Digital Nomad Packing List for 2020

The Perfect Digital Nomad Packing List for 2020 (25 Items to Pack)

Looking for a digital nomad packing list to help you pack for that trip around the world?

Packing can be one of the most daunting tasks of traveling, even for experienced travelers.

The mere mention of the word “packing” can cause people to sweat or induce anxiety. 

Packing as a digital nomad can be even more daunting because this isn’t a short 10-day vacation. You are fitting your whole life into suitcases. What you pack can affect your long-term life on the road.

As a seasoned digital nomad, I’ve learned a lot about packing after visiting over 50 countries. From what to pack to what I can just leave at home, I’m going to share what I think you should consider bringing on the road. Here’s my packing list for traveling the world.

The Ultimate Digital Nomad Packing List

Bags & Organizers for Digital Nomads

#1 Backpack 

No digital nomad packing list would be complete without a great bag – and boy do we have a great bag for you!

The Tortuga Setout Backpack made the top of our list of best backpacks for travel.

Even though it’s more expensive, it falls into the category of “You get what you pay for”. It’s made with high-quality materials and designed to last for several trips. 

Here’s a quick look at my favorite features:

  • It opens the same way a suitcase does but is carried around like a backpack
  • Comes in different sizes for men and women
  • Carry-on friendly
  • Great padding on waist and shoulder straps
  • Waist strap has pockets to hold your phone, wallet, or passport for convenience

You can read our full Tortuga Setout review here, or click here to shop over at Tortuga’s site.

If the Setout isn’t right for you, you might also check out the Osprey 46L Porter (and read our Osprey Porter review here).

#2 Or a Suitcase …

More the suitcase than backpack type?

That’s cool – then sub out the backpack on this digital nomad packing list with a roller suitcase instead.

You won’t be alone – our founder Nate switched from a backpack to a suitcase halfway through his journey to becoming a digital nomad.

Nate uses the Delsey Paris Helium Aero 25 and absolutely loves this suitcase for digital nomads.

It’s got a solid construction, enough pockets but not too many, a sleek look, and shockingly affordable considering the quality of the build.

Click here to shop this suitcase on Amazon.

#3 Daypack 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is qYou will definitely need a separate backpack for your day trips as a digital nomad. 

You will need something to hold snacks, water bottles, camera gear, and more. I use the Osprey Daylite Backpack, and it’s great. 

At 13L, it can hold a lot including my drone and laptop. It’s water-resistant and includes a hip strap to ease the weight off your back.

Oh, and it has a lifetime guarantee.

So there’s not much to lose here.

#4 Toiletry Bag 

I would recommend getting a hanging toiletry bag if you plan on staying in hostels at any point in your trip. It helps avoid getting your stuff wet from cramped bathrooms. 

It’s also an easy way to keep track of your toiletries and keep them separate from your other belongings. 

Here’s a highly rated toiletry bag to consider.

Pro tip: If you find your luggage is too heavy or full for your next trip, get rid of your toiletries. You can buy new toiletries at the next location.

#5 Mesh Laundry Bag

Typically, mesh laundry bags are used to prevent damage to delicate fabrics.

So if you happen to bring something that could get damaged in laundry machines, bring one of these (here’s a good one that doubles as an organizer).

I typically use mesh laundry bags to hold dirty laundry until I have access to a laundromat. It’s a simple way to keep track of what needs to be washed without carrying around a plastic bag.

#6 Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are the holy grail of maximizing space in your luggage, so are a must on any digital nomad packing list.

You can get different sizes and organize your clothes into separate cubes. It compresses and keeps your clothes clean while in your luggage. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is qI use this set of packing cubes to organize my luggage. The large cube contains my shirts and jackets, the medium-sized cube has my pants and shorts, and the smallest cube holds my undergarments and swimsuits. 

There are even more ways to pack efficiently, but I’ll discuss my packing tips later in this article.

Clothing & Accessories

The clothing on a packing list for digital nomads is obviously going to depend on where you plan on traveling in your location-independent life.

