If you’ve been on the road for any period of time (and have hung out with travelers at hostels, bars, or other touristic things in cities), you know that luggage is going to be at the forefront of one conversation a week. Especially if you are talking to long-term digital nomads.
Now, the goal of most travelers is one bag travel. And truth be told, it makes traveling a bit easier. There is so much less than you need to worry about such as theft, it makes traveling from plane to bus SO much easier, and it’s probably better for your physical health. (Carrying less weight.)
If you are a digital nomad, this will be difficult. Although, digital nomads tend to move around less than travelers, so luggage is not at the forefront of your mind.
And for my content creators out there, this one bag list is almost unobtainable. (At most, you would be carrying your Action Camera.)
For the everyday traveler, this one is for you. So, let’s get into this one-bag packing list.
Table of Contents
For passport page stamps, you will need to have at least two blank pages. However, if you are going to be going for any extended period of time, you probably should have at least 10 blank passport pages.
Just a friendly reminder: Passports are not yours, but rather the property of your home country. Privileges can be revoked at any time.
2. Passport Cover
Thankfully, this does not add too much space. However, I have come to realize that a passport cover is integral for long-term travelers. There have honestly been too many experiences that I have seen people’s passports starting to curl due to how the travelers hold them. Or if they get wet, potentially damaged.
3. Proof of Onward Travel
This is something I have been thinking about a lot more as I travel for longer periods of time (and I bounce from country to country.) There are certainly countries that require proof of onward travel like the U.S. and certain ones in Europe. But I also recognize that the power and privilege of carrying specific passports plays a role in whether you need proof of onward travel or not.
Of course, depending on your situation, having a large sum of money in a bank account always helps if you don’t have proof of onward travel. (No, I am not saying to bribe government officials.)
The EU is currently drafting and adopting new rules for Schengen-area countries. However, at this time, the 90/180 rule appears to be continuing.
Called the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System), this new visa includes a background check, and it costs money every couple of years.
I recommend checking out https://www.etiasvisa.com for new information, as this program is still being implemented.
If you have any questions, please email and I will do my best to explain/help. (Or if your country is not part of the system, please message me, and I will help out to the best of my ability.) Visa restriction can be tricky, there’s a lot of paperwork involved, etc. I am happy to help with any country!
5. Pictures of Passport & Credit Cards (In an encrypted environment)
By all accounts, most people are decent people. However, I still think it’s important to take common-sense measures for peace-of-mind. One of these common-sense measures is keeping photos of information, such as your passport, in a secure and encrypted environment. Or leave them with people at home.
Also, leave a no-annual fee credit card at home. You can always book a hotel room with that number, just in case.
6. An Itinerary and Booked Lodging
This is your alternative if you don’t have a lot of money AND proof of onward travel. From my experience, people are much more lenient if you can prove that you have a plan. (And are not coming to the country.)
This is especially true if you are planning on leaving a country on a bus or train instead of flying out.
7. Photo Storage
Personally, I use my Amazon Prime Account, which includes unlimited photo storage. Only certain file types can be uploaded, but the size does not matter.
Importance Level: High
When it comes to one-bag travel, picking the correct luggage for your travel style is the most important decision you will make.
Clothing, electronics, and even your passport/visa can be replaced overseas.
However, the perfect backpack probably cannot be replaced while you’re traveling, and it certainly is not convenient.
So, here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself in regards to your luggage:
- Why are you traveling with just one bag?
- Weight restrictions on budget airlines? Does your destination have cobblestone or dirt roads? What type of activities are you doing?
- What climate am I headed toward?
- Packing clothing for your first destination. It’s easier to buy later.
- What is your one essential item?
- For me, it’s a camera with a prime lens. And I have to pack accordingly with my backpack.
What makes a good travel backpack?
The perfect backpack does not exist. For each backpack I have used, I have extensively complained about materials, internal storage, side-pockets, and even the location of zippers. (Yes, I am picky.)
But the best travel backpacks have always
A) Carry-On compliant (Between 30-50 Liters)
This all being said, here are three backpacks that I personally recommend to travelers. Now, I will not be recommending cheap backpacks, as much like shoes, you get what you pay for in regards to textiles.
If you are purchasing one bag for all of your adventure.
#1: Peak Design 45 Liter Travel Backpack (My everyday Carry)
#2 Osprey 40 Liter Farpoint Series
#3: McKinnon 35L Camera Pack
What makes a good travel suitcase?
