Having an office at home is great, you can corner off a room or area of your house and use it just for working; if you're lucky enough you'll be able to close the door on it afterwards and leave all your work stuff in place ready for your next visit. Being a digital nomad on the other hand where you need to literally be able to pick your office up and go, sometimes at a moment's notice can be a challenge; here are my top tips for creating a travelling work environment.
#1 - Laptop and Tablet
Let's start with the obvious; I like to have both a laptop (I use a Macbook Air and Mr. Friday has a Mackbook Pro) and mobile device (I have an iPad mini and Mr. Friday as an iPad). This is because I like to separate the two and use the mobile device as my address book, mobile Skype phone, calendar, email checker, list maker etc... when I travel I keep the iPad accessible with me at all times with all my most important "to hand" information in my handbag, and the laptop goes in a main hand luggage bag.
#2 - Cloud Storage
Move everything, all your files and folders, photos, videos and more into the cloud! There are some really great cloud storage services out there but the (3) I primarily use are SpiderOak, Dropbox and Google Apps.
is extremely secure, we keep all our private and personal documents in there out of the mainstream cloud services, it keeps them separate and we keep within the free storage limit so it doesn't cost anything; we share one account between both myself and Mr. Friday's laptop so we can both access the docs within it.
The next is Dropbox
, we use this because it suits most clients who also have a Dropbox account for sending us files. We tend to use this as a quick transfer facility where we can share files with each other and easily share with third parties too.
And finally, for a mass storage option Google Drive
is our cloud service of choice, you can get masses of storage space for a relatively cheap price in comparison to Dropbox, and since we use Google Apps in Virtual Miss Friday we easily sync shared folders with all the team. It's perfect for a rapidly growing business with multiple team members needing easy access and client files needing to be stored.
#3 - Hard Drive
Next, we need a hard drive, something that travels easily like a Freecom drive
, this is because I like to do backups of the laptops, and also keep a back up of Google Drive on there, since I don't want to use up all the computer's disk space. There's a great service called InSync
that solves the issue of not being able to select an external hard drive for Google Drive storage from the application, with InSync you can select to sync your Google Drive with your external hard drive and that leaves your native disk space free for whatever else you may need.
#4 - Google Chrome for Bookmarks
As we use Google Apps
I tend to be permanently logged into Google for email, drive, calendars etc... everything is in the cloud of course! But what I also use is the Google Chrome
browser, which syncs my bookmarks in-between my laptop and devices, another huge timesaver when you make an update to your bookmarks, that update magically appears across your Chrome browsers. For this you'll need to download Chrome to the laptop and the Chrome app to iPad and/or iPhone etc...
#5 - Apps
I love Mac apps, you'll of course need Macs to make this bit work, but I can't imagine using anything else at this stage. I rely a lot on apps for 2 things, the first is productivity, and the second is for syncing between devices.
Some of my most used apps that sync my work across my laptop, iPhone and iPad are:
is a writing app that I use to draft emails on or write posts, like this blog right now is being written in byword before I transfer it into my blog. It's an app that links up to iCloud storage and keeps all my drafts accessible. so I can write on the iPad, sync in iCloud to my laptop and post to my blog from there.
Dropbox and Drive apps
I use the Dropbox and Google Drive apps to access files and folders as mentioned earlier.
I love list making, especially for business and for travelling, so I have all my lists in Wunderlist
which syncs between devices, it's very nice to use and free.
Pocket and Safari Reading List
I do so much online research it comes out of my ears and I don't like keeping articles and web snippets in my bookmarks, so I use Pocket
or Safari Reading List
to quickly mark and tag things I want to read later or keep handy and they'll be accessible from my laptop or iPad no matter where I originally bookmarked it. Another popular app for this is Evernote.
I haven't had a main landline phone since 2005! I have been exclusively using SkypeOut
credit to make outgoing calls from my Skype account - so having the app installed is essential.
I often have random thoughts and ideas that I'd like to record and I don't want to forget, for this I use the Day One
app on both the iPad and laptop, again, it syncs!
This is a lifesaver, it syncs, it securely keeps all your passwords and logins together across devices, but in addition you can store passport and ticket information, bank and card details, software keys and more. 1Password
is fantastic for just about everything you want to keep a record of securely, including file attachments.
#6 - Accessories
I have one essential accessory and it's my Apple earbuds with microphone
to make calls, on Skype. Other things we take with us if we're planning on being away a long time are the wireless mouse and keyboard so that we can pick up a couple of cheap monitors at our destination and use them as second screens for our laptops.
#7 - Kids in Tow
And finally! If you happen to have kids in tow while you're on your travels you can put your mobile office to great use as an entertainment centre. Put some movies and games on the iPad to keep them occupied; our little people have equally little attention spans and being able to occupy them with digital puzzles and shows helps to relieve the boredom factor on long car journeys or flights :-)
So there you have it! A completely instant, simple, mobile take-away-any-time-of-the-day digital office environment, and this is the exact set up we've prepared ready for our next 4 months of travelling, which we're starting next week! If you have any questions or tips of your own I'd love to read them in the comments.