In part 1A we discussed our XD Design Bobby anti-theft backpacks. Now in this 1B section we will be discussing what we carry in the Bobby back packs on a daily basis and why! The equipment has been accumulated to solve different problems we ran into when freelancing in different places over the past six months, both in the UK and now abroad. The equipment also makes our lives so much more comfortable and productive, we have found each item on this list made a substantial difference to our freelancing lives. We have absolute confidence when picking up our bags that we have everything we would possibly need for the day ahead, no matter where we go! First up…
Nexstand Macbook and Laptop StandHave you ever experienced an aching neck from sitting at your laptop for long periods of time? We did, and subsequently our enjoyment of freelancing and our productivity was dramatically affected. Curvature of the upper spine and neck constantly looking down at a screen can lead to some serious issues in future, we decided to combat against it now!
Our Nexstands have become an absolutely essential part of our equipment, no matter what height desk we sit at we use a Nexstand to lift our MacBook screens to eye level. No more hunched upper backs, bad posture, aches and pains. We increased our screen time and therefore productivity, with some other added bonuses such as; increased cooling to the MacBooks and the safety of having them off the table, avoiding costly damage such as spilled drinks.
We don’t have a single bad word to say about them, they are sturdily made, come with a travel pouch and the stands are easily height adjustable. It remains to be seen how long they last, but rest assured we’ll be getting more if they ever did give out, which seems unlikely.
We have had several people come up to us and ask about the stands and where to get them, all you have to do is click this link to get your own: Buy Nexstand
Universal Travel AdapterThis is a quality bit of kit for any travellers or digital nomads. This adapter works in 150 countries world wide! An easy thing to overlook when traveling is the plug adapters, Megan and I have one of these each to give us peace of mind when traveling that we can charge our electronics! Complete with some USB charging sockets it’s possible to have multiple devices charging on the go at once.
These things live in our Bobby bags, so we always have charged phones and MacBooks for maps, work and Skype calling. They are well built, safe and come complete with a travel case!
Get one for yourself: Buy Travel Adapter
SWELL Insulated BottlesWe don’t use our freelancing equipment everyday, however one thing we do both use everyday without fail is our SWELL bottles. We have owned and used our SWELL bottles for about half a year now, we both agree they are the best bottles we have ever used.
The insulated design allows for cold drinks to remain cold for up to 24 hours, and in Thailand’s heat this is an impressive feat. Filling them up with chilled water in the morning, the water is equally chilled by the end of the day even if we are out in the 35 degree sun with the bottles! Having cold water all day long really makes a difference to our experience, and coping with the crazy heat and humidity as two pale brits!
SWELL bottles are a sustainable solution, we all know the issues using plastic bottles these days and we are proud to be having our water from our metal reusable bottles. As well as this, SWELL donates money from sales to charities such as UNICEF, and since 2015 has committed over $800,000. It is important to purchase a genuine SWELL for this reason, so check the bottom for their unique authentication mark as there are plenty knock off’s out there!Get a legitimate SWELL bottle here: Buy SWELL Bottle
External Hard Drive and Storage
Hard drives and storage, something you can never have enough of. We have a couple different types of hard drives each, so we have no shortage of external hard storage. We also use a 1TB dropbox which allows us to backup important Documents, share files with each other when working collaboratively and send files to clients with just a link.
Whilst not everybody needs this much online storage for work, what we will say is we have scans of ALL of our important travel documents in a folder, such as: visa’s, passports, flight information and bookings, apartment rental agreements, medical information, vaccination information, emergency contact numbers, travel insurance policies and information, birth certificates, business tax information, banking details and national insurance numbers and more! This file containing all this information is available to use from any device in the world, and is available when offline as well. This is a very reassuring backup if in the worst case scenario we were left with just the clothes on our back we still have everything we need to sort out the situation anywhere in the world. Or equally if one of us became seriously ill the other person is able to still access and know where all of the medical and insurance information is. We highly recommend this to anyone travelling for a prolonged period!
Hard drives, Tom did consider purchasing a 4tb or even 5tb storage device before we left to store all of his images. However stick with the recommendation of using multiple 1TB drives, if something does go wrong the consequence will be losing 1tb of data not 4tb or 5tb!
Water Proof Reusable PonchoFetching isn’t it? Coming to Thailand at the end of rainy season we knew at some point we would be caught in a sudden downpour. Although our bags have rain covers, they only protect the front of the bag! If we are out for the day ideally we don’t want to be walking around in soaking clothing.
