Headed out on your first excursion as a digital nomad and not sure what to pack? I’ve been there!
Figuring out what to bring with you can be totally overwhelming.
You want to travel light, but you also aren’t exactly “vacationing”, so you have to make sure that you have everything you need to lead a comfortable and productive life.
To get you started, here’s my list of essential items that accompany me regardless of my destination.
I hope it will help you as you prepare to set out on your next big adventure!
This backpack is the ultimate travel companion! Not only is it cute, but at 25 liters, it’s also the perfect size to use both as a daypack and as your personal item on an airplane.
Beyond aesthetics, what really makes this backpack stand out is the many security features it’s equipped with, including:
Cute, safe and durable… what more could you want in a backpack?
While it’s nice to think that nobody would dare raid your personal belongings, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Plus, if you’ll be staying in hostels or going to the gym, these really come in handy. While in Asia, I noticed that several lockers didn’t have a gap wide enough to fit a traditional combination lock, but TSA locks were always small enough to get the job done!
Packing cubes are great for staying organized, especially when you are staying somewhere for a short period of time or when you don’t have the space to unpack completely.
I use packing cubes to separate my clothes by category (see my carry-on only packing tips here) so that I can quickly find what I’m looking for without tearing apart my entire suitcase. They’re also useful for compressing clothes so that they take up less space.
This is a great way to keep your cosmetics and hygiene products organized but compact. I really underestimated how valuable the hook would be, especially when you’re staying in hostels or small spaces with limited storage, so that you can hang the bag on a door or towel rack and easily find what you’re looking for.
This carry-on is a recent addition to my packing list, but so far I’m loving it!
The suitcase is very light which is important when trying to keep the weight of your bag below airlines’ teensy carry-on weight limits.
It’s split into two separate sections which is helpful for keeping your bag organized and has a built-in TSA approved lock.
The AirTag is an indispensable travel companion for digital nomads. This small yet powerful device offers peace of mind with its cutting-edge tracking technology that helps ensure the safety and security of your belongings. Attach it to your backpack, luggage, or any other valuable item, and you can easily keep track of its location through the Find My app on your iPhone or iPad.
The AirTag is particularly valuable when it comes to tracking checked luggage during air travel. By securely attaching an AirTag to your bag, you can easily monitor its whereabouts and quickly determine if it made it onto the correct flight or if it was mistakenly misplaced. The AirTag’s reliable tracking technology ensures that you stay informed and can swiftly locate your belongings, even in bustling airports or during connecting flights.
Perhaps THE most essential item for a digital nomad – the very tool that enables you to make money while being location independent – a laptop! I personally favor Macs, but really any laptop will do as long as it suits your business needs.
Another essential tool for digital nomads – your map, your translator, your camera, your taxi-hailer – your drumrolllll pleasssse smartphone!
Before setting out on your trip you’ll want to make sure that your phone is compatible with SIM cards in the country you are traveling to and that it is unlocked (meaning that it can be used with any mobile service provider).
As a digital nomad, you sometimes have to work in spaces that can be loud or chaotic. My Airpod Pros really help me get in the zone, tune out the outside world, and stay focused on the work at hand.
They are wireless, noise-cancelling and have a quick-charge feature which provides one hour of listening time after only 5 minutes in the charging case.
Their size also makes them super convenient to carry around without taking up much of your precious, limited luggage space!
When you’re traveling as a digital nomad, you may have to work in a variety of different spaces, some of which may not be ideal.
All of these items, used in conjunction with my Macbook Pro, allow me to create a more traditional workstation feel (that’s a lot more anatomy-friendly!) no matter where I am.
As someone who has suffered WAY too many freak computer accidents, having my files backed up on an external hard drive is critical to my business.
The external hard drive comes in handy whenever you find yourself without easy access to the internet, and it’s also nice to know that your files are in your possession if, god forbid, your cloud-based account(s) were ever to be hacked.
What and how much you should pack will vary based on where you’re going, when you’re going, and what kind of activities you’ll be doing.
So, instead of telling you the specifics of what to bring, I wrote another post all about how to travel carry-on only which covers my guidelines for packing clothing and beauty products.
In the meantime, here are a few items that I never leave home without:
A lady traveler’s best friend. Why? Because it’s not just a scarf… it’s your blanket on a cold airplane, your knapsack when you need somewhere to put your wet bikini, a makeshift skirt when you come across an unexpected temple while trekking around in Asia but are scandalously baring your knees.
Seriously. No matter where I’m headed in the world, a scarf is one of my must-have items!
NEVER in my life did I think I’d own a pair of Crocs. Also never did I think I’d see the word sexy (or *ahem* “sexi”) and crocs used side by side, but alas, life is full of surprises!
I love these shoes!
They’re super versatile which is invaluable when you’re working with limited luggage space and need shoes that can work in a variety of contexts.
They’re comfortable even when walking long distances and provide great arch support.
AND they’re made out of a durable material that’s really easy to clean.
Basically, all of the things that you need in a shoe as a digital nomad!
Although I lost my first pair in an unfortunate tubing snafu on the Wang river, I’m convinced they are otherwise indestructible!
Fanny packs are the perfect for those moments where you’re out and about exploring and a backpack or purse are too bulky or inconvenient.
Its lightweight design adds minimal bulk while providing maximum convenience. With its multiple compartments and pockets, it provides ample space for storing your phone, wallet, keys, sunglasses, and other small items.
