I find packing to be one of the most difficult, and if I’m honest, annoying parts of any trip.
When you’re packing for a significant amount of time and don’t have a return plan, packing gets that much more frustrating.
Even just making decisions on what to take, what to leave, and what to sell can be hard enough. Fitting your life into a small suitcase and some carry-on luggage? Your task just got that much more difficult!
After spending a few years traveling around frequently, then making the move to full-time digital nomad in mid-2018, I created my own digital nomad packing list to make my packing that much easier.
Below I have shared my own digital nomad packing list of exactly what I have with me. I hope that this packing list will help you think about what you need to take, what you want to take, and what you need to leave behind.
You’re Only Packing For 1-2 Weeks
There are 3 key things to keep in mind when creating your digital nomad packing list:
1. You only need 1-2 weeks worth of clothes
Although you are traveling around a lot, most places I have visited as a digital nomad have excellent laundry and washing services.
If you don’t have a washer or dryer where you are staying, you can usually find a local washing place that will wash, dry, fold, and return your clothes either the same day or the next day.
And depending on where you travel too, these services are usually $1-$2 per kilo or less. This means that you don’t have to take up valuable space and weight in your bag by taking tons of clothes.
2. Your luggage must meet airline weight policies
One of the hardest things about packing as a digital nomad is the fact that you have strict restrictions on weight as you travel on airlines.
Depending on whether you travel with a budget airline or a more premium service, will determine how much you can take (and get away with).
Personally, I ensure that my suitcase is always under 20kgs and my carry-on is less than 7kgs. This means that I adhere to most airline standards and don’t end up paying huge amounts of money when I take a more budget airline.
I met a digital nomad recently, who only takes a maximum of 10kgs and does it all carry-on. Personally, that’s way too tight for me, but he was convinced that it was the perfect way to travel.
3. You are going to be moving around frequently
The last consideration is the fact that as a digital nomad, you travel from place to place regularly. You want to make sure that you can pack up easily and don’t have to spend hours trying to balance weight and space every time.
Digital Nomad Packing List for 2023
With those 3 things in mind, let’s go through exactly what you need on your digital nomad packing list.
Typically, the most popular digital nomad spots are in warmer tropical climates, so I have made this list with that in mind.
If you are traveling to colder climates, you can just swap out the items that don’t make sense and put in the items that you need. Let’s get packing!
Essential Travel Items
These are the first items you need to make sure you have. This part of the list is small, but without these, you aren’t going anywhere.
Suitcase for checked luggage
When it comes to the right suitcase my advice is to keep it lightweight, about 28 – 32 inches, and make sure it’s a hard case so your valuables inside are well protected (we all know airlines are rough with our bags).
I also like to have a good expander and a combination lock as you will travel to countries where things are stolen easily and are difficult to recover. My personal choice is the Samsonite Freeform Suitcase. It’s very lightweight, has a strong hard case shell, and is 28 inches which are perfect for 20kgs of luggage.
It also comes with a roomy expander and a reliable TSA-approved lock.
Getting the right backpack was one of the most important things. I wanted to make sure it fitted all of my gear (30L – 40L), my 13-inch laptop, had padding, was secure, and could double as a day bag.
The Nomatic Travel Pack, designed for digital nomads, is a great choice. Other digital nomads, I have met use a laptop bag, specifically for their laptop, and also carry a day bag (most airlines allow this).
If you’re like Ashley, you might want a functional backpack that’s still cute. She scoured the internet and found the perfect one – Nordace Siena Backpack.
The choice is yours, just make sure whatever you choose has a bit of padding and suits your needs.
Images courtesy of Amazon
If you choose to go the day bag route you need to make sure that it fits all the other carry-on gear (besides your laptop) and is comfortable for hiking.
As I don’t use a day bag specifically I advise you to do some looking around and see what works best. When asking around, one of my friends strongly recommended the Osprey Farpoint 40L Travel Backpack.
Well, this one is pretty obvious. If you don’t have your passport, you aren’t going to exit or enter any country fast.
My advice is to make sure that you have a passport holder to go with your passport. This makes it much easier to keep all your key documents in one place and protects your passport from being damaged.
By secure wallet, I don’t just mean a wallet that will keep your money safely inside. These days you need a secure wallet with RFID protection.
One of my friends was recently in a large mall in Bali. He was there for about 2 hours to do a bit of shopping before he headed back to his villa.
