As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Whether you’re living out of a van or a backpack, you’re likely tight on space and need versatile, lightweight, and comfortable gear that can go wherever you do. Those same parameters apply to a temporary home office. Luckily, much of the gear that helps you stay comfortable on the road translates remarkably well to a work-from-home setup. Here are some of my favorites.
Kovea AL Bamboo One Action Table ($250)
Kovea’s portable table has become my go-to for recent car-camping trips and now serves as my wife’s home-office desk. Thanks to aluminum legs and a bamboo top, it’s very sturdy; at less than 20 pounds, it’s lightweight; and it stores easily at the end of the workday. The telescoping legs allow it to adjust to three different heights, and the tabletop is far more stylish than one you’d typically use at camp, so it won’t stand out as much from your home decor.
Anker PowerCore II 20000 ($60)
Portable power banks are indispensable, whether you’re traveling by car or plane, and this one has long been my favorite. It can fully recharge your device’s battery in as little as 90 minutes and has massive capacity—an iPhone 7 can be recharged six and a half times. On a two-week bikepacking trip last summer, it served as the only charger for our group of three, and we only had to rejuice it twice. It’s useful at home if your makeshift office isn’t close to an outlet or if your battery runs low while you’re video-chatting with friends and family.
Bose Smart Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($400)
These headphones were an absolute game changer for me on long flights and have now become an indispensable part of my work-from-home kit. Whether you’re trying to drown out your kids, dogs, or a new coworker, these will virtually eliminate all noisy distractions—they’re the headphone equivalent of closing your office door.
SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 Cell Phone Signal Booster ($315)
If you’ve noticed slower internet speeds since you’ve been working from home, you’re not alone. There are plenty of Wi-Fi extenders out there, but with national networks overwhelmed, buying a cell-phone-signal booster and connecting your other devices via a mobile hot spot might be your best bet. I installed the SureCall in my truck last year, and it’s been fantastic for getting a signal in remote places. You’ll need to buy an AC adapter for it to work from your home outlet, but unlike home-based cell-signal boosters, you can transfer it to your van or truck when you’re through with it for years of additional use while camping.
Flight Flap ($9)
This flexible phone stand was designed to hold your phone or tablet up on a tray table or hang it from the back of your seat so you can read or watch movies comfortably on flights. The soft exterior is easy on your electronics, and the aluminum core bends to whatever shape you need, then folds flat for easy packing. The larger version works well for a tablet, especially for those obnoxiously long Zoom meetings (or FaceTime happy hours).
Lululemon All Yours Crew ($99)
This is my wife’s favorite sweatshirt, both for quarantining and traveling. The soft, four-way-stretch, cotton-fleece blend is as good for staying cozy on a long flight as it is for spending long days at a desk. Not only is it the most comfortable thing my wife owns, but thanks to the simple crewneck, it looks nice enough on a video call for her to pretend that she’s wearing real clothes.
Duer Men’s Performance Denim Slim Pants ($129)
My daily work-from-home uniform almost always includes these pants. The fabric is a blend of cotton, CoolMax all-season polyester, and Lycra spandex, which makes them both stretchy and breathable. I feel like I’m wearing sweatpants every day, but I won’t get weird looks wearing them at the office or airport. These Duers are also treated with Silvadur, an antimicrobial agent, and have Tencel in the fabric, which helps fight odor and bacteria and lets you wear them longer between washes—great for both extended trips and prolonged quarantines.
Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow ($30)
This inflatable pillow gives you a way to combat uncomfortable airline and bus seats when you’re traveling (and I use it with the worn bucket seats in my truck). It packs down to nothing and is self-inflating, while a foam insert in the center reduces pressure along your spine. It’s also a nice addition to any makeshift home office, especially as many of us have to make due with uncomfortable wooden chairs around the kitchen table.