Top Apps for Traveling as a Digital Nomad

Laura Lopuch

What are the apps that digital nomads rely on as they travel the world and work? I’m talking about beyond Uber, DuoLingo, and Instagram.

Rather than sharing just my personal picks, I polled the digital nomads I know and asked them: What are the apps you use most in your work day? 

Here are the top picks across a range of use cases from digital nomads living and working around the world right now.

Productivity

Tomighty

Work in 25 minute intense sprints to get more done. That’s the theory behind the Pomodoro technique.

Taylor Coil, Tortuga Backpack’s Marketing Manager, uses this method to squeeze all the productivity juice from her day.

“I use an app on my computer called Tomighty to track pomodoros. I’m sure there are phone versions, as well, but the Mac app works best for me.”

Spotify 

Dean Dutro, of Instant Email Copy, gets in the groove for max productivity. Literally.

“I put on a work/study playlist and get in the zone for 2-3 hours while the list is on.” 

 

Project Management

Trello

Again and again, this project management app popped up in my research. 

Trello is easy to use, it keeps you organized and makes team collaboration for moving forward easty on the projects you’re working on.

With a visual approach to project management, it’s perfect for digital nomads who need to see the big picture (heh-heh).

Asana

Asana is best for distributed teams working across several time zones on time-sensitive projects. Like launches. 

If you want to be more organized as a digital nomad — and wish you had a hard-nosed boss to answer to — Asana is your answer.

As Taylor says, “I keep the Asana app on my phone at all times. I rarely need to use it, but it’s nice to be able to respond to something quickly or fix a mistake with agility.”

Slack

Slack is a virtual water-cooler for digital teams and nomads. It works like instant messenger so you’re not sending hundreds of emails with pesky questions.

 

Jenn Miller, Packsmith’s editor, says, “Asynchronous communication on the fly is essential for remote work on a team.” Which is exactly what Slack gives you.

Slack is the online equivalent of popping your head over your cubicle neighbor’s wall and asking a quick question.

Only you’re not in a cubicle.

Must-Have Apps for Work

Toggl

“Love Toggl for easy tracking of billing hours or to get an idea of how much time I spend working on a particular project,” says Elizabeth Blue, copywriter and writing coach for entrepreneurs

 

KJ Lang of Life Style Travel Kit agrees.

“When I’m working on projects, writing for my blogs, or even just looking at memes, I want to know where I spend my time. Tracking your hours, like tracking your expenses, gives you power. Once you know where your limited resources are being used you can make adjustments and focus on what’s working.”

Airstory

Meet my newest writing love.

As a writer, I want an app that defeats the occasionally-torturous

process of extracting words and articles from my mind. Airstory slicks down the runway for ideas to jump right onto the page.

Working like Evernote’s genius child, you can clip specific research directly from a website. Or, save the research as a card and insert it right into your doc.

You can even create a template of your favorite hard-working blog post outline or any other piece of content.

In other words, you never start from scratch. In fact, I wrote this blog post (and my last 5 Tortuga posts) on Airstory in half the time it usually takes me to write a post.

Suddenly, you’re working with nearly-finished content instead of a half-baked idea.

Calendly

Seize control of your calendar and end the unneeded back-and-forth scheduling emails with Calendly. 

 

Set the time blocks that you’re open. Send a link to your Calendly calendar to whomever you’re scheduling a meeting with. They pick an open time that works for them. Wham-bam-done.

Best part is: it’s free.

x.ai

If you hate — and I mean HATE — scheduling meetings, but want to have the fancy big-company impression of having an assistant, but… you’re too cheap to fork over the dough for a real-life person to schedule stuff, well…

 

Get x.ai.

It’s AI with all the personality of a human. And the efficiency of a robot. Amy Ingram, my AI assistant, has fooled some of my clients into thinking she’s an actual person.

Schedule up to 5 meetings/month with their free version. (The wait list is super long for the free version. I swear to you: it’s worth it.) Or spring for their amazingly-affordable professional plan at $39/month and unlimited meetings.

Zoom

Raise your hand if you think Skype has rested on its laurels for too long? Stopped innovating? Slacking on improving call quality?

 

Oh wow, the whole “room” has their hands raised. Me too.

Zoom is your answer for free, clear conference calling with video. And recording of your conference call — for free. No more hunting around the Internet’s dark, dusty corners for a decently-priced, kinda-easy-to-set-up recording software for your Skype calls.

Zoom’s free version has a limit of 40 minutes on your meeting. So you’re more motivated to get ‘er done and get on with your life.

For your longer chats, check out UberConference — also with free recording of meetings.

 

 

Co-Working or Cafe-Working Apps

VPN

Keep your data safe and secure over uncertain, public WiFi.

I use Private Internet Access that I bum off my brother’s account. (With his permission, thank you for asking.) Easy to install, costing only $3.33/month, and simple to use; it’s also recommended by Lifehacker’s readers.

Michael of Hobo With a Laptop recommends Speedify.

“Speedify is a VPN and a network bridge that allows you to combine multiple internet connections and roll them into one. Yes, I nearly wet myself, too.

That means you get the fastest internet you can muster on all your devices at the same time –even faster than technically available on a single connection wherever you are.

And it’s a VPN that works on both your laptop and your phone. Best of all worlds, and roughly the same price as a regular VPN. It works great in places like the Philippines or rural areas in Thailand where the internet makes people cry.”

