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So, you’re going off on a new adventure, traveling the world while working remotely? While there’s a lot of excitement leading up to the departure date, one task you’ll need to complete that may put a damper on it all is the idea of having to pack everything you need in a backpack or suitcase. Well, this digital nomad packing list is here to help!
We’ll go over every single item a digital nomad needs to have a stress-free transition to a new country. Everything from travel equipment to work equipment – we’ve got you covered!
These below items are an absolute must for any digital nomad or traveler. These essentials are what will make up the base of your packing, including bags, organizers, packs, and more!
Bag (Backpack or Suitcase)
Whether you are a backpack traveler or prefer to travel with suitcases through and through, you’re going to need to get your trusty luggage out to start filling it with all your essentials. Don’t have a bag yet? No worries! For backpacks, we highly recommend the Osprey 55L Farpoint or Fairview. They are carry-on sized, hold a lot more than you think, and come with a detachable day pack. If you’d prefer to go larger and don’t mind checking a bag, then we’d recommend the Osprey 70L Farpoint or Fairview.
Check out our full list of the 14 best backpacks for digital nomads!
If you would prefer to travel with a suitcase, our favorite is the Beis Carry-On Roller. For a more budget-friendly option, check out the Wrangler 20-Inch Carry-On. If you’re looking to check some luggage, our picks would be the Beis 29” Large Check-In Roller or the Samsonite 28” Expandable.
This is the bag where all your valuables and travel essentials would go. Make sure you pick a day pack with a sturdy laptop pocket to keep your bread and butter secure during your travels. If you get an Osprey backpack with a detachable bag, you’re already seated with a great day pack with a laptop sleeve inside. If you need to buy a day pack separately, however, we recommend the Osprey Daylite Plus. Can you tell we’re big Osprey fans?
You often forget the little things when packing for a big trip or a move abroad. Don’t forget your wallet! If you’re on the hunt for a new wallet for your fresh start, check out these two great picks made with genuine leather:
- Herschel Hank RFID
- Fossil Men’s Leather Wallet
- Kate Spade New York Leila Medium Compact Bifold Wallet
Travel Credit Card
Some of the best “travel-hacking” you can do is with a good travel credit card. Firstly, you should get a Revolut card. This is a travel debit card that offers currency exchange and ATM withdrawals for free. Yes, free! Mind that you would need to upgrade to a Premium or Metal account for more allowances of how much you can exchange and withdraw.
You should also be armed with the right credit cards. Our two must-haves are:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – $95 per year – No foreign transaction fees, 5x points on travel, 3x points on dining, 1:1 point transfer, and other travel benefits
- 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 all other purchases.
Of course, don’t forget to take your passport with you! If you could only take one thing on this packing list, it would have to be your passport! Can’t travel with it, after al.
As a digital nomad, no doubt you’ll have a variety of cables and cords to take with you. Keeping all of this organized and untangled can be a pain, and this is where an electronics organizer comes in! This is probably the best purchase we have made in recent times, and we’re not sure what we did before we had one! If you have a large collection of cables, the Orient Famulay Travel Electronics Organizer would be our pick. If you don’t need such a large organizer, we love the Sisma Travel Cords Organizer.
We personally travel with 3 toiletries bags between the two of us, including 1 makeup bag, so bring as many toiletries bags as you need! We’re recent converts of hanging toiletry bags like the Narwey Hanging Toiletry Bag if you have a lot to pack. Alternatively, get a simple waterproof bag like the BAGSMART Toiletry Bag.
We don’t go anywhere without our fanny pack or bum bag where we put our phone, wallet, keys, and other small items that would otherwise go in a pocket. It’s a great place to put all your valuables and is pretty pickpocket safe, as it’s close to your body and easy to keep an eye on.
- UNIQLO Round Mini Shoulder Bag
- MAXTOP Large Crossbody Fanny Pack
- Lululemon Everwhere Belt Bag
- Peak Gear Compact Sling Crossbody Backpack
Packing cubes are an absolute lifesaver and spacesaver in any backpack or suitcase. You’ll be surprised just how organized your luggage can be. While a standard set of packing cubes works well, if you want to maximize as much space as possible, we’d recommend the compression packing cubes.
