Heading off on your digital nomad adventure? Before heading off on our own travels, we always make a list of everything we need to pack. That said, while checking out your standard travel packing list or backpacking packing list may suffice, the reality is that digital nomads require some of their own unique essentials that other travelers may not even think about.

After nomad-ing around the world for the past couple of years, we have whittled down our absolute non-negotiables whenever we head off to a new country. These are digital nomad essentials we ALWAYS pack – no matter where we go.

These are just the absolute essentials, so if you’re looking for a more thorough list, check out our digital nomad packing list.

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Our 13 Digital Nomad Essentials

digital nomad essentials

In no particular order, here are the essentials we always pack when we are on our digital nomad adventures. We couldn’t survive this lifestyle without these must-haves!

1. Backpack

While we still aren’t sure if we prefer a backpack over a suitcase or vice versa, we have been traveling with backpacks for the past couple of years as digital nomads. There are many backpacks out there that are built specifically for the digital nomad in mind, making sure to insert a cushy laptop sleeve and multiple compartments, which we love! We are personally traveling with the Osprey 55L Farpoint or Fairview, which comes with a detachable 15L daypack.

Check out our full list of the best backpacks for digital nomads if you don’t have one of your already.

2. Laptop and Accessories

Of course, an absolute non-negotiable as a digital nomad is a laptop (and all of its accessories). I mean, how are you going to work to afford travel otherwise?

On top of the laptop, you’ll need to bring a laptop charger and a laptop sleeve and/or case. Also, bring any other laptop accessories that you deem necessary for your work, such as an external mouse.

Head over to our list of the best digital nomad laptops for our top recommendations.

3. Travel Insurance

Here’s the thing: no one is invincible. The reality is that no matter how healthy you are, you never know what may happen. And in case you lose your bag, sprain an ankle, or, god forbid, need an emergency treatment of some sort, travel insurance can give you that peace of mind that you’re covered in case of travel emergencies.

In terms of travel insurance, we use SafetyWing. SafetyWing is cheap, easy to use, and flexible. Plus, customer support is always super responsive, thanks to the live chat box. SafetyWing works like a subscription, meaning you can start and end it whenever you want. While it’s not the most extensive travel or medical insurance available out there, we find SafetyWing to be sufficient for most digital nomads like us! And you simply can’t beat the price of $56.28 a month (without US coverage).

4. Universal Adaptor

Since we’re always traveling from country to country, a piece of technology we always bring with us is a universal adaptor. In fact, if you’ve got space, bring more than one! At the very least, you’ll need one for your phone and another for your laptop.

On top of this, one travel hack we learned recently that we’ve been taking advantage of is bringing an extension cord with multiple outlets. This has honestly been a game-changer for us!

5. Power Bank

The advantage of being a digital nomad is always being somewhere absolutely stunning. And that means constantly taking photos and videos to commemorate your travels. Of course, this means that your phone battery is likely to run out faster than usual. For those moments, a power bank comes in super handy.

We always pack a power bank with us in our day pack if we know we’re going to be out of our house all day.

6. Cloud Storage or External Hard Drive

Whether you pick cloud storage or an external hard drive is totally up to you. But since you’ll be taking thousands of photos and videos of your travels, you’re going to want to back it all up, as your phone and/or camera won’t be able to hold it all. We recently updated our Google storage to 100GB, but another popular cloud storage option is iCloud.

Alternatively, you can go old-school with a physical external hard drive. This way, you don’t have to rely on the internet to access all your files.

7. eSIM

Probably one of our favorite new discoveries in the past year is the eSIM. Thanks to the eSIM, we no longer have to spend the whole first day in a new country trying to figure out how to get a local SIM card. Instead, you’re already connected from the moment you touch down at the airport. This makes getting to your accommodation and navigating a foreign country so much easier!

We have tried a couple of different eSIMs over time, but we personally love Airalo. Airalo tends to have much more affordable prices than other eSIM options out there. In fact, they often have deals that make their eSIMS even cheaper than local SIM cards, if that’s even possible! Plus, if you are planning on hopping around from country to country a lot, they’ve got global eSIMs as well as regional eSIMs to make your life so much easier.

8. Comfortable Shoes

Do not underestimate a good pair of comfortable travel shoes! With the unpaved roads, dusty sidewalks, and cobblestones you frequently encounter as you travel the world, you’ll find that a pair of comfy shoes will really make a difference. While we’re all for packing a pair or two of something fancier, do NOT skimp on or forget those comfortable shoes. Your feet and ankles will thank you for it!

9. Travel Credit Cards and Accounts

If you really want to “hack” travel, take advantage of the variety of travel credit cards and accounts out there. First things first, get a Revolut account and debit card. This travel debit card offers currency exchange for free. Yep – you read that right! While most banks will generally have a 1-3% markup, Revolut transparently exchanges your money with the mid-market rate.

You’ll also want to get a Wise account. Wise is the best way to send money from your home bank account to an international bank account. Just like Revolut, Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate. They only charge a small fee to send your money to an international account. This is how we send rent money.

Finally, you’ll also want to have the right credit cards in your arsenal. Here are the two essentials in our opinion:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – $95 per year – No foreign transaction fees, 5x points on travel, 3x points on dining, 1:1 point transfer, etc.
  • Capital One Venture X – $395 per year – $300 annual travel credit, 10,000 miles anniversary bonus, airport lounge access, 10x miles on hotels and rental cars, 5x miles on flights booked, 2x miles on other purchases.

10. Packing Cubes

We purchased our first set of packing cubes just a couple of years ago, and we haven’t looked back since. Packing cubes are a super easy way to pack up your clothes and keep everything organized. We each have packing cubes for underwear and socks, tops, pants, sweaters, and other clothing items, which helps keep everything tidy and organized.

11. VPN

A must-have for any digital nomad is a VPN. A VPN protects you whenever you use public wi-fi. I mean, pretty much every digital nomad will be using some kind of public wi-fi at some point! Unfortunately, not all public wi-fi is secure, so this is where a VPN comes in handy. As a plus, it’s also super handy for watching specific shows you want to watch on streaming services. We personally use our VPN (Surfshark, if you’re curious) to stream Grey’s on Netflix since it’s only available in the States!

While Surfshark is what we use, another great VPN option is NordVPN.

12. Trusted Housesitters Account

One thing we personally consider a digital nomad essential is a Trusted Housesitters membership (get 25% off TrustedHousesitters annual memberships with code ALMANAC25). Trusted Housesitters comes in particularly handy in more expensive digital nomad destinations. For example, we used our membership for our trips to Washington, D.C.! And we are currently scouring for opportunities for a trip to England.

Trusted Housesitters gives you the opportunity to not only save money on your accommodation but also hang out with some adorable cats and dogs while you’re at it. Plus, you’ll be staying in an actual home, which is so much more comfortable than staying in some hastily-stocked Airbnb or hotel.

13. Water Filter

First, we’ll preface this by saying a water filter is not a necessity in every corner of the world, but it’s been an essential part of our packing during our time in Asia and South America. In countries that do not have potable water, we highly, highly recommend bringing a water filter to make your life so much easier and cheaper

We use the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System, which has not only saved us money but has also helped us from wasting unneeded plastic!

Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

There’s nothing worse than boarding the plane and remembering that you’ve forgotten a super important essential. I mean, remember Kevin’s mom in Home Alone? With this list of our digital nomad essentials, make sure you’ve got everything you need on hand to allow for some seamless and stress-free nomad travels!

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