How to Work From Home … or Anywhere

This is my home office! It's filled with travel things, from postcards to globes to smaller globes to travel-themed cups to a big scratch-off map. Yes: I literally wrote a gift guide for myself and then bought everything on it.

Psst: Please be sure to follow all local regulations, social distance, and wear a mask to keep yourself and others safe. Also: this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no cost to you.

Sipping hot coffee while gazing out over the bright blue Caribbean sea and finally cleaning out your inbox: these are the things that remote working dreams are made from! But as a location-independent, self-employed small business owner who has worked remotely for the last five years, I can tell you that the Digital Nomad dream is not always the reality: it’s more like trying to ignore the crick in your neck while battling your overflowing inbox and trying to tune out the guy next to you who is screaming at full volume into his earpiece. While, yes, occasionally, overlooking a beautiful view (… or my backyard, which has a nice tree in it.)

Still, for those who were once cooped up in high rise office buildings dealing with office politics and dreaming of working from home in sweatpants, working from home during the pandemic may have been a bit of a silver lining. And if this year has taught us anything it is that remotely working is possible and here to stay: more companies are opting to turn their operations into remote offices with employees working from home.

More people are also turning their side hustle into a full-time job. Ah, sweet autonomy. But take it from someone who made that transition, it ain’t all cuddling your puppy, hitting the snooze button on your alarm and wearing your pajamas all day. To be truly efficient in your work, and to feel like a productive functioning human, you need to have some routine and a proper remote office set up!

So whether you are working from home for your ‘normal’ job, or you’ve joined the ranks of the self-employed Digital Nomad, I’ve got 5 years worth of tried and tested ways to function like a boss while reveling in that sweet working-from-home goodness.

Psst: Looking for more digital nomad inspiration? Check out a few of our other posts:

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Just a couple of digital nomads on a hammock in Boquete, Panama.
Although the view is amazing, working from this giant hammock in Bocas del Toro, Panama was definitely not ergonomic.

Tips for Remotely Working

When I quit my job to travel, I had no experience working remotely. I was used to a desk in an office, cubicle walls, and a boss checking in on me to ensure that I was sitting in a chair looking at a computer for 8 hours a day.

But after I quit, that all went away. I found myself typing way on my laptop at 2am from my hostel dorm bed and answering emails from my phone over breakfast.

It was a fast path to feeling like work had taken over my life – exactly the opposite of what I’d expected.

Now that I’ve been remotely working and self-employed for nearly five years, I’ve managed to establish a work/life balance and develop healthy work habits! Here are my top tips for working remotely.

Digital nomad girl working on the bed in a gorgeous A-frame cabin.
In my early days of working from home, I worked nights and weekends – even when staying in gorgeous cabins, like this one. Y’all: don’t do it! Just say no! Set firm boundaries and stick to them.

Establish firm boundaries

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when working remotely is maintaining a work/life balance. After all, your work has invaded your home space; it’s easy to let it take over the rest of your life, too!

But whether you’re working from home or a digital nomad, establishing firm boundaries will help keep work at work. It will take practice and discipline to develop the habit of turning off work both physically and mentally, but it’s so, so worth it.

My first year as a remote worker was rough. I spent about 50-60 hours a week sitting at the desk in the corner of my living room or on my couch, plugging away at work. Even when I tried to step away or do something else on my computer, something would flash up on the screen and call me back again.

Every minute of every day, my computer was staring at me from its corner of my living space, mocking me for taking a few precious minutes to do something other than work.

It took me well over a year to break the habit of feeling guilty for not working.

What helped me the most was a physical space separation: when I was “at work,” and when I was “off” needed to be in different spaces. I couldn’t work on the couch or in the kitchen; even the living room was a challenge, although turning off my laptop (or switching off notifications) and putting it away when I was “off” helped.

For me, the saving grace was working in coffee shops, co-working spaces, and cafes. Having a place to walk to – like a commute! – and set up my little portable home office helped me mentally get in the head space to be productive. And when I was finished working or ready to take a break, packing it back up again and leaving helped mentally clear my head.