Suitcases are all kind-of the same. However, they are much more about practicality and durability rather than features.
But the best suitcases have always been
A) Hard-Shell Materials
B) Good Set of Casters
Just remember: You cannot use your lifetime warranty overseas. And if you have ever been to any market, you’ve probably seen a suitcase everywhere you go.
This being said: If you plan on using more than 3 modes of transportation in one country (plane, boat, car, train), it might be easier to use a backpack.
However, here are just some recommendations for suitcases that I use for more “leisurely” trips.
#1 Monos or Away
I prefer using the Away suitcase only for my domestic trips, as they seem built to last. Some include external powerbanks, and I am never too far away to use my warranty. That’s about it.
Why I Do NOT like Fabric Suitcases.
I do not recommend fabric suitcases..
To put in in context, I have traveled with old, dark green canvas duffel bags, backpacks, and suitcases on multiple trips around the world. (Varying in length and reason I was there.)
But after my Vietnam experience, I will probably never carry a fabric suitcase again.
With fabric suitcases, you are more susceptible to mold but also smells.
In Vietnam, it’s extremely common to smoke, whether it be in restaurants or just out on the street. I was extremely aware of it at first when I arrived, but I suppose it faded after a while.
However, when I returned back to a non-smoking area, that smell lingered for a few days. So much so, I actually had to leave it outside of my house.
If it was a hardshell suitcase, I probably could’ve wiped it out.
Does a Sling Bag Count?
8.5 Sling Bag
I know… I said one bag packing list. But this is entirely dependent on you and your needs.
Your daily carry items are much more secure a sling bag instead of your pockets.
Just be careful for snatch and grabs on scooters/roads.
Here are some important characteristics for a sling bag:
- Water Resistant
- Zipper Quality
- Size. Nothing more than 5 Liters
9. Compression Packing Cubes
With space becoming limited, you need to purchase compression packing cubes instead of normal packing cubes.
You might be wondering: What’s the difference between normal packing cubes and compression packing cubes?
Packing cubes, although useful, are geared towards organization. Compression packing cubes are more geared toward stuffing, and often have an extra zipper.
Unfortunately, compression packing cubes also tend to wrinkle clothing more easily.
10. Tech Pouch/Organizer
Traveling the world with a tech pouch/organizer is essential. However, if you are not carrying anything more than a laptop and phone, you may not need one.
Unless I accidentally stumble upon a random beach in Australia or Greece, everyone I see is wearing clothing 24/7.
So, on the bright side, you can always find clothing!
I am going to go ahead and break this up to a couple of different sections, summer and winter. However, please feel free to check out our individual packing lists for more specific location lists.
11. 3 Pair of Pants
Unless there is an extreme heatwave, I am expecting to to wear pants most of the time.
If I am bringing three pair of pants, I would bring two pair of hiking pants and one pair of denim jeans. However, that’s about it.
12. 1 jacket
The jacket you bring is dependent on the shirts you bring AND the weather you are planning on visiting.
I am going to err on the side of caution, and just say it is easier to layer than a trench coat.
13. 4 T-Shirts/Tops
Just be sure to pick something that can quickly dry.
14. 0 Pair of Shorts
How ’bout no?
17. Dress/Fancy Clothing
Well, I suppose you need something. I have seen some people turned away from a club in Italy for looking too “backpacker-y.”
18. Under-Clothing Leggings & Tops
Under-layered clothing is always a good option. Plus, this reduces the need for a heavier coat.
19. 5-7 Pair of Underwear
Well, I suppose you need it. It might be the one thing everyone overpacks.
20. 2 Pair of Pants
This is more of a personal preference, but it’s all dependent on your travel destination. Summer in Norway is not the same as a Summer in Greece.
Something lightweight that can also be used to cover your shoulders in a pinch.
24. 5 T-Shirts or Tops
I recommend non-branded, single-color t-shirts. You can purchase them in a pack of 5.
26. Dress Clothing
When in Rome.
27. 5-7 Pair of Underwear
Please see above.
The second-half of the dynamic duo, luggage and shoes.
If you decide to pack two-pair of shoes, which is almost advisable for any long-form of travel, you will be wearing one pair and carrying the other. (Maybe tie the shoes to the side of your backpack?)
