Monday, April 22, 2024

The Road Warrior’s Trading Travel Setup and Gear Guide

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The fantastic thing about trading is that you can do it from anywhere in the world. 

I’ve traded from places like London, Finland, Estonia and Hawaii.

So in this guide, I’ll give you my personal picks for gear I’ve used in my trading travel setup.

This stuff will help you travel light, but enjoy all of the comforts of home.

I’ll also provide a couple of picks that I haven’t used, but many other traders really like.

Computer Gear

First up are the most important tools for a trader, a laptop and related tech.

I’ve tried a few different setups over the years and here’s what I like best.

Trading Laptop

MacBook Air

My travel computer is a MacBook Air.

I switched from PC to Mac in 2012 and never looked back.

In a past life, I worked in IT and had to fix a lot of PCs.

Windows has improved somewhat over the years, but it still suffers from many of the issues that it has always had.

Mainly not working properly when you need it most.

Macs on the other hand have been solid and I’ve had very few issues.

Platforms like TradingView have also made it much easier for traders to use a Mac.

So if you haven’t looked a Mac in awhile, I would highly recommend it.

I travel with a 11″ MacBook Air. It’s getting old, but it’s the most portable MacBook and it still works great.

Extra Trading Screen

I don’t use an extra screen when I’m on the road anymore, but here are 3 options that might appeal to you.

The solution I used in the past was an iPad attached to my MacBook Air.

There’s an app called Duet Display that will turn an iPad into a second screen.

This is an excellent solution because you can use your iPad as either a backup computer or a second screen.

Here’s a video of my setup at the time.

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Another option of course, is to get a dedicated screen.

This doesn’t appeal to me because these screens tend to be relatively bulky and only serve one purpose.

But if you really want a dedicated screen, then these options may appeal to you.

Many of them are inexpensive and the ratings are generally very good.

Something else you can consider is just carrying HDMI cables with you so you can use the TV at the hotel or Airbnb as your second screen.  

The biggest upside of this option is the cables don’t take up much space in your bag.

Just be sure that you have cables for all of the HDMI types.

Backup Trading Computer

Windows tablet

When my money is on the line, I need to have a backup in case something happens to my primary computer.

So I also carry a Windows tablet.

Yeah, I trash talked Windows earlier, but the unfortunate reality is that most trading programs still only run on Windows.

I’m looking at you MetaTrader.

Yes, there are MetaTrader mobile apps and the web version, but they do not have all of the features, like the ability to run custom indicators and EAs.

Things are slowly changing with platforms like TradingView, but it still lacks some capabilities that are only available with Windows programs.

For example, backtesting software like NakedMarkets and Forex Tester only have Windows versions.

So while a Windows tablet is not absolutely necessary while traveling, whenever possible, I do like to take one in case I need a backup or I want to do some backtesting.

Trading Phone

I used to carry a micro 4/3 camera when I travel, but phone cameras have become so good that I don’t need one anymore.

And the less I can carry the better.

My phone of choice is (almost) any phone from OnePlus.

To me, they are the “iPhone” of Android.

OnePlus travel phone
Image: OnePlus

What I mean is they have a similar build quality, but have several advantages over iPhones.

First, they take better pictures than iPhones.

Since I’ll mostly be taking pictures when I’m traveling, that’s the most important thing to me.

iPhones still have much better video, but that’s not a big concern to me.

Next, OnePlus phones can be deGoogled.

So I can install an alternative operating system like /e/OS, which has greatly improved privacy and battery life.

/e/ OS for Android

This has been achieved by taking out the parts of the operating system that continually send data to the Google servers.

Studies have shown that Android can send as much as 20X more data to the Google servers than iPhones send to Apple.

A deGoogled phone actually won’t send any data to Google, unless you’re logged into a Google app.

Battery life in particular is important when traveling, so this has been a big improvement.

I buy unlocked OnePlus phones, so they can be used anywhere in the world.

When I’m in another country, I buy a new card, pop out my current SIM card and I’m in business.

These phones can also be used as hotspots for my laptop, so I always have internet when I’m on the road.

My phone can also be used to trade, if I have an issue with my laptop.

I’ve found that deGoogled phones also last longer because they don’t slow down as dramatically over time.

Portable Battery Kit

A battery kit is one of the most useful things you can have, regardless if you’re half way around the world, or at your local coffee shop.

It ensures that you’ll always be able to charge your phone and other smaller devices.

Here’s what my kit looks like.

Phone charging kit

To build this kit, you need the following:

  • Backup battery
  • Case
  • AC adapter for USB cables
  • Short USB C cable
  • Short Micro USB cable
  • Short Lightning cable

Buying the short cables ensures that they will easily fit in your case.

Since you have all 3 major cables, you can charge almost any device, including older phones, and even some tablets.

The case you buy will depend on the size of your battery, so buy the battery first, then look for a case.

You can just get any case off Amazon or eBay. They are relatively cheap, just be sure to check the dimensions.

