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Last Updated: 11 November 2019
Some common questions I get asked frequently is; what software do I use, how I find cheap flights and what gadgets did I buy. So I’ve put together my list of recommendations, packing list for when I travel or just day to day when my work space could be at a random cafe. I’ve listed everything I can think of including I use to book my travel, what I take when I travel, and what gear I use when I work, which should answer all of those questions in one guide.
Hope you find something useful!
My Travel Packing List
Travel Booking Tips
Travel Funds & Security
Business Software and Tools I Use
Note: If an item has a “What I’m buying next” section on it, it means I’m not quite happy with my existing solution, and as soon as I can, I will be replacing my item with my next choice.
My Travel Packing List
Backpack and Baggage
When flying domestically especially for short trips, if possible, I like to be able to not pack a check-in luggage especially for domestic trips. I find it annoying having to wait for the baggage to come whereas with my normal set-up and I can just get off the plane and go. Also because I’m a Frequent Flyer with Virgin I can use the priority entrance which pretty much have no lines. For international trips or longer trips it can’t be helped especially. Here’s what I use:
The Nomatic Travel Pack is a professional looking backpack that designed for everyday use. I use this all the time whether I’m going to the office or travelling to other cities. I actually came across this bag on KickStarter. My favourite features are:
- the dedicated sleeve compartment for your laptop
- the side handle / ability to hide the backpack straps so I can carry the bag like a suitcase for meetings.
- ability to expand the bag if I need more space.
Unfortunately since about May 2018 Raden is no longer around after founder decide to shut the company due to the TSA banning luggage with built in batteries and the need for raising another round of venture funding. Raden was a startup company that made smart luggage bags including the A22 with features such as a detachable charging pack, GPS location and weight sensor. Due to the Samsung Note explosion fiasco the TSA really went after smart luggages with attached batteries although the Raden has a detachable battery. If I were to get a new smart carry on luggage today I would look at the Away Carry On or the InCase ProConnected.
Awesome way to pack and save space in your suitcase I use them to compress clothes so I can fit more in and keep things organised.
I never realised how much of a pain cables were until I bought this bag and realised how organised it made me. All my cables, chargers, and tiny things together in one spot, easy to move, easy to travel with.
Day to Day Work Setup
Got this laptop at the start of 2019. At the time I was tossing up between the Razer and the XPS 13 9360. The reason I opted for the Razer in the end was due to the styling and the slimmer profile. The newer XPS 13s are slim however they got rid of the USB-A ports in favour of USB-C ports only so if you want to plug in a Portable Hard Drive or USB stick then you need to carry an extra dongle around.
Combined with the items below it helps me keep good posture when I’m working on my laptop instead of hunching over it. Very portable, light and the rechargeable battery life is fantastic I’m hardly ever needing to charge it.
If you’re going to take care of your neck and back you’ll need a wireless mouse to go with it. The Logitech T630 works great with my laptop and instantly connects to my Razer once I flick the switch. So far I’m pretty happy with it. The only thing that would make it better is to have touch gestures like the touchpad on the laptop.
Another piece of the puzzle to avoid them neck pains. The stand folders nicely so it’s easy for me to pack into my bag. I use the NexStand whenever I’m away from my work setup at home.
I use these wireless earbuds all the time for when I’m on the go or to take work calls. They work great for music and for calls and sound great. The earbuds get about 3-4 hours of charge time and the case that comes with it is able to charge them at least another 3 times so you’re sorted for the day!
The reason why I love these so much is because they charge by USB-C! That means if I’m on the road or travelling I only need to carry one cable to charge my phone, laptop or earbuds.
These are a second pair of wireless earphones I use only for when I’m flying. Unfortunately they’re not completely wire-free like the RHA as there is a wire that goes around the back of your neck. However the trade off is I get active noise cancellation blocking out 90% of sound which works great to block the background noise on the plane. Unfortunately they won’t block the sound of crying infants on the plane…
The Audio Technica’s are one of the best bang for buck noise cancelling earphones on the market. They last about 8 hours on one charge with the noise cancellation on, 13 with the noise cancellation off and take 2 – 3 hours to charge back up. There are other options on the market like the top of the range Bose Quietcontrol 30 Wireless but they cost about 3 times more.