WorkFrom

Find the best coffee shops and cafes in your area with WorkFrom. Right now, it has many major US cities in its database. More international destinations will soon be added.

 

You’ll get access to cool work spots in cafes, pubs and restaurants with unbiased — read: honest — opinions of WiFi connections, quality of drinks, and atmosphere from other digital nomads.

Reviews also include: price range, available meals, noise range, and pro tips on where to find electrical sockets and secluded tables.

Elena Prokopets from Lifehack says, “I have discovered some of my all time favorites this way, like Mr Bean in Amsterdam.”

Work Hard Anywhere

Find the best places to work from your digital nomad colleagues with Work Hard Anywhere’s Cafe Finder. This crowd-sourced service displays workspaces with WiFi in your city. 

 

“As a digital nomad, you know how important it is to have good WiFi and a comfortable place to work,” says KJ Lang. “Time spent searching for work-friendly cafes and coworking spaces is non-billable time.”

Money

Mint

Link all your financial accounts into Mint and get an instant snapshot of where your money is going. And coming.

 

The basic free version is surprisingly robust.

It even tracks your bills and sends you reminders, so you know, no more late fees.

Trail Wallet

So many digital nomads love this app. It was like the ghost who wouldn’t leave, no matter how many seances I conducted or room corners I rubbed with sage.

An expense tracking app designed specifically for travel, Travel Wallet lets you stop worrying about your finances and start enjoying yourself on the road, which is why you’re traveling, right?

PayPal

Ah, good old PayPal. The invoicing feature is super convenient and easy to use. Sometimes the old dog still does the best tricks, but the fees are higher than Transferwise.

 

“I always use PayPal for invoicing and billing. It’s super easy and worldwide.” – Dean Dutro

TransferWise

Send money between your bank account and another in a different country, in a streamlined way, with the real exchange rate, not an inflated one.  

 

That’s the beauty of this app.

Here’s proof of the love: 9.5 out of 10 stars based on 40,000+ reviews on Trust Pilot. Standing ovation for this app.

The reviews are dotted with comments like: “My transfers went smoothly and quickly,” “Commission was lower than other services,” and, “Very goooood.”

Travel Apps

TripIt

Collect all your travel plans and documents in one place. No more hunting through your inbox, searching for your confirmation email for your next flight, that was sent that one day, some time in the maybe-recent past. 

 

Where did that danged thing go?

TripIt keeps all your travel plans neatly organized. Outside of your inbox — messy or clean. If it makes me — the girl who runs madly for her flights because she misjudged the security line — look super organized and put-together, it’ll make you look amazing.

HotelTonight

Get a hotel. Tonight. Yes, even if you need it in 10 minutes. 

“Hotel Tonight is useful to have, too,” says Taylor. 

 

“Because sometimes you want to make a last-minute change. I use it whenever I change locations on a whim, or if I feel uncomfortable with my planned accommodations.”

LastPass

All your passwords in one spot. Just remember one password to access them all. 

This app is the best thing that’s ever happened to my memory. It freed up gigabytes in my head.

You can use the free version. But the paid version gives you access to your LastPass account on any device for only $12.

It’s $12 that I’ve never regretting spending on an app.

Moleskine Notebook

Writing down your confirmation numbers in a leather-bound notebook? Old-fashioned, yes. Deeply satisfying, hell yeah.

“I’ve tried TripIt, but honestly? I prefer to keep a pen-and-paper travel journal,” says Taylor. “It’s old school, but I love the act of writing down all of my confirmation numbers, travel times, and addresses in a Moleskine notebook. I use it as my primary journal, as well, and cherish looking through old travel notebooks to reminisce.”

 

So Good, You Can’t Miss Apps

WorldTimeBuddy

Figure out what timezone you’re in vs the timezone of your client in one easy-to-use website. This is my go-to software to never having to do time zone math. 

Yelp

Feed your hunger beast and find great restaurants on the road.

As Dean says, “Helps when in other countries to find the best food fast!”

Airbnb

Ah, come on… you thought I wouldn’t include Airbnb, the granddaddy of all travel apps?

 

I saved the best for (almost) last. This app got even better now that Airbnb has Airbnb Experiences: a new way to explore the world while you’re traveling.

“Such a cool feature to be able to meet people on fun adventures,” says Dean.

Google Suite: Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Maps, Calendar, & Translate

No list of mobile work apps for digital nomads would be complete without these. Google knows what it’s doing. Install its sweet suite of apps, and your phone automatically gets smarter.  

Jenn, Packsmith’s editor, sums it up nicely: “The apps I couldn’t live without are the Google suite of apps (Gmail, Sheets, Calendar, & Docs) as they allow me to access everything I’m working on no matter where I am.”

Exhibit A: 

“My calendar automatically pulls any flight information,” says Dean. No more time wasted on data entry for flights and cut/pasting from your emails. 

Exhibit B:

“Google Maps helps me travel better!” says Elizabeth. “I learned last year while traveling through Europe (and not having cell data) that you can download a Google map of a city, and then you can use the GPS without using data. I use that now for taking road trips all over the island of Bali!”

Exhibit C:

“Google Maps. I use it to star places I want to visit, places I loved, and important spots like the train station and my Airbnb. It’s the only ‘travel’ app I use on a daily basis,” says Taylor. 

TL;DR

Filling up your smartphone with the dozens of travel apps for digital nomads would be easy. Lucky for you, here’s the cheat-sheet of the best apps to help you work smarter — not longer — on the road: