Being a digital nomad doesn't mean packing for vacation, it's a lifestyle. You are packing for forever or at least a very long time. It's important you have everything you need to make working and traveling the world possible. Here is my packing list for life as a digital nomad.
Travel Adapter. This is essential for keeping your gadgets charged and having a back up wouldn't hurt either. This is the exact one I have. It has lasted me over a year so far, so for the price, it's well worth it. Note: This is an adapter. An adapter will make sure your plug can fit into an outlet and a converter will do the electric conversions. Without a converter you risk overheating your gadgets. Most Mac's already have a converter attached to the charging cord.
GoPro HERO5 7 Black. Before my journey as a digital nomad I couldn't decide between a DSLR or a GoPro. I opted for a DSLR, thinking that I wanted "great quality shots". As much as I do get those shots, the DSLR isn't very practical for traveling. It's heavy, takes up a lot of space and most times it's too big to just casually carry around. It also isn't great for capturing "cool" videos. When I was scootering around Koh Phangan, Thailand, all I wanted was a cool video of the incredible, breathtaking views I would see just on a ride into town. Strapping a DLSR to a scooter is impractical and a GoPro would have been perfect. Also, when you visit places that don't allow you to take photos, or you're in a location or spot where you need to be sneaky about taking photos, a GoPro is a great option. The GoPro isn't in my budget yet but it's certainly on my list of things to get.
Amazon Kindle. I traveled with a bunch of books for almost half a year until I finally gave into the kindle. Books take up a lot of space and add unnecessary weight to your suitcase. As much as I love actual paper books, where you can flip through the pages, they just aren't practical for life on the road.
Apple Wireless Mouse. The less cords you have, the better. It's easier and it takes up less space.
Unlocked cell phone (with lots of space!). An unlock cell phone will ensure you can pop in a local sim card and even use your phone as a hot spot if need be. The rates in Canada and the US are way too high. In Canada there is a new law that limits the fee cell phone provider can charge you for unlocking your cell phone (around $50). If you are from the United States, you can do this online for a cheaper price than your cell phone providers. Also, make sure your cell phone has lots of memory! I use my cell phone from pre-digital nomad life, and in that pre-digital nomad life I didn't need as much space on my phone. It's hard now because I have to be very particular about what apps I download (that help tremendously while traveling) and always have limited room for photos. You will thank me for this one later.
Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones. These are amazing. It's good to have these when taking calls. It also helps to block out sounds when you are trying to focus, because let's face it, you could literally end up working anywhere.
Global 4G LTE Global Hotspot. This is a good backup to have, to ensure you can always get online. Given the internet is the lifeline of being a digital nomad, it's important you can get internet access, especially in those not so reliable areas.
Apple MacBook Air. I like my Apple MacBook Air - it's lightweight and works well. Keep in mind Apple store aren't available around the globe, however repairs shops usually are. If you can afford an iPad as a back up (in case your computer dies) that would be good too. I can speak from experience and from others I've travelled with that it's absolutely possible for your laptop to die on you.
Chargers (camera, computer and phone) Just a reminder!
Ziploc Freezer Bags. If I had to pick one 'must bring travel item', it would be this. These are amazing for organizing smaller items in your suitcase and are especially good for toiletries that might spill. These, along with the packing cubes that I list below, make it easy to pack and unpack on the road. I even sort items in my carry on this way, to make digging down to the bottom of my bag easier. 'Freezer' versions are even better because they are thicker and more durable.
Cable Organizer. As a digital nomad you will work from many cafes, coworking spaces and hotels. You will aways be on the go with your technology and this makes it easy to keep things organized - you can easily find what you need and it helps in packing/unpacking quickly.
Packing Cubes. Again, this is one of my must bring travel items. I can't stress how much of an amazing investment these have been. It makes traveling so much easier and organized than having piles of clothes sprawled throughout a suitcase or backpack.