To protect ourselves from this we bought these reusable ponchos! Stored in their bags they are easy to carry with us in our Bobby bags, and when the heavens open in a matter of seconds we have them out and on with our bags fitting comfortably underneath as well.
We have tested them in a torrential downpour and we were out for a total of 40 minutes in the rain and both ourselves, and our bags, returned dry! The ponchos quickly dried off and were easy to roll back into their carry pouch for next time. Our ponchos also have the added benefit of becoming a make shift shelter if caught out in a survival situation, but doubt we will be testing that.. we hope!
Here’s where you can get one too: Buy Poncho
Macbook Pro Multi-use USB-C AdapterYep, Apple at it again. Removing all ports from the current gen’ of Macbooks other than USB-C ports. However the issues don’t stop there! We found that some adapters on the market we used to connect our hard drives and card readers interfere with the Macbook’s Wifi connect-ability. As soon as the adapter is plugged in all wifi is killed and won’t return until we unplug the adapters.
Happily we found some adapters which don’t affect the wifi and are well built with plenty of auxiliary ports on them. Using two of the four USB-C ports on the Mac the adapter has 2 USB-C ports, 2 USB ports, SD card reader slot, HDMI output slot and a micro SD card reader slot. The MacBook remains chargeable through one of the USB-C slots as well!
The two units have performed flawlessly for both of us, a bit more pricey than other solutions, but it’s the most compact and well made and we love it.
Get yours here: Buy Macbook Adapter
Apple Magic Mouse 2When using our MacBooks on the Nexstand’s we use both a wireless keyboard and mouse on the desk to prevent reaching up to use the ones installed on the Macbooks. We both use a variation of Apple’s Magic Mouse, their thin profile allows for easy packing into the bags and are comfortable for us during extended periods of use.
Tom’s Magic Mouse is the cable charged version. He has found the battery life to be incredible. However the downside to this version is the mouse is unusable during charging. Megan on the other hand uses the Magic Mouse variant which takes regular alkaline batteries. The battery life is definitely not as long as Tom’s, however when it is time to replenish the power she can swap out the batteries in a matter of seconds.
Overall we’d recommend the cable charged version, it is substantially lighter to carry and removes the need to source batteries and carry loose batteries in your pack. The inconvenience of having to put the mouse down whilst it charges is a small one, as the battery lasts so long.
Get yours here: Buy Magic Mouse
Apple Magic KeyboardLike our mice, we use Apple’s magic keyboards. Again they have a very thin profile, work reliably and connect seamlessly to our Macbooks. Again, we have different variants each, Tom using the cable charged version and Megan the Alkaline Battery version. The battery life is equally as impressive as the mice, and luckily the Keyboard can be charged whilst in use. This puts the cable charged version easily top of the pile and our recommendation.
Get your keyboard here: Buy Magic Keyboard
Fujifilm x70Tom has a good amount of his professional camera equipment with him: multiple lenses, his Nikon D810, his tripod, Lee Filters, remotes, smart triggers and much more! However on a daily basis when we are freelancing he doesn’t carry it with him as he already has a bag full of other equipment with him. Instead he carries a Fujifilm x70, a camera with full manual control, on camera adjustments and a plethora of smart software all in a tiny package.
The camera is mainly used for capturing ideas he’d like to return to with his actual equipment, or capturing memories to scrap book when we return to the UK. The flip out screen allows for easy selfies and the camera is small enough to fit into our backpacks as a day to day camera. Tom will discuss the camera more in an up coming blog about his photography equipment!
Get one here: Buy x70
Whilst in foreign countries we carry our passport with us, along with accompanying visa’s incase of on the spot checks. In order to do this safely we both use large passport wallets and combine it with carrying our cash, cards, mobile sim details and medication all in one. They are much bulkier than regular wallets and purses but that’s exactly why we like them. Too big to just throw in a pocket we carry them safely in our anti-theft bags, once we have made a payment they go straight back into the bags. This lowers the risk of being pick-pocketed dramatically and leaves us having everything we need on hand immediately!
Tom’s was bought for him by Megan as a present, and he could not be happier with it! (can you tell he uses it to carry his allergy medication?)Some things which we haven’t provided our review of are our: 2018 15 inch Apple MacBook Pro’s with touch bar, Lifestraws and Graphics Tablets. The MacBooks and the graphics tablets are very self-explanatory, and there are plenty reviews by much more reliable judges than us! And the Lifestraw, well we aren’t sure how to review that if we haven’t needed to use it! (A robust large plastic straw which allows any water to be filtered into drinking water in an emergency situation.)