Having lived as a digital nomad for over two years, we’ve got packing down to an art form. That’s not to say it isn’t tempting to start hauling a load of stuff we don’t need from time to time but, when we do, we’re sorely reminded of why keeping a manageable and lightweight travel packing situation is so important for a digital nomad.
It’s so much easier to lose things when you’re packing a lot of stuff for a start. On those occasions I have lost something important, it has almost always been because I’ve had my bag overstuffed and things have spilt out without my knowing.
Repacking overstuffed luggage becomes a chore quickly; you soon start to resent doing it and, worse even, start to dislike the lifestyle as a result of the literal burden you’ve put on yourself.
You quickly realise you don’t need half of the things you’ve packed and start shedding things as you go which is just unnecessary.
We’ve outlined below the absolute essentials you should have in your bag or suitcase as a remote worker living a nomadic lifestyle
Minimalist Packing List
We’ve outlined why we think adopting a minimalist packing mindset is important while living a digital nomad lifestyle in our ten tips for smart and lightweight packing.
However, if you’re at a loss of what you should be packing or you’re wondering if you’ve forgotten something important then take some time to go through this list and reassure yourself.
Bear in mind, you will be able to buy almost anything you forget or don’t want to initially take with you when you arrive. Just don’t forget your essentials.
- Wallet: Make sure you have your debit and credit card with you.
Tip: Remote workers will benefit from using a nomad-friendly bank card (like Wise who offer the best rates on foreign transactions).
- Personal paperwork: This can include a copy of your passport, bookings, boarding passes, emergency contacts (including your bank’s contact number), notes on insurance, anything you need for work.
- Glasses/contact lenses
- Essential medication
Clothes to Pack
Deciding what clothes to pack is possibly one of the most difficult (and most painful) part of packing. Wther you fold or roll the clothes is largely down to personal taste. I personally don’t find the rolling method particularly useful but my partner swears by it.
I am, however, a big fan of packing cubes to keep my things organised and keep my dirty items away from clean. This Eagle Creek set are a fantastic travel item that you’ll struggle to live without.
- Four Pairs of Socks and Seven Pairs of Underwear: As a digital nomad, you’re usually based somewhere long enough to make use of washing facilities but no one has ever complained about having a few extra pairs of socks and underwear.
- Flip flops or sandals: You can easily purchase these when you get to your first destination but they’re great for places you need to take your shoes off, showers, or wet destinations.
- Pyjamas: This varies depending on what you wear but one pair of bottoms (or two pairs of shorts) plus a few vests/t-shirts. I personally find silky/cotton bottoms fold away to nothing.
- Waterproof raincoat: These will usually come in a little bag and are much more compact than an umbrella (which are prone to breaking anyway). You never know when you’ll be caught in a downpour so this waterproof raincoat will be a saviour.
- Two smart tops: Great if you’re expecting to be doing some conference calls and need to look good on zoom or are planning on networking.
- Three t-shirts or long sleeve tops for layering
- One sweater and jacket (which you can wear on travel days)
- Two pairs of jeans or pants (wear one on travel days)
- One pair of leggings/shorts/yoga pants: Lightweight and endlessly useful whether you’re working out or need something casual.
- A pair of good quality shoes or hiking boots: Pick shoes that will be most useful to you and go with most of your clothes.
Note: Remember if you forget any clothes or find you need something, you can easily pick it up the other end.
Toiletries to Pack
- Solid Shampoo/conditioner bar and a bar of soap: Lightweight, eco-friendly, won’t add to your liquid capacity at check-in, and last ten times as long as travel sizes. What’s not to love? Once you try solid shampoo while travelling, you won’t go back.
- Small Items: brush, razor, toothbrush and travel toothpaste, nail clippers, hair ties (if needed), sanitiser. This travel pouch is ideal for keeping these items secure.
- Your preferred skincare and cosmetic items: Skincare and cosmetics are fairly personal but ideally you’ll want to bring travel-sized amounts if you’re travelling with cabin luggage only.
- All chargers: make sure to have a bag to put these in to keep them safe and easy to find (such as this cable bag). It could be worth having a spare phone charger on you just in case.
- Gadgets and Tech: What tech you carry will largely depend on your lifestyle but here are some typical items you may need – camera, camera charger and SD card, your laptop and any office gadgets including a laptop light for zoom, tablet, phone, kindle, Nintendo Switch, headphones, portable wifi, power bank, mobile phone.
- Check out our resources page for digital nomads for our favourite gadgets.
- Tip: If you’re worried about your tech then make sure you have a good personal possessions plan as part of your insurance.
- Pen and paper
- Cutlery set and straws: You’ll be surprised how useful having your own cutlery set becomes whether you’re working outdoors and need a snack or your takeout forgot your cutlery.
- Water bottle
- Multi travel adapter – Complete with surge protection, this adaptor provides everything you need.
- Travel hairdryer: If needed, we love the ConAir 1600.
- Basic first aid and a whistle: I’ve never once needed anything from a first aid kit while travelling but carrying a few antiseptic wipes, plasters, and temporary stitch strips in a zip-up bag is a great idea. Also, pop in any medicine you need plus some antihistamines and painkillers. Carrying a whistle is handy if you find yourself in any unsafe situations.
- Optional: Aeropress – A lightweight and compact way to make excellent coffee wherever you are.
What not to pack:
- Full-size toiletries: it’ll be easy to buy these things as you go
- Items of clothing that are fashionable but don’t pair well with your other clothes
- Styling appliances: They’re heavy and may not work the same in countries with a different voltage anyway
- Expensive jewellery or valuables (that you don’t need)
- Heavy zoom lenses: Unless you’re a professional photographer, the chances of you putting this to good use are slim.
- Towels: These will almost certainly be provided at your accommodation and take up the necessary space. Worst case, you’ll be able to pick one up easily. If you’d like something, just in case, then try a lightweight travel towel
We hope you enjoyed this minimalist packing list for digital nomad and remote workers. Packing does get easier and don’t forget to include a couple of personal items that bring you comfort if you have space.
You’ll be amazed at what oddities nomads end up packing for practicality and familiarity. I personally don’t go anywhere without my tofu press, something which won’t end up on any packing list but who wants soggy tofu?