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Christmas is always a difficult time for my family and friends because I always tell them I don’t want anything! As a digital nomad or location independent traveler (use whatever phrase you like!), I am usually trying to pare down my belongings rather than purchase more, but people still love to give gifts at this time of year (and I still don’t really mind receiving them! ha).
As someone who is constantly traveling with my laptop and learning to better work on the road more and more, I have found some of these things to be absolutely amazing accompaniments to my backpack. If you’re trying to figure out what to buy for the digital nomad in your life or you’re a digital nomad struggling with gift ideas to send your family, I hope you find this list helpful!
Gift Ideas for Digital Nomads
Multi-Country Plug Adapter
I can never, ever have enough converters. I always buy at least three every year and then I end up with the same sort of broken one at the end of every year. They are perfect for the digital nomad who needs to keep connected with their phone or laptop in different countries.
They’re also perfect for the perpetual expat like myself who has a laptop charger from the US, a phone charger from the Australia, a camera battery charger from Korea, and hair straightener from the UK (although you’ll need an additional power converter for that).
They receive a plug from any country and then allow you to choose the output for any country. This one is my favorite and the one I consistently buy whenever I’m back in the US or the UK. It is small, easy to use, and pretty durable.
A good pair of wireless headphones (with noise cancellation) has been on my list for longer than I’d like to admit. It’s not that I deprive myself of the joys of life, it’s just that I’m a massive cheapskate. This year, Luke and I finally decided to treat ourselves to a good pair of headphones. What a game changer.
Wireless headphones mean so more tangled up earbuds that take ages to untangle before you can use them. We carry enough wires around with us, why add to the collection?
A good pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones are perfect for working in a noisey cafe, on an airplane, in an airport, in a hostel, literally anywhere. Sometimes I just put them in like earplugs to drown out the sound of people snoring on the airplane so that I can fall asleep. They are perfection. And also the sort of thing that many people won’t buy for themselves because they’re an indulgence. Hence why they make the perfect holiday gift.
My number one choice are the Bose in-ear wireless headphones. They are glorious. They are also perfect for working out because they stay in your ears when running or moving a ton and they’re easy to clean the sweat off. Luke prefers the over-ear headphones like this Bose pair.
There’s nothing worse than getting to a new location where you planned to stay for a few weeks, only to discover that the WiFi is terrible or even non-existent. While it’s nice to disconnect for a few days and soak in the sunshine and fresh air, girl’s gotta eat. No need to leave paradise, instead switch on your global hotspot.
This is perfect for people who travel a ton. I tend to stay in one place for a while, so I always make sure it’s a place with good WiFi before I get there. However, if you want to enjoy the world while you work full-time, this is the perfect way to do it.
A global hotspot allows you to have WiFi wherever you are. It’s usually a monthly or yearly payment just like your cellphone, but even purchasing the hotspot and paying for a few months in advance can be an awesome gift.
Check out this one from Skyroam or this one from Skyroam. I’ve found that Skyroam gets the best reviews. However, there are tons of different companies out there. Do your research and choose the best one based on what countries you will be in (there might be a great company for Asia, but that is terrible in South America, etc).
Oh man, do I wish I’d bought one of these sooner. Digital nomads often find themselves working in messy places – cafes, beach bars, pool bars, craft beer bars (just me?). What I mean is, there’s a lot of chances for coffee or beer or even just straight up water to spill all over their beloved laptops. I’ll tell you what’s really difficult, finding someone to repair your laptop in a tiny town in a foreign language.
A simple silicon keyboard protector can save you from thousands of dollars and hours of hassle and stress. And they’re so cheap! So if you want an inexpensive, but a seriously helpful gift to give to the digital nomad in your life, get them a keyboard protector.
External Hard Drive
Can you ever have too many hard drives if you create content every single day? This is especially great if the digital nomad in your life is a photographer or videographer. You have to store those files somewhere and you want to keep them safe! I have a 1TB harddrive that I store all of my freelance writing on. Then I have one for all of my photography. They are relatively inexpensive for the value that they add to your life.
This is another simple and seemingly boring gift that is literally a game changer for those that have too many wires. I don’t think that my family and friends would ever use the word “organized” to describe me. So I would never buy something like this for myself. And yet, the addition of this little bag into my life has been one of the best things for packing and keeping all of my wires organized and untangled.
This one is my absolute favorite. It’s a little bit bulky, but it keeps absolutely everything, including headphones, extension leads, USB cables, hard drives, tablets, cell phones, and external mouses all in one place. For something smaller and a little more streamlined, grab this one.
There is little more in life that I love as much as I love my Moleskin Planner. It took a few years of trial and error to find the planner that was right for me. It has tons of areas throughout the book for notes as well as a good amount of space under each day to write my to-do list.
Now, I’m aware that a lot of digital nomads are, well, mostly digital, but there are a lot of creatives out there who love to have written visuals like planners and diaries. It’s all about the person, so before you buy the digital nomad in your life a planner, find out what they use to plan their days and weeks and only buy them one if they’ll actually use it.
Filter Water Bottle
If the digital nomad in your life is just starting their online business or freelancing career, they are likely going to be traveling through cheaper, developing countries. This means they can’t drink the water from the tap.
As a way to help them save money (and reduce their plastic footprint), I highly recommend that people get themselves a good quality filter water bottle. One that will last them for a year and allows them to drink and tap water from around the world.
External Phone Charger
What millennial can do without an external phone charger? I use my phone as a video camera, a regular camera, a way to keep in touch with my followers on Facebook and Instagram. I use my phone to Facetime my family, to edit photos, to map out where the hell I am when I’m on public transportation, and to order Ubers around the world.
I always carry a phone charger with me, but sometimes you’re not near a cafe or a restaurant where you can plug your phone in. Instead, having an external phone charger allows you to charge your phone no matter where the hell you are, which can often save you from some pretty sticky situations.
Portable Laptop Charger
And just like an external phone charger is a valuable asset to a digital nomad’s arsenal, so to is a portable laptop charger. I’ve been places where the power has gone out and I’m almost done editing or I’m nearly finished writing an article and I just want to get.it.done.
There are also times when you’re perhaps working on a bus or an airplane and you want to keep working, but your laptop battery is blinking red. This is the perfect time to whip out a portable laptop charger.
This is the portable laptop charger that I use for my MacBook Pro. It’s slightly more expensive than others out there, but it’s TSA approved, so you can definitely bring it in your carry-on.
Digital nomads that are dealing with sensitive information or are traveling to countries that ban websites like Facebook or Youtube, will want to consider getting themselves a VPN. This is a way to protect yourself when you are on public networks like in a cafe or bar. It’s also a way to convince websites that you are in the US (or whatever your home country is) so that you can continue to create and share content no matter where you are.
I use the VPN company ExpressVPN and have been really happy with it so far. It has worked all over Mexico as well as in Central America when I’ve traveled through there. It’s a yearly subscription which starts at just under $100 (about $8 per month). You can also opt to pay monthly for simply for a 6-month plan.