These Essentials Will Let You Work From Anywhere
Telecommuting and travel have gone hand in hand for years—at times more out of necessity than choice. But in the pandemic era, more people than ever are working remotely. Maybe you’ve been living the WFH lifestyle for years, or perhaps you have only a few more months of geographic flexibility before you need to return to the office. Either way, taking your work on the road can help you break through pandemic-induced monotony without dipping into your vacation time.
Planning a road trip to a national park? Flying out to spend a week or two in your favorite city? Pack these essentials to ensure you stay plugged in, powered up, and comfortable while you’re away from your desk.
1. A charging duo that can reach any outlet
Nekteck 60W USB-C GaN Charger ($27 at the time of publication)
Cable Matters Slim Series USB-C to USB-C Charging Cable ($6 at the time of publication)
When you’re working in an unfamiliar locale, you can’t always count on having access to a convenient power outlet. Wherever you find yourself—in a hotel lobby, at a roadside diner, or anywhere else—you’ll need two things to ensure you’re not left powerless: the right charger and a cable long enough to reach an outlet. Our favorite laptop charger is the 60-watt GaN charger from Nekteck, which delivers enough power to charge all but the most demanding laptops at full speed. Pair it with the 10-foot cable from Cable Matters Slim Series (nearly twice as long as the cable that comes with the charger), and you’ll be able to find a comfortable spot to work without being kept on too short a leash. And this setup is less than the cost of a replacement MacBook charger.
2. Power for all of your devices
ZMI PowerPack 20000 ($60 at the time of publication)
Anker Powerhouse 100 ($180 at the time of publication)
Having a powerful battery pack on hand is a great way to head off range anxiety during a long day of remote work. Our pick for the best USB power bank for laptops, the ZMI PowerPack 20000, can be used for both phones and computers, and it even doubles as a hub for MacBooks and other USB-C laptops that might benefit from a few extra ports. For trips that might take you farther afield from your average coffee-shop outlet, the higher-capacity (and physically heftier) Anker Powerhouse 100 is our pick for portable AC charging. With a built-in AC outlet, a USB-C PD port, and two USB-A ports, it can charge even the most power-hungry laptops while they’re in use. So it’s a good fit for people whose work relies on running especially resource-intensive computer applications. (It’s also a good option if you have an older laptop that doesn’t use USB-C for charging.)
3. Battery support for road hogs
Bestek 300W Power Inverter (about $35 at the time of publication)
If you’re feeling the call of the road this summer, a power inverter for your car will allow you to charge while en route to your next destination. We discuss use cases for more-expensive (and larger) inverters in our road trip gear guide, but this smaller unit from Bestek works well enough to charge battery packs, mobile hotspots, and smartphones. In our testing we’ve observed screen flicker and connectivity issues when charging some older laptops directly from the Bestek. But this inverter should work well with newer models; you’ll want to test it out with your laptop before you hit the road.
4. A case to neatly contain your cable spaghetti
Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer (from $50 at the time of publication)
When you’re traveling with your remote workspace in a backpack, trying to keep your cables organized can feel like a slow slide into chthonic mayhem. Thankfully, the Incase Accessory Organizer slips neatly into this role. This is a low-profile, waterproof case that keeps each dongle and cable safe, secure, and separate. And the multiplicity of storage options makes it flexible enough to accommodate other everyday necessities (lip balm, nail clippers, tampons, and so on) alongside your electronics essentials.
5. Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer (from $50 at the time of publication)
Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L ($200 at the time of publication)
Working from the road can quickly bring to light the harsh reality of your connectivity needs. (Spoiler alert: That rest-stop Wi-Fi is probably weaker than your usual broadband service.) If your day-to-day routine involves extensive work in online app suites and cloud databases or jumping onto frequent Zoom calls, you need a reliable connection to get things done and avoid frustratingly choppy video and audio. A Wi-Fi hotspot like the Verizon Jetpack will provide multiple devices with stable, fast connectivity for bandwidth-hungry tasks. If your connectivity needs aren’t as demanding, your cell phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot feature will likely be enough to see you through the occasional outdoor meeting and email support. Just be sure to keep an eye on your data plan’s usage limits.
6. Ergonomic comfort on the go
Nexstand Laptop Stand (about $30 at the time of publication)
Ergonomics might not be front of mind when you’re packing for a working road trip. But if you plan ahead for the hours you’ll spend sitting in a chic-but-unsupportive coffee-shop chair, you can avoid back and neck pain. You'll feel the difference during that museum visit or destination hike you’re planning to do after clocking out for the day. Using a stand to raise your screen to eye level is a small tweak that can help you maintain proper posture during a long workday in an unfamiliar location. The Nexstand Laptop Stand is an affordable, sturdy, and extremely compact option that’s ideal for road warriors. (Bear in mind, however, that this setup is best for those who use an external keyboard and mouse).
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