Another great one to consider that I was cross shopping between is the Plantronics Backbeat GO 410, they look a bit nicer than the Audio Technica however the trade off slightly less battery life, only up to 10 hours.
The device that I use the most along with my laptop. Great value, flagship features and more without paying ridiculous prices. Charges with USB-C which is the same plug as my laptop so I can use the same cables if required. Couple features that other phones may not have: OnePlus have their Dash-Charging technology which allows me to charge the phone from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes.
Also for travelling the OnePlus has Dual Sim capability so I can have my Australian Sim for works calls if I’m travelling and also plug in a local sim if I want it.
I have another year I consider another phone, if I were to get another phone right now it would be the OnePlus 7 Pro
This is a mainstay in my bag as it allows me to charge my laptop with the USB-C port + 4 other devices at once with another 4 ports . Because it’s 60W I get fast charging for my USB-C devices also. Very handy to have travelling also as that’s when I will have more electronics with me that I have to charge overnight such as Camera, portable charger, phone etc.
Electronics & Tech
My primary portable battery pack that sits in my bag wherever I go in case I need some extra power. It’s great at maintaining its charge for weeks in my bag and handy to have when I’m not around power points.
The added bonus is it comes with a USB-C port that can rapid charge devices at 5V/3A. Some stats according to the listing it’ll be able to charge your smartphone multiple times – iPhone 8 3.3 times, iPhone X for 2.2 times, Samsung S8 2 times, and iPad Air about 0.7 time.
Comes in a slim profile so easy to fit into a small backpack, jacket pocket or back of your jeans.
Another good alternative is the Anker PowerCore Lite 10000mAh.
The reason I have this second portable charger is for my laptop. I’m normally able to get work done as long as I have my laptop, internet and phone. When I run low on power for my laptop I can use the ZeroLemon Juicebox, it’s one of the few portable chargers that can charge a laptop battery as it has a higher output (45W). I’ve found if I’m using the laptop whilst the charger is plugged in it won’t really charge the laptop which means I may need a charger with an even higher output (more than 45W).
A problem to be aware of, because these portable chargers are quite big you may need a postage company to handle sending from USA to Australia.
What I’m buying next: Still Researching.
Why: So that I can use the laptop whilst plugged to the portable charger and also still build up charge.
May need to pump some music on my travels so I have this great speaker, comes with a great battery life, instant connection to my phone, and enough bass that I need. You’ll also get an app to change the EQ, a inflatable floatie to have the speaker on the pool and water resistance so that it’s safe to use by the pool or beach.
The one downside to these speakers is that it’s missing a mic so I can’t use them to take calls.
So in response to the previous speaker, I use this one occasionally to take calls on loudspeaker as it has a built mic but I use it most when travelling. I like that the speaker’s ultra portability, it fits in my pocket or the palm of my hand. My favorite feature of the speaker is that I can use the button on the speaker as a camera shutter button, this is especially handy when travelling I can set my phone down or put it on a tripod then take the photo with the speaker in my hand.
One of the best Android Wear smartwatches on the market. Looks great on the wrist and blends in like a normal chronograph wrist watch. Use it to track my fitness, maps when I’m travelling, event reminders, integrates perfectly with my Android smartphone. Happy days.
It’s quite pricey though so if you’re looking for something more affordable that still looks great have a look at the Fossil Gen 5.
This is a new device I only just found about but it’s a wearable that focuses on tracking your sleep so you optimise how you perform the next day. I’ve only just started using it based on a recommendation from a friend. So far I’ve noticed that I tend to wake up quite a bit throughout the night and morning as I’m about to wake up and added together it’s about 1.5 to 2 hours worth of sleep I’m missing. My goal is to try and reduce this to 1) Get a better quality sleep to be more productive the next day and/or 2) Reduce this so I can get up earlier.