When it was no longer possible to work in co-working spaces and coffee shops, we turned a room into our home office space. Now when we’re not working, the door is shut. The office is the place where we go to work, during our regular working hours. When my desk was in a corner of my living room, I turned the couch away from it so my back was facing my “office.” That way, I didn’t ever have to look at that corner of the living room unless I was ready to “go to work.”

Once you’ve set some workspace boundaries, you’ll need to establish firm working hours – and stick to them. This is incredibly helpful if you’re working for a team, especially if everyone is spread out across the globe: knowing when your team-mates will be online means knowing when you can chat with them directly or schedule meetings. The Practical Wanderlust team puts their regular working hours in their Slack description as well as in our workplace team directory, and meetings are scheduled when everyone is “clocked in.”

If you’re the only one holding yourself accountable to working hours, it’s even more important to set rigid working hours. It’s so tempting to work late, work through lunch, and read emails while you’re still in bed! But you won’t be more productive; you’ll actually be setting yourself up for burnout. It’s crucial for your mental health to have “off” time!

Personally, I’ve found that my energy and attention is best between 9am and noon, and 2pm and 6pm. Before 9am I enjoy my morning routine; during my midday slump – when I have absolutely no ability to be productive or focus – I go for walks, get coffee, tinker in the yard, run errands, or work out. Stepping away from work for a few hours to do something completely unrelated to work resets my mental state so that I’m ready to get back to it around 2-3pm and work until dinnertime.

You’ll also need to set rigid work days and stick to them. Personally, I refuse to answer or even look at emails during the weekend; my team knows that if they send me a Slack message over the weekend, I’ll answer it on Monday.

If you’re self-employed, you can decide whether Monday through Friday works best for you, or if you’d really like to work four 10-hour days and then take a 3-day weekend. It’s entirely up to you; but whatever you decide, stick to it!

Make sure your clients, co-workers and boss all know when it is appropriate to reach out to you. And turn off notifications so you’re not tempted to log back in during your off-work hours!

Remember that your time is valuable, and “off” time is just as important as productivity. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should drop everything to work on something that can be handled during business hours!

If you’re working for yourself, always set boundaries between your work and your actual you time. The worst thing you can do is let work impede on your personal and relaxation time — watching Netflix on the couch while responding to emails will not ensure you’re doing your best work and you’re not actually relaxing, either (you can’t learn how to make patisserie from the Great British Bakeoff and discuss your Q4 finances at the same time!).

Boundary-Setting Tips

  • Establish an “office space.” Doesn’t matter if it’s a whole room or a corner of a table; find a way to make that space feel like your office, complete with a little routine to help you get set up and ready to begin working, as well as a way to disconnect entirely when the workday is over, including shutting your computer and walking away from it for the night.
  • Establish firm working hours. Figure out what days or hours you feel most productive, and make those your official working hours. Don’t work outside of those hours, and let everyone you work with – clients, co-workers, and so on – know that when you’ll be “clocked in” and “clocked out.” (And go on – ignore their emails and messages once they know that you won’t be checking emails when you’re not actively working.)
  • Stick to it! Don’t let yourself work on the couch if you can’t set it up and close it down each day. Don’t let yourself work while watching TV late at night if those aren’t your working hours. Sticking to your boundaries takes practice; start now!
  • Prioritize your “off” time. Not working is crucial to your mental health. Don’t just give yourself permission to not do work (or even think about work); literally, schedule yourself time away from work! And don’t even think about logging in or checking your email when you’re “offline.”
Laptop in front of a pool in Bali, Indonesia.
Whether your “office space” is just a table or a whole room, keep it tidy! (Bonus points if it comes with a view.)

Keep your “office space” tidy

“Office space” can refer to anything from a tiny corner of a table to a dedicated room in your home. But no matter what kind of space you’re working with, keeping it tidy will help you feel more organized and productive!

