Your digital nomad packing list | Which type of packer are you?
Q. 1 – You’ve just woken up and realised you’re almost late for your flight. In the rush to pack – you reach for…
- a. My laptop and passport! They’re all I need
- b. Socks, shorts, toothbrush, phone charger… WHERE IS MY TOOTHPASTE?
- c. My boarding pass! I’m already at the airport.
- d. I’m already packed. I may or may not be 5kg over the weight limit.
Q.2 – In a heartfelt moment before you leave, your friend gives you a gift to take with you. They give you…
- a. Something small and light that I can tuck away.
- b. The entire Harry Potter book collection. Because why not.
- c. A 2024/5 calendar. Because it never hurts to be prepared.
- d. Whatever it is, I’m definitely not fitting it inside my suitcase.
Q.3 – It’s been over a year since you left. Now it’s time to go home. How heavy is your suitcase?
- a. What suitcase? All I need is a backpack.
- b. Where is my suitcase?
- c. Just under the 20kg limit, by about 200 grams or so.
- d. I hope they allow 30kg checked luggage.
Your results – Is it everything you hoped for?
Well done for making it through our quiz! It seems like all of your hard work has finally paid off… Now let’s see just what type of packer you really are. Count up your answers and see which letter appeared the most. You are…
A. The Minimalist
Coffee and your laptop are all you really need. You’re a free spirit that doesn’t dwell on earthly possessions… But seriously, you live the minimalist lifestyle. You find everything else that you need in the places you visit. Socks? You can get those at the market. Toothpaste? The local convenience store has you covered. Travel adaptors? Have you ever heard of a power bank?
As a minimalist, you take things one step at a time, never troubling yourself with bringing too much. It’s much easier not having to bring checked luggage with you wherever you go. You’ve got that right.
B. The Clutterhead
If you don’t know a clutterhead, chances are that you are that friend! We completely understand, travel can be stressful, especially to countries far, far away. In a rushed frenzy, you may pack your toothbrush and the cat. We recommend giving yourself plenty of time and start packing a few days in advance to see what you need and what you’re missing.
And hey, it might just be a good thing if you do pack the cat. I’m sure they deserve a holiday at well.
C. The Planner
You’ve got everything down to a fine art. In fact, you started prepping for this trip last year. You were the first one to complete online check-in, and you can be sure that you’re the first one in the queue for boarding. As much as we might roll our eyes at our planner friends, where would we be without them? Probably frantically looking for the gate number and realising we’re in the wrong terminal.
Planners, you’re the best.
D. The Over-packer
You know, I don’t want to assume anything, but you probably don’t need 12 tubes of moisturiser for that month-long trip you’re taking to the Bahamas. I’m sure they have moisturiser there… Oh, and maybe three 5kg dumbbells might be cutting it a bit fine in the weight category…
We understand the feeling of wanting to pack up your entire home when you’re getting ready for your trip. However, we can say, with experience, that dragging 20kg+ suitcases up steep cobbled streets is the last thing you want to be doing. We recommend making a checklist of everything you’re packing. You might find yourself scratching off a few things which you don’t need after all…
Keep calm with your carry on: Packing 101
Sadly, our quiz won’t be giving out any horoscopes, however we can certainly help you be prepared for the future to come. It’s time to look at the essential gear every digital nomad needs, as well as some handy packing tips. We’ve arranged this in chronological order, with the most important items coming first.
Don’t forget to read on though, as some of the less important items might spark some ideas. Let’s get started with this truly ultimate packing list!
10 Digital Nomad Packing List Essentials
It all starts and ends with a backpack. This will be your trusty friend from the very beginning of your journey, but we didn’t need to tell you that. You may also opt for a suitcase, but we recommend bringing a backpack as well for your essentials and electronic devices. You’ll be able to keep them with you at all times, which is especially useful with the uncertainty that can arise with travel (I’m looking at you, lost checked luggage!).
So what is the best digital nomad backpack for you? We recommend getting yourself a relatively big backpack so it isn’t a hassle to fit everything in each time you move, but if you’re planning to bring a suitcase to give yourself enough space then you won’t need an oversized backpack.
2. Laptop / Macbook
Alongside your backpack in the hierarchy of friends is your laptop. Arguably more important than your backpack (sorry not sorry!), your laptop is the key to your world of work. This is the workstation that you can take wherever you wish, be it the beach or at a rooftop restaurant. I mean, sending emails atop a rooftop restaurant in Tokyo must be on someone’s bucket list, right?
For practical tips, make sure you bring/buy a laptop that has a big enough screen (approx. 15″), as this way you won’t be squinting at Microsoft Word when it comes to getting work done. We would also recommend bringing a Bluetooth mouse as well, as using the trackpad gets old really, really fast.