After about 30 minutes after returning to his villa, he suddenly got a notification from his bank saying that someone had tried to withdraw 3 million IDR (about $220 USD) from an atm at the same mall he was just at.
Thankfully he had location security on, where his bank realized that his phone was kilometers away from where the transaction was being made, so the bank automatically blocked it.
Electronic credit card theft is an issue all over the world, particularly in crowded places. Do yourself a favor and get an RFID secure wallet.
As a digital nomad and long-term traveler, having the right tech gear to take with you is very important.
In this section, I will cover everything tech-related that I use regularly. My tech gear not only helps with my work but also provides entertainment as well as allowing me to read books, take courses, and listen to podcasts.
A laptop is a pretty standard item for any work, especially as a digital nomad. Laptops are pretty personal items so I won’t necessarily give any recommendations. I however use a 2019 MacBook Pro 13″.
I use this laptop because it’s great for work, very light, and has great battery life (a must for digital nomads).
My advice is to choose a laptop that is easy to travel with, great for your work, and can provide you with the entertainment you need (Netflix, games, etc).
Portable Laptop Stand
Where would we be without our MOFT?! I honestly don’t know! Ever since we found an ad on Facebook about a portable laptop that could attach to your laptop? Straight to cart!
The MOFT invisible laptop stand sticks to the back of your laptop and easily folds up for travel. We are loyal MOFT customers and they just continue to create great products. Get on for yourself and become the coolest digital nomad in the cafe! 😉
A good smartphone is essential for any traveler, especially for digital nomads. As a digital nomad, you never know when a good picture will arise, so an excellent camera is a necessity.
There are hundreds of apps available that will make your traveling smoother and more fun, so make sure your smartphone loads all apps smoothly.
My personal choice is my iPhone. It takes great pictures and video, works smoothly and of course, plays nicely with my iPad and Macbook Pro.
For most digital nomads, an external mouse is needed for their work. Your external mouse needs to be compact, lightweight, very strong, and wireless.
For me, of course, I have the Apple Magic Mouse – mainly because it’s amazing and works well with the rest of my Apple gear.
If the Magic Mouse isn’t for you, I used to have the Logitech MX Master. It has an ergonomic shape so you can use it for a long time, excellent precision movement, and is compact and strong.
It also has a bunch of other cool tech features that are great for work and online gaming.
External Portable Hard-Drive SSD
Having an external hard drive is good for anyone who travels around a lot. You can store movies, documents, tv shows, and even keep a local backup of your computer handy.
I recommend a 1TB solid-state drive, so you can keep your files safe and move them around quickly. We currently use the above SanDisk SSD because it’s so small and stores everything we need perfectly.
I don’t know how many times my power bank has saved my life. As a digital nomad, your mobile phone becomes one of your biggest assets for transport and communication.
If it runs out of battery, it becomes useless, that’s why you always need a power bank handy. I have an Anker PowerCore Power Bank which has amazing charging capacity. I can charge my iPhone about 6 times from the Anker power bank before it needs to be recharged itself.
Headphones are great for work, entertainment, learning, and even in the gym. Make sure you have a good pair for your travels.
I use my headphones every single day to listen to music, listen to podcasts, playing my Switch, and watching Netflix.
If you prefer headphones like me, I use the Marshall Major III Headphones because they are strong, lightweight, look amazing, and have great sound. Not to mention their microphone is incredibly good if you use headphones for phone or Zoom calls.
If you are more of an earphone person, then Ashley uses and loves the Apple AirPods Pro. They are very unobtrusive and excellent for use while on the move.
Kindle / Tablet
Books are very important for digital nomads. Most digital nomads that I have met read almost every day. I also like to read most days, but unfortunately had to forfeit the “physical book” as it’s just not plausible with the digital nomad lifestyle.
I have an iPad which I love for both kindle books and my audible subscription. If you are the kind of person that prefers a more “book-like” eReader then definitely check out the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.
Universal Travel Adapters
Again, I think this one is pretty standard. Make sure that you have a universal adapter that you can use in any country you visit. If you’re looking for one to get, We use this one (we actually have 2 of them). I also recommend buying a travel adapter that has a USB built into the side, so you can charge your other devices as well.
When I first started traveling I didn’t take a portable speaker with me. BIG mistake. I missed being able to listen to music out loud while in the pool, at the beach, or just in my room. Now I take my JBL Flip 5 wherever I go. It is extremely portable, has great sound, and excellent battery life.