When I’m working at a co-working space, hostel lounge or coffee shop, I like to begin my day by setting up my office space, complete with my portable ergonomic set-up (more on that below), a notebook/calendar/agenda and a few pens, and whatever else I might need for the day. That one little act transforms my space into an office, and for the duration of the time I’m working there, I aim to keep it clean from clutter.

Of course, that’s much easier when you know you’ll be packing your office back into a bag in a few hours’ time. But when I’m working from my actual home office, it’s much more tempting to let half-drunk mugs, scraps of paper, and other clutter impede on my space.

You know that evening cleaning crew you once took for granted at your workplace, who vacuumed, cleaned dirty coffee mugs, and emptied the trash every night? That’s now your job. (Oh, and you’re also the office manager, in charge of keeping your office supplies stocked up. And if your printer isn’t working, guess what? You’re also tech support!)

Letting my office get messy is a slippery slope into letting my email inbox pile up and my task list overflow, too. Trying to work in a dirty office is distracting and makes me feel like I’m struggling to stay on top of my work; a nice, clean office makes me feel like I’m invincible and can tackle anything.

Work and coffee at Seniman Coffee in Ubud, Bali.
When you’re working remotely, your “co-workers” can feel like anyone from your puppy to your partner to the 25 random people at whatever coffee shop you decided to hole up in. (Pictured here: Seniman Coffee in Ubud, Bali.)

Learn to Respect Your “Co-Workers”

“But I work from home, I won’t see my co-workers anymore!” Ah, yes, but you will still communicate. Listen, Zoom didn’t have its shares boosted by 25% during the pandemic just from family quiz nights and online fitness classes!

Remote working teams, including Practical Wanderlust, use video conferencing and communication tools like Slack to stay engaged and in communication. Use them not only for work purposes but also to chat and get to know your co-workers! It will help you feel a little less lonely working from home – and replace the old water-cooler chatter that, it turns out, was actually one of the best parts of working in an office. (Tip: If your company doesn’t have a casual chatter Slack channel, start one! It makes work so much more fun.)

But now that you work from home your “co-workers” aren’t just those faces you see on Zoom or in Slack. Your new “co-workers” could be sitting next to you in a coffee shop or cafe; try to keep your voice down so you don’t bother them.

And if your partner is also working from home, congratulations, you just started a co-working space! :Glances over at Jeremy:

But sharing your office space with your partner or roommate is not without its challenges; don’t expect them to really become your co-worker.

It’s important to respect boundaries with your partner or roommate while working in the same space. While they are doing their own work, they may not want to be distracted by the funny thing your boss said on Zoom, the passive-aggressive email you got from a co-worker, or a brainstorming session about your work problem.

Just because they are right there, doesn’t mean they are invested in your work. Be sure to respect their time and workflow as much as you respect your own.

In any case, it’s time to invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones: we use these for recording our podcast (as well as blocking out the world) and they’re excellent.

Also, and here I’m speaking from years of experience: if you’ve managed to turn your side hustle into your full-time job and are now self-employed, congratulations! But remember too that your partner didn’t apply for the job to work alongside you (unless you started it together). You may expect them to do things like post on Instagram, write blog posts, and take photos for YOUR new hobby/obsession, but it’s likely they have their own work to do. Let them do it. Once you stop expecting your partner to work on your business or help solve work problems, suddenly things will be a lot less stressful and you’ll go back to enjoying your time together as partners, not co-workers.

Tips for Interacting With Your “Co-Workers” When Remotely Working

  • Chat with your co-workers about stuff other than work. Whether you’re in a Zoom meeting or on Slack, it’s really nice to take a break from work from time to time and just talk about life! Working remotely can be isolating, and swapping pet pics and memes with your coworkers makes it feel a lot less lonely.
  • Keep your voice down to a reasonable level. Nobody else at the co-working space wants to hear your presentation; your partner isn’t interested in your meeting; chances are, even your dog needs a break. Keep it down!
  • Use noise-canceling headphones to block out everyone else’s chatter. This will help you stay focused – and keep your roommate from hearing your boss’ lame jokes.
Bambuda Hostel in Bocas del Toro, Panama overlooking a pool, palm trees, and the Caribbean sea.
I love to work with a view! When I’m working while traveling, I seek out hostels like this one to hole up in and work from. At home, I positioned my desk in front of a window. Seeing greenery while I’m working helps me feel grounded and happy.

