A while back, somebody asked me, “What are some things I need to know before I become a digital nomad?” When this website first started, it was primarily focused on packing lists. So, naturally our first conversation was about packing.
This list is a recap of our two-hour long discussion about shoes, clothing, luggage, and the sort. However, I do have to warn you. I am not a budget traveler. Whether it be inflation, cheap products, or the way I was raised, I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, this is especially true in regards to textiles. (This is why you will see a backpack that costs a few hundred dollars on the packing lists.)
To offset the cost and reduce your environmental impact, I do recommend purchasing used backpacks and clothing when available.
Finally, this Digital Nomad Packing List is not a deep-dive for content creators, there are no shopping guides, etc. These are just the things you need, explanations on why you need them, and some small recommendations. Let’s get into it!
Pre-Departure Checklist for Travel
- Passport with at least 10 empty pages
Most countries will require at least two blank pages on your passport. (One for entry into their country, and the other to make sure you can go somewhere else!)
However, digital nomads, depending on the length of travel, could potentially require 10 or more blank pages!
Although not guaranteed, 10 blank pages in your passport should reasonably cover anywhere from 150-300 days of traveling. This depends on your travel frequency, length of visa, etc.
2. Passport Cover
It’s unfortunate. The more you move, the more likely something is to get lost or damaged. A passport cover protects your passport from getting wet (a constant theme on this website.) And in certain countries where you carry your passport on your person, a cover protects the edges from deteriorating.
What happens if my passport is stolen?
First, don’t freak out. This happens to people every day, and your predicament is nothing new.
In an embassy or consulate, there are entire teams dedicated to visa and passport processing. So much so, depending on the scale, some missions have the ability to print emergency passports.
Contact them via your personal country’s website and schedule an appointment.
3. Digital Nomad Health Insurance
The team here at World Embark is awesome, and we actually are writing up with a blog post about this.
Travel insurance is insurance in the event something goes horribly wrong, i.e. a motorcycle accident in Thailand.
Digital Nomad Health Insurance is insurance for less-urgent situations i.e. a rash that won’t go away, etc.
More to follow
4. A Banking Plan
Picking the right banking strategy can make or break your experience while traveling.
If you don’t plan properly, you might be subject to numerous extra fees such as conversation rates, DCC, etc.
Thankfully, we have an entire blog post dedicated to checking, savings, and credit card accounts. These options are primarily geared toward American citizens; however, they contains some international options such as HSBC.
5. Emergency Fund
Whenever you start traveling, you will miss things, weddings, people having kids, etc. That’s to be expected.
What’s not expected are family emergencies back home. Just like something can go wrong while you are traveling, things can also go wrong back home.
Just in case, I highly recommend you have an emergency savings account with enough money to cover a flight “home.”
Luggage Options for Digital Nomads
Whatever your luggage options are, you will need to pick things that are durable, have a good cost to benefit ration, and either are water resistant or you can make them water resistant.
Besides credit and debit cards, the hardest thing to replace while traveling is your luggage.
6. Backpack or Suitcase
There are two ways in which you could pick to carry your luggage, either a suitcase or backpack.
Numerous digital nomads carry backpacks, as they are easier to handle, smaller (which is important if you plan on taking budget airlines), and there are 1000s of options designed for everyone.
I personally carry the Peak Design Travel Backpack, which is an expandable 30-45 Liter backpack. Although I purchased it for about $200 used, it still looks brand new.
The other brand I recommend is Osprey. I am a big fan of their Farpoint series, as it has the ability to attach and detach the small backpack from the larger one.
There is only one suitcase luggage brand I recommend (no sponsorship), and that is Away.
Each of their suitcases come with a lifetime warranty, and they make the process extremely easy. Everything from broken zippers to handles are covered.
7.Backpack or Sling Bag
Here is another personal option, and it is where things get tricky. How much stuff do you plan on carrying everyday? This is arguably more important than your suitcase/travel backpack.
When examining any sort of everyday carry, the most important thing to look at is not the material, but the shoulder strap stitching. Make sure it is robust.
If you are looking at carrying a backpack, there are three brands I recommend, Tenba, Timbuk2, and Wandrd.
I really don’t recommend purchasing a backpack on Amazon, unless you hold it prior to purchasing.
You will never know the quality of the items you receive until after doing so.
For Sling Bags
To each their own. Peak Design’s looks pretty cool. (And it’s waterproof.)
8. A Plan to Make your Luggage Waterproof
If your backpack(s) did not come with a rainfly, you will need to purchase one. They are a cheap, twenty dollar piece of plastic that can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
Luggage Organization for Digital Nomads
A couple of travel tips when it comes to organization.
A. If you can, purchase items with similar charging cables.
Carrying USB-C, micro-USB, and lightning cable will cause headaches later.
B. Know what you are carrying
If you’re like me, you will lose stuff.
C. The more zippers there are, the better it is.
One more thing to break. One more layer of protection.
9. Tech Pouch
Great tech pouches will have numerous pockets, be waterproof, and have some extra space.
Honestly, I rate my tech pouch as one of my best financial decisions ever.
10. Packing Cubes
Compression Backing Cubes if you plan on using a backpack. (They help create more space, but do so at the risk of wrinkled clothing.)
Normal Packing Cubes if you will be using the traditional suitcase.
11. Toiletry Bag
Depending on your backpack or suitcase’s storage, this might be unnecessary. However, you are going to want to keep your shoes away from your toothbrush.
Unlike packing for a specific place, digital nomads are often balancing a myriad of seasons, climates, etc. This can make purchasing clothing a little bit difficult.
When I first started traveling, it was the summertime. I packed summer clothing, stuck to warm climates such as Greece and Turkey, and as fall started, I thrifted in Berlin.