I’m not a “photographer”, but in my opinion, every digital nomad should be documenting their travels and building a personal brand in some way. To do that, you need some decent camera equipment. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but something good enough.
Here is the camera gear that I use as a digital nomad. If you are a pro photographer or are really into it, feel free to skip this section as I’m sure you already have your setup.
Camera & Video
As a digital nomad you need a camera that is compact, very portable, takes good images and videos, and is simple to use.
The camera that I use is a Canon PowerShot G7X. It is known as the camera for bloggers and traveling content creators.
It takes good images, has advanced video capabilities, and has a flip-up screen so you can point the camera at yourself and see exactly what you look like.
It is also small and has reasonable sound capture, so it’s great for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook videos. The G7X does not have a jack to input your microphone, so you will be recording mostly without a mic.
We also have a GoPro Hero 8 because it allows us to capture video content regardless of the location. We purchased the GoPro 3-Way Handle Mount because it makes the GoPro that much more versatile.
If you want to be able to capture great quality content and not have to worry about damaging your camera, GoPro is a great option.
Portable Camera Tripod
Choosing the right tripod basically comes down to 4 things – lightweight, compact, simple to use, and not too expensive (we are not all pros here).
The Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod ticks all of these boxes. There is a lot that goes into tripods and some of them go up to over $1000.
The Manfrotto is perfect for the digital nomad capturing their adventures and is very cost-effective.
Our go-to mic is the Samson Meteor Studio Mic. I love this mic because it is very compact, records excellent sound quality, and is extremely portable. I have recorded YouTube videos, podcasts, and even full online courses with this mic and it’s absolutely fantastic.
Clothes, Shoes & Toiletries
Now it’s time to pack your clothes, shoes, and toiletry needs. Most people find this the most difficult thing to do. You will naturally want to take clothes for every type of weather, condition, and activity you may encounter. Don’t do it!
When it comes to clothes I ask 2 simple questions, “will I wear/use this at least once in the next 2 weeks?” And, “Does it fit in my suitcase?” If I can’t confidently answer yes to both of those questions, it doesn’t come with me.
As clothes are also a very personal thing, I won’t make specific suggestions on which clothes to buy, but more give you suggestions on how much to take of each. The clothes list is also aimed at warmer and tropical climates, as these are the types of climates that most (not all) digital nomads go to. See the list below:
Take 7 to 10 different shirts that suit the climate you will spend the most time in.
I take 2 polos with me just for semi-formal events and activities such as a nice dinner, going out, etc.
Take 7 to 10 pairs of shorts that suit the climate you are going to. You might also bring a combination of casual shorts and activewear shorts.
I take 1 pair of semi-formal pants that can be used in combination with a polo shirt for a nice dinner or occasion.
Take one lightweight jacket for the plane trips and those sometimes cooler evenings.
There’s nothing worse than running out of jocks, so make sure you take enough. I recommend at least 8-10 pairs.
Most digital nomads wear some variation of flip-flops almost every day. However, there will definitely be times when you wear shoes for activities such as hiking, gym, or general day trips. I take 5 pairs of ankle socks with me for such occasions and 1 pair of longer socks for when needed.
Take at least 1-2 pairs of swimmers, as I’m sure that you will be swimming at the beach, in the pool, or under a waterfall pretty regularly.
While most places I’ve stayed at provide a towel for the shower and pool, not all will. You’ll also need something for those beach days!
Ashley uses a Soft Turkish towel which she loves! It’s super lightweight, folds up into almost nothing and dry’s really quickly. I use the Nabaiji Microfibre Towel because the material soaks up water quickly and also drys fast.
Light, comfortable pyjamas are a must for digital nomads.
Poncho / Raincoat
In tropical climates, it can rain at any time. Get a simple light poncho that you can leave in your backpack and whip out at any time.
Make sure you get a comfortable pair of flip-flops that you love, as you will be wearing these most days. If you happen to be in Bali, absolutely go to Fipper! These flip-flops are amazing.
Get some casual shoes that match your pants and polo. You can wear them while traveling on the plane or for dinners and nicer occasions. Just make sure they are comfortable as well as look great with lots of things!
I use multipurpose cross-trainers as my pair of running shoes. These are great for hiking, gym, sports, and general wear.