Establishing Your Work from Home Routine

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that it’s essential to have a routine when remotely working.

Think you can reduce your working hours because you don’t have your boss hanging over your shoulder? Or that since you are your own boss you can just pick your hours with no regard to structure?

Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, that’s a solid nope: to truly master your day you have to get much more efficient at planning and organization. We’re talking notepads, to-do lists, calendars and schedules (that also now need to include all those essential housework tasks that you can no longer ignore).

Here are a few tips for establishing a work from home routine.

Two pairs of slippers and two coffee mugs overlooking a wintery backyard.
My morning routine includes sitting in the backyard sipping coffee with my husband and cuddling with our dog while watching birds at the bird feeder! It’s such a lovely way to begin my day – and well worth waking up a little earlier for.

Start Your Day Right

Just because you don’t have to factor in time for the daily commute doesn’t mean you can keep snoozing that alarm until it’s time to sit down at your computer!

Make time to get up, make coffee, eat breakfast, and start the day at slower pace now that you don’t have to rush out the door. Hey, maybe you’ll even become a Morning Person! (It’s been 5 years and I’m still waiting for that to happen, but I keep dreaming.)

If you can, factor in time to stretch a little and take a walk around your neighborhood, all before you sit down in front of the screen. You should also include a shower in that routine: you may just put on sweats but you need something to freshen and wake you up! You’ll feel better for it, trust me.

Personally, my preferred morning routine includes coffee in the backyard while watching birds with my husband and our cuddly dog. I also love taking a morning walk around the neighborhood to wake my body up – all before even thinking about work. Then, I make my bed and get dressed before I sit down and turn on my computer.

It feels luxurious to have replaced my old 1.5 hour (each way!) train commute with quality time spend with my partner and getting fresh air outside, and it’s my favorite way to begin my day – weekday or weekend.

Morning Routine Tips

  • Take your time. Wake up early enough to ease into your day and enjoy a warm morning cup of coffee, tea, or whatever non-caffeine-addicted-people drink.
  • Get some fresh air. Step outside to sip your coffee, or take a walk!
  • Shower and get dressed. Don’t begin work in your pajamas. It will feel like you never really “woke up.” And it sucks to end your workday only to realize that you can’t change into your PJs, because you never changed out of them.
  • Make your bed! Weirdly, this one little step has a HUGE impact on your mental health. Try it!
  • Tidy your “office space” before you begin work. Set up your little workspace and do some tidying before you begin. This will help you get ready to begin the day and mentally prepare you for work.
Long term packing essentials
A little remote office set up on our year-long honeymoon in Minca, Colombia, complete with delicious fresh baked bread and Colombian coffee. Coffee is an essential part of my morning routine!

Set Healthy Habits & Routines

So you started your day, with a wonderful morning routine; now what? Continuing those healthy habits and routines throughout the day will be a huge benefit to staying healthy, happy and feeling productive!

I like to begin my day by creating a task list and organizing my prioirities. What are the tasks I need to get done today? For my team, the day’s tasks can be found and organized in their Asana Task List; Asana is a fantastic (free!) project manamagent tool for any size team, and even solopreneurs.

But personally, I’m a little old-fashioned: I LOVE a good planner, like this one which is sectioned with month and weekly views so you can plan ahead as well as writing out your daily To-Do lists. Nothing feels more satisfying to me than writing out my daily to-do list by hand.

For some reason, I feel even more productive and excited if I write my tasks using fun pens – like these colorful erasable pens, which I’ve been buying in bulk for years. I’m a sucker for stickers, too.

It’s helpful to write both work and personal goals into your daily To-Do list, so you don’t get distracted with things you might have missed along the way. It’s so easy when you’re home all the time to get into “work procrastination” mode, like “I need to answer those emails but…. the dishes aren’t done!” Well, certainly I should do those first, you think, and all of a sudden you’ve switched from work to housework mode; either your dishes never get done, or your email never gets answered!

