If you’re interested in copywriting because you want to live the life of an international jet-setter, it’s absolutely possible. It’s one of those concepts that feels wildly improbable. How can I get paid to write while I’m working overseas? But, as someone writing this from Portugal right now, it only feels impossible because you haven’t done it yet. But before you up and leave, you need to make sure you’ve got the right things on your digital nomad packing list.
The truth is that getting remote work while you’re working overseas is no different than getting remote work when you’re at home. You still follow the same steps to pitch potential clients, follow up with them, do the work, and send the invoices. Nice, huh?
That said, though, there are a few concerns that you need to keep in mind. What do you do when your super cool Airbnb in Florence turns out to have super-slow Wi-Fi? What if you spill an Aperol Spritz on your laptop? (Hey, that can happen at home and abroad!)
Here are six essentials to ensure you can navigate working overseas and come out on top. Even if you’re not planning to head overseas, these are items that are also handy to pack for a staycation or even just to have at home! (You never know when your computer may crash!)
Psst! Looking for tips on how to work abroad? Find out how to work as a digital nomad here >>
1. Reliable Computer (and Back-Up Computer)
I know this sounds obvious, but bear with me. Your computer is 100% your key to making money overseas and if anything goes wrong with it, you’re screwed. If you drop it, or if the screen stops working, or if it crashes or even if one of the keys stops working (it happened to me—stupid “h” key!), you’re in big trouble.
You need to plan for some kind of back-up, whether it be a small portable keyboard to sync with your phone or tablet or even a small, back-up laptop. You need to be prepared for anything.
Along with your computers? Chargers. You need a charger and back-up charger for all your devices. Again, you don’t want to risk a broken charger and the ability to connect to your source of income—particularly if you plan to stay abroad for several weeks or months. Put “an extra charger” at the top of your digital nomad packing list.
2. Zoom, Google Meet, Skype
Okay, you’re not really packing this, but you do want to make sure everything is set up and good to before you leave.
Many of your client meetings will take place over video—not phone. Phone calls are quickly becoming a thing of the past; everyone just turns their camera off instead if you want to make it like a phone call! It helps to have one, if not all of these, set up just in case you run into any issues with any of them or if a client has a preference for their video conferencing software.
Of course, you can also set Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype up to make international calls. Now, you should also at least know how to make international calls on your phone when you need to (without paying a ton in roaming charges), but it can be a great alternative when you can use it.
3. Portable Wi-Fi for a Strong Internet Connection
Most places you’ll stay will offer Wi-Fi (it’s the 21st century after all), but that doesn’t mean that it’s good Wi-Fi. Also, you need Wi-Fi that isn’t attached to the home’s power source in case the power goes out.
In a pinch, most restaurants and cafés will offer free Wi-Fi and won’t mind if you work a bit while you eat or sip. But you also need a back-up, and I recommend an international Wi-Fi hub like Skyroam.
4. A Cloud-Based Storage Solution
Again, this is not something you pack, but if you can get into the habit of using a cloud-based solution before you leave, you’ll be in better shape.
Plus, you need a cloud-based storage solution no matter where you’re working as a copywriter (it’s one of the few things you need to start your copywriting business).
But, if you’re working overseas, you want this set up before you leave. That way, if your computer and back-up computer are on the fritz, you can still head to an internet cafe or library or other location where you can hop on a public computer and access your files.
If you don’t already, automatically get in the habit of saving files to the cloud—not on your desktop.
It’s one thing to bring a travel adapter to ensure your chargers can plug into whatever type of outlet your destination uses. But did you know that the voltage varies from country to country? For example, while the U.S. uses 120 volts, Europe is at 220. This means even if you’re using an adapter, there’s a chance it could fry your electronics (really: it happened to our marketing manager Kate’s toaster when she lived in Germany).
Pick up a converter instead. This option has space for three plugs and converts the voltage to minimize the risk of fried electronics. It also comes with adapters that will cover you in more than 150 countries.
6. Keyboard Protector
If you’re planning on working from cafes, whether at home or abroad, or tend to work in places where you can get crumbs underneath your keys (hello, hummus and crackers!), spend the few bucks on getting a keyboard cover. They’re generally under $10 and are designed to fit your specific computer model, so be sure to do a quick search to find the one that works for you (for example, this one fits the MacBook Air).
Nice-to-Have Tools of the Digital Nomad Trade
While the above items are musts, here are a few extras that the Filthy Rich Writer team likes to save space for in their luggage!
- Blue light glasses. This style is similar to ones Kate wears to reduce headaches from too much screen time.
- Notebook. Yeah, we love a good notebook as much as the next person! We’re partial to the classic, rule pages Moleskine notebook (hard cover so it can withstand travel!).
- Laptop cleaner and brush combo. If the keyboard cover wasn’t enough, it helps to have a little brush that can get into those tiny crevices and clean out your keys! This brush and microfiber pad combination set from OXO are our go-tos for keeping a clean machine.
- Wipes. When it’s time to clean the screen of all your electronics, these wipes are compact enough to throw in your laptop case and, because they’re individually wrapped, won’t dry out as fast.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. When you can’t get quiet and need it for high-concentration work, noise-cancelling headphones can save the day. This pair by Bose is our favorite. They’re an investment, but if you’re traveling a lot, you’ll get your money’s worth (bonus: they do a decent job of blocking out screaming children on airplanes!).
If you’ve worked while traveling, what’s on your digital nomad packing list? If you haven’t traveled while working, what do you like about the idea? What are your concerns? Let me know in the comments below!
Psst! This post contains affiliate links.
Last Updated on May 12, 2023
Hi! Thank you for an awesome post! I’m a new copywriter and I just opened up a page to get clients. I have a good grip on grammar and punctuation and I’m an author as well. However, I’m a bit camera shy.
Is it necessary for a copywriter to call their clients? Would it be unprofessional if I just message or email them?
Kate Sitarz says
It is helpful if you can get on a phone call with clients, but that doesn’t mean you have to do a video call. Could you do everything via email? You could, but I’d encourage you, if possible, to try! It does get easier each time you do it. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!