45 percent of full-time employees in the U.S. are now working partly or fully remote, according to a 2021 Gallup survey, and 90 percent of those remote workers want to keep it that way. As someone who has been working remotely as a freelance writer for nearly a decade, it’s fascinating to see the transformation that’s happened in just two years. Before the pandemic, my digital nomad work life seemed unthinkable and unsustainable to most of the people I knew. Now, everyone has settled into the convenience of working from home and, with pandemic restrictions easing in many places, they’ve started making plans to jet off to their dream travel destinations and get a taste of the freedom of being able to work from anywhere.
As a veteran remote worker, I can say that the key to getting work done while traveling is having the right portable office setup to prepare you for working wherever you land. From a high capacity power bank that charges your laptop, phone, and tablet at the same time to long-lasting noise-canceling headphones that silence distractions, here are the remote work essentials that I’ve come to rely on.
Omnicharge 20+ Power Bank
The struggle every digital nomad faces is finding the perfect spot to set up their portable workspace that also happens to be within charging cable distance of an outlet. It’s even worse if you’re trying to recreate that idyllic photo op of the digital nomad working beachside or while looking out over the lush canopy of some remote rainforest. Pristine nature is short on outlets, I’m afraid.
That’s where the Omnicharge power bank comes in. With two USB ports, a USB-C port, an AC socket, DC port, and a wireless charging pad, this single power bank can power pretty much any device you own. It can charge up to three devices at the same time and has enough battery capacity to charge most laptops at least once. Smaller devices, like your phone or tablet, can be recharged about five times.
While there are more robust power banks out there, they’re not always allowed on airplanes. But at 70 watt hours, this compact power bank is fully TSA-compliant so you can embrace your new jetsetter life without stressing about getting through airport security.
If you leave your Airbnb with fully charged devices and this power bank, there’s very little chance you’ll run out of power before you finish work. And now that you’re no longer competing to sit near an outlet, you can work outside, on a boat, on the beach, or wherever else you’ve been fantasizing about working.
To buy: amazon.com, $249
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
When you’re working away from home, you don’t often have much control over what distractions are in your environment.e. With that in mind, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones goes a long way toward keeping you focused.
While I’ve gone through a few different headphones in the last decade, my new Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones are hands down my favorite. With 30 hours of battery life on a single charge and a comfortable design that doesn’t crush your ears, I can easily wear these through an entire workday.
You can also pair the headphones with two devices simultaneously, meaning you can toggle seamlessly between listening to music on your phone — for which the crystal clear sound quality with basic equalizer settings is great — and hopping on a work call on your laptop without having to disconnect and reconnect each time.
Plus, you can easily switch between noise cancellation mode and the transparency mode, which captures surrounding sounds without amplifying them so you can keep your headphones on but still hear the barista call out your order when it’s ready. Then, switch back to noise cancellation for distraction-free focus.
There are headphones with better noise cancellation and headphones with better EQ functions but, in my opinion, this pair offers the best balance of the two while still including the practical features (like multipoint pairing and long battery life) that I need for work.
They’re admittedly a bit pricey, though, and if you’re not as concerned about sound fidelity in your music, you can find comparable noise cancellation at a much lower price point in the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones, which go for $60 at Amazon. The Soundcore headphones boast premium noise canceling tech and up to 40 hours of battery life—but the sound is a little bass heavy and they can’t connect to multiple devices at the same time.
To buy: amazon.com, $399
Arteck Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo
Using a laptop’s tracking pad and typing on its built-in keyboard is fine for a couple of hours. But if you’re planning to get a full day of work in, it gets tedious and uncomfortable, so I highly recommend getting a wireless mouse and keyboard so you can sit back and work comfortably.
I’ve been using the Arteck wireless keyboard and mouse combo for almost two years now and I’m really happy with the set. Both devices connect to one USB receiver so they’re only taking up one of my USB ports.
Plus, the super slim design of the keyboard doesn’t take up a lot of space in my backpack and the stainless steel frame lets me throw it in my bag without worrying about damage.
They both also have an incredibly long battery life. Arteck claims six months for the keyboard and four months for the mouse and I admit I haven’t timed it precisely, but I definitely go more than a month between charges.
To buy: amazon.com, $28 (originally $39)
Tripped Tech Bag
Traveling with a portable office means having a ton of cables: charging cables, USB cables, USB adapters, aux cords, the list goes on. If you just toss them in your backpack, you’ll end up spending the first 10 minutes of each work day sifting through a tangle of cords to get what you need. You’ll also decrease the lifespan of each cable as they get dinged and twisted in the bottom of your bag.
A good cable organizer keeps your cords easily accessible and protected from damage. A great cable organizer does that without requiring you to meticulously roll up each individual cable and slide them into tight pockets when you’re packing up for the day.
For me, that’s this Tripped tech bag. It has three main compartments that open accordion-style when you unzip the bag so you can immediately see everything inside at a glance. There are extra pockets and sleeves sewn into the sides for additional organization but for bulkier cords (like your laptop charger), and packing up is as easy as tossing it back into its compartment. You’ll also be able to store some of your other gadgets in here, too, like your wireless mouse and headphones.
To buy: amazon.com, $45
Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea 15” Laptop Bag
After upgrading my laptop last year to one with a 17.3-inch screen, my laptop backpack options became limited since most are built for laptops with 15-inch or smaller screens. If you don’t have a huge laptop like I do, I’d recommend the Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea backpack. It’s similar to the Kenneth Cole backpack I’d been using for years before I swapped laptops and I love the balance of rugged durability and sophisticated style.
The tough polyester exterior and tear-resistant lining stood up to years of traveling around Europe and still looked almost as new as the day I got it. Plus, it has a separate padded laptop compartment — which is a blessing when rushing through airport security — and padded pockets in the main compartment for your tablet and smaller devices. The luggage strap on the back makes for easy carrying and the main compartment is roomy enough to pack everything I need for a short trip in one bag.
Even now that it can’t serve as my laptop bag, it’s still my go-to carry-on for work-free vacations or trips where I can get away with just bringing my tablet and a few smaller essentials.
For my larger laptop, I finally managed to find this Light Flight backpack on Amazon that I’m feeling optimistic about. While it doesn’t offer quite as much padding and feels a little less tough than the Kenneth Cole option, it’s still stylish and has the features I need most: a separate laptop compartment, a roomy main compartment with a sleeve for my tablet, a couple smaller pockets for smaller devices, and enough room to fit a cable organizer, power bank, headphones, and a long weekend’s worth of clothes.
I haven’t traveled with it yet, but it’s gone on several bike rides to my local coffee shop so far and has held up well.
To buy: amazon.com, $60
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