So you’ve made the decision to become a digital nomad, and now you need to know the most important things that you need to take with you.
First of all, you need to remember that you are not going to be packing for a vacation because this is a lifestyle. You are going to pack to go away forever, or at least a very long time.
And believe it or not, while you’re working remotely, you’re not always going to be able to work in cozy coffee shops and lounge all day at the beach. Sometimes, working from a remote location will mean a noisy environment with un-ergonomic seating.
PS: We’ve actually got a video course on how to become a digital nomad, and earn $4K per month passive income within a year. Check out the Digital Nomad Bootcamp!
You need to be disciplined and have a lot of willpower in order to stay motivated for a long period of time, and you need to make sure you bring all the tools necessary to be productive. Here’s a video I made about packing as a nomad which mentions a few different things:
Digital nomad packing list 2019
We’ve made a list of the top essentials that you’ll need every day, as a digital nomad. This is the ultimate nomads packing list, with no fluff. Everything that you think you MIGHT need that isn’t on here, you can probably buy wherever you’re going at most shops.
1: A good camera
You will want to take a nice camera with you, so you’ll be able to keep the memories and update your social media at the same time. You can choose from a regular camera or an action camera if you want to record any sports, action, and underwater.
Do note that taking a bigger and bulkier camera isn’t that practical when you’re on the road because they tend to take up a lot of space and they are heavy.
I use the Sony DSC wx500 which is perfect, and you can see the quality in my vlog below:
2: A laptop of some kind
You could choose a lightweight laptop that works well, such as a MacBook, but keep in mind that Apple stores aren’t available all around the globe if you need to get something like a charger.
However, there are repair shops in every corner of the planet, so you could be fine. As a backup, you can also take an iPad, in case your computer dies or it needs some time to be repaired.
3: UNLOCKED cell phone with loads of storage
Make sure you take an unlocked cell phone so that you can just put a local sim card in it, and you could even use it as a hotspot if you need it.
And make sure that the phone either has plenty of internal memory or bring some external memory cards with you. You will be grateful for thinking ahead when you have a phone full of apps and photos and need to move something to a card.
Something like the Iphone X would be perfect.
4: Travel adapter
You could get a universal, all-in-one travel adapter that has plugs for every country. Bringing a travel adapter is also extremely important in order to keep all your gadgets charged. Furthermore, bringing along a backup also won’t hurt, just in case.
This is the best thing especially if you get one that ALSO has USB ports for charging everything at the same time.
5: External hard drive
Just like we noted that it’s important to bring some external memory cards for your phone, you should also bring some external hard drives for your laptop.
There are plenty to choose from, but the most reliable are the StoreJet models because they offer military grade shock resistance, a lot of storage, and a fast USB 3.0 connection.
6: Noise-cancelling headphones
Since the outside world can be a busy and a loud place from time to time, you might want to be able to retreat into your own peaceful sanctuary for a while.
Headphones are great for when you need to take a call, or when you need to block out any sounds and focus. You can also bring them with you while going on a run, or for listening to music while traveling from one destination or another.
But in particular, you’ll need noise cancelling headphones because you want to be able to block out the annoying noise of buses, cars, places and other engines.
If you’re a book lover, you’re definitely going to want to take a bunch of books on the road with you. Whether that’s some old and classic favourites, a few from your ‘To Be Read’ pile or a combination of both, it’s a bad idea.
Instead of taking up space and carrying around a bunch of heavy books, get yourself an eReader like a Kindle.
This way, you have all the books you want available to you at any time, with no additional weight or space added to your luggage.
8: Travel pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs
You can choose an inflatable travel pillow that is compact and won’t take up a lot of room when you’re not using it. But make sure that your pillow has a loop or a clip for a karabiner so that you can easily clip it to your carry-on bag.
I’ve actually recently stopped taking an inflatable pillow with me, for a few reasons:
- I don’t take super long flights now, I just move on to the next place that’s less than 4 hours from where I am
- For the benefit you get, it’s not worth the extra space in your rucksack
- You can just make do without one fairly easily
But there are people who swear by them and couldn’t imagine taking a flight without one of these. I think it depends on just HOW uncomfortable you are without one. I personally can manage, but not everyone can.
