A laptop is the one essential gadget that makes remote work possible and the dream of being a digital nomad a reality. In most instances, a trusty laptop (and a reliable internet connection) can earn you an income from any corner of the world. If only it was that simple…
Through our experience, we’ve learned that there are a few laptop accessories and essentials that can make work a lot more enjoyable and efficient. As a digital nomad, you want to work smart, not hard. That way, you can explore all that the world has to offer.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some of the most basic laptop essentials and a few luxury accessories.
The Remote Work Lifestyle
Before we dive into the laptop essentials that have changed our working environment, it’s important to understand what to expect from the remote work lifestyle.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses have learned to adjust and allow their employees to work from home. In a way, this has opened a gateway to the remote work lifestyle – and it’s awesome!
A lot of people have realized how much more productive they are with the flexibility and freedom of working from home. Many others have decided to push the envelope and see just how ‘remote’ they can actually be. This may mean having a serious conversation with your employer, or it could be looking for an alternate job source that allows even more freedom.
At the end of the day, most remote work relies on the availability of a laptop and a few accessories that can improve productivity and efficiency.
Laptop of Choice
It would be a sin to chat about the various laptop accessories and essentials without first giving our thoughts on what laptops we recommend. Essentially, it boils down to what type of work that you do and the demands that you put on your machine.
If you’re a graphic designer, then you’ll be more familiar with the processing power needed to manage your work. If you’re a content writer, then the specs don’t need to be as detailed. Both of us use a Mac and swear by Apple products. If not for the value for money and reliability of the product, then for the ability to sync with various other accessories and gadgets.
Ollie has a MacBook Pro which has been his trusty colleague for years, without even a hiccup of trouble. This works well for him as a software developer and web guru.
As a content creator and writer, I don’t need as much from a machine as Ollie. Still, he finally convinced me that Apple is the way, and I have a MacBook Air. I wish I could say that it’s pretty much the same as any other device, but it’s not. It’s miles ahead.
Laptop Accessories That Change the Game
A laptop alone can do the job. But with the following accessories and gadgets, a laptop can do the job well.
A laptop is an investment. Paying for a good laptop may make you feel sick to your stomach as you part ways with your hard-earned cash, but then it will help you earn that money back. In the meantime, it’s important to go out of your way to protect your new best friend.
Insurance is one way to make sure that you cover your bases. Another is to invest in a padded laptop sleeve that keeps your delicate machinery snug as a bug. Laptop sleeves come in a variety of sizes and colors, some with added features (if you want to be fancy).
Choose a laptop sleeve that protects your computer and adds a bit of creative expression. To be safe, we’d recommend a water repellent case that has a zip or two for a notebook and/or charger.
It’s possible to be productive with a trackpad, especially one that has had the sensitivity tuned to your preference, but a mouse is a game-changer. After hours of working, the back of my thumb can become quite sensitive to the edges of my laptop and slowly work on my nerves.
A Bluetooth mouse removes the fuss of cables and connections but gives you an easy way to click and drag. Say goodbye to cramps and spasms, and hello to productivity!
As a side note, you may want to invest in a few extra batteries in case your mouse runs out of juice.
3. Mouse Pad
What would a mouse be without a trusty mouse pad? Seriously, these slim, material gadgets are highly underrated. I’ve tried to work without one and ended up using notebooks as a surface to move the mouse around rather than get it stuck on coffee stains and sticky tables.
Mousepads are inexpensive and can make a world of difference to your comfort. There are so many different styles and prints available, giving you another outlet for creativity.
Some key details to look out for include its ability to grip the desk, the softness of the material on your hand (or wrist), and how easily it slips into your laptop bag.
A portable monitor is a lifesaver when you’re working on big projects. Of all of the items on this list, a portable monitor is arguably the biggest investment, but it most certainly pays dividends. If you need to expand on your screen’s real estate, then a portable monitor is key!
There are different portable monitors available on the market, all that serve the same purpose but to different degrees of quality. It may be tempting to go for the cheapest on the market. However, I’d highly recommend that you pay a little bit extra for a monitor that has a sharp resolution, is lightweight and, of course, works with your laptop.
5. Cable Bag
A cable bag is a luxury item that has helped me to stay sane on several occasions. Depending on how many laptop essentials you purchase, you may find that you have a decent number of cables, cords, and accessories. And that’s where a cable bag comes in handy.
