If you’re interested in traveling and working remotely for any length of time, having essentials to help you do your job is a must!
Luckily, we both have lots of experience bringing our jobs with us on trips. We’ve traveled full-time and have worked remotely away from home, and more recently, we like to extend our vacations by working remotely for a few days during a vacation week.
With our experience, we’ve learned a lot about what to pack to make sure we have everything to work efficiently on the go, without forgetting a single item!
Products mentioned in this review
Let’s check out the list.
Everything for your laptop and workstation
Having a comfortable and productive workstation is the start of a great laptop setup while traveling. Here are a few ideas in remote work essentials, while you’re working remotely during travel.
Travel laptop stand
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Small travel keyboard
Because you’re (hopefully) bringing a laptop stand, you’ll need an “external keyboard.” A Bluetooth travel keyboard will make it simple to type, while the laptop is propped up off of the desk.
Shop the keyboards
If you’re looking for a keyboard that’s a little more ergonomic, you can check out the Logitech MX Keys Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard. It has slightly more lift and elevation, which is a benefit over the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. I recommend checking out the travel case for it, too.
Portable travel mouse
The last thing you’ll need when your laptop is elevated off of the desk is a comfortable Bluetooth computer mouse for travel. You may already have a mouse that you use, and you can totally bring that (if it’s portable). By specifying that a mouse is a travel mouse, I mean that it packs well and is ergonomic for your travel work setup.
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I also like the Apple Trackpad as a very flat alternative to a mouse. I’ve been using mine on my desk when I work from home, and for working remotely while traveling. The trackpad has a low profile and fits anywhere. It’s a medium-sized rectangle, so it’ll fit in any tech bag. It can also likely fit in the same place where you store your keyboard. You may want to wrap it in a protective sleeve, though.
If you’re looking for a generally solid choice for a mouse, you can check out the Logitech MX Anywhere Bluetooth Mouse. It’s more compact than the MX Master that I’ve used. I’ve had great experiences with Logitech mouse products and they work fine for taking on the road.
If you’re used to working with two monitors, you may want a second screen for when you travel and need to work. Luckily, there are lots of options for you to choose from.
Be careful if you search Amazon for “portable monitor.” There are a few things that you may want to consider, like the resolution of the screen, the color accuracy, the type of display, the connection type and if the monitor needs a dedicated power source.
Price doesn’t always equal quality. My expert suggestion for when you’re shopping is to look for a screen that meets your budget and requirements.
I don’t currently use a second screen because I mostly work from my laptop when I travel.; however, I did a lot of research to find some monitors that interest me.
Shop the screens
I’m lucky that I’ve had great laptop backpacks over the years. I’ll use a laptop backpack as a carry-on or personal item on my flight, and also as a daypack for my laptop when I head to work at a coworking space or a cafe in my destination. Becca has a great list at her roundup of the best travel backpacks for women (they’re all unisex).
Shop the backpacks
This laptop backpack from Tortuga is a strong, incredibly high-quality and smartly-designed laptop backpack. Becca used it on our trip to Canada, as a personal item on the plane, and it fit both our laptops. It has smart tech storage, durable fabrics and strong zippers. You can see photos at our Tortuga Laptop Backpack review.
I like this laptop backpack because it’s a good size, at 21L, and I’ve taken it as a daypack for sightseeing when I’m not working. Moment designed this backpack with lightweight materials, and there are cool features like zipper “overhangs” to protect your work gear from the weather. Check out my Moment Everything Backpack review for more details!
I didn’t know how valuable a “tech bag” was until I had one. Now I have a few, and I use them to store everything from chargers, cables and wires to headphones, camera memory cards and power adapters. Here are a few that I trust, among all the best tech bags for travelers.
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Probably my favorite tech pouch, this travel product has gotten me through working remotely all over the world. I keep all my cables, dongles, hard drives and even my mouse in this. The sleeves and compartments have kept my electronic accessories organized, and because it’s a Peak Design product, the quality is incredible.
This tech bag is an affordable option for a way to keep all your chargers and cables neat during remote work and travel. I like the stretch pockets and the fact that it has a versatile internal design with a zipper pocket. It’s also cool that it has the ability to “sit” upright at your travel workstation.
A lot can happen when you are traveling with expensive equipment. Depending on where you are traveling, you could experience theft. If you are checking luggage, your bags can get lost. You may leave behind some (or hopefully not all) of your work stuff.
It’s important to be prepared. By doing a little bit, you may be able to help prevent theft or find some of your missing stuff if you leave it behind!
Shop for security
It’s a good idea to travel with locks because you might have the opportunity to find a locker at a coworking space where overnight storage is offered (when we worked remotely and traveled in Lima, Peru, our coworking had that). Having a lock on you can give you leave of mind leaving behind some valuables.
Things to help you both travel and work
Chances are that if you are working remotely far from home, you are having fun traveling as well! For us, working remotely and going abroad is a way to see the world and have a fun of fun in new places like Vietnam and Colombia. The products below have doubled as work items and travel items.