I use an Anker battery pack and it works very well.

Computer Accessories

First, I would recommend getting 2 of every type of cable you’ll need.

You might also want to get 2 AC adapters for your computer, if the second one fits in your luggage.

Next, you might want to travel with a mouse. This is optional, but useful.

I prefer a trackball because it stays in place and doesn’t require a lot of desk space.

My favorite trackball mouse is the Elecom Deft Pro.

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Another useful accessory is the Fuse Reel Side Winder cable management system for Mac.

I bought one of their earlier models and it works well.

Fuse Reel cable winder for Mac

But the newest one is much better and winds up both cables on the adapter.

Here’s what it looks like.

Fuse Reel Side Winder
Image: Fuse Reel

Finally, if you’re going to a foreign country, don’t forget your plug adapter.

This one is similar to what I have.

It’s a little bulky, but it handles all electrical plug types.

Plug adapter

Software and Mobile Apps

There are only 3 apps that I use nowadays:

  1. MetaTrader 4 desktop and mobile
  2. TradingView desktop and mobile
  3. NakedMarkets

If I’m not in the mood to backtest, then I don’t need NakedMarkets and can get by with just MetaTrader and TradingView.

Of course, you might need other software, depending on which markets you trade, but I like to keep things simple.

Luggage and Bags

Now you need something to carry your equipment around in.

These are the products that I use.

Backpack

GoRuck GR1 front

My all-time favorite travel backpack is the GR1 Rucksack.

This is my second one and these things are bullet proof. I’ve gone everywhere with this bag.

I like that the pack opens all the way, so it’s easy to pack and unpack.

It can hold a ton of weight and is very comfortable.

There’s a laptop compartment on the outside, making it easy to take my laptop out when going through the airport.

I also bought the water bottle carrier and chest harness separately, and they have been super useful.

So what happened to my first bag?

The zipper broke and I reached out to the company to see if I could get it repaired. I was willing to pay for the repair.

But they ended up sending me a new bag.

They really stand behind their product and I’m a big fan.

Day Pack

In addition to my primary backpack, I also bring a day pack.

This is a smaller bag that I can carry my laptop and paper notebook in.

It’s lighter and less bulky than my backpack, so it’s perfect for trading at a coffee shop.

For this, I’ve chosen the PacSafe Vibe bag.

Pacsafe sling

The 10L model can hold a 13″ laptop.

These bags are designed for travelers and have many theft-deterrent features.

Kinda important if I’m carrying my laptop around.

For starters, it has a metal mesh around the exterior and metal wires through the strap.

This prevents would-be thieves from cutting through the bag or strap.

Next, I can lock the zippers so they are harder to open.

Very handy.

Finally, I can lock and unlock the strap, so I can attach it to a fixed object like a bus seat or pole.

This is perfect if I want to go to sleep on the bus, or put my bag down at a cafe or train station.

I’ve had this bag for years and it has held up very well.

A useful accessory for any bag (pictured above) is a Black Diamond climbing carabiner.

It allows me to hang the bag on a hook if I don’t want to put it on the ground.

Carry On Luggage

I wish I had something a little more interesting here, but this one is pretty standard.

I’ve been using a Samsonite hardside carry on for awhile, ever since a cat peed in my previous carry on.

It’s been solid and I prefer the hardsides because they protect my stuff a lot better.

You really can’t go wrong with a Samsonite.

They have many different styles, so look through their collection if this interests you.

Other Stuff

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Travel is usually tiring and that can take its toll on your eyes.

So it helps to have a pair of blue light blocking glasses.

They reduce eye strain when at the computer. Blocking blue light has been shown to help you sleep better, which really helps if you have jet lag.

I’ve used many different types over the years, from top of the line, to el cheapo Amazon specials.

This pair by Jim Halo is my absolute favorite.

Jim Halo glasses

It’s not the cheapest option on Amazon, but it is significantly cheaper than something like a pair of Gunnars.

I had a pair of Gunnars and they broke pretty quickly.

What I like most about the Jim Halo glasses is the transparent frame.

It increases my field of vision so I don’t feel boxed in.

One thing to figure out when buying computer glasses, also known as gaming glasses, is the level of tint you’re comfortable with.

I found that I prefer a much lighter tint. The darker tint annoys me.

So if you want to pick up a pair, I would suggest buying a few cheap ones to figure out your ideal tint level.

Then go for the more expensive ones with a corresponding tint.

Watch

Being in a different timezone can be disorienting.

So I find it useful to wear a watch that has dual timezone capability.

When I can see what time it is in my home timezone, that gives me a frame of reference, especially with regard to when the markets open and close.

My favorite watches are the solar G-Shocks from Casio.

They are lightweight, look good and can take a beating.

The battery in these solar watches can last for as long as 20 years if you keep them charged, so they are very low maintenance.

The watch I currently travel with is the GWX-5600C-7JF.