This is based on my "chase-summer" lifestyle. The biggest consideration here is to think about how often you want to do laundry and weight restrictions for airplane luggage. You will have to revise this depending on the weather of where you are.
2-4 shirts (t-shirts & tank tops)
2 pairs of shorts
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of leggings (for girls), 1 pair of khakis (for guys)
1-2 pairs of pj's
10 pairs of underwear (really depends how often you want to do laundry)
2 bras, plus 1 sports bra
4 pairs of socks (1 pair of black)
1 blanket scarf. This is PERFECT for travel days and really versatile.
1 workout outfit
1 semi-formal outfit
1-2 'going out' outfits (whether to dinner or a bar)
1 business outfit (blazer, black dress pants or professional short dress)
2 bathing suits
1 pair of sunglasses
1 pair of flip flops. Note: I find Birkenstocks too heavy for travel. If you aren't doing too much walking just go with a simple sandal
1 pair of regular shoes or running shoes. I prefer TOMS because they are versatile and really reliable. Mine have been to over 14 countries and have lasted me over 3 or 4 years.
Some not so essential items: nicer sandals/shoes, rompers, jumpers, maxi dresses, kimonos, summer dresses
My favourite must have travel items to pack:
I used to think a travel pillow, ear plugs and a sleep mask were for "ritzy" travellers but I couldn't be more wrong. When you are travelling non-stop or find yourself sleeping in less than ideal environments, these items can go a long way towards getting a sound sleep. Here are some more items essential for the digital nomad who is always on the road.
Travel Pillow. I opted out of the inflatable travel pillow for more comfort. Although this style takes up more room, I have a small carabiner attached to the tag of my travel pillow so I can easily clip it to my carry on/backpack. That being said, make sure your pillow has a loop or clip for a carabiner. That way you can just clip it to your carry on bag. You can also add one yourself.
Portable Luggage Scale. For this one, it's important the scale 'locks' in the weight so you can read it after you set your luggage back down. Being on the move a lot, I think this is an important travel item. It's worth the investment simply with the costs you will save from not going over the suitcase weight limit - the prices can be crazy high if you go over!
Eye Mask for Sleeping. My sleep mask has a small flap over the nose to ensure ALL the light gets blocked out. A cheap and simple one will do.
Ear Plugs. I can sleep when it's loud out, but if you can't you might want ear plugs as well.
Microfibre, Fast Dry, Travel Towel. These are amazing! They are so compact, lightweight and dry really fast! For the small amount of space this takes up in my suitcase, I'm happy I brought it.
Travel Umbrella. This is really nice to have. However, if you travel during rainy season, you'll probably just opt for the poncho.
Waterproof Backpack Cover. My backpack takes forever to dry. I've been really happy about having this as a travel investment. This is great for daily use and hiking. It folds up nice and small, so it's easy to keep in your backpack for whenever you need it.
Face wash and moisturizer (that sort of stuff)
Hair and Makeup
Make up (hey, it's on my list)
Travel/Mini hair dryer or buy a local one when you get there. Chances are the voltage is off and if you use an adapter it's just like someone blowing on you (aka no power).
Travel/Mini straightener. If I travel short-term I can go without, but as a digital nomad this is a nice luxury that I am glad to travel with. After 7 months on the road I actually even miss my curling iron too, it's crazy how much a simple curling iron can make you feel more dressed up/back to "normal" life lol. I may also add my straightener died on me months ago so I've been bumming off my roommate and using her travel one.
Glasses, Contact, Contact Solution (Note: contact solution can be hard to find in some countries)
Basic meds for headaches, stomach aches, nausea, and cough/cold/flu.
My essentials are: Tylonel, Pepto Bismol, Gravol, Buckleys
A copy of important documents with you and with a trusted person at home
Two debit cards and two credit cards (in case they get lost, stolen, or compromised - which will happen)
Updated IDs, Health Documents or copies of prescriptions
Is there something you would add to this list as well? Let me know in the comments section below!
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