When I was in high school, I wanted to become a freelance international consultant for export-import companies, so that I would always have a reason to go abroad.
Then, there was covid…
Everyone had to stop traveling, except for one specific group of people: nomads.
Not because they were allowed to travel, but because they were always on the way.
Then I thought, I had better become a remote working digital nomad and live my life!
Now, I have two main issues:
- I need to find a way to turn my partner into a digital nomad as well so that we can travel together.
- I have to find the best gear possible to avoid any inconveniences.
So I dug deep into the internet and found the best of the best digital nomad essentials for enthusiasts like me and professionals who want an upgrade.
But for beginners, let’s start with:
Who Is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely while traveling, or adopts a “nomad lifestyle.” So we can call it a digital nomad lifestyle as well. Those people work during transportation or in coworking spaces or a quiet place where they can focus, and allocate the rest of their time to enjoy their travel.
Since remote working has become widely popular, the number of digital nomads has increased.
Thanks to this, the opportunities increased as well.
For instance, now you can have:
- A digital nomad travel insurance covers lots of countries,
- Digital nomad visas remove the burden of getting a new visa before each stop,
- Diverse digital nomad gear that is lightweight, compact, and durable.
I can’t say that being a digital nomad is an affordable way of living. You are already prepared for the travel expenses, so you should be ready to spend on the gear as well.
Essential needs of a digital nomad
For digital nomads, there are a few main obstacles and needs:
- The maximum weight that we can carry,
- The size of each item,
- The color and sustainability of each item,
- and the durability.
Even though you plan ahead, and have an idea of the climate and weather conditions of your destinations, there can always be surprises.
Therefore, you should be ready for anything while packing only the essentials – which is the main challenge.
So, here are the things that you absolutely can’t leave behind while packing:
Whether you are a travel enthusiast or a digital nomad, these items are a must.
1- Reusable Water Bottle
I forget to pack my water bottle every single time I go out, and end up either not drinking any water or spending more money on water than anything.
Also, you never know where you will drinkable tap water, so you should always be prepared to refill and get going.
Padlocks nowadays have more use to them than they had before. You might need it for your luggage, your hotel cabin, or even your electronics bag.
They are easy to store and carry and are a must in our post-covid world.
Whether you are going to camp, hike, or stay in a place where it is likely to lose electricity: a headlamp will be your savior. They are easier to store and carry than lanterns or flashlights, and can be used as both.
4- Important Documents
Are you sure that you packed your passport? Your visa approval? Your insurance policy? Your itinerary?
I personally forgot my whole wallet at home once. It was a nightmare…
So, Don’t forget to have a list of your important documents, online versions of them, and hard copies just in case.
Bags and Organizers
A luggage and a backpack only? No no, You are not going on a simple vacation. You are traveling for a long time, and you need more bags than that…
A durable, waterproof, expandable, hard-shell, 4-tire luggage with lots of pockets… I had dreamt of such a suitcase even when I was simply living in a dorm in college.
6- Day Bag
You might have different preferences for a day bag. It can be a purse, it can be a smaller backpack, or it can be a tote bag. I prefer having a chest bag because I am very clumsy. It helps me store my phone, charger, lip balm, wallet, and other small stuff I need at once. It comes in handy when I go to the market or go to a restaurant.
7- Carry on Backpack
It took me a long while to choose between a camping bag and a smaller but still big backpack to have as a carry-on. I decided that a camping bag would only be a nightmare for me since I am a small person and don’t have broad shoulders… So here is my recommendation:
8- Wallet and Purse
As I said, I once forgot my wallet at home while I was going abroad. Therefore, I decided that a wallet or a purse that has a clipper that I can attach to my backpack would be better for a long adventure where I will be changing locations regularly.
9- Waterproof Electronics Organizer
Once, my plastic bottle that was in the side pocket of my backpack broke, and the whole bottom of the backpack got wet. I had my MacBook in the backpack, without any waterproof covering.