Putting household tasks in your planner means that you’re allotting appropriate time to do those tasks when they should be done, not doing chores on a whim whenever you notice them. This will prevent you from wasting time, missing deadlines, and working two jobs at the same time.

Throughout the day, a few healthy habits will keep you feeling fresh and energized:

  • Look or step away from the computer often. Gaze out the window, get up and walk around, or just give your eyes a break – often. This will help your poor eyes and give you a brief mental break. As a rule of thumb, once per hour is a bare minimum.
  • Take a nice, long walk. This is one of my most beloved midday routines: I like take a nice, long hour-long walk around lunchtime. Sometimes I get coffee or lunch; sometimes I just walk for the sake of walking. Stretching my legs and turning my brain off for a while helps reset my energy. Plus, I get a nice hit of Vitamin D, which is hugely important for health.
  • Stretch! Sitting and working at a desk is really hard on your body. To help prevent injuries, stretch your arms, neck, and hips/legs frequently. Here are a few good desk stretches.

One of the best things I did for my energy, health and productivity was to invest in a standing desk. Working while standing keeps me feeling energized, allows me to move and stretch throughout the day, and helps me take short breaks from my computer frequently – it’s so much easier to take a step away from my desk when I’m already standing! My energy levels soared after switching to a standing desk. Now, I usually sit/stand throughout the day.

  • Tip: A cheaper alternative to a standing desk is a sit/stand desktop workstation, which sits on top of your desk or work area and raises and lowers to a sit/stand position. I’m a fan of this one, which also includes a keyboard tray – an ergonomic plus in my book!

If you’re working on the road, look for a coffee shop or co-working space with counter-height tables. They’re quite common, and I find that they’re the perfect height to work while standing (especially when paired with an adjustable laptop stand).

At the end of your workday, before you log off, it helps to close out your day with a little reflection on what you accomplished, and what needs to be done the next day. Ticking a few items off your to-do list and jotting down in your planner what needs to be done the next morning will help you find that workflow the next day, and give you direction to start your next morning productively.

Working Remotely Habits Throughout the Day

  • Start by writing a To-Do list. Whether you make a digital or physical To-Do list, beginning your day by prioritizing the tasks you need to accomplish will help you manage your time and set your intentions. for the day.
  • Stay active throughout the day. Stand up (or work standing) often. Stretch and move your body; sitting is harder on it than you’d think!
  • Take frequent breaks. Take breaks to look away from your screen or walk away from your computer. If you can, take a walk to break up your day, get some fresh air, and give both your mind and your body a much-needed break.
  • Close out your day by revisiting your To-Do list. You’ll get a head start on the next day, as well as improve your ability to accurately predict how long it takes you to do something (and catch yourself procrastinating!)
Nasi Campur meal in Ubud, Bali
A nice, long lunch at a warung in Ubud, Bali, complete with a hydrating young coconut. There is no better way to break up your day!

Eat Well & Stay Hydrated

Say it with me: you can’t survive on coffee alone! What you put in your body directly affects your mental state.

But someone who has spent over a decade recovering from an eating disorder, I’m not going to lecture you about the specifics of what you eat. Eat things that make you feel good; food is fuel, and you need fuel to thrive.

I do recommend stocking up on groceries, and taking some time out of your day to prepare a good meal (or at least some yummy snacks) for yourself. Personally, listening to my body helps me figure out what foods make me feel energized; for instance, I find that greasy, heavy foods or foods that are really high in sugar or carbs suck my energy, so I save pizza, fruit or pastries for after work is over, when it’s no big deal if I feel sleepy.

Fresh veggies also make me feel really good, so I like to make it really easy for myself: in the morning (after coffee), I whip up a smoothie made with spinach and other fresh veggies, a little fruit for taste (frozen mango is excellent), some egg white powder protein, and probiotic yogurt or kefir. That wakes up my brain (and stomach) up, and it keeps me full; if I forget to make my morning smoothie, I’m usually hangry and cranky by lunchtime.