One of only the only USB-C shavers around as it hasn’t really caught on yet with the manufacturers. This saves me having to pack another charger.
Travel Booking Tips
Travel insurance is important to have, you don’t want something to go wrong but sometimes things are out of your control. Mostly it’s so in case anything does happen my family will have piece of mind. This is especially important when travelling to the US as health care costs can be really expensive. Make sure your travel insurance includes covering accidents and the cost of returning home.
Book your insurance once you book your flights, some travel agencies will offer you insurance just get a price and compare online before pulling the trigger. A couple times it was cheaper just to go through the company directly, I normally use Covermore through Virgin Australia as I’m a frequent flyer with them. .
Rarely I hire a car and the in past I just opted for the local insurance excess waiver however for the next trip I’m looking to an insurance that will reduce this excess. The options I’m looking at are TripCover or 1Cover.
When researching flights ALWAYS browser on Incognito or Private Mode. The reason for this is because then all the tracking cookies don’t activate. If you don’t then the site detects you searching for the flight and may start to increase the price due to perceived increase in demand.
The first or second place I visit to research flights. Will give you a good idea on what options you have and the pricing available. Once you find the combinations you like sometime’s it’s cheaper to book on the airline website directly.
Handy feature I use, when I book flights I want to earn Frequent Flyer points so I can add filters to ensure this happens.
The other site I use to research flights. Great to figure out which day/s you should fly to get the best price. If you’re booking a trip in advance this is very handy. Most of the flights I book are almost last minute so it’s harder to get good deals.
Highly recommend subscribing to their blog. They get some good deals that come up from time to time so if you have a destination that you’re planning for a holiday then you can just keep an eye out for it. You just have to be flexible with your travel date.
Used to book most of my accomodation through here but the deals aren’t as good anymore. Make sure to haggle and ask if you can get a better price. This works better if you’re booking close to the dates you want to stay. I’ll write a blog shortly about the steps you need to take to negotiate a rate on Airbnb. Use my link to get a discount on your first AirBNB stay.
Apartments and hotels for those who are staying for longer times such as digital nomads, remote workers and location independent folk. Specialising in longer term stays like weekly and monthly rates.
I found recently I’ve been using Booking.com more and more lately. I’ve been able to book some sweet deals here such as a $189/night stay in Hong Kong at a 5 Star Hotel and another $209/night stay in Singapore. I found this to be better than what was on Airbnb at the time.
Another option to check prices.
Travel Funds & Security
All of my files are in Google Drive, it has one of the best rates out of the cloud providers. Another great option is Dropbox
Most of my passwords are in LastPass. It means I only have to remember 1 password. You might think this seems insecure however LastPass has a Two-Factor Authentication feature, you’ll need get a notification on your phone to confirm you’re actually trying to login to LastPass.
Money, Transfers and Management
My primary card when I travel no currency conversion fees. The currency rate also stays as close to the market rate as possible. Most places I travel to I’m able to find a Citibank branch to withdraw cash if needed.
This card is awesome. My go to credit card no currency conversion fees & no annual fee.
The best way to transfer money abroad. No need to create foreign accounts or use foreign cards whilst abroad – open a local account and use TransferWise to transfer money to it. Also a great way to pay people direct to their account without having to go back to your Australian account and paying a fee. You’ll also get amongst the best exchange rates.
TIP: Don’t use PayPal. If you have another currency especially USD don’t exchange it via PayPal they have horrible rates. Instead, transfer the cash to a USD bank account in TransferWise and do the exchange via TransferWise. See the example below of convert $5,000 USD to AUD. By using Paypal you’ll get $200 less.
A Hong Kong digital bank account and credit card, a backup card and place to send funds if you need it. If you’re not actively using the account don’t leave cash in there as is a $HK12.50 monthly inactivity fee that will slowly drain your account.
Business Tools I Use