3. Laptop Case
Another essential item that will be part of your digital nomad luggage is a laptop case. As your laptop will most likely be your lifeline for work, you’ll want to take steps to ensure it is kept safe at all times. With all of the knocks and bumps that come from travelling, take the precaution now by getting a laptop case and you’ll thank yourself later.
You don’t have to go for anything big and bulky either – a neoprene laptop sleeve works wonders, will save space, and can easily fit inside your trusty backpack. Who said digital nomads aren’t efficient?
4. Toiletries / Toiletry bag
Ah yes, as much as we love our backpacker friends, some of them may need a little extra help in the toiletry department. It’s best to come prepared, bringing with you your toothbrush and the toiletries you need to get by. As well as bringing a toiletries bag to store everything in, remember that you can often buy all of the toiletries you need in your destination country. This way you can save space and weight not having to lug all of your toiletries around with you.
It’s time to ditch that plastic bag you’ve been using to carry your toothbrush. Toiletry bags come in all shapes and types, including from a hanging toiletry bag to barrel bags. Have a dive into the wonderful world of toiletry bags, my fellow digital nomads, you won’t regret it.
5. Power bank
When your phone dies in the middle of a twelve-hour flight with no charging outlets, what do you do? If you haven’t brought a book with you, you might be in for a rough time. Power banks come in all sizes, from providing a full charge for your phone to what could probably charge the city for a week.
A power bank with a capacity of 8,000-10,000 mAh will serve you well, you won’t have to go much higher than this. With some careful planning, you’ll be able to avoid using a power bank where possible and save it for when you really need it.
Even Tom Hanks has a loincloth in Castaway (well done if you get the reference!). But seriously, while you probably don’t need to go as barebones as a loincloth, you will need some clothes to get you by on your travels. If you’re heading away for a few weeks/months at a time, then you don’t need to bring your entire wardrobe with you, instead about a week’s worth of clothing that you can add to in your destination country.
By packing light you’ll leave extra space for other important items, and we all know just how much space clothes can take up.
7. Travel adaptors
Sadly, the world isn’t completely on the same page when it comes to electric sockets and all of their weird and wonderful forms. That being said, a travel adaptor will come in very handy if you’re planning to visit somewhere for your next trip that uses a different plug type. This is worth researching before you go – we recommend bringing an extra one or two adaptors spare when one inevitably gets lost. Hotel rooms are like black holes for forgetting travel adaptors, believe me… Or maybe it’s just me?
8. Packing cubes
If, in our revolutionary quiz that took place moments ago, you happened to find yourself as the planner packing type, then you may well know what packing cubes are. As a non-planner myself, I admit I had to do a little research in this department. Let me tell you that these packing cubes made the essential list for a reason.
Essentially small zippable bags that fit within your suitcase/backpack, packing cubes help you organise your items and pack them neatly within said suitcase/backpack. A packing cube saves space, gives you an overwhelming feeling of achievement when you successfully organise your luggage, and generally is a great boost to your packing confidence.
9. Photocopies of important documents
On a slightly more serious note, we recommend always carrying photocopies of important documents, such as your passport, insurance or visa with you, as in the very unfortunate event the real documents were to be lost, you would have a form of backup.
Again, a few minutes of your time spent preparing and printing these documents could save you a whole lot of headache in the future.
How would we pass our long journeys without these? By getting a pair of headphones with long battery life, it’ll make the journey to your destination that much easier. A 4-hour layover becomes a lot more fun when you’re blasting your favourite tunes, all without annoying the people close to you. It’s a win-win!
Travel essentials: In a nutshell
Our top 10 essential items were carefully chosen as a foundation for your digital nomad journey. From your trusty backpack to travel adaptors, selecting these items ahead of time will make your journey much more seamless.
20 More Ideas For Digital Nomads
We’ve seen the 10 essential items for digital nomads like yourself. What did you think of our list? If you’ve come this far, chances are you’re looking for even more tips, and we’re happy to indulge you. Let’s take a look at another 20 items that would be useful for digital nomads.
11. First aid kit
You don’t have to bring half a hospital with you, but bringing a few bandages and plasters can work wonders when you are on the road. From soothing a nasty blister you’ve developed to using an ice pack to cool you down, a minimalist first aid kit is well worth the investment.
What’s more, medication quality and availability can vary from country to country. Bringing quality medication such as painkillers from home is a good idea.
12. Water bottle
Rule number 1 of being a digital nomad: Don’t lose your laptop
Rule number 2: Stay hydrated!
It can be easy to forget, especially in hot countries, just how much water we need to drink in a day to stay hydrated. By carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go, you really don’t have any excuse not to keep your water levels topped up. Being a digital nomad still means being responsible for your own needs, so don’t forget to keep that bottle by your side.
