Becoming a full-time traveler is no joke. As you prepare to take your life (and your work) on the road, you’ll need to pack up your entire world, condensing your personal belongings into a space the size of a large suitcase, or even within the humble confines of a backpack.
Needless to say, this isn’t the time to make your average 10-day vacation packing list.
As a traveler who will be working as you explore the globe, you have unique needs. Needs that need to be fulfilled by the items in your bag. You need to travel light, be ready for any climate, and have the ability to access a data connection no matter where you are.
Things that aren’t so important?
An array of swimsuit options.
A pair of shoes for every occasion.
A stack of books that you’ve been meaning to read.
A fully-stocked pharmacy.
What’s on a Digital Nomad Packing List?
One thing to know before we jump into your must-pack list: we don’t call the members of the Remote Year community “digital nomads”. Though the term is prevalent in popular culture, we don’t believe that it is inclusive enough to encompass the many different ways that members work. It also portrays a lonely, unstructured lifestyle which isn’t an accurate depiction of the vibrant communities that make up Remote Year.
With that being said, travelers have the same needs, no matter how they define themselves. Here are the 9 things that you actually need to pack when you want to work and travel:
1. Your Passport
The number one thing that you don’t want to forget when you’re traveling? Your passport. It’s your key to living a life of freedom and spontaneity - and the only way that you’ll be able to head home (or anywhere for that matter) if you’re feeling nostalgic. Make sure you keep this important document (and a couple of color copies) in a safe place like a waterproof case.
2. All. The. Tech.
Technology is a close second to your passport when it comes to work and travel must-haves. Sure, you know that you need your laptop and your cellphone in order to be productive and effective on the road, but have you thought about a wireless keyboard or mouse? Many digital nomads invest in plug adaptors, portable batteries, and external hard drives to help them get their work done from anywhere.
3. Mobile Hotspot
Connectivity is queen for a remote worker. When you’re in the coworking space or in your Airbnb, you will likely have access to the internet. But the only way to guarantee a consistent connection is to bring it with you. Seek out a data plan that fits your needs and see if you can use your phone as a tetherable hotspot. One less thing to pack!
4. Laptop Stand
Back pain and adventure do not go hand-in-hand. Protect your posture with a collapsible laptop stand (a lot of remote workers recommend Roost) that fits in whichever bag you’re traveling with at the time. It will keep your work at eye-level, making it simpler for you to focus on the task at hand and less on how that kink in your neck is getting worse. Bring it with you to the coworking space, to the café down the street from your apartment, or to a picnic table at the beach. Now that you’re working and traveling, the opportunities are endless.
5. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Whether you’re a music lover, or you just want some peace and quiet the plane , noise-cancelling headphones are going to be your new best friend. Choose between an earbud style or a more traditional pair but, whatever you do, go wireless. You don’t have time to be messing with cords when you’re running through the airport to your next connection! With headphones in hand you can get back to listening to that emotional ballad and pretending that it’s the theme song to the movie that is now your life.
6. Portable Speaker
Adventure can take you anywhere, from a salt field in Bolivia to a waterfall in Hawaii, and you’re going to want to bring your favorite music along. Pick a version that’s waterproof and shockproof - things happen and you don’t want to ruin an integral piece of your gear. Even when you’re just hanging out in your apartment making a home-cooked meal with your travel buddies, a bit of background music can really set the mood.
7. Ultralight Towel
When you’re moving from city to city on a regular basis, you might run into a situation where the place that you’re staying has less than your preferred amenities. Luckily, ultralight towels are now a thing (yay technology!), and you should definitely include one on your digital nomad packing list. If you have one as part of your travel repertoire you’ll always have a sense of cleanliness and comfort, no matter where you’re getting clean.
8. Eye Mask
If you can’t get any sleep, you can’t get any work done - that’s just a fact. Use those precious hours on a plane to get a bit of shut eye, or block out the sunlight streaming through the windows of your Airbnb when you’re dealing with jetlag. There are a variety of eye masks out there to fit your needs: basic versions to darken your surroundings, memory foam options for extreme comfort, and even some with cooling gel to make you feel completely relaxed.
9. Your Choice!
Last but not least, feel free to bring an item that is completely impractical or strictly sentimental. That TSA-approved portable diffuser? Throw it in your suitcase. A selection of photos of your friends and family? Pack it. A large scarf that smells like home? Make it a part of your travel outfit. Even though you’re traveling, this is still your life. You should feel as happy and alive as possible each and every day. If it takes a ceramic mug with a sassy saying on it to get you going? We say bring it along.