The Best Shoe Combo for Travel
While traveling for 5 months, I ended up going through about two different pair of shoes due to overuse. Please keep in mind, I was walking and running 10 miles per day. Therefore, it was very easy to go through tennis shoes.
But by the end of my trip, I was wearing my heavy, weatherproof hiking boots in Iceland. (A must) and a pair of Chacos.
So, the answer to this question is “it depends.”
But personally I think the one-two punch will tennis shoes and flip-flops.
Camera Gear & Technlogy
Importance Level: Personal Preference
To me, my camera is one thing I could not live without if I was traveling the world. And if you are like me, it becomes difficult if space is limited. I recommend picking a mirrorless camera with a good, multi-purpose prime. This might look like the Canon R with the 50mm F1.2 or the Sony A7IV with the 35mm F1.2. And with this, your camera should be able to cover photography styles where your phone lacks. (low-light and portrait)
30. Action Camera
I have read some interesting camera articles lately, and the crux of their argument is “the action camera is dead.”
They argue that the stabilization and overall image quality of phone cameras has caught up with action camera line-up, which renders it useless.
I don’t entirely agree with this statement, as the new GoPro lineup is noticeably better, and most people still view videos on a normal, 16×9 monitor.
Also, would you do this with your phone?
Importance Level: Depends
Again, if you are going down the digital nomad trek, go ahead and read all about the digital nomad life here before you start.
It’s not just packing lists but jobs, etc. This should help you determine which type of technology you need. Travel Bloggers don’t need Apple computers.
Nothing bigger than a 13 inch laptop.
Expensive Laptop Options for Digital Nomads
If you are ready to be a bit paranoid about your laptop being stolen, it’s time to upgrade. At the time of writing this (2023), these are some of the best laptops on the market. They are geared more towards video-creators, which means 4K resolution screens, a large color spectrum, and plenty of ram to handle 4K and 8K footage. However, they aren’t cheap. Expect to spend $2,000 + on these computers.
- Macbook M2
- ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED
These options are more geared toward people who just need laptops for streaming or accessing the internet. Personally, I could use one of these laptops about 80% of the time, as I could use Google Docs, access my online banking, etc.
- Microsoft Surface Go
32. Laptop Case
Even if you purchased a cheap, $200 laptop, it’s still better to protect your investment from accidental drops and water damage. Especially when you are traveling, you never know when something could go wrong.
Your phone could act as your camera, as your mobile GPS if you get lost, or even a source of entertainment.
34. Phone Case
Yeah, to each their own.
35. Wireless Earbuds
I am very picky about my wireless earbuds, as I want the earbuds to be noise cancelling and have a long battery life. Plus, the case must actually charge the earbuds AND keep the earbuds from falling out.
I do have one recommendation beyond this, though. The less cords, the happier you will be.
If your phone is USB-C, please pick headphones that can be charged via USB-C. (And maybe even a computer, too.) This will save a storage and a headache.
36. Universal Adapter
At this time, there are about three different versions of universal adapters. There are the small, singular plug-ins, there are just the one-plug-in attached to each country, and now there are brick, multi-charge adapters.
I personally prefer the bricks, as they typically have multiple USB slots and remove the need for an extension cord.
However, depending on the capacity of the brick, it may be a trickle charge instead of the quick one.
37. External Battery Pack
A 20,000 mAH battery pack will charge your phone between 3-4 times with a full-charge.
If you are traveling, this may come in handy in certain situations like riding a bus that does not offer plug-ins.
Importance Level: Low
38. Hygiene Items
For me, toothpaste, toothbrush, and a stick of deodorant. Probably an electric razor, too.
Importance Level: High
39. Microfiber Towel
40. Fingernail clippers
Here’s a travel tip: Fingernail Clippers work as scissors in a pinch.
Shoutout to Julie, who was always more concerned about wearing suncreen than I.
42. Reusable Filtered Water Bottle
Reduce Plastic Waste. Also, thinking about it, I probably should not have drank the water in some of the places I have been…
I like the idea of carrying a mesh, drawstring bag around. It acts as a stand-alone bag so you can carry things to the beach. Or this could be used to separate clean and dirty laundry.
One Bag Packing List Conclusion
Well, that’s about all I can think of for this one bag list.
Look, at forty-four items, the bag is going to be close to full. It’s honestly crazy to think about, but this is everything you need to live besides food.