It has a moon and tide function, which is particularly useful when I’m in Hawaii.

G-Shock watch modification

These watches are also very customizable, so I modified my watch to have a blackout look and now I can easily change the band to different colors.

I bought the black stainless steel bezel on eBay.

In order to fit the custom nylon straps, I also bought a JaysandKays metal band adapter and a Ritche 22mm military watch band.

I used to have a mechanical watch and it looked fantastic.

But it was a pain in the ass to continuously adjust time time and it required a complete maintenance every few years.

So I sold it and got a G-Shock instead.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Hydro Flask

You might not think about bringing a water bottle with you on a trip because it takes up space, but it can be very useful.

Proper hydration has been shown to increase cognitive ability and improve mood. 

Two must haves for traders.

There are places where water is more expensive than wine, so bringing your own can save you some money.

Using your own bottle also reduces that amount of plastic that gets thrown into landfills.

But most importantly, you don’t want to be drinking the tap water in many places in the world. 

So if you have a bottle, you can fill up at a reliable water source and stay properly hydrated all day.

And if you stuff your water bottle with a shirt or some socks, it actually won’t take up too much space in your luggage. 

Notebook

One thing that I never leave home without is a notebook.

I prefer it to note taking apps because physical notebooks don’t require batteries and when I’m not trading, I want to be away from the screens as much as possible.

My notebook of choice is a Moleskine, hardcover, large, plain.

I also bought a leather cover from Innovative Journaling, formerly Renaissance Art.

It’s durable and has a great worn look.

Moleskine notebook with leather cover

Notebooks get pretty beat up if you don’t have a cover, so I highly suggest getting one for travel.

You can also find some really cool leather covers on Etsy.

Travel Pens

My favorite pens

If you carry a notebook, then you also need a good pen.

I’ve used many different types of pens and my favorite is Pilot pens.

In particular, I love the Pilot Juice Up 04.

These pens are super reliable and don’t bleed all over the place like many other pens do.

You can also use the Juice Up refills in other pen bodies, like the Smootherpro bolt action pen that’s pictured above.

As a backup, I also carry a Pilot Birdie as my Every Day Carry (EDC) pen. It works well and and fits almost anywhere.

Headphones

TaoTronics headphones

If I’m going on a long trip, over the ear headphones are a must, especially ones with noise cancelling.

The noise cancelling feature makes it much easier to sleep on the plane.

Now you might expect that I’m going to recommend Bose headphones here, but that’s not what I use.

All Bose stuff is overpriced, in my opinion.

There are much better brands for the same money.

When I went to Costa Rica for a week, I had the opportunity to compare my TaoTronics headphones to the Bose QuietComfort headphones.

Side by side, there was a clear winner…the TaoTronics.

The QuietComforts sounded tinny.

It was a little surprising, but it reinforced my existing opinion of Bose.

The sound quality with the TaoTronics was much better, even with the noise reduction on.

I prioritize sound quality, so there’s no way that I’m going to buy something that sounds bad.

Now the Bose did have slightly better noise reduction, I’ll give it that.

But not enough to pay 6X more.

So if you’re looking for some travel headphones that have you won’t worry too much about losing or getting damaged, then I highly recommend TaoTronics.

Clothing

Here are some great clothing solutions that I’ve found useful when traveling.

Having travel specific clothing can save a lot of space and make your life easier.

Convertible Pants

If I’m going to a destination where the weather can vary a lot, convertible pants are a space saver.

I simply convert the long pants into shorts when the weather warms up.

My personal favorite is The North Face convertible pants, but there are certainly other manufacturers to consider.

Columbia makes some good convertibles too.

Money Belt

Travel belt

Having a place to stash some cash is a handy on a trip.

Sometimes you don’t want to carry all of your cash in your wallet, but you still want a fair amount available, in case you need it.

There also may be other things that you want to stash in the belt like a key.

I’ve been using a Patagonia money belt for years, but there are cheaper, and probably just as effective solutions out there.

Underwear

OK, so underwear probably isn’t the first thing you think of when packing your bags.

But it really sucks when you run out of clean underwear on a trip, so I recommend devoting a couple of minutes to sorting your underwear situation.

My favorite travel underwear is ExOfficio underwear.

What I like about this underwear is that they are durable, easy to wash and they dry quickly.

So if I cannot get to a laundry facility, I can simply hand wash them in the sink and hang them out to dry.

In a pinch, I can run them under a blow dryer in the hotel room and they are ready to wear in a couple of minutes.

That means I don’t have to carry a lot of them and I don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain and wearing wet underwear all day.

They are also very comfortable and last a long time.

Final Thoughts on a Trading Travel Setup

So that is my list of essential travel gear list for trading on the road.

Traveling light can make your journey much more pleasant. 

Having the right equipment will also help you focus better on trading because you’ll feel more like you’re at home.

One wrong trade can make your trip a lot more expensive that you ever imagined.

To see more of my travel pictures, follow me on Instagram.

 





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