We’ve all heard the same old advice about how to stay productive at home.
But what if you’re a remote worker?
What if you work from a coffee shop or your couch?
What if you have no boss watching over your shoulder and making sure that you get things done on time?
How do we stay productive without being told what to do by someone else every single day of the week?
The answer is simple:
Here’s a list of digital nomad-friendly tools that will help boost your productivity while remotely working from anywhere in the world.
While some of these tools don’t come off as freelance tools that self-employed people will usually use, they will likely lead to peace of mind, thus boosting productivity.
The Ultimate Tool for Nomads and Expats
The Nomad List, it’s a nomad, expat, even a traveler’s dream.
All of the information you’ll find is crowdsourced and combined into this web app that shows a lot of stuff you need to know about any country.
Here are some of the facts that it’ll show you about a country of your choosing:
- Average internet speed
- Best wireless carrier
- Suggested ATM withdrawal amount
- Whether the tap water’s safe to drink
- Best 24-hour coffee shops
- Cost of living
- Pros vs. cons of the country
- Forums based around the country
- Best coworking spaces
- Scores—e.g., friendliness toward foreigners and LGBTQ+ acceptance
However, Nomad List charges a lot to use their services.
To use any of the software below, you’re going to need an internet connection in addition to a few real-life tools for self-employed rockstars to use at home or on the go:
- Smartphones: an essential addition to your toolbox, you could use smartphones for calling clients, employers or used as two-factor authentication to get into any accounts.
- Computer: unless you want to do all your work over a phone, you might want to consider investing in a cheap laptop to do your work on. Or build a computer, it could save you money. If you’re writing, you don’t need anything special. However, if you’re editing videos or images, only buy the specs that you need. There’s no need for overkill.
- External hard drive: to store backups of your files.
- Water bottle: to keep you hydrated throughout your work sessions.
- Reusable face masks are convenient when going outside.
- Compass: isn’t something that you’ll need for working from home or coworking space, but it serves as an excellent offline tool to prevent you from getting lost if an emergency were to happen. Better to be prepared than not.
2. Global Hotspot
If you want to avoid the hassle of renting SIM cards or pocket WiFi abroad, WiFi services like Skyroam give us access to WiFi almost anywhere in over 135 countries without roaming charges.
Having a tool like this is almost essential:
If you’re working online, having a backup would be one of the best investments you could make.
Imagine your internet shut down, and you need the internet to complete your project—this is where a global hotspot could save your butt.
Apps and SaaS
Apps that fall under these general umbrella terms are native (apps you can install) and web, which you can directly access from the internet.
Otherwise, there is software as a Service (SaaS).
Before anything else, you will need somewhere to store your files.
While your computer and flash drive—or spare external hard drive—is usually sufficient, it’s best practice further to diversify your backups on cloud storage behind top-notch encryptions.
Keep reading to learn the best ways to back up your files.
3. Google Drive
If you’re someone who’s embedded in the Google ecosystem or would instead start with 15GB of free storage instead of Dropbox’s 2GB, Drive is a great place to start.
Google also offers 100GB of storage for a little over a couple of bucks a month, which should be enough for most ordinary self-employed folks.
If you want to steer clear of Google products, if it ever collapses, or their services change, Dropbox is a fantastic alternative.
Instead of only offering up to 200GB per month, Dropbox gives you 2TB of storage for as low as $9.99 per month.
Having cloud storage is ideal for anyone who stores or edits images and videos.
Trust me. You’ll need the extra space accommodation.
If you’re cramped in your home all day, you’re likely to go nuts.
While you could go to coffee shops, order an overpriced drink, and sip coffee all day, it’s not practical for a couple of reasons.
First, a family could bring their kids that continually cause a stir, making it hard for you to work.
Second, there’s also the chance you might not find a seat.
Use this as an opportunity to rent a coworking space.
Flydesk is a coworking space search engine allows you to search the world for a workspace that you can pay to use daily.
Whether you want to enter a country to stay or just visit, you’ll need to know their visa requirements, whether they allow visa-free entry, and how long you can visit.
6. Visa List
Visa List is a unique digital nomad tool that lets you select what country’s passport you’re using and will give you details on the following:
- Travel freedom, restrictions, and details
- If your country’s citizens are allowed in theirs
- Health regulations
- Visa policies
- Embassy locations
Furthermore, Visa List will show you what documents you need to register for any country’s tourist visas.
Writing and Editing
Whether you’re crafting an eBook or writing a piece for a client, you’ll need tools to accomplish your goals.
If you’re a novelist, student, or screenwriter, Scrivener makes it easy for you to organize your notes, writing, and research under one roof.
Unfortunately, you can’t integrate Scrivener with Grammarly. However, you can with ProWritingAid.
8. Currency App
There are a million apps, web, and native, that can convert different currencies.
Unless you’ve already adjusted to the currency of where you’re staying, it might be best to consider installing a currency conversion app. That way, you can also use offline to estimate how much of your own currency you’re spending.
Do you need a way to collaborate with clients or coworkers?
Or are you in need of a to-do list to keep track of your habits or daily tasks?
Trello does both and more with its easy-to-use interface. Simply drag-and-drop your tasks where you choose and integrate your boards (work areas) with various apps.
Everyone in the world doesn’t speak English, nor should we expect them to.
When visiting another country, you can A, use body language to convey what you want.
B, learn enough of your target language to survive.
Or C, use:
10. Translation Apps
If you don’t want to put in the effort to learn a new language, that’s fine.
But, I have a magical device for you. It’s called Google Translate.
So, type what you want to translate, and bam, you can suddenly translate with people who don’t speak your language.
