Tech You Need for Your Workcation1 comment
If you’ve been working remotely from home this past year, you’ve probably wondered if you could take a working vacation or “workcation” and work remotely from, well, anywhere. The good news is you probably can—you just need the right tech to make it happen.
I’ve been traveling the world and working remotely since 2015. I’ve road-tripped through Mexico, explored tropical islands in Indonesia and spent winters skiing in the French Alps—all while working. It hasn’t been easy at times, but with a bit of planning and some realistic expectations, it’s totally possible for almost any remote worker to do.
A reliable internet connection
To take a workcation, connectivity is key. If you don’t have a strong, reliable internet connection that enables you to access your work servers, video call clients and otherwise do your job, it’s not likely to go well.
Unless you work out of a dedicated co-working space (which can be a very good idea), it’s unlikely your connection will be as good as a home fiber connection, which is the best service you can get. Still, it needs to be fast enough that your work isn’t disrupted. Depending on your job, you’ll likely need somewhere between 5 Mbps and 25 Mbps download speed and at least 5 Mbps upload speed.
The easiest way to guarantee a fast connection is to stay somewhere with one. Many hotels and Airbnbs will have a good internet setup, though it’s important to confirm things before you go. Some list their Wi-Fi speeds, but you should double-check by asking reception or your host to run a speed test. You can also look for places that specifically cater to remote workers, digital nomads or workcationers.
The other great option is to bring your own internet. Most carriers offer portable Wi-Fi hotspots, like the Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L or Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router. These connect to the 5G or 4G network and, provided you’re in an area with good coverage, will give you a fast, stable connection. (Depending on your cellular plan, you may also be able to tether directly to your smartphone and share its connection, although this will drain its battery pretty quickly.)
Otherwise, you’ll need to set aside some time to find a place to work when you arrive at your destination. Plan to spend a couple hours checking out and running speed tests at different cafés and co-working spaces.
Power for all your devices
Modern laptops generally have decent batteries and, as long as you charge yours overnight, you may be able to go a whole workday without needing to plug in. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about power. Your smartphone might not last a full day, demanding work drains batteries faster and you might need to work late. It’s always best to travel with all the chargers you need and a portable power bank.
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need a plug adapter to connect to local sockets. The best power adapters, like the OneAdaptr OneWorld PD, also have built-in USB sockets, so you can charge everything from a single outlet. It’s also worth getting longer USB cables for all your devices, like this 10-footer from Anker, so you don’t get stuck sitting against a wall.
A portable battery pack is great for keeping phones, headphones and other devices charged. If your laptop charges over USB-C, you’ll even be able to keep it topped up, so long as you get a big enough power bank, like the Anker PowerCore III.
Some security software
Workcations are inherently more risky than working from the office or your home. Your laptop could get stolen, your Wi-Fi connection could be compromised or any of a million other things could go wrong. Fortunately, there are some software solutions that go a long way toward keeping you safe:
- A good cloud backup solution, like Backblaze, will keep all your important work data safe. That way, if something happens to your computer, you won’t lose any files. An external hard drive can be handy, too.
- A Virtual Private Network (VPN), like ExpressVPN, encrypts and protects your connection over public Wi-Fi. If you’re going to work from hotels, coffee shops and other public locations, it’s important to use one.
- Strong passwords and two-factor authentication are a critical part of securing your online life in general, but if you’re working where people could observe you logging in to something, they’re especially important. A password manager, like 1Password, makes it possible for you to use long, strong passwords you don’t have to remember.
A good call setup
Video calls are an increasingly important part of most jobs, so if you’re going to call in from a different location, you need to ensure you’re set up to have as high quality a call as possible.
Sound quality is actually more important for video calls than video quality. It might not matter that people can see you’re sitting in a coffee shop if they can hear you perfectly. A great set of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones with a microphone, like the Bose 700, is a must. You’ll be able to hear everyone clearly and, more important, they’ll be able to hear you.
For looking good on a video call, things are a little trickier. If you’re driving to your destination, you can always bring a ring light and a better webcam. However, if you’re flying, you’re limited by what you can reasonably pack. You might need to find a co-working space that has a video call room you can rent for your most important meetings. Otherwise, set up facing a window in your Airbnb or hotel and use the natural light.
A comfortable working environment
Just because you’re working from somewhere new, it doesn’t mean you need to compromise on a comfortable work environment. In fact, if you’re going to be adding in loads of external distractions you can’t control, it’s probably important to minimize the impact of any distractions you can.
A good set of noise-cancelling headphones, like those Bose 700 mentioned earlier, mean you can block out the sounds around you while you work. This is essential if you’re used to working in an office or at home, as cafés are noisy and filled with distractions.
If you’re used to working with a second monitor, consider bringing an extra travel screen, like the Lenovo ThinkVision M14. If you use Apple products, you can also use an iPad as another monitor for your Mac.
Similarly, your favorite external keyboard and mouse don’t take up much space in your bag for the extra comfort they can bring to your workcation. Throw in a laptop stand like the Roost and you’ll have a great, ergonomic setup you can use anywhere—though, from experience, working on a beach isn’t as fun as it looks on Instagram.
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