Access the fancy airport lounges
If they fly on a regular basis, anything that elevates the airport experience to the jetsetter level is a worthy one. Access to most of the premium airport lounges is typically based on one’s credit card, or loyalty to a specific airline, but access can also be bought.
Priority Pass allows access to over 1,000 airport lounges in 130 countries. You’ll pay $99 for a year’s membership, then they’ll pay $27 to access the lounge. It’s cheaper overall to get the ‘Standard Plus’ membership, which costs $249 for the year but gives your first 10 lounge visits for free. What exactly is available depends on each local lounge, but if you’ve ever been in one, you know how much more comfortable they make waiting in an airport.
Keep your eye out for coupon codes, by the way — it’s worth doing a quick search before buying.
More info at prioritypass.com.
Make your world quieter
Noise-cancelling headphones help to block out anything from that crying baby on the plane to help you focus on whatever you’re working on. If you have hundreds to spend, Bose and Sennheiser offer some gold standards, but I said everything on this list is under $100:
- COWIN E7 – learn more on Amazon
- Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphone (with a wired mode) – learn more on Amazon
- ALZN Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones – learn more on Amazon
Keeping your internet private with a VPN
A Virtual Private Network is a tool to keep people (like your internet provider) from seeing where you go online, and protects stuff like your passwords from being seen on open wi-fi connections. Basic stuff like that.
We personally use NordVPN, which offers thousands of servers across 56 countries and a strict no-log policy. The program has an easy-to-use map, and one click gets you connected to your country of choice. Get started with a one or two-year subscription for the best deal.
Nomads, what do you want for Christmas? Comments are open.
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Also published on Medium.