Guess what happened to that computer…
Yup. It’s trash now. So now I protect my electronic devices within waterproof cases or organizers even if my backpack is waterproof itself. You never know what is going to spill within the bag…
10- Waterproof Briefcase
If you don’t prefer to carry an organizer in your arms, you could choose to get a waterproof briefcase to carry your electronics as well.
Oh, and the same goes for the hard copy documents or printed-out pictures. I wouldn’t want to lose them in a wet accident either.
It is obvious that you have to pack clothes, so I am going to be explaining which types and how many of each you should pack to minimize the space.
Also, bear in mind that you might have to do laundry more than you do at home because you won’t have your whole closet with you.
11- Short Sleeve T-Shirts (5-7)
Short sleeves don’t require much space and can be used with cardigans or hoodies to increase warmth. Therefore, it won’t hurt to have lots of those.
12- Long Sleeve T-Shirts (1-2)
I am not a fan of long sleeves. Still, thin long-sleeves come in handy when there is lots of sun or wind. They also don’t cover much space, so I recommend having at least one long sleeve in your luggage.
13- Dress-Suit (0-1)
If you like to take pictures or have planned a special occasion, you could also include one fancy dress or suit – but you have to know that it will cover lots of space, and you could rent them in many countries instead of bringing your own.
14- Sweaters and Hoodies (1-2)
When it’s cold, put on a sweater. When it’s freezing, put on a sweater on top of a third, and you’re good to go.
15- Jeans-Trousers (2-3)
I am not a jeans person, but I love my cargo pants and sweatpants. Therefore, I usually don’t prefer taking jeans with me, but there have been times when I needed something thicker and more durable than sweatpants.
16- Sweatpants-Shorts (2-3)
Whether you want to wear them to sleep or you have become addicted to sweatpants after covid, it doesn’t matter, some comfy clothing is a must.
17- Yoga Pants (0-1)
Yoga pants are optional. I usually wear yoga pants when I want something light and comfortable.
18- Skirts (0-1)
If you don’t prefer to carry a dress with you for pictures, you could always have a skirt and fill your Instagram with gorgeous pictures.
19- Bathing Suits (1-2)
Whether you like swimming or not, every world tour deserves a stop at a beach. I am a person who always forgets to pack swimsuits when my destination is not a specific place, you should not forget.
20- Underwear (5-8)
I hope you don’t mind wearing your underwear for more than a day when you have to, because you won’t always have an option to wash each piece regularly. So you should pack lots and lots of underwear, enough for at least a week.
21- Socks (4-6)
The same thing about underwear goes for socks as well. At least you won’t have to worry about them when you wear beach sandals or flip-flops.
22- Rain Jacket (0-1)
A rain jacket can come in handy for going out in the rain without worrying about your umbrella flying away in the wind.
23- Jacket (1)
If you get cold easily, I would recommend packing a jacket that has detachable layers, or one that you feel comfortable in.
24- Shoes (2)
The shoes you pack should be lightweight, durable, and possibly flexible so that they don’t cover lots of space. And anything can happen to a shoe anytime… That’s why you should consider having more than one pair of shoes with you.
25- Sandals-Flip Flops (1-2)
If you packed one pair of sneakers, I would recommend packing a pair of sandals as well for hot days and sandy terrains.
This is just a reminder to not forget your sunglasses. If you don’t own a pair fit for traveling, I got you covered:
Tech Gear and Accessories
Now that we are back to the “digital” part of being a nomad, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is the part where you want to make sure you are fully prepared.
Your laptop is going to be your main source of income, no matter what your job is. Therefore, it should have a strong, long-lasting battery, be lightweight, and be durable.
If you don’t own a laptop already, here is what I recommend:
28- External Mouse
If you are a touchpad person (just like me), just keep reading from the next item. If you are a mouse person, here is a good one that is fit for travel:
29- External Battery (powerbank)
The whole point of being a digital nomad is exploring as much as possible and enjoying life outside of the house. This means, you won’t always have a power plug. So you should have a capable external power source that can charge your devices, such as this one:
30- Smart Phone
You probably already have a smartphone, but I wanted to remind you that you need an international plan to keep using it.