A few other features Translate has to make your life easier are as follows:
- Download your language so you can use it to translate offline. The feature only works with Camera and basic text translation features.
- A transcribe feature allows you to listen to what someone’s saying and output it on your device.
- Conversation allows you and another speaker to speak into the phone; then, your AI regurgitates the translation.
- You can change the region of whatever language you want to translate in the settings. For example, you could choose English (Singapore), English (Tanzania), or whatever dialect you prefer.
- The Camera function allows you to scan most text and instantly translate.
It uses spaced repetition learning to focus on a myriad of languages. A couple involves Taiwanese Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
If spaced repetition isn’t your thing, or if you’d prefer supplementing it, hire a teacher to help you reach fluency.
Italki has either community teachers—who are usually just native speakers who help through informal tutoring—or certified teachers if you need something more intense.
If you’re looking for a means to make income overseas or to supplement your language-learning adventure, you can teach your mother tongue to others in need.
They don’t require any certificates or degrees to teach on their platform.
Video Conferencing Tools for Location Independent Workers
While there are plenty of video conferencing apps available, the two most trusted ones available as follows:
While Skype has some horrendous user experience (UX), it gives us better video and audio than you’ll find on programs such as Zoom.
Furthermore, you can purchase a Skype Number and have a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to contact individuals and businesses in your home country.
Zoom seems like a household name these days. Here are several good reasons why Zoom’s excellent:
- You can host up to 100 participants in Zoom for free.
- Connect integrations such as Zapier or Slack.
- Use Zoom’s recording features to save your conversations for future reference.
You might want to keep in mind that Zoom has had its fair share of privacy concerns and violations. However, the U.S. company has stated that they fixed their issues.
A virtual private network (VPN) isn’t only an excellent tool for hiding your IP address from curious hackers, but they’re also handy for working online.
So whether you’re doing SEO research and don’t want local results or don’t want a website to know what country you’re in, these are handy tools for self-employed people.
Keep in mind; I’m not condoning nor promoting criminal activity.
Here are a few of the most trusted VPNs on the market at the moment:
We need them.
Whether we need to find a new restaurant to eat lunch or navigate through a foreign labyrinth of buildings to exercise, these are required tools for self-employed people and travelers.
16. Google Maps
You’ve likely seen this app already installed on your phone if you have an Android operating system. You can use Maps to find nearby gas stations, restaurants, or whatever you need, along with reviews to let you know if you should go there.
Don’t forget to download offline maps in your area to prepare yourself for potential cellular outages.
18. Every Time Zone
Every Time Zone’s a time zone converter web application that takes the headache out of figuring out what time it is in someone else’s timezone.
Time zones are a critical factor to keep track of when a client or employer is awake and active to avoid confusion.
19. 2-Factor Authenticator
2-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer many native and web apps incorporate into their systems that are difficult to breakfast.
There are multiple routes to go with how to use 2FA. Here’s an example of how one of the mediums works:
- Log in to an account normally.
- A prompt for a code will appear on the screen.
- Hop into whatever app you connected to your account, for example, Authy, and get the required code before the timer expires.
- Enter the code and log in.
Scan the security settings of every app you have for a 2-factor authentication implementation. Afterward, you’ll scan a QR code with your 2FA app of choice, enter your first code, and you’re ready to go.
Authy has guides on how to set up 2FA on many popular websites.
However, there’s a way to get even more secure.
The ultimate tool for location independent workers are:
They’re hardware-based 2FA that only allow account access when you plug in the device. Unfortunately, not all websites allow these.
Moreover, they’re near-unbreakable security for the accounts that do allow them.
Voice Over Internet Protocol, otherwise VoIP allows us to make calls online using only WiFi and a phone number provided by a service. A couple of websites that offer VoIPs are Google Voice an Nextiva.
VoIP allows you to contact people and companies anywhere worldwide, as long as your connection’s good, or to have a form of SMS verification.
Keep in mind that many websites will not allow VoIP phone numbers for verification, so they will likely prevent the use of these numbers. So stick to calling people.
Mail forwarding services allow you to have your mail delivered to, for example, a U.S. address and then have the mail forwarded to you while overseas or scanned.
These services are helpful for letters that businesses that only deliver solely snail mail such as:
- Bank cards
- IRS notices
- Driver’s license
- Jury duty notices
- Paperwork related to social security
A tool like this for digital nomads is likely one of the best on this list and a service you should consider. Especially if you don’t have friends or relatives to collect your mail.
If You Want To Build a Website
If you’re en route to constructing your own site, or a client’s, you should consider these tools and assets to give users the best experience imaginable!
For people to find your website:
You’ll need a service to host it. So, don’t blow your money on a hosting provider just because it’s fast. Instead, do your research—make sure the company has what you need for your website.
If you use the content management system (CMS), WordPress, you should consider using hosting dedicated to this CMS. That way, the host can optimize your website to fit WordPress’s best security and speed practices.
You have to use some technical knowledge when setting up or migrating a WordPress setup.
However, Cloudways has significantly sped up my website over my past hosting provider, EasyWP. I also have way more control over my website.
Cloudways uses a pay-as-you-go plan that starts at $10 a month, which is still affordable for web hosting considering the benefits you get.
I recommend at least trying Cloudways WP hosting. They offer a free trial.
Are There More Freelance Tools?
When it comes to digital nomads, we all have our own unique set of needs and preferences.
Some of you need more than just a VPN for your work abroad, while others prioritize language learning or editing skills.
Still, there are plenty of tools that will suit the demands of any type of traveler without breaking your budget! Here’s a list with some great choices from freelancers themselves who know what they want.
I hope you find something useful here! Which tool on this list would be best for me?