To stay hydrated, I like to keep a giant Hydroflask full of ice water on my desk and sip from it all day long. (Tip: Make it part of your morning/set-up routine so you don’t skip this step! I’m still working on that…)

As far as lunch goes, I find that having a good meal to look forward to – and stepping away from your computer to enjoy it – to helps with the structure of your day and stops any of that hanger you would usually face while waiting to break away from your desk at work.

But honestly? Taking a walk to your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant is well worth the expense if it gets you up out of the house and moving around. When I was working at an office, that $5 latte or $7 plate of tacos seemed like an unnecessary expense. But now, taking a walk, enjoying the sunshine and getting some much-needed fresh air seems well worth it!

Plus, when you’re working from coffee shops and cafes, it’s good manners to order regularly to offset the cost of the table you’re taking up and the WiFi you’re using (and don’t forget to tip!).

Speaking of coffee: the all-important coffee break is a must as well – and offers an excellent opportunity to step away from your desk.

Investing in a decent coffee setup will ensure you are not only living your best life, but taking breaks to have some quality coffee (i.e. become coffee snobs like us). We use a Burr grinder, Chemex, V60, Aeropress, Toddy, Moka pot, espresso machine, gooseneck kettle, and scale, all of which will create the ideal coffee making setup you need to make it through your day. We also subscribe to Atlas Coffee Club to keep stocked up with good quality coffee to brew at home and while traveling!

Tips for Eating Well & Staying Hydrated While Remotely Working

  • Get a nice big glass of water and drink it all day long. Fill up a steel water bottle with ice water (or just get up from your desk regularly to keep your glass topped up) and sip from it throughout the day. Staying hydrated is important for your physical and mental health!
  • Don’t eat at your desk. Step away to enjoy a mid-day snack or lunch.
  • Eat things that make you feel good. I’m leaving that intentionally open. to interpretation. Listen to your body to figure out what makes you feel good and what sucks your energy or negatively impacts your mental health.
  • Cafes, coffee shops and local restaurants are worth the expense. I think that the opportunity to step away from work, get outside, and take a walk justifies the expense of a cup of coffee or an ordered lunch. Plus, if you’re working at a cafe or coffee shop, you’ll need to order throughout the day to pay for the table you’re using.
A couple and their dog on a blue couch, surrounded by plants and books.
When it comes to working remotely, cozy is best. But don’t wear your PJ’s all day! Wearing “real” clothing (albeit cozier than usual) definitely helps boost your mental state.

What to Wear When Working from Home

No more office attire! Cast away those shoes that pinch, bag up those fitted pants: now is the time for comfort, nobody can see you so it’s time to let those sweatpants free (well, they may still see you on Zoom, so try not to get too wild)! From our days of traveling we have road tested A LOT of clothing and have narrowed down the comfiest clothes for travel but also for your new WFH status.