Noise-canceling headphones… The best work buddies of any digital nomad that works in noisy places. Here are two great options for headphones people and earbuds people.
32- External Drive
Anything can happen when you are out in the world, and bad things happen as well. So you should be prepared to lose your laptop as well. In case that happens, you should back up your work on an external hard drive, or online cloud storage such as DropBox, or Google Drive.
33- Universal Adapter
The plugging problem… When I was traveling to the USA from Europe, I forgot to take an adapter with me and I almost did the same thing when I was going to the UK. The best solution was to get a universal adapter instead of getting a new one in each country.
Here is mine:
34- E-Reader (Kindle)
I am not a book person, but if you are, a kindle is a must. There is no way you can pack all your favorite books in your suitcase.
35- Optional: Portable Monitor
I like to have my research and my content on separate screens, so my mini portable monitor is like my water and air. It makes my life easier, and I hope it will make yours so as well.
Cleaning and Self Care
Hotels and motels provide towels and shampoo, but there are some things that you just can’t leave at home.
36- Face Towels
I have sensitive skin, so I can’t use a stiff towel. If you are in a similar condition, you could think of getting some of these towels:
37- Small Shampoo and Conditioners
Having mentioned special self-care needs, do you get bad hair whenever you frequently change shampoos? Here is my solution to this:
Regular soap is easy to find, but paper soap is the one thing that makes me cry out of happiness each time I get my clothes dirty when I’m away from my hotel.
39- Dental Set
It is a pain to pack dental care items since they are very delicate. Here is a great travel set that is easy to pack and saves you space:
Do you ever have to be on a Zoom call, but you are on the top of Mount Everest and are having a bad hair day? No worries! This hairbrush even fits in your laptop case.
You wouldn’t want to attract the bees! Don’t use spray deodorant when you go on a trip. Use this cream deodorant instead that will last long, is accepted into planes, and smells great:
42- Razor – Shaving Set
If you do use razors, you should ditch the single-use plastic razors and get a durable one since you are going on a long trip:
Sunscreen is another thing people often forget while packing. Therefore, I wanted to remind you to get your favorite sunscreen in the bag before hitting the road.
44- Nail Clippers
Unless you plan on trimming your nails on trees like bears, don’t forget to pack your nail clippers. I would prefer carrying my multi-functional manicure set, I have once repaired my phone with it.
45- Skin-Care Essentials
Last but not least, if you have any other self-care essentials that you have to take with you, feel free to arrange your own space to fit them in.
I am not a paper person, I keep all my notes online. But if you like to take notes on paper or if you have a diary, don’t forget to take it with you.
47- Pens and Pencils
Here is what’s in my pencil case:
- Two pens
- A pencil
- An ice cream stick that was given to me by my favorite Spanish teacher.
48- Duct Tape
You can’t imagine how many things break on the road… Having duct tape with you can both help you fix broken things, and hang things onto walls when you need it.
I believe you could imagine that not every place you visit will have the same eating habits as yours. Some places might not have chopsticks, some may not have forks, and some countries eat food mostly with their hands. That’s why you had better have your mini cutlery set with you whenever you go out to eat in a foreign country.
If you don’t like noise-canceling earphones or if they are out of battery, earplugs will save your sanity.
There is a lot to pack… Like, a lot. If there is anything on this list that you absolutely don’t ever use in your daily life, feel free to not put it in your digital nomad backpacks.
Other than that, I hope it’s now clear that digital nomad gear is more than technical gear, and there is much more to pack when you want to adapt to the digital nomad life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a digital nomad carry?
A digital nomad should carry their technical equipment, clothes, self-care items, bags, and travel equipment before hitting the road.
What should I pack for remote work?
To work remotely while traveling, you should pack your laptop, your portable hard drive and battery, clothes, self-care items, bags, and safety items.
What should I pack for a year of remote work?
For a year of remote work, you should split your available luggage space into two, pack half of it with clothes, and pack the other half with your technical equipment, self-care items, travel gear, and safety gear.