A big ol’ list of our favourite tools and resources for running our businesses while we travel.
These are the tools and tech we use on a regular basis to support our digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past few years, we’ve had many geek-out sessions when it comes to all the websites, apps and SAAS products available to us, but the ones below are those that have remained consistently brilliant – and better than anything else out there for our particular needs.
Note: some of the links below are affiliate links – meaning we’ll get a small commission if you click through and buy. (The price will remain exactly the same for you.) Making It Anywhere isn’t a money-making site: we earn our living through our businesses. But we still appreciate the affiliate commission that we earn from the services and products that we use and wholeheartedly recommend!
A VPN has two major benefits. The boring-but-important one is that it prevents people from snooping on your data when you’re using a public wifi network – which is vital if you spend time working in cafes, hotels or airports.
The more exciting benefit is that you can choose to use a VPN server in any country – which has the effect of making it look like you’re actually browsing from that country. For us, this means we use a VPN server in the UK so we can watch BBC shows online that are only supposed to be accessed from the UK.
The VPN we use is TorGuard. It costs $9.99 a month (or $29.99 for six months paid upfront*), but it’s worth it: the free VPNs are dreadfully slow, and your episode of Dr Who will be buffering right the way through your dinner.
TorGuard allows up to five connections per account – which means you can install it on your computer, your partner’s computer, both your smartphones and your iPad.
Download TorGuard here (affiliate link)
*It’s also $59.99 if you pay for a whole year, which is, erm, exactly double what you’d pay for the six-month rate. We’re not quite sure what the benefit is there.
Cheap international phone calls without wifi: DIDLogic
DIDLogic is the the absolute dream solution for receiving calls wherever you are in the world – yet its website is so insanely complicated that hardly anyone knows about it.
There are a lot of different use-cases, but for us the key element is this: if you get a local SIM card for whichever country you’re in, you can get a DIDLogic number (the cost of which varies, but is in the region of $0.70 per month) that forwards to that local number very inexpensively. You don’t need the internet for this to work.
There are plenty more reasons to use DIDLogic though; here are some of them.
And here’s a video to set up your own DIDLogic number:
Finding new friends: Find A Nomad
Find A Nomad is a tool for discovering where friends and potential new friends are right now – and where they’ll be throughout the year.
Use Find A Nomad to:
- See who’ll be where, when – up to a year in the future
- Base your travel itinerary around where interesting people will be hanging out
- Meet new people near you, by browsing nomads’ profiles and contacting them
- Figure out where your friends will be living – and if you can share any crossover time with them
Find A Nomad currently has over 1,000 members… and counting.
We created it with fellow members of our online community, The Anywhereist Group, and we’re mighty proud of it!
Find A Nomad is free to use.
Travel admin and logistics
Travel insurance: World Escapade
Most travel insurance isn’t suitable for digital nomads: you have to be in your home country when you buy it, you can’t renew it while you’re travelling, and you need to specify a return date.
World Escapade is one of the only options that doesn’t have these stipulations. What’s more, it gives you the option to purchase just the medical aspect of health insurance (the most important bit).
Expat health insurance: Broker Fish
Think of expat health insurance as your replacement for the regular healthcare you get (or used to get) in your home country. If you’re American, think of it as health insurance. If you’re British, think of it as the NHS or private healthcare.
Whereas travel insurance covers you for medical emergencies, expat health insurance is there for your dental check-ups, your earache, your flu-like symptoms and – with certain provisos – your pregnancy.
Rather than trawl through all the different health insurance sites to find the best deal, just head to Broker Fish. It allows you to compare all the expat health insurance plans easily, and you have lots of options for filtering down your results.
Broker Fish is completely free to use.
Visa information: Visa HQ
Assuming you’re taking the “I’m a tourist” approach to visas, use VisaHQ to find out if you need a tourist visa or not.
VisaHQ is completely free to use, but there are options to pay them for certain visa services.
Visit VisaHQ (affiliate link)
Business productivity and logistics
We use a LOT of tools. Here are the ones we’re particularly huge fans of:
Task management: Trello
Until we found Trello, we’d flit between other project management tools on a near-monthly basis. We now use Trello to organise ALL our businesses and everything to do with our travel too.
It’s a bit tricky to explain, but this Trello Tour does a very good job for us!
Trello is completely free to use.
External communication: Helpscout
If you have a team of employees who are responsible for responding to customer enquiries, Helpscout helps you manage it all a lot more effectively and efficiently than a generic inbox. Here’s a list of all its features.
Pricing is simple: $15 per user per month.
Private instant messaging for teams: HipChat
Roughly speaking, HipChat is the distributed-team equivalent to shouting across the office to ask a question – but better, because if the person being shouted at is busy, they don’t have to answer right away.
HipChat has both free and paid account options, but the free version is so rammed with features that you probably won’t need to upgrade.
Arranging meetings across timezones: WorldTimeBuddy
WorldTimeBuddy lets you see what the local time is across the various time zones of your meeting attendees. You can then click on a time when everyone will be awake, and send a link to all recipients to show them what time the meeting will be in their respective countries.
WorldTimeBuddy is completely free to use.
Appointment-booking software: You Can Book Me
With You Can Book Me, you can configure the information, dates and times that you’re available each week, then send a special link to anyone who wants to book a meeting or phone call with you.
There are both free and paid account options.
Email marketing: MailChimp
We use MailChimp for all our businesses – with subscriber rates in the high thousands for a couple of them. It’s intuitive and easy to use, it has very fair and competitive pricing for smaller/new businesses, and it’s recently upped its game when it comes to autoresponder sequences.
Making and receiving payments: TransferWise
TransferWise is 100% solid amazing for when you need to make or receive cross-currency payments. Fees can be as low as 0.5%, which is dramatically cheaper than PayPal or a wire transfer. The website makes the whole thing ridiculously easy.
Better yet, if you use our link you’ll pay NO fees on your first transfer.
Check out TransferWise (affiliate link)
Forms: Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is a tool that lets you create forms to put on your WordPress website. It comes as a plugin, and once you install it you’ll have new functionality in your WordPress dashboard that makes it easy for you to generate a form and drop it into any page on your site.
If you need a simple contact form, this isn’t for you (because you can easily use a free plugin instead like Contact Form 7).
But if you want your forms to help a website visitor give you money, sign up for your mailing list or enquire about one of your services, Gravity Forms will get you into such an insane state of geeked-out happiness that people will stop asking what you’ve been up to, for fear of the long-drawn out, ecstatically delivered reply.
Gravity Forms has three different licences, starting at $39 for a year.
Download Gravity Forms (affiliate link)
The obligatory “WP Engine FTW” / “Bluehost is awesome” section
We used to use WP Engine because every other blog on the planet told us it was a good idea. And before that we used Bluehost, because the blogs that weren’t advocating WP Engine were banging on about Bluehost.
They’re both fiiine if you have a WordPress site. You might be able to do better, and you could probably do a lot worse. (At the moment we’re trying out a brand new hosting provider; we’ll let you know how it goes.)
If you decide to opt for either of these hosting providers and want to send a bit of affiliate love our way, click here to sign up to WP Engine and click here to sign up to Bluehost (affiliate links).
And thank you! But really… we have no reason to prefer any host over another at the moment, and we’re not going to pretend otherwise for the sake of a few extra dollars in our pockets.