  • Leggings: I’ve worn leggings nearly every day for the past 5 years. They’re the perfect balance between “actual pants” and “loungewear”, plus they make me feel like I might just go for a midday run or hit the gym (even if I probably won’t). My favorite leggings are butter-soft, sustainably made and eco-friendly. My second favorites – which are more budget-friendly – have pockets (and I DIY’d a drawstring so they never slip down.)
  • Cozy Jeans: Listen, I know: jeans don’t exactly sound cozy. But my favorite jeans are so soft and stretchy that I even wear them on long flights – the ultimate jeans test! They also have 6 giant pockets, including two zippered pockets, making them perfect for travel and comfy everyday wear.
  • Lounge Pants: Lounge pants walk the perfect line between “cozy PJs” and “activewear.” But before I discovered the Outdoor Voices CloudKnit pants, I thought all stretchy lounge pants were the same. I was wrong. These lightweight, super-stretchy pants look awesome and feel amazing. They have 3 roomy pockets and they’re perfect for everything from wearing on 20-hour flights to sleeping to hiking through the jungle (true story).
  • Cozy Slippers: Gone are those days of smart office shoes that never seem to soften properly and always hurt. Working from home means your feet can be warm and cozy all day long! My favorite pair of house slippers is made by Snoozies, and I wear them all day long. If your house runs cold, these boot slippers are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, snuggly as heck, fleece-lined, and just super cute.
  • Hemp, Merino Wool & Organic Cotton Clothing: I have a lot of love for sustainable natural fibers and their amazing properties, which I know way too much about thanks to my degree in Fashion Design. Hemp and wool have gotten an undeserved bad rep in prior years; these days, they’re incredibly soft and cozy! Plus, they’re naturally anti-microbial and temperature regulating – meaning you can wear them in any weather and you don’t need to wash them often. Our favorite hemp pieces are made by prAna, including this comfy t-shirt for women and this cozy men’s hoodie. For wool undergarments, I wear this sports bra, soft bra, & underwear and Jeremy wears this underwear & these socks. For comfy organic cotton, I love both Pact and Alternative Apparel for ethically made basics.
  • Deodorant: Just because you might not be mixing with the public much doesn’t mean you shouldn’t deal with your stink. My beloved all-natural deodorant is tried & true! It’s not an antiperspirant (but like, your body sweats for a reason, so antiperspirant has always freaked me out a little bit) but it will keep you and your clothes smelling like honey for a whole 24 hours. It’s also super moisturizing, so say goodbye to those icky red bumps you get when your underarms are all irritated and sad!
  • Makeup: Even if you’re a work-from-home goddess now, you may want/need to put on a face for those Zoom calls. I don’t do a ton of makeup these days, but I have a few tried & true products I love. My go-to simple look, in a nutshell, is tinted moisturizer + blush + waterproof mascara, and when I need to zhoosh it up I throw on a bold lip color. I love the Kat Von D liquid lipstick because it DOES NOT BUDGE.
Straight chillin' in our cozy room at Rush Creek Lodge near Yosemite National Park!
I can feel my neck aching just looking at this photo! Getting a laptop stand, ergonomic mouse and ergonomic keyboard will save you from working uncomfortably on hotel beds, like I used to.

Essential Tools for Working Remotely

Ever watched those movies where some badass executive sits in a beautiful office with a huge desk and plenty of windows? Or one with an accomplished writer surrounded by dark wood and books and plants? Or scrolled through a blog post written by a travel blogger with photos of laptops in front of waving palm trees and bright blue pools :ahem😕

Well, this is your moment! Now you can have the office that you always dreamed of, whether that’s a rotating series of stunning views or a beautiful desk, plants, boss lady decor and a jar of expensive looking pens.

I’ve spent countless hours holed up in hostels and coffee shops hunched over my laptop. For a long time I figured aching shoulders and necks and stiff wrists were all part of the Digital Nomad dream. It’s a small price to pay for being able to work from anywhere in the world, right??

No, y’all. Your health is NOT a fair price to pay. And it’s such an easy fix! We’ve since invested in a few necessary pieces of gear that make it possible for us to bring an ergonomic workspace anywhere in the world.

Although these days I have a home base with a little desk and everything I need, we worked on the blog 40+ hours a week during our year-long honeymoon. I currently find myself working on the road probably about 4-6 months out of the year (I still do my best work on planes).

Even when I’m at home, I like to work from a co-working space or coffee shop when I need a little change of scenery (well, previous to this year anyway). I just take a few essential items with me and it’s like having my own little mini office!

If you’re working on the road, you absolutely need to pick up these digital nomad essentials.