Don’t forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shaver, hairbrush, deodorant, and anything else you deem essential in the way of toiletries.
I also recommend you invest in a strong toiletries bag to pack everything into. This keeps everything packed neatly and makes it easier to get out at each stop. I do not take many soaps, shampoos, and liquids as they are heavy, take up a lot of space, and can be likely purchased at the next location.
Mesh Laundry Bag
Your mesh laundry bag is going to make washing that much easier. Putting your dirty clothes in one durable mesh bag each time makes it easier to transport and ensures you don’t lose anything. Come washing day, you can just drop your mesh bag full of dirty clothes into your local laundry store to be washed. Easy as that!
One Final Tip for Packing Clothes – Packing Cubes
We never used packing cubes before…
…but we can’t imagine traveling without them now!
Get yourself a set of quality packing cubes that you can fit all of your clothes into.
This makes them a lot easier to transport and keep track of. I don’t know how many times I have lost 1 sock or a pair of jocks while traveling and packing cubes this helps keep everything neat and secure.
It will also speed up your packing and unpack time as well.
Other essentials are things that you should make sure that you have prepared before you start your journey.
Having the right travel insurance is very important for digital nomads. There are heaps of travel insurers out there, however, they usually don’t make their policies with digital nomads in mind.
That’s why we use SafetyWing. Only $42 per month. Super cheap and easy!
It covers everything that we need and is very cost-effective.
Check out the best travel insurance for digital nomads to see the top 4 options.
Bank Cards and Accounts
Make sure that before you leave, you have the right bank cards to suit your travel and that they won’t expire while you are traveling around.
I once had this happen to me and it was a nightmare. I had to change my address at the bank, send the new card to my parent’s address, and then get them to post it over to me in Bali from Melbourne. It took over 4 weeks from the time I successfully ordered the card until I received it in Bali.
Nowadays, we use Revolut and Wise (previously Transferwise) as our main “banks” and “cards” for traveling. They offer excellent exchange rates and charge almost nothing in terms of fees.
Check out our complete Revolut Review and Wise Review to learn more!
Best of all, you can convert money into any currency you need fast and manage all of your finances from your phone with their amazing apps.
If you are just choosing one to go with, definitely jump on to Revolut. However, I think it is good to have a couple of options available for managing your money so consider getting both.
Check out the best banks for digital nomads to see which banks will suit you most!
Print Outs of Important Documents
A good practice for any traveler, especially digital nomads, is to make sure that you keep a printout of all your important documents.
Important documents might include a copy of your passport, visa, flight information, travel insurance, birth certificate, etc.
I keep all of my documents in the same folder and separate them from my real copies. If the real ones get lost or stolen, these copies should at least help you out.
Handy To Have
We have almost gone through everything on my digital nomad packing list. However, there are just a few other things that I take which are not necessarily essential, but handier to have.
I don’t know how many times I have used my multitool to fix something, cut something, or screw something back in.
I once in Chiang Mai, Thailand, had to fix a bicycle I was riding, because the handlebars suddenly became very loose. I always have my Leatherman Wave Plus handy to help me with those moments.
Most mobile phones have a flashlight of some sort built-in. But sometimes a real flashlight is required. I like to keep my small Ledlenser TT Flashlight ready for whenever I need it.
If you like a lot of off-road adventures, then I recommend a secure waterproof dry sack. Dry sacks are excellent for those who like an adventure where the track is often a bit muddy or involves getting wet. It means that you can take your electronics with you and use them to capture those unforgettable images and moments.
Here’s the problem:
Dry Sacks can get heavy. As digital nomads, we don’t have a lot of extra weight we can pack in to our suitcases. So I recommend the Ultralight Dry Sack.
It’s super lightweight, keeps your stuff organised and will do a good job of protecting your valuables.
Small Sewing Kit
Over my travels, I have had numerous buttons pop off different pairs of my shorts and shirts at the most inconvenient times. It’s extremely frustrating! Now, I carry my small sewing kit (literally a needle, black thread, and small scissors) with me just for these times.
YOUR Digital Nomad Packing List Needs To Suit YOUR Needs
At the end of the day – it’s YOU that’s taking the journey. Create the digital nomad packing list that suits you best and makes it a more comfortable trip for yourself. And that’s it! You now have a comprehensive list of everything that I pack, and recommend you pack as a digital nomad.
If you have some recommendations or comments about what you pack in your bag, feel free to share them.