You probably don’t need a thick winter coat if you are headed to Bali during high season, but you would probably want it if you are going to Antarctica.

However, here’s a general list to consider. I would recommend adjusting to your personal needs and destinations.

  • 5-7 Shirts (A mix of short sleeve and long sleeve)
  • 1 Pair of Jeans
  • 1 Pair of Workout Clothes (Athletic Shirt and Pants)
  • 1-2 Pairs of Shorts 
  • 1-2 Bathing Suits
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 1 Casual Jacket
  • 1 Sweater or Sweatshirt

#7 Travel Umbrella

Rain can happen anywhere at any time even if you are going to a place where it doesn’t normally rain. You should be prepared for these weather events and bring an umbrella.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is qUmbrellas can be bulky, but I found the Rain-Mate Umbrella to be the perfect solution. It’s small and compact which can easily fit into a side pocket of a backpack or in a purse.

Oh, and if you’re really into figuring out the best umbrella for that long term trip, read our full article on the best umbrella for travel.

#8 Quick-Dry Towel

The normal towels that you have at home aren’t ideal for traveling. They take up a lot of space and take forever to dry if you don’t have access to a dryer.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is qQuick-dry towels like this one are a great solution. The microfiber fabric makes them highly absorbent and prevents mildew odors. In case you haven’t guessed by the name yet, they are also quick to dry.

It’s a perfect towel for lounging on the beach or taking a shower.

Tech and Gear for Digital Nomads

#9 Laptop

A laptop is the cornerstone of digital nomad gear.

At this point in your life, you probably already have a laptop at home to bring traveling with you. 

However, if you plan on buying a new laptop, then I would consider the weight of the laptop before purchasing it. If you take it in your carry-on, it can affect the weight which some airlines measure.

Popular laptops for digital nomads include the Lenovo Yoga 930, which doubles as a tablet, and the Macbook Air – a super lightweight but powerful laptop.

Apple Macbook Air

Lenovo Yoga 930

#10 Laptop Sleeve

You have to keep your laptop protected from damage. There is nothing worse than having laptop issues while traveling since you might not find a reliable computer shop. 

A laptop sleeve will help protect against minor bumps and also prevent dust and debris from getting in contact with your laptop.

Click to shop laptop sleeves on Amazon.

#11 Smart Phone 

A regular backpacker may go fine without a phone, but a digital nomad needs access to the Internet and the ability to call and text.

Look into what your current phone provider offers for international plans and see if they are a good fit for you.

We love Google Fi as a phone carrier for digital nomads because it offers LTE coverage around the world on a single SIM. Click here to get $20 towards your first month of Google Fi.

Another option is to get your phone unlocked and purchase local SIM cards in the country that you are visiting.

#12 Universal Adaptor

There are two things to consider when choosing a Universal Adaptor. 

First, you need to determine if you are bringing any devices that don’t have dual voltage. This means if they can handle both electrical currents, 120V and 220V. 

If they can, then you can get a regular universal adapter that can adapt your plug to the world’s different plugs. This Newvanga universal adaptor is a great option if you’re looking for an affordable adapter with stellar reviews, and you don’t need to convert electrical currents.

If you do need to convert electrical currents, then you need to get a universal adaptor that can also handle converting electrical currents like this Bonazza Travel Adaptor and Converter Combo. Otherwise, you risk having your devices damaged.

The second thing to consider is how many devices do you plan on bringing with you.

You may want to consider a power strip to have the option to charge multiple devices at once. The Bestek Universal Travel Adaptor and Converter let you charge up to 7 devices with 3 plugs and 4 USB ports.

#13 External Power Bank

Have you ever boarded a plane or bus and realized they didn’t have a USB plug to charge your devices?

It’s the worst feeling especially if you know that you will be traveling for several hours.

An external power bank can help keep your devices charged throughout the day and is a must-carry item on any packing list for digital noamds.

It’s also handy for day trips where you know that you will be taking a lot of pictures and will need to keep your phone charged.