Noise cancellation headphones
If you’ve read any of our other travel or general packing advice, we love recommending noise cancellation headphones for a lot of reasons! They’re great for traveling on airplanes, and they also help block out unwanted noise if we find ourselves working in cafes or coworking spaces.
Shop the headphones
The Bose headphones are virtually equivalent to the Sony headphones. I’ve come to believe that it comes down to price and preference. You can compare the features if you’d like. In my opinion, they’re very close, unless there’s a feature that is a deal-breaker for you.
If you’re connecting to sketchy WiFi, and need to log in to anything, a VPN can help protect your traffic. When you are on the VPN, no one will be able to snoop on your data that you send out. I’ve written at length about which travel VPN to choose.
This is useful for work, but it’s also useful for travel, because you can “mask” your IP address and make it look like you’re connected via another country. This is good for streaming services if you want to watch US-based shows if you’re in another country.
An iPad has a lot of benefits when you are working and traveling. For starters, you can use your iPad as a second screen when using Sidecar, which I talk about in my list of the best budget tablet stands. It’s also great for entertainment on flights. I use my iPad when I’m not working and I want to watch a video or take a break from my phone.
Fun fact: even at home, Becca and I watch Netflix on an iPad. We mostly use it for background noise while we work on this website!
Shop the iPads
The standard iPad is the most affordable, and typically not as feature-rich as the other iPads in the product lineup. I have this style of iPad. I think it’s plenty fine, and because it fits in the travel laptop backpacks I recommend above, it’s part of my remote work setup on the go.
Travel power adapters
You may want an international travel adapter (see below) if you’re going to be in a place without your native plugs. Some power adapters are pretty cheap and you’ll put a lot of trust in a cheap $10 piece of plastic.
I’ve been thinking about this more recently. But, if outlets are bad at your Airbnb or at a cafe, you may run into trouble. We were traveling once and an outlet caught on FIRE (in Peru) because of a foreign plug being jammed in with a faulty adapter.
Shop the power adapters
When you don’t have access to an outlet, having a battery bank is a must. Even with daily use or road trips, having a battery backup is fairly crucial.
When you travel and work remotely, you may have some flights with no outlets and you need to keep your phone charged. You may want to keep your phone close by if you’re napping, without an outlet in sight.
Here are some power battery bank options that might be useful for you!
Shop the battery banks
I like this power bank because it has the ability to charge your laptop up to a full charge. At the very least, it will buy you a few more hours while working remotely at a cafe, if you’re not near an outlet. Some airlines have restrictions with the total mAh a power bank can have. This one is under the limit for most airlines!
Let’s talk for a minute about the battery limit because it’s important if you’re traveling with a lot of power. United Airlines claims that you can’t exceed 100 watt hours. See their policy here.
American Airlines allows four things in your carry-on if they’re under 100 watt hours. You’ll have to check anything between 100 - 160 watt hours. If it’s anything greater than that, you’ll need to contact them. Here’s their policy as well.
You can use this calculator to figure out the total watt hours based on the mAh number and volt number you’ll see on your battery pack.
With my experience, don’t stress about it too much. If you’re traveling with a reasonable amount of electronics, no one will question you, especially if the power device is rather small. Don’t travel with six laptops, a dedicated monitor and an XBOX!
I’ve never had issues traveling with a laptop, iPad, camera, charging cables and a power bank. And, most of my travel is carry-on only.
International phone plan and a spare phone
If you’re going anywhere international, or even traveling somewhere alone, having a spare phone is a good idea. You can always hang on to your old phone and bring that. I’ll always save a past generation of my phone for this purpose.
You can buy a SIM card for data and use that phone for tethering as a hotspot. I’ve done this a few times.
And in the event that your phone gets lost, stolen or broken, you can use your backup phone to get by until you get home or find a replacement main phone.
In terms of international phone plans, it depends on where you’re based. For US-based people, you can check out Google Fi and T-Mobile. Both of these carriers have great international plans. You can read about how Google Fi worked for me at my Google Fi for travel review.
If you’ll be in Mexico and Canada, most big-name phone plans have you covered. Becca and I both have AT&T and we have had no issues with our phones, and didn’t need to pay anything extra, to get full international cell service in Mexico and Canada.
Travel snack containers
I’m a big fan of traveling and saving money. Being able to transport food can sometimes help me save $10 or so for a meal. Becca always insists that we bring some snack containers or a style of Tupperware with us, and we even bring our own lunches to the airport. Doing this is one of my favorite eco-friendly travel tips.
If you happen to find yourself at airport lounges, you can take some food, or bring it to snack on during a long flight.
Lastly, if you’re staying at a hotel that offers free breakfast, I’d take some things to use for lunch, in my travel snack containers.
You can check out some of these options for snack containers that won’t take up too much room in your luggage.
Shop the containers
More products for flights and travel
Traveling and working remotely might involve flying. If you’re like us, you might fly a LOT! Especially if you’re doing long-haul travel from continent to continent, check out our list of the best accessories for long flights to get you through a lot of hours in a plane.
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