While you may have an idea of what kind of clothes to bring on your trip, you might not be sure what is better to bring and what is better to leave at home. Honestly, a clothing packing list is going to highly depend on your destination(s), but as a general rule, we recommend bringing the following:
- 5-7 shirts
- 1-2 nice shirts or dresses for going out
- 2-3 shorts or skirts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2 bathing suits
- 1-2 workout outfits
- 1-2 sweaters or hoodies
- 2 pairs of shoes
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 rain jacket
- 8 pairs of socks
- 8 pairs of underwear
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 hat
Feel free to add to or subtract from the list depending on where you will be going. After all, you aren’t really going to need a jacket for example if you’re going to be in tropical destinations the entire time! And if you will be somewhere cold for the majority of your trip, you may not need to bring any shorts!
Of course, you’re not a digital nomad without your technology! For most digital nomads, all you really need to pack is a laptop and a passport, but what are some of the other main items you should consider before packing up and moving abroad?
First things first, let’s start with the basics. You should pack your handy laptop! If you don’t have one already or you’re looking for an upgrade, we swear by our MacBook Air. If you need a bit more power, we’d recommend the MacBook Pro.
Your laptop should come with a charger already, so we don’t have any recommendations here. But definitely don’t forget to bring your charger! No matter how good your laptop battery is, it won’t last forever!
You don’t need to invest in a crazy expensive laptop sleeve, but a sleeve can really help make your laptop investment last longer or, at the very least, look better for longer. Having the peace of mind knowing that your laptop is protected makes this product already worth it.
Find a laptop sleeve that fits your laptop model. Two that we recommend would be the MOSISO Laptop Sleeve Bag, compatible with 13” to 14” laptops, and the Voova Laptop Sleeve, compatible with 15” to 16” laptops.
A good pair of headphones can really save you from a loud cafe or airport. It can also come in handy if you need to listen to music to concentrate or edit a video. If you already have your favorite pair of headphones, great! But just in case you’re on the hunt for one, here are our recommendations:
- Apple AirPods
- Apple AirPods Max
- Raycon The Everyday Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones
If you travel without your smartphone, kudos to you! But for the rest of us, we’re pretty technologically dependent at this point and never go outside without a smartphone! While you can technically travel with any old smartphone, the trick is to make sure you get one that is unlocked! If it is locked, however, get a roaming plan with your current provider.
If you have to do a lot of clicking around on the screen, an external mouse can come in handy as you work. We like the Logitech M510 as it’s both cheap and effective!
When you’re traveling, a power bank can come in super handy for those days that you’re out and about with nowhere to charge your devices. We’ve had the Anker Portable Charger 20,000mAh for a while now, and we swear by it!
Since you’ll likely be jumping from country to country, or even if you’re not, a universal travel adapter will be your lifesaver. If you don’t have one, a great option is the NEWVANGA Travel Adapter, but honestly, it’s not a complicated device, so you really can’t go wrong.
External Hard Drive
Whether your work requires it or you’re simply taking one too many photos as you travel the world, an external hard drive is a must. After all, you don’t want to run out of space on your laptop or phone halfway through the trip! We love our Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive. Alternatively, you can get a cloud storage membership, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
A great way to ground yourself while traveling is to read books during your downtime. While you can certainly carry paperback books in your luggage, for long-term travel, this isn’t really the most practical option. I know, I know. Nothing beats a paperback, but we are now Kindle converters and fully get the hype now. If you’d like to try it out, check out the Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite.
eSIMs are an absolute game-changer, allowing you to connect in pretty much every country. If you haven’t used one already, we highly recommend checking out Airalo, Nomad, and Holafly. We personally use Airalo for our travels, as we find that it is more affordable than the other options. In some cases, it can even be cheaper than local physical SIM cards, as they often have deals for certain popular countries! Plus, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headache when you first arrive in a country.
But keep in mind that not all phones are compatible with eSIMs, so definitely look this up before investing in one!
Whether you’re a skincare noob or someone that travels with bags upon bags of toiletries, here is what toiletries you’ll need to pack as a digital nomad – at the absolute minimum! Keep in mind, however, that although these toiletries are a must-pack, you can always buy them in your destination country. So, if you want to save space, consider simply buying them when you arrive!
