Written By: James Cave
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely, using the internet. If you’re thinking about doing this you will need to put a lot of thought into the technical side of internet connections, backups and battery performance before heading off around the world.
Your ability to work as a digital nomad depends on your ability to be able to connect to the internet while you’re abroad and so once you arrive in a new area – or are deciding on which area to go to next – you will spend a lot of time looking at the ease of getting online there.
Your shortlist of options should look something like this:
- Is there a McDonalds nearby? Love or hate the food, an increasing number of McDonalds worldwide have unlimited wifi connections which is great not only for working, but downloading any bits and pieces you need as well.
- Can I housesit? When deciding on my next place to visit, I tend to take a look at the available house sitting opportunities to see if there’s one nearby as most people listing their home on a housesitting website are likely to have an internet connection at home.
- Cafes, hotels and wifi hotspots: Another option is to look out for cafes, hotel lobbies and other places with wifi. These are rarely advertised very well and often it’s a case of wandering around the first day you arrive seeing what networks are available.
- What about 3G? Using an iPhone, dongle or mifi router, you can take a 3G-enabled sim card and get online. There are an increasing number of PAYG options and although not as fast as ASDL broadband, it’s always good to have something in your back pocket, literally. If you’re planning on tethering, be sure to look out for a network which allows this otherwise you risk getting kicked off the network.
- Satellite phones: expensive and only really as a last resort or if you’re in the outback.
If you’re running a business, whether remotely or statically, it’s important to have backups of your work. Two apps that make this easier are Google Cloud Connect and Dropbox. Google Cloud Connect automatically syncs your work from Microsoft Office with Google docs allowing you to store backups online, while Dropbox will backup any new files placed in a specified folder to the cloud.
Note: if you’re working off a slow or limited internet connection, make sure backups are set to manual to reduce data usage.
Laptop Battery Usage
If you’re going to be working in cafes, hotel lobbies and basically away from a guaranteed power source you’ll need to think about the best way to conserve battery time.
The two biggest consumers of battery power are the screen and the drives, and the surest way to improve the performance of both is not to run too many processes on the hard drive, avoid using the CD drive (so no music) and reduce brightness of the screen to a comfortable level.
You may also want to upgrade your battery. Most laptops come with 3 Cell batteries which die pretty quickly, so it’s worth upgrading to a 6 Cell, or anything higher. This will also mean you now have two batteries, so should one run out and you be in the middle of doing something, you have a backup power source for an hour or so.
To survive as a digital nomad you need to be practical. There’s little point in flying halfway across the world only to discover that you don’t have the right technology and software to make this work: be ready before you go.
About the Author: James Cave writes for Skyscanner.net, an Edinburgh-based travel comparison company.