The Hiluckey Solar Charger is the ultimate external power bank option. It’s solar-powered so you don’t even need electricity to use it. This is a great choice for overnight trips or camping.

#14 External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage

If you’re bringing any camera or video gear, then you need to save that footage into something besides your computer. Laptops can get stolen or damaged, so backing up your content onto an external hard drive will help prevent losing it all.

Here’s an excellent external drive that’s affordable and packs 2 TB on space.

However, if you want to save yourself some luggage space, then you may want to consider investing in cloud storage like DropBox or Google Drive.

#15 External Mouse

If you’re used to working with a mouse or simply hate your laptop’s touchpad, then consider getting an external mouse to bring with you.

I would recommend a wireless mouse to save yourself the hassle of wires. This one from VicTsing is highly recommended and works with any laptop.

#16 E-reader

Books are a great way to pass the time, especially on rainy days when you can’t go outside or on long trips between destinations. Unfortunately, books are heavy and take up a lot of space.

Getting an e-reader like the Kindle will save you room and keep your bags light. It’s also great because you can get a variety of books instead of only reading 1 or 2 options.

#17 Headlamp 

Packing a headlamp is not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to what to pack. It’s a necessity though. It’s useful for sunrise hikes or overnight camping trips. 

It also comes in handy when the power goes out. Some countries have outages occasionally, and you’ll be grateful to have a headlamp to use in those situations. 

Here’s an affordable and small headlamp to add to your digital nomad packing list.

#18 Headphones

Headphones are necessary for listening to music or watching Netflix.

I would recommend getting Cowin E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones. They prevent ambient sounds from interfering with the sound quality. It can also block out sound when you are trying to sleep.

Miscellaneous Items for Your Digital Nomad Packing List

#19 Sleep Mask

Light can be a huge disrupter for sleeping, so having an eye mask can help you fall asleep faster. 

You’ll find lots of different fabric options from cashmere to silk. There are also sleep masks that have raised eye pads so that the mask itself doesn’t touch your eyelids and blocks light better.

#20 Travel Neck Pillow 

Neck pillows tend to be another big item that you need to figure out how to pack. However, the Trtl Super Soft Pillow won me over by being easily foldable.

It’s more like a scarf or neck brace than a pillow, but it still has the same function of keeping your head upright while sleeping on airplanes.

No wonder this pillow came out on top when we tested out several of the best travel neck pillows.

#22 Purifying Water Bottles

If you are in a location where the water isn’t safe to drink, then I recommend getting a filtered water bottle. The LifeStraw is a popular choice amongst travelers.

It helps save the environment since you won’t need to buy hundreds of plastic bottles. Instead, you can drink the tap water with this filter system that makes it safe to drink.

#23 Padlock 

If you are planning on staying in hostels, then you will want to bring your own padlock for the lockers. Some hostels rent or sell padlocks, but it’s more affordable in the long-run to get your own before you travel. 

Here’s a cheap one to add to your digital nomad packing list.

#24 Earplugs

Earplugs are a great way to help you block out noise while you sleep. It’s perfect for situations like someone snoring in your hostel dorm or leaving a window open during the night.

Earplugs range from memory foam to wax to silicone. You should experiment to find which are a better fit for you, but these ones are highly rated.

#25 Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads

Digital Nomad Packing List - Travel Insurance

Look, no one wants to think that the worst will happen on their trip – but risk is an inherent part of life as a digital nomad. So no packing list for digital nomads would be complete without mentioning the importance of buying travel insurance.

For a long time, finding travel insurance for digital nomads was quite the challenge as most travel insurance policies were not affordable for super-long term travelers.

But, thankfully, there’s now a travel insurance company SPECIFICALLY for digital nomads: Safety Wing.

For less than $10 per week, Safety Wing offers travel medical coverage all over the world. It’s peace of mind that won’t break the bank.

Click here to learn more about Safety Wing.