Whether you’re exploring a new city, embarking on a hiking expedition, or simply running errands, it’s the perfect accessory to keep your essentials secure, organized, and easily accessible.
Like clothing, this largely comes down to where you’re traveling, what you’ll be doing, and personal preferences. HOWEVER, there are a few items that I always make sure to have on hand whenever I take off from the good ‘ol US of A.
After a long flight or a hot day of exploring, these things are lifesavers! They effectively get rid of shine and oil without smudging makeup or leaving behind any kind of residue. Best of all, they were made to be used on-the-go and will easily fit into a wristlet or handbag.
This is a relatively new addition to my packing list, but so far I’m pretty impressed! This set comes with a mini 3/4″ hair straightener (with a handy, extra long plug-in cord), a mini 1000W hair dryer, a mini 1″ curling iron and a travel bag.
The main selling points for these is that they are dual voltage so they can be used anywhere in the world without a converter, and they are small enough to pack easily.
While I admit that, as a long-haired gal, working with mini-sized tools can be a challenge, the quality and convenience is high enough that I still think this is worth the few extra minutes it takes me to do my hair in the morning.
At $3 a pop, these are my go to makeup wipes both when at home and on the road. I’ve tried several brands – many that are double the price – and these are by far my favorite!
This has been my go-to moisturizer for a while. The full-size bottle is TSA compliant, so you can keep it in your carry-on bag to keep your skin feeling refreshed between destinations. Also, I love that it makes life easy by including SPF.
THIS. IS. MAGIC. Ever since I discovered this product a few years ago, I’ve been obsessed. A few sprays of this and your makeup is bulletproof. Sweat, swimming, humidity – it can handle it all!
While the full-size version is too big to bring in a carry-on bag, they also offer a mini size. I usually just transfer it to my own smaller spray bottles for travel.
I am in LOVE with my Hydro Flask! While more expensive than your average water bottle, these are well worth handing over the extra cash.
Hydro Flasks can keep beverages cold for 24 hours (perfect for a day spent hiking) or hot for 6 hours. They don’t sweat so you can easily toss it in your bag without having to worry about it getting your other things wet. They’re extremely durable, BPA free, AND they come with a lifetime warranty.
From the office, to the gym, to treks through the woods, I’ve been lugging mine everywhere for the past few years and it hasn’t disappointed me yet!
Towels are one of those things that are essential but most take up WAY too much precious space in your carry-on. Microfiber towels are awesome because they are super compact and quick-drying! These are perfect for throwing in your bag when you head to the beach or if you find yourself staying at an airbnb only to discover the host doesn’t provide towels.
I bought a set of two of these before taking off for Thailand and they came in handy even more than I expected! From white water rafting, to snorkeling, to more casual shots on the beach, having one of these is great for when you want to capture snapshots of your epic water adventures without destroying your phone in the process.
This bag is perfect for those times when a regular backpack or handbag is too much or simply doesn’t suit the occasion (sand in my purse? No thank you!). It folds down nicely when not in use, so it’s easy to tuck away in your carry-on bag until you need it.
Because you never know when you’re going to find yourself trapped in a public bathroom with no toilet paper (Hint: Pretty much EVERYWHERE in Asia).
The magic lies in its simplicity. A single battery charge can last for weeks, there’s no screen glare so you can easily take it to the beach or the park without any issues, and it has a built-in adjustable light, so that if you want to read while on an overnight flight or bus ride, you can do so without disturbing your neighbor.
Honestly, these days a smartphone is enough for most people to capture photos and videos of their travels. However, if you need high quality footage for your business or hobbies, I recommend the Cannon Powershot G7 X Mark III.
It produces really high quality photos and videos while being travel-friendly. It’s about as good as it gets before upgrading to a DSLR camera which takes up significantly more space and requires a lot of additional gear.
The JOBY GorillaPod is easier to pack than a traditional tripod and, with its flexible legs, it’s adaptable to many different environments so that you can set up the perfect shot without having to rely on the skills of random tourists.
These are essential as many of the locations you visit will likely have different power outlets than your home country. I recommend getting both a smaller adapter for use out and about in places where there are limited available outlets, and another one that is a little more robust for charging all of your devices at home.
A travel must-have! Nothing is more anxiety-inducing than being in transit to a new country where you don’t speak the language with a phone on 5% battery and no power outlets in sight.
This is where having an external battery on hand saves the day!
I like to carry two sizes, one that is larger and can handle multiple full charges (like the one pictured above) and another smaller one that can easily fit into a wristlet.
This thing comes with some major travel perks, including:
You can view the full list of benefits here.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a good starter credit card to use on your journey, this is it!
This debit card is amazing because it allows you to use nearly any ATM in the world with zero ATM fees (You may see an additional charge on your account at first, but Charles Schwab reimburses any incurred fees at the end of the month).
If you’re traveling out of the country, nothing brings greater peace of mind than travel insurance. I like World Nomads because they cover a wide range of emergencies including trip delays, health issues, and stolen items
My list of must-have items no mater where I’m at in this lovely world of ours.
While the thought of fitting everything you need to live for months at a time in nothing more than a backpack and carry-on may still seem daunting – never fear!
The more you travel, the more you will be able to hone in on what items bring you the most value and perfect the art of living life on the road.
What’s on your list of must-have items? Have any recommendations for worthy additions to my list? Let me know in the comments below!
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