There are professional cable bags, like this one, that keeps everything neatly compartmentalized and orderly. These are perfect for traveling and are very practical. I just use a simple leather pouch to store my charger, earphones, and adapters.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to dig for hours just to find a sneaky cable. Having all of your small pieces in an organized and centralized place is very useful.
Do you know those pictures of digital nomads sipping cocktails on the beach with their laptops opened haphazardly on the side? This is far from the truth. In reality, remote workers typically spend hours in front of the laptop, grinding to make their dream come true.
Spending so many hours in front of the screen can put a strain on your eyes. A blue-light-blocking screen protector panel can help to reduce eyestrain and the associated discomfort by filter out up to 61% of blue light and up to 99% of UV light.
This screen can be a bit tricky to travel with, but we make space for the things that are important. As a digital nomad who makes a living using their eyesight, we’d say that our vision is quite important!
7. USB Hub
With so many laptop gadgets and accessories, you can quickly use up all of your USB ports on your computer. Rather than choose between using your Bluetooth mouse, connecting your portable monitor, or charging your phone, you can just buy a USB hub!
These nifty gadgets are very useful when you need to use a lot of your gadgets at the same time. Make sure that you read up on what the USB port supports, and whether it is compatible with your device or not.
Here’s to spending many hours doing all of the tasks that you want without having to compromise on any of them!
A laptop can render rather useless without an internet connection. While this is often no fault of your laptop, it doesn’t make the situation any easier to solve. That’s why we’ve included a mobile hotspot onto our list of laptop essentials when working remotely.
Even a simple task like sending an email is impossible without an internet connection. With a mobile hotspot, you can stay connected at all times, as long as you’ve stocked up on data. It can be a saving grace when you’re sitting on a deadline and the power goes out.
Ergonomics and comfort are key, especially when working for long hours. When you’re at home, you can pick a desk that works for your posture and let the hours pass by without even noticing. When you’re on the road, finding a posture-friendly desk to work at can be tricky.
A portable laptop stand is an affordable, lightweight solution to getting into a comfortable working position. Whether you set up at a coffee shop, a coworking space, or a friend’s house – these gadgets are very useful.
The best part about most portable laptop stands is that they fold up really small. This makes traveling with them a breeze.
People use external hard drives for different reasons. Whether you’re a blogger who shoots in raw and 4K, a designer that needs large storage space, or an accountant with a big client base. An external hard drive can take a lot of pressure off of your laptop.
The same considerations are needed for a hard drive as they are for everything else. Make sure that your choice is durable, lightweight, and connects to your device.
When shopping around, you’ll find several different size external hard drives. The more space it offers, the more it will cost. It’s a smart idea to assess your needs beforehand.
11. Charger Adapter
As you travel the world, you’ll find yourself in a few “oopsie” moments as you realize that you don’t have the correct adapter to charge your devices. Without juice, a laptop is pretty useless and work can’t be done.
You can do your research on the destination that you’ll be visiting and make sure that you have an adapter that fits their plug points. Alternatively, you can get a universal adapter that fits most plug points around the world.
Even so, it’s best to do research. We’ve been caught unprepared on a number of occasions (do we ever learn?). And it can be a very frustrating mistake to make.
Headphones may not exactly relate to a laptop, but they definitely connect to one. Noise-canceling earphones are a major perk when working remotely. Whether you need to take calls, put on your ‘focus’ playlist or want to drown out the ambient noise in a coffee shop – noise-canceling earphones are a value-add.
Most are Bluetooth and will connect to your laptop, allowing you to take advantage of the applications that you use. If you enjoy visiting tropical locations, then headphones may be a bit hot for your head in which case earbuds can do the job equally well (Ollie may argue, better).
Things to Consider Before Buying your Laptop Accessories
While each of these accessories will have its own quality checklist, there are a few universal points to consider, especially if traveling and working remotely.
- Durability – even if you’re really good at looking after your belongings, a little bit of durability can go a long way when you’re constantly on the move
- Weight – there’s nothing worse than crippling your back with overweight laptop accessories so make sure that they are lightweight
- Availability of replacements – as awesome as it is to get unique and bespoke items, you need to make sure that you can find replacement parts, batteries or chargers, etc. while traveling
- Compatibility – one of the most important things to consider – the accessory needs to be compatible with your device!
Any Laptop Accessories To Add?
This list of useful laptop accessories and gadgets is by no means exhaustive. There is plenty of other fun and quirky items that can boost your productivity and make your remote work-life more enjoyable.
We’d love to hear about them! So, feel free to drop us a message on Instagram and let us know.