Packing Tips for Digital Nomads

Now that we’ve covered what you should add to your digital nomad packing list, let’s go over a few tips on how to pack all of that into your bag:

Digital Nomad Packing Tip #1: Pack what you need, not what you think you might need. 

If you’re bringing something for a “Just in case” situation, then you probably don’t actually need to bring it. This is especially true if it’s possible to find it on the road. 

An example of this is how many shirts to bring. If you’re not sure you brought enough, you can take comfort knowing that shirts are easily available. 

You can also Marie Kondo the items that you are bringing and see if it “sparks joy”. If it doesn’t, then put it aside. The biggest takeaway is to be mindful of what you bring and ensure everything has at least one important purpose.

Digital Nomad Packing Tip #2: Limit the number of shoes you bring.

Shoes are bulky and are often deemed as a necessity, so it’s hard to let go of the idea that you need to bring them all.

The truth is that you can most likely get away with only bringing two; a pair of athletic shoes and a pair of sandals.

Digital Nomad Packing Tip #3: Wear it on the plane.

Bulky clothing items like sweatshirts or coats are hard to fit in a suitcase. If you can, wear it on the plane instead of packing it. Planes can get cold anyway, so you’ll probably be grateful for the extra warmth.

Digital Nomad Packing Tip #4: Choose the right fabrics

Do yourself a favor and don’t pack anything that can get wrinkly. It’s not always easy to iron your clothes while traveling.

Pick fabrics that are hard to wrinkle like wool, denim, or a synthetic blend of polyester and cotton. 

Digital Nomad Packing Tip #5: Simplify your color palette

Pack clothes that can easily match each other. It makes it easier to create multiple outfits from a small collection of clothes.

You don’t necessarily need to stick to only neutral colors like black, white, and grey. Just consider if your brightly-colored pants match all of the shirt options that you want to bring with you. If it does, then great!

How can I pack my luggage to save space? 

Use packing cubes to save space in your luggage.

They are an efficient way to organize your clothes, and packing cubes can help compress your clothes to give you more space. 

Some other popular packing tips include:

  • Rolling clothes
  • Putting items into your shoes
  • Planning your itinerary ahead of time so you know what you need to pack

Pro Tip: You’ll want to leave extra space to bring home any souvenirs that you plan on getting abroad.

Is it better to roll or fold clothes in a suitcase? 

This is a popular debate in the travel community. Some say folding causes wrinkles and is not as space-efficient as rolling. Others say that you still get wrinkles even if you roll your clothes.

I think it’s better to roll your clothes if you are looking to maximize space. Rolled clothes don’t take up as much space as folded clothes.

Can you pack more with packing cubes?

Generally speaking, you can pack more with packing cubes. It’s especially true if you roll your clothes. 

Even though packing cubes can help compress clothes, it can only do so much. Especially for clothing items like coats or sweatshirts.

Regardless, it’s undeniable that packing cubes will help you stay organized while traveling.

Are you ready to get packing for digital nomad life?

Packing with a long-term strategy can be hard, but I hope this digital nomad packing list helps you avoid the common pitfalls. Planning your digital nomad life is fun, and packing can also be fun once you get the hang of it. 

Looking for Help Getting Started as a Digital Nomad?

If you’re just starting out as a digital nomad and looking for help figuring out all the messy aspects of how to live your best life as a digital nomad, then be sure to check out The Travel Lifestyle Course.

It’s the most comprehensive course on the internet about how to become a digital nomad (with over 50 videos covering every aspect of getting started as a digital nomad!).

Not ready to enroll just yet?

Sign up for our free 3 video work online and travel mini-course and get instant access now!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this digital nomad packing list!

Have a question or tip of your own for how to pack as a digital nomad? Scroll down and leave a comment on this post!

Oh, and if you’re on Pinterest, be sure to pin this post for later here:

Looking for a #DigitalNomad #PackingList to help you pack for that trip around the world? From bags & organizers to clothing & accessories, from tech & gear to miscellaneous items, this guide has got you covered. As a bonus, we even have a few tips on how to pack all of these items into your bag!
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