  • Ergonomic Mouse: Yes, I know: this mouse looks hella weird. That’s because it’s a fully ergonomic mouse. You won’t need to cramp up your hand to use your mouse pad or move your wrist side to side (which is exactly the opposite of how your wrist is supposed to move); instead, your mouse will stay perfectly still while you navigate using only your thumb. Once you put your hand on this perfectly shaped, odd-looking thing you’ll get why I’m totally obsessed! It does take a little while to adjust to using this mouse, but I’ve been using it for 5+ years and I credit it with fixing my chronic Tennis Elbow (which I definitely got from sitting at a computer, not playing a sport).
  • Ergonomic Keyboard: You should only be using your laptop keyboard when you have no space, like say, on a plane or train. Otherwise, if you’ve got a desk, bust out this ergonomic travel-friendly keyboard. It will keep your arms at a 90-degree angle directly below your shoulders, where they belong (that neck/back strain you’ve got is from reaching forward and hunching over your computer, FYI) and help your wrists stay straight, so your fingers aren’t straining as you type!
  • Portable Laptop Stand: This teeny-tiny, lightweight, foldable little stand makes a HUGE difference in your work setup on the go. It elevates your screen so you aren’t straining your neck or hunching your shoulders, and along with the keyboard and mouse, you can sit comfortably and the position your body is naturally meant to be in rather than reaching up or hunching down over your screen. It’s totally adjustable so you can make it the height that works best for you.
  • Blue Light Blocking Glasses: Staring at a screen all day can cause visual fatigue, headaches, aching eyes, and blurred vision. These glasses can 100% effectively block harmful blue light coming from phones, computer monitors, and other devices. And they make you look cute and boss-like, as IF you didn’t already!
  • Digital Nomad Friendly Backpack: We JUST discovered the Knack pack, and we LOVE it! This nifty bag has a padded pocket for your computer and a fleece-lined one for your tablet, and it even has a leash for your keys so you don’t have to rummage around at the front door (like we all do…!). It’s also perfect for travel with a sleeve to slip over luggage handles and it fits under the seat on planes. AND it’s stylish.

In addition to protecting your health & your body, please don’t forget to protect your information too and invest a good VPN service! As a digital nomad, chances are you’ll be doing a lot of logging into stuff that you probably don’t want to be hacked, like, ya know, your website, your bank, your Paypal… you get the picture.

With a VPN, your information stays secure and safe, even when you’re desperately tethering to that random open connection in the airport of some random country because you forgot the name of your hotel and have no idea where you’re supposed to go. Oh yes. We’ve ALL made that mistake.

If you’ll be setting up a home office space, deck it out a little bit! Carving out “your” office space is important, remember? Even tacking up a map, some postcards, or some art in the corner of the room you’re using as your workspace will help to define that space and make it – and you – feel more conducive to productivity.

When I’m at home, I like to surround myself with travel stuff. I have a whole wall of postcards, a shelf full of travel books, and little trinkets like this map canvas and this cute globe pen holder. (Psst: You’ll find a bunch more travel-related home items in my gifts for travel lovers post, which doubles as my personal shopping list.)

I don’t know about you but I’m now feeling super inspired to go off and work. Oh this is my work! Ok, as you were… Which parts of working from home excites you the most? What’s the view like from your home office? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Quit Your Job & Travel book surrounded by Christmas decorations and candles. Give the gift of long-term travel!

We Wrote a #1 Best-Selling Book!

How to Quit Your Job & Travel is a practical, step-by-step guide to one of the most exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying things you’ll ever do. You’ll learn how to tackle each of the challenges of long-term travel, from finances to fear to returning to reality – and all the nitty-gritty logistics along the way.

Order a Copy on Amazon!

Psst: Looking for more Digital Nomad inspiration and tips? We’ve got more resources to help!

Our Top Travel Tips & Resources

Here are our favorite travel tips & resources for saving money and planning travel logistics! For more tips, check out our complete guide to trip planning.

  • Face Masks: Scientific consensus demonstrates wearing face masks protects both yourself and those around you from viral spread! We love these reusable face masks because they’re ethically made with sustainable materials and budget-friendly.
  • Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Skyscanner or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Accommodations: We usually stay in mid-range boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). Depending on the destination, we also love staying in AirBnBs. We’ve also used TrustedHousesitters as both hosts and travelers.
  • Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it – visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local’s perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place using public transit. When we book a rental car, we use Kayak to find the best deal.
  • Luggage Storage: Checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover? Use Stasher to safely store your luggage while you’re running around. Be sure to use the code PW10 for 10% off your booking!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!

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