We don’t travel anywhere without a microfiber towel. Most places you stay will have a towel for you, but there’s nothing wrong with having an extra one handy. Plus, if you stay in a hostel, it’s likely they won’t have one unless you rent it for a fee. Even if you don’t need it in the end, a microfiber towel makes an excellent beach towel. We use the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel 30” x 60” x-large size.
Most hotel shampoo is nothing to write home about, not to mention they only tend to give you a tiny little bottle. For this reason, we tend to buy a proper bottle when we arrive at our destination. But when you first arrive in your new country, after a long flight, the last thing you want to do is find the nearest supermarket to make your purchase. So, we always travel with a travel-sized shampoo so that we can wash the airplane right off of us before we take a nap.
This Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Shampoo 2.5 Fl Oz should do the trick. But if you want to bring a specific shampoo, buy this pack of 4 Zafit Travel Bottles 3 Oz to fill the bottle up with the shampoo of your choice.
Similarly, you can fill up your chosen conditioner with one of the empty 3 Oz travel bottles above. Alternatively, buy this OGX Nourishing + Coconut Milk Conditioner 3 Oz or another trial/travel bottle-sized conditioner brand of your choosing.
Once again, feel free to fill up one of the travel bottles, but you can also purchase a specific soap for your travels if you’d prefer. Inis the Energy of the Sea Refreshing Bath and Shower Gel should do the trick if you’re not sure what to get!
You should use a gentler soap that is specifically for use on the face. Fill up one of the travel bottles with your favorite face soap, or buy a travel-sized one like this Clinique 3 Step Travel Size Set, which also comes with a lotion.
You can’t travel the world with nasty breath! So, don’t forget to pack your toothbrush! If you want a new one anyway, our advice: get one with a built-in tongue scraper. Like this one: Colgate 360 Optic White Advanced Toothbrush.
Leave that giant tube of toothpaste at home! Instead, grab a smaller tube so that you can get past security. This Sensodyne Complete Protection Sensitive Toothpaste is exactly 3.4 Oz!
Oral health doesn’t stop there. You’re also going to need to pack your floss! This Colgate Total Mint Waxed Dental Floss is 100 meters or 109 yards, so you won’t be running out any time soon.
Tame your hair with a hairbrush. If you only have a big one at home that you’d prefer not to travel with, the Crave Naturals Glide Thru Detangling Brush is a perfect travel size.
Another product you simply can’t forget is deodorant. We’ve been into natural deodorants lately, so our recommendation would be the Native Natural Deodorant.
Unless you have a giant tub of it, most moisturizers will already be travel-sized. Keep in mind the absolute maximum liquid or gel allowance is 100 ml or 3.4 Fl Oz. So, in most cases, feel free to pack up your favorite moisturizer in a toiletries bag and get going. If you do need a new one, we’ve been loving K-beauty products like the COSRX Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence.
We never go anywhere without our face sunscreen and body sunscreen! For face sunscreen, we are absolutely in love with the Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+. In terms of body sunscreen, you can fill a travel bottle up with your usual or get the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in Sunscreen Lotion SPF 100.
It seems like such a small thing that it would be easy to forget, but a pair of nail clippers is a must if you don’t want to walk around clicking around with your long toenails or breaking your fingernails! While you can always go to the nail salon for a mani and pedi, those costs can add up. If you don’t have your own pair of nail clippers and need to buy one, Amazon has plenty for under $10, like this firiKer Nail Clipper Set.
Makeup is a very personal thing, and if you wear it, you should already have your favorites and necessities. Just make sure to take just what you will need, not your entire collection! Put everything in your favorite travel makeup bag, like the OCHEAL Small Cosmetic Bag.
Honestly, lip balm has been life-saving on more occasions than we can count on our travels! You should always have one lying around in your bag, by your bedside table, and hidden in your luggage as a backup. This Burt’s Bees Lip Balm 4-Pack should fit all your dry lip needs.
Nothing like a little self-care while you travel as a digital nomad. Pack your tweezers in your toiletries bag, ready to pluck those pesky hairs out when you need. If you don’t have a pair already, these Tweezer Guru Tweezers should more than do the trick.
