The Digital Nomad's Toolbox

November 18, 2016

Josh Li

Digital Marketer at Institute of Code

These are our most essential tools to have by your side a digital nomad

Why save up and wait for that big post-retirement trip, when you can do it all now? This idea drives the modern day digital nomad.

These are our most essential tools to have by your side a digital nomad

Why save up and wait for that big post-retirement trip, when you can do it all now? This idea drives the modern day digital nomad.

The concept of always having to be shackled to one geographic location for work is slowly getting torn down, replaced by the notion you could work wherever you wanted. It’s never been easier to switch up where you are and work where ever you happen to be or want to go.

The advent of social media, team collaborative tools and high-speed internet has made the world incredibly small. Sending and receiving work, keeping track of progress, communicating and transparency is now extremely easy - so easy in fact, that startups such as Buffer, MeetEdgar and Melewi, have based their entire structure off remote team members.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, not every business is suited to remote work. Digital marketers, web developers, writers and programmers are some of the industries best suited to doing the remote life. If you’re a surgeon however, you’re out of luck (although advancements in robotics and ever-increasing camera fidelity make it a near-future possibility!).

Remote work is not possible without the right tools and preparation as well - you can’t expect just to jet off to different countries and hope to function as a team. If you freelance or are part of a bigger company that usually doesn’t do remote work, having the right tools also assures whoever you’re working for they can keep updated with your progress.

Here are some of the most indispensable tools every digital nomad must include in their toolbox to maximise their effectiveness, guide their travels and stay connected with the world.

Travelling & Work

Nomad List is a platform where digital nomads can get detailed information on the best places to go. It not only lists the best cities to travel to, but also has information such as daily living costs, internet speed, usual weather, co-working spaces and safety levels.

The amount of detail on this platform allows nomads to plan ahead, with all the information displayed in easy-to-use graphs. Nomad List also has a massive community of nomads to connect with, so no matter where you are in the world, you’ll never be alone.


AirBnB is the best way to find places to stay wherever you are. Flexible and cost-effective, Airbnb will allow you to live in home comfort levels away from home. The best thing is if you have a home you’re leaving behind in your travels, you can become a host as well, allowing others to stay at yours. If you’re lucky, this arrangement could help cover your costs of living while you’re away!


From Freelancer to Upwork, there are heaps of ways to win freelance work. However, Weworkremotely is a platform listing work that specifically does not require you to be in a particular geographic location. Most of the work on the platform is technical or marketing related, but if you’re a strong writer, there are copywriting jobs as well (which reflects the best industries to be in if you’re looking to embark on that mini-retirement journey).

There are other platforms, such as Nodesk and

Hubstaff Talent

Hubstaff Talent is not only a great way to find work, it’s also a good place to source talent. There will always come a time where you’ll need to call upon some help. That’s where this platform can come in. 

With over 16,000 freelancers, stretching across 153 countries, covering off everything from development to consulting, you’ll definitely be able to find the help you need.

Best of all, it’s free to use! 



Slack is a chat platform that the startup and remote community have embraced. On top of your usual group-chat and one-to-one chat capabilities, Slack makes it incredibly easy to send files, code snippets and tasks to each other. Integrations expand its capabilities dramatically, from the inane, like the plug-in which allows you to pretend you’re a celebrity, to advanced bots that serve as personal assistants. Our favorite plug-in is Giphy, which allows team members to send random reaction gifs!


An alternative to Slack, Hipchat is a great way to not only instant message your team members, but to also video chat and screen share with them.

Task and Project Management


One of the best for tools for agile teams or agile project managers, Trello is also a great tool for capturing project progress, brainstorm dumps, random ideas and more - imagine the platform as an infinite sticky-note wall!

One of the great ways to use Trello as a way to capture project progress is by setting up Lists for tasks backlog, priority tasks, tasks that are in progress, things that need to be reviewed, and work that is done. This workflow makes it incredibly easy to prioritise work and pick up where you left off if you decide to go on an adventure mid-task. It also makes it easy for any project managers keep updated with what you’re working on.


One of the banes of digital nomads is email. Inboxes are endlessly cluttered, leading to things easily slipping through the cracks. Asana steps in to cut down at least some of the clutter, making it one of the best collaborative to-do lists. Team’s members can view team, project-based and individual tasks, as well as assign each other things to do. If you have team members scattered all around the globe, this is probably the best way to communicate jobs to each other, and keep track of overall team productivity.


It makes sense that a company that has made remote work one of its core tenets would also make a tool that’s perfect for digital nomads.

Buffer is a social media scheduling tool, allowing you to schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, so in case you’re flying or adventuring somewhere else, you can trust your social media to keep working away for you.

Getting Focused

Let’s face it - travelling around the world and constantly being in new environments can make it incredibly hard to focus. Therefore, sometimes the only way to get things done is to shut out all the noise. uses binaural beats technology, which uses various sounds and noises to influence your brain waves, helping you either get more focused or become more relaxed. Sound a bit pseudo-sciencey? Binaural beats and using music to influence people’s moods is well-documented - however, its effect and strength will vary from person-to-person. Just make sure you pack yourself a nice pair of headphones (another indispensable tool in your toolbox!)

Sloth App

While it seems pretty tempting to often spend the entire day on the beach relaxing when you’re somewhere as beautiful Bali or Chiangmai. However, it can also be just as tempting to do 16 hour days when you don’t have regular hours or a set schedule. Unsurprisingly, this could lead to burn-out and disillusionment with the entire adventure.

Therefore, it’s important to keep a track on your time. Sloth App is a time-boxing app that helps you set countdowns for productivity periods, ensuring you get short breaks in between each period. 5 minutes might not sound like much, but it will allow you to mentally untangle for a bit.



The importance of being part of various communities is often overlooked. Being in a completely different country and living out of a suitcase can be incredibly daunting, so knowing others around you who are in the same position as you is incredibly important.

Venture with Impact

Venture with Impact is an organisation that helps you find meaningful work with social enterprises while you’re working. They have programs in multiple countries, so if you’re torn between doing something for social good, and finding a stable career while travelling, then this is the community to be part of. 

They also write avidly on volunteering, remote work, and productivity. 

These tools are some of the must-haves when planning to embark on the adventures of a digital nomad. Did we miss any out? What are your favorite tools? Let us know!

Written by: Josh Li

Digital Marketer at Institute of Code