Packing is an art form that takes experience and thought to perfect. You will know you hit the perfect balance mark if you go on your travels without extra hassles and mishaps. Leaving home with a limited supply of what you take with you can make or break your travel experience. I tend to work everywhere I travel, so I am locked to specific gear no matter how adventurous my travels may be. Let’s explore some packing tips for the digital nomad.
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First thing first! It would be best if you had a good idea of where you will travel to or through. Be it smaller aircraft, airline policy, or country policy weight limits. These could drive a clear maximum weight limit that you should have in mind for your luggage. These could be per person or weighted together as a total for your party.
Further considerations may also be bag limits. It is vital to research these as these are the clear limitations you must work with. Some limits can be waived by paying extra. Sometimes, they cannot. Due to this, I have seen people need to throw away some of their luggage.
Minimalistic Boiler Plate
Being a digital nomad, you will have an essential set of boilerplate items that you’ll take with you to take care of your digital needs. So let’s explore what I generally take on each trip. At least as minimalist as I can get.
- Laptop and its charger, not everyone gets a choice here, but prefer a small, lightweight laptop. I tend to travel with a Microsoft Surface Book just fine, which is a touch heavy.
- Headphones or audio devices, when you are on the go, not everyone wants to hear what you are up to.
- Two Universal travel adapters with USB ports allow you to go anywhere, charge your electronics, and plug in your gear. Two is super handy. I can’t count the times we had limited time to charge and maximized all the ports to charge before going out again.
- Two short USB C cords per person. Short because it saves on weight, I’ve rarely needed long cords, but you can add one if needed. Short cords tend to work easier on planes too. Bring extra cords for your custom setup (Apple gear, legacy USB cords, etc.). I prefer shorter cords.
- Lightweight, portable battery. Consider this optional. I haven’t needed it as often in many of our trips, but on occasion, it is a natural saver to have on you, and your phone is running out of battery.
- A way to get money where ever you go. This is a must. I am not a big believer in making money with you to where you go. It may save some costs in exchange rates and such, but regardless, you never want to be in foreign lands and be out of money. Also, IF you keep all your money on you and it is stolen, you are in a bad situation. Debit cards today allow you to pull money from many international ATMs with zero transaction fees, such as the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account.
- Thin and lightweight bags separate sections of your luggage to make it easy to move around and organize on the go.
Wheeled Luggage & Suitable Backpack
Despite standard advice I see from many others, I recommend bringing wheeled luggage. Perhaps my wife and I are more on the adventurous edge than some. Many times we go off-grid and need to store our electronics somewhere while we are out for a few days backpacking, on a small vessel, or somewhere not friendly for electronic equipment. A wheeled suitcase is needed to store all your sensitive equipment so you can pack just what you need to get out. Many hotels will store these for free or for some small charge if you ask. If all else fails, some businesses can be found where it is common for travelers to need to leave equipment behind for safekeeping.
With that said, your backpack should be less streamlined for being a nice laptop carrying case and more for the ruggedness of your adventure. I prefer hiking bags because they support more weight ergonomically and have the utility I need for anything that comes up. Of course, we can often rent gear too if under-prepared, but having your backpack in order will make your life easier as a good backpack fit is not always easy.
Clothing Considerations For The Digital Nomad
My simple rule is to plan for a week’s worth of clothing. This should include a lightweight base layer and underwear. A week is generally a good amount as you will find somewhere to wash your clothes by then. In addition, you can wash your clothes yourself as you go in showers. If your base layer is not cotton and generally quick dry, it can be washed at night, squeezed, and dry by morning. The rest of your clothing tends to get washed less or is harder to wash.
An additional consideration is to bring a lightweight hardshell that is heavy wind and water resistant. This can save your bacon in many cases, and they are lightweight and compact. It is often more important in less warm or volatile climates away from the equator. You may also consider bringing a lightweight insulation layer for colder environments, which will help you keep warm.
One nice thing about traveling to warmer climates is that clothes concerns are less of an issue. Clothes tend to be much lighter, and requirements are much smaller. There is a much bigger topic here of breaking down clothing requirements needed for every climate, which would explode this article, but hopefully, these quick tips will give you a good baseline.
Customize From Here!
Depending on where you are going and what you see, you need to customize it for your needs. Some folk like to take professional photographer equipment, more gadgets to make remote work more accessible, and other comfort items. Mountaineering, hiking, scuba gear, etc., all have space and weight requirements to consider on how they fit into your bags. With weight limits, you can fill in the remaining weight flexibility from here! It is always good to leave extra room in your bag, though, as I occasionally buy souvenirs and you’ll want the room to take it back with you!
If you found this article helpful, check out our cornerstone article that will help you start planning your next trip!