You don’t need to travel with a whole pharmacy, but you should always carry some pain relievers, like paracetamol or Tylenol. They’ll come in handy whenever you are hungover or have a migraine.
While these other essentials don’t fit into a single category, they are still as necessary as the other items on this packing list! Here is what else you should pack into your backpack or suitcase as a digital nomad.
Portable Laundry Line
Not all clothes can be dried, and it can also cost a bit more to get your clothes dried as well as washed. Our Portable Laundry Line has been one of our favorite purchases in recent times, and we have used it more times than we can count. We don’t travel anywhere without it.
We used to hate earplugs, but we recently discovered these Moldable Silicon Earplugs that mold specifically to the shape of your ear canal. They block out noise effectively – perfect if you’re sleeping in a hostel or living on a loud street.
Whether you want to doodle to pass the time or scribble some notes while you’re traveling, a small Pocket Notebook can come in super handy. You might want to write down some new words you learn in a new language or some recommendations by locals – it’s up to you!
A pen can come in handy for many reasons – to write in your notebook and, more importantly, to fill out any customs forms on the plane. No more panicking on board, wondering if anyone beside you will lend them their pen! Any old pen will do, but if you’re living deep inside the online world, you can purchase this simple one from Amazon. Make sure to travel with the pen in your fanny pack for easy access on the plane!
You can keep your dirty clothes separate from the rest of your clothes by keeping them in a laundry bag. Plus, it makes it easier to transport to a laundry room or laundromat once a week when needed. We’ve been using the SWISSELITE Laundry Bag for years now – and it’s still going strong!
While you should always travel with a rain jacket, a travel umbrella like this Repel Umbrella is perfect to put into your backpack and forget until a rainy day.
You might be the healthiest person in the world, but you never know what may happen. For those what-if cases, you should always travel with travel insurance. The two we recommend are SafetyWing and World Nomads.
We personally use SafetyWing for our digital nomad adventures. A travel insurance created for nomads BY nomads, SafetyWing has sufficient coverage to support digital nomad visa applications around the world, including Spain and Portugal. However, the best thing about SafetyWing, in our opinion, is that it is both affordable and flexible. What does this mean? Well, firstly travel medical coverage starts from just $45.08 for 4 weeks. And secondly, since SafetyWing works like a subscription, you can start it and end it whenever you want. Plus, it covers visits home, which is great news, especially for US digital nomads! While SafetyWings may not offer the most extensive coverage in the world, it is sufficient for most digital nomad needs!
We have a full list of the 10 best insurance options for digital nomads if you’d like to learn more!
Most travel pillows you find at the airport are much too bulky and really don’t do much in terms of supporting your neck. We highly recommend the trtl Travel Pillow if you’re on the lookout for a good travel pillow, but if you have one that already works for you – great!
Reusable Water Bottle
No one goes anywhere without their emotional support water bottle. Plus, you can do your part for the environment by not buying those single-use plastic water bottles. Having a reusable water bottle is great, in particular, for those countries where you can drink tap water or use a water filter (more on this below) to fill up your bottle. It might be basic, but we love our Hydro Flask.
Another recent purchase that has changed our lives is a water filter. While a water filter may not work in every country or location (Bali, we’re looking at you!), it is efficient enough to filter water in most countries – including those in South America. We bought the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System earlier this year, and it’s absolutely been a game-changer in terms of how much money and plastic we saved this year!
You should get a padlock, especially if you plan to spend some time in hostels. It can keep your luggage and valuables secure from wandering hands.
This is for those hikers out there! A water bag or water pouch, like this Hydration Bladder, will keep you hydrated throughout your hike without needing to pull out your water bottle every time. Plus, it’s a great space saver – especially considering how much water the bag can hold!
Trusted Housesitters Membership
While definitely not necessary, a Trusted Housesitters membership can really save you money down the line. If you’re in an expensive city or country, it can really come in a pinch. I mean, you get to hang out with animals while staying in a house for free? Who doesn’t want that?
Another great membership to have in your back pocket is Worldpackers. Here, you can find travel jobs, exchanging some volunteer hours for a free bed (and sometimes food as well)! This membership is a must-have if you’re on a budget.