An alternative is a multi purpose headwear thing (no idea what they’re really called). It’s a band that you can wear as an eye mask, neck scarf, hair cover and many more things.
9: Your essential documentation and paper copies of it
Of course, you are going to need your passport, travel insurance, flight and maybe even hotel information with you, but it’s also a good idea to make paper copies of all of this information that you are going to keep in a separate location.
A third, electronic copy that you store on a cloud is also a good idea. This way, if you lose anything, or it gets stolen, you’ll have a few backups to help you out.
I know it sounds like it’s a bit excessive, but you never know when you’re going to lose your bag, or your phone, or both. If you at least have a physical copy, you’re safe! Also you’d be surprised how easy it can be to let your phone run down to 0 battery and then NEED it for something.
Like a booking reference, a ticket, an email or so on. Much better and more reliable to keep paper copies of this stuff.Or at the very least, make sure your power bank is always with you and fully charged.
This way you can always pull up the tickets you need, when you need them. It’s such a simple mistake to make, but in todays world we have everything on our phones.. but what when the battery dies?
10: Portable Wifi hotspot
Internet is very important for digital nomads. Without a good internet connection, you’re screwed. It’s important to make sure you have a strong connection, and you can’t always rely on the place you’re staying.
You can now get a portable wifi router that connects via a SIM card that you buy locally.
You can also sometimes buy data before you go in your home country. It depends what network you’re with but the router itself works with most networks.
What else do you need to pack?
To be honest, that’s it. Of course it depends what type of digital nomad you are. You’ll need different things depending on what you do for work.
For example if you’re a travel vlogger and you use Instagram a lot, you might need a drone to get arial shots and produce content. In that case I’d suggest the spark by DJI but not everyone needs that.
A camera and most of the things we’ve mentioned here are pretty essential, but you can of course get other things like sunglasses etc out there. I’ve tried to keep the list to things that you’d want to have everywhere you go, instead of just getting new ones in the new places you go to.
Pack for a week
A little tip I’ve got for you is to just pack for ONE week.
Anything more than that is not needed. Think about it, you can just wash the clothes you bring with you, after one week. Just pack enough that you have a few outfit changes, and then when they get dirty, just find a washing machine.
This will save you LOADS of room in your bag. It also enables me to travel with just one carry on rucksack, almost anywhere in the world. It’s slightly different if you’re going to a cold destination and you need more layers, but for hot places, one bag is enough.
This is actually a nice exercise in minimalism, because knowing that you can only take one bag and pack for one week makes you leave behind everything you don’t REALLY need.
Buy consumables out there
Anything you can buy in shops near where you’re staying, you should. Things like:
- Other toiletries
Now I personally like taking an electric toothbrush (with charger) and that does take up a fair bit of room but I like using it, especially long term. I feel like it’s much harder to clean your teeth with a manual brush.
But if you’re not a fan of electric toothbrushes, you can just buy a cheap one out there. Same goes for toothpaste. This isn’t a holiday, this is a lifestyle. You’re going to likely be in the location for a month or more, so just buy consumables out there.
I’ve saved so much space and weight in my bags by just buying things out there in the country. In fact I even did this with clothes when I went to Asia for 3 months. I just bought shirts and things I needed out there.
This way, not only did I save space and weight, but I could decide what to wear based on the ACTUAL local weather and style. Not based on unreliable google weather predictions. This means I could decide what thickness of harem pants I needed and what type of shirt would be best.
Plus, clothing in Asia is SUPER cheap.
You can get almost anything out there for less than $10. Now of course, this depends on where you’re going, but for the most part, you can buy stuff out there.
It’s much better and more comfortable to save the space and weight in your bag. Plus it’s kinda fun! You get used to landing, finding a shop and getting the local essentials, and it becomes more exciting.
The hunt for certain items, especially in places like China can be interesting because it’s in a completely new language as well. I like playing the guessing game with items in China!
Other things to know
There are several other things you’ll need to know about if you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad. This is the packing list, but there is some mental preparation you’ll need to do too:
- Dating as a digital nomad: Your love life gets complicated when you’re on the road. This is our guide to making it simple
- How to become a nomad: The best guide to becoming a fully fledged digital nomad within 6 months
- Staying fit while you’re traveling: Don’t become one of those nomads who lets themselves go and become fat. Stay fit while you’re on the move!