13. Flip flops
Your feet will thank you when you take a step onto the beach with your flip flops on. Gone are the trainers and white socks, instead your feet are breathing the fresh, clean air…
But seriously, from using them as shower shoes to poolside shoes, flip flops are worth your time. If you’re going to a hot country, chances are there will be shops selling these, so you don’t necessarily need to bring them with you. Just don’t forget them once you’re there!
14. Portable speaker
Now we don’t imagine you’ll be travelling around with a boombox over your shoulder (although that would be a cool idea for a Youtube channel), bringing a small portable speaker is a great way to unleash your musical talent in the shower, as well as the perfect companion for when you organise a party. Cheap and reliable, a portable speaker is another good option.
15. USB cables
Although we live in the wireless age, having a USB cable can be useful more often than you think. From charging up your phone to transferring some files to another device, it’s worth bringing at least one USB cable with you. And the next time someone asks if you have one, you can be that person who says yes!
A small, pocket-sized torch can easily slip into any backpack, to be forgotten about until it’s needed down the line. You don’t have to bring a 5 million candle flashlight with you, but never underestimate the usefulness of a torch!
17. External hard drive/SSD
Nowadays, it can be tempting to leave all of our data on the cloud, however for some professions that use a lot of larger files, a physical external hard drive can be a lifesaver. If for any reason you experience technical issues with your laptop, you can rest assured that your data is secure and accessible.
A pair of sunglasses is one of those accessories that is easy to forget about until you need it. Although you can purchase sunglasses pretty much anywhere that you plan on going, it’s worth bringing a pair that you like for peace of mind.
In many ways, smartphones have come along so far that you can take most photos with your phone. For the photo junkies out there who are looking for the sharpest image, then bringing a camera can be a good idea.
So you might not be planning on directing the next Hollywood blockbuster, but a small tripod can actually come in pretty handy. From video conferences with clients to setting up the perfect Instagram shot, a collapsible tripod can be very, very useful.
When staying at a communal hostel dorm or taking your luggage on a flight, it’s a good practice to bring with you a padlock for your luggage just in case. You’ll feel safer knowing that your valuable items are locked away when you’re not there.
22. Rain cover
Covering your bags when it rains is a must, especially if you carry important equipment such as a laptop. These covers provide a waterproof casing for your items, keeping them safe and dry if you ever get caught in the rain.
Many digital nomads may look at a pen and think, “what exactly is that?!” However, if you ever want to take some brief notes, or need to fill in any forms, it helps to have a pen to spare.
Going hand in hand with your trusty pen is a notebook! Record the day’s events or just write whatever is on your mind. Keeping a notebook and a diary can be a great way of grounding yourself on your travels, helping you look after yourself.
25. Neck pillow
A neck pillow helps you get through those long and uncomfortable journeys, often where sleep seems impossible due to the position you are sitting. An inflatable neck pillow is an added level of convenience, as it can easily fold away within your backpack for when you need it.
26. Ear plugs
Small and easy to tuck away in your backpack, ear plugs are a great addition to every traveller’s packing list. Whether you are planning to stay at a hostel or are staying at accommodation close to a main road, it’s a good idea to come prepared just in case.
27. HDMI cable
Watching Netflix is best on the big screen. HDMI cables are incredibly useful, easily connect to your laptop and allow you to kick back with that tub of ice cream when you want to take some me-time.
Anyone who has spent too long in the sun can attest to the fact that sunburn is no fun at all. In major cases, sunburn can put you out of action for days, which is the last thing you want when visiting a new country. What’s more, the quality of sunscreen can vary from country to country, so it’s worth bringing a couple of bottles from your home country from a brand you trust.
29. A hat
Keep your head cool and out of the sun with a comfortable hat. Similar to sunscreen, this protection is important to help prevent dreaded sunburn and heatstroke. Lastly, not only does it provide shade, but you’ll really rock the traveller look, which is great for Instagram, right?
30. Travel money
While it’s very easy to pay with card in many countries, depending on where you visit this may not be the case. We recommend shopping around for a good exchange rate and establishing a small emergency fund if nothing else.
#Tip: Better exchange rates can often be had if you bring your home currency to your chosen destination and exchange the money there. We always recommend you do your research first.
Travel and health insurance
Purchasing travel insurance prior to your trip is something we highly recommend. From lost baggage to theft, unfortunate circumstances can happen, so it is best to be prepared for it. This is also the same when it comes to health insurance. You want to make sure you are covered to receive care should it be required.
Comparatively speaking to costly medical bills and lost items, travel and health insurance is an inexpensive alternative that can save you additional headaches in the future.
Always check to see which required or recommended vaccinations there are for your chosen country. You’ll also need to receive the vaccinations a few weeks before the trip, so plan accordingly.