So, let’s go ahead and talk about what to pack for a summer trip and winter trip.
Note: I highly recommend avoiding denim. Denim takes forever to dry, and it is extremely heavy.
Summer Travel Clothing:
12. Waterproof and Windproof Jacket
A waterproof and windproof jacket is one of the best investments for both winter and summer clothing.
13. 4-5 T-Shirt or Tops
14. 3 Pair of Shorts or Bottoms
15. 1 Pair of Pants
Depending on your location, this is extremely important. Religious landmarks often require you to wear pants.
15. 5-6 Pair of Undergarments
16. 6 Pair of Socks
If you pack a pair of sandals, this could be reduced to 3-4 pair of socks.
You never know when you will find the best swimming spot in the world.
18. More Formal Attire
Back in Florence, I heard about backpackers being turned away from a club due to their attire. Apparently, they looked “too backpack-ery.”
Winter Travel Clothing:
Winter travel is often more difficult to prepare for. However, the key is layers.
Bulky clothing items such as jackets take up more space and weigh more than something such as a base layer.
12. Waterproof and Windproof Jacket
It honestly amazes me. Most of our body heat is in two places, our head and our torso.
13. 4 T-Shirt or Tops
14. 1 Pair of Base Layer
For me, a base layer is both a long-sleeve top and long-sleeve bottom. These are not fleece, but rather 100% synthetic fibers that are designed to keep the heat in.
15. 3 Pair of Pants
16: 1 Pair of Shorts
Depending on your plans for the day, you don’t always need long pants.
17. 5-6 Pair of Undergarments
Realistically, this could act as a third (or fourth) layer.
18. 6 Pair of Socks
For winter travel, I recommend socks that extend to the calves.
Hot Tubbing in the Swiss Alps. Sounds like a dream.
20. More Formal Attire
Same as above.
21. Beanie or Something to Keep the Head Warm
Before Iceland, I didn’t realize that my head is what kept me cold 95% of the time.
Beyond melatonin, there are a few things that can make your sleep better.
Of course, this all depends on which lifestyle you choose, your sleep cycle, etc.
I have found that hostels often don’t lead to a great night’s sleep, but the privacy of hotels can lead to insanity due to a lack of human interaction.
I have two sleep aides that I carry, and they are
22. Sleep Mask
Nothing fancy. Just something that creates the illusion of a dark room.
I carried the same pair of orange earplugs from hostel to hostel for about three months. Yuck.
Just like the jacket you pick, the shoes are integral. You can purchase shoes everywhere around the world, but will they be the same quality? Maybe or Maybe not.
For digital nomads, I recommend the two-shoe combo.
24. Two-Shoe Combo
Unless you are going mountain climbing, the two-shoe combo is Sandals/Water Shoe and a pair of tennis shoes.
Thankfully, tennis shoes have started to become acceptable in most clubs/discos, so we don’t need to pack an extra pair of dress shoes.
The technology section of this post is where it gets tricky. Some content creators need 64 GB of Ram to handle their post-processing in Final Cut Pro. Meanwhile, freelance writers who use their computers to access Google Docs and Youtube rarely need anything more than a Chromebook.
26. Carrying Case
You are going to need something. Preferably, your laptop carrying case will protect against drops and spills.
Some people like to read a lot. I am not one of them at this time.
If you plan to check any luggage, this one is for you. Since 2021, airlines have lost luggage at record levels.
People argue with me. However, there is nothing like holding a camera, taking a photo, editing that photo, and having a forever keepsake.
30. Bluetooth Earbuds
To avoid the cord/cable situation, I recommend purchasing bluetooth earbuds.
31. Sim Cards
Purchase sim cards after you arrive in your destination. You will save a ton of money instead of purchasing an international plan.
BONUS: If you’re in Europe, you will only need to purchase a cellphone plan once. I recommend the Mediterranean Countries rather than the Nordic. Like everything, the southern countries in Europe are cheaper than the Northern ones.
Apps to Use
The beauty of Google maps is the ability to download city maps, and then use those maps offline.
An essential item to protect your online banking information. Both NordVPN and Surfshark are great options, but I prefer NordVPN. It has a plug-in for my computer, and I can pick from more than 50 countries.
Everything I took on my first Digital Nomad Adventure
The Best of the Rest
To each their own.
33. Travel Lock
Walking through markets, hostel lockers, and daily life on public transportation all necessitate the use of travel locks.
34. Drawstring Bag
Prior to the video above, this was actually a recent addition.
My bag carried groceries, provided someplace safe to store my stuff, and took up minimal space.
The best part about it? I didn’t care if it got sandy or dirty. I just washed it in the shower.
My friend, Julie, chastises me for not wearing sunscreen. Be better than me. Be a Julie.
36. Electric Adapter
The world uses 14(!) different forms of outlets and two different voltages. (220 vs. 110)
Most small electronics (i.e. computers) can charge on the spectrum between 110 and 2220. However, the differences in plugs are the troublesome part.
Even in the same continent, electrical outlets differ. (For example, China uses type C and Japan uses type A.
37. Filtered Water bottle
This will reduce plastic waste and filters bacteria.
38. Portable Charger
Useful when you need it, worthless when you don’t, an external battery pack is for emergencies, or when your 10 hour bus ride does not have any outlets. Realistically, you will not need anything larger than 20,000 mAH.
39. Microfiber Cloth Towel
Not every hostel offers free towels. Microfiber towels dry quickly, even in the most damp environments.
40. Nail Clippers and Tweezers
Nail Clippers double as scissors in a pinch.
Well, that’s about all I can think of for your successful digital nomad journey.
Let me know if I missed something on Instagram. Otherwise, I hope you have a great day!
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