Thursday, 18 September 2014

Traveling Day Trader Toolkit

Traveling can be fun but also stressful when you want to continue trading and you lack the essential tools.  What's "essential" depends on your lifestyle, trading style, and personal preference.  Here are mine:

Internet connection -  If you're from North America you take it for granted, but start traveling to Europe or South East Asia and it's not as easy as connecting at your hotel or internet café.   The first thing I do when landing in a new country is to purchase a SIM Card with a good internet package. These days you can get 7 days for like $10 and monthly packages for about $30.  You get a local telephone number as well which is handy and you can tether (share) your internet connection from your Smartphone with your Laptop, Tablet, or other devices.  Personally I prefer a laptop and use an Asus Zenfone 5 just because it's inexpensive, fairly robust, and works well.  The Samsung Note 2 I found great for a while, nice big screen, but costly and it broke easy.  And quite frankly it made me overconfident when trading.  Charts after all look different on a Computer versus your Smartphone.   It also has 2 SIM slots so I can have my "home" SIM card from Thailand and my "travel" SIM card connected at the same time should I choose to.  Last but not least I find mobile carriers' internet connections more secure then some overused WiFi hotspot that everyone and their shady friends have access to.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) or simply put a dedicated computer that is hosted somewhere in the world and you connect to with RDC (Remote Desktop Connection) for me is a must have.  Once you enter your Server IP Address, username, and password, it looks and feels like your desktop but in fact you are connected to a machine elsewhere in the world that will run 24x7 without major disruptions.  You could try running a computer at home.  I had 6 machines at once running to backtest some strategies, however speaking from experience, if you have a computer at your home, it will either crash, reboot, update, or loose your internet connection, or worse shut down due to a power failure or spike, at the absolutely worst time.  A VPS can run you from $10 to $30 a month and gives you piece of mind and a platform that  is always on.  Plus if you have a slow internet connection, you can still "display" your charts and MetaTrader Trading Platform at slow speeds while the hosted machine is connected to live data at high speed.

Laptop - Sure you can trade on your phone, and sometimes that is all you can work with, but there comes a time that your laptop simply gives you a perspective of your charts that a mobile phone or tablet can't.  For me it's also a matter of convenience.  I like a real keyboard.  Decent size screen, like 13 inches.  And a very fast processor and lots of memory.  In addition I like to surf the web, do research, keep in touch with family and friends, and watch TV Shows & Movies.   I have a second Backup Laptop in case my favorite laptop crashes and I need to get it serviced.  I don't carry it with me, but sometimes on short trips I take my cheaper and slightly smaller laptop with me to save space. Or when I'm going on a trip where I won't be trading I take it for surfing and research.   In addition I have a Media Player Laptop that I traded for a Samsung Camera I wasn't using.  It's older, runs Windows 7 and has 4GB of RAM so it'll do for watching TV and Movies.   This media player laptop might be overkill and not "essential" but to me it's a great addition at "home" when I'm not travelling, and, you guessed it, it's yet another backup laptop in the event I need one.

Tripadvisor - A great travel website where you can check out local attractions and hotel reviews. is another great website for hotels. SkyScanner is great for finding flight deals.  Last minute or based on solely dates and departure, so you can see what's cheap this weekend or what flights from your current location or maybe your location next week are on sale.    Why is this important for a Trader?  Well first off all you should look at finding a quiet hotel, preferably with a desk or table.  You don't want to end up in some cockroach hotel next to a busy road where you can't sleep at night which will affect your trading.  And when you have downtown, and as a trader, you have ALOT of downtime, you can go exploring the city.

Forex Market Hours - It's easy to get your time zones mixed up when you start traveling or living somewhere other than GMT, ET, or North America for that fact.   Then there is Daylight Savings Time which isn't observed in Thailand for example, so it's always good to get your bearings and figure out when sessions start in your time zone, or soon to be time zoon you are traveling too.  does a great job of displaying the sessions.   You can also add additional clocks to your Windows Clock, and of course you can add the Session start/end times to your Google Calendar which will display in your current time zone.

Forex Factory - Be sure to put Forex Factory on your Smartphone and adjust your time zone when you travel so you can see news event times in your current local time.

Broker Contact Information - In the event you need to call in to cancel Pending Orders or set Stop Losses or Take Profits manually because you can't connect to the internet or your account, have your broker's contact information in your phone.  Google Contacts is great as it syncs between all your Android Devices.   Another reason to have a VPS in the event there is something wrong with your internet or trading platform (MetaTrader).

Some other items you might want to consider:
  • Powerbank for your Smartphone if you intend to use your phone a lot.  Take pictures on that hop on / hop off bus tour, and check your trades, upload some pix to Instagram and before you know it you are down to 10%.  The nice thing about a powerbank is that you can use it for all your USB chargers and don't have to thumble between batteries or remember to charge yoru second battery.   In fact you can charge your powerbank and your phone at your hotel at the same time. BTW some hotels cut the power when you leave the room so don't expect to charge devices or keep your computer running while sight seeing.    Expect to only charge your device(s) when you are sleeping.
  • Dropbox - The cloud is fantastic for backups, including frequently used files for your Forex Trading, of course it's good for your pictures from your travels too.   If you have a VPS or backup computer it's easy to share files and god forbid if something happens to your laptop while on the road, you can log in to the website and view/retrieve your files.  Should you have to install a new computer you can easily restore all your forex related files too.  Like notes, trading log, indicators, etc.  Shameless add for FREE space:
  • Copies of Important Documents like your Passport, Drivers License, and International Drivers License.  Use Dropbox to store a softcopy and share with a family member just in case.
  • Apropos International Drivers License, get one in your home country and see about getting a  10 year one if you intend to travel for a long time or become an Expat.   I have my Thai Drivers License (Motorcycle and Car) now.  Having an international drivers license also makes it easier to get local drivers licenses.
  • Wifi Extender / Hotspot - in the rare event that you have a wired connection in your hotel room then you can use a device such as the D-Link DIR 506L to create a Wifi hotspot, with added security.   I only used it a few times but when I have a wired connection and Wifi is lousy then this sure is a life saver.
  • USB Dongle for Ethernet Connection - most laptops nowadays are Wifi only and don't let you plug into a wired connection.  A $10 USB dongle lets you connect your laptop if you need to.
  • Mobile Hotspot - if you intend to stay for a longer period of time then you might want to see about getting a Mobile Hotspot from a local wireless company.  You can get USB Sticks for your laptop or small device that broadcasts a Wifi signal.   I had one for a short period but now that I am renting a house long term I have a wired internet connection from the local internet provider which is of course faster.   Having a mobile hotspot is a good backup too.  I still use my phone's internet as backup but might consider getting a mobile wifi hotspot soon.  In monsoon season internet can be spotty and in the event of a power outage you can always rely on Mobile Internet. 
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones - I can't travel for too long, be it by air or bus, without these.   Also good for some quiet time when in a busy lounge or just wanting to relax.  Makes trading more fun to crank up tunes and not hear any crying babies or superficial chatter.