What to pack as a Digital Nomad for ease of living and working abroad.
Embarking on the first stent of your new Digital Nomad life is scary enough! So let's make sure you have the essentials that are difficult to find out in the world while traveling. This will make your life easier and more enjoyable, speaking from experience ;)
(I do not get affiliate money from any of these. These are simply recommendations for what I use and know are good.)
Working While Traveling Must-Haves
Working Set Up
I wanted to make my remote work environment as ergonomic as possible while on the go. So the items I chose were based on functionality, weight, and packability. You can see in the picture above I use a laptop holder to elevate my laptop to be eye level, an external keyboard, and an external mouse. I actually use a split keyboard now, so that way I can sit up straighter and allow my neck, back, shoulders, and wrists to feel straight and supported.
Here is what I use:
- Laptop Stand - Nexstand - Amazon $45 (when I bought it, it was $18, don't know why there's a huge price jump, might be due to the pandemic shipping issues).
- Split Keyboard - Kinesis Freestyle 2 - Amazon $90
- Apple Trackpad 2 - Apple - $120
Power and Surge Protection
Voltage can be different depending on where you travel, and you can help prevent the wear and tear on your electronics by having a converter along with your power adaptors. I found this one on Amazon and it's been the best because it also works as an extension cord adding length to my charging cables when I need it in cafes and coworking places. This one also has multiple plug-in options so I can charge all my electronics at once.
It is important to have surge protection because if the power goes out while you are working, sleeping, out and about and your stuff is plugged in when the power comes back on it can sometimes cause a power surge and fry your electronics. I have heard many stories of this, specifically in Mexico. You can buy a surge-protected extension cord at Walmart in Mexico, so you don't have to travel with it. But something to be conscious of while traveling.
Back up External Hardrive
You never know if your laptop might be stolen, broken, or run out of space. So traveling with an external hard drive is a must for me. I back up my whole laptop onto the iCloud, but I also have a backup with me hidden in my room just in case something happens to my laptop, I can buy a new one and have all my files in two places instead of just one. This has also come in handy for me when my laptop ran out of space I couldn't get back to the states to buy a new one with larger storage for over 8 months. You want to make sure you get an SSD Harddrive with no mechanical parts, that way it can't accidentally break while in your luggage while traveling, here's an example of a great one.
When you are working in cafes or coworking spaces you are going to need a great pair of headphones to drown out the noise, or to take calls on. I use the apple wireless headphones, but Andres prefers to use the Razor Black Sharp V2 Pros (the big gamer headphones). He is a gamer but he also prefers those for sound, comfort, and blocking out noise.
I also recently started using a backpack by Tropic Feel called "Shell" that I am in love with. It converts from a 28L to 45L which I find extremely helpful since I use it as a daily backpack going around to cafes and coworking places. As well as a short-trip backpack, when I like to travel with just a carry-on and leave the rest of my stuff behind somewhere else. It is expensive, but with the versatility, quality, and design I think it's worth it. I didn't buy the extra pieces, only the shell, and it works fabulously for me. I use packing cubes in my normal luggage so when I travel with just my backpack I just use those packing cubes inside there (more on packing cubes later in this article).
Packing for a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
When I first started traveling I used a backpacking backpack instead of a roller suitcase, I don't recommend that. It's very heavy, and unless you are going to be moving more than twice per month, you really don't need to have a backpack-style suitcase. I ended up switching to this roller suitcase a year later and have never looked back.
Since you may be living out of your suitcase often, I highly recommend buying these packing cubes from eBags. They keep your luggage organized and help with condensing your items for weekend trips with just your backpack. These ones are great because you can easily see what's inside them. They are also durable, I have had them for three years now with no problems. At first, Andres wasn't a packing cube guy but once he saw me using them and how easy it was for me to live out of my suitcase without having to repack everything all the time, he started using them too.
Jacket & Nano Puff
Having a shell waterproof jacket and a nano puff jacket have both come in handy more times than I can count. I think these two pieces of clothing are critical for a nomad lifestyle because you never know when you might end up somewhere cold, wet, windy, or even snowy. I love the combo I have, they are neutral colors so I can wear them with everything, and they never look dirty. I also recommend getting the fake down nano since it won't mold if you are living in humid areas for a while.
Having extra bags comes in handy a lot. This you can totally buy abroad, but I just found it easier to have them with me while I was traveling. I have a bag or small compactable duffle bag for laundry, or that I sometimes use as an extra checked bag if I accumulated too much stuff on that trip. I have a beach bag or larger tote bag that I use when going on day trips, to the beach, or anywhere when I need to bring more stuff with me but don't want to bring my backpack. I also have a smaller purse for daily use and a bum bag for when I want to travel very light.
Detangling Hair Spray
This I have not found anywhere in the world outside of the states and it s a lifesaver for me, so I bring a big one everywhere I go. Since I surf a lot and my hair becomes a nightmare this is critical for my life's happiness haha. It's called "It's a 10" hair detangling spray.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Depending on where you are traveling to, you might want to bring some tampons with you if that's your preferred fem hygiene product. Countries like Brazil and Indonesia I know for sure either don't have tampons at all, or they only have the tiny self-applicator ones. So if you are a tampon pearl type of girl, bring them.
Anything Specific You Love
For me, I love traveling with essential oils, and Young Living or DoTerra isn't easy to find abroad, and if you do find them, they are usually 20-30% more than what they cost to buy them direct (which is already sometimes pricy). So if there is something specific like this you like using in your daily life, I recommend you bring it.
Traveling with Crystals
This is a very specific side note- if you travel with crystals like me, always put them in your checked baggage. Once I was traveling into Mexico with just a carry-on and a small bag with about 5-6 of my favorite crystals in it, and the security took them from me saying I wasn't allowed to bring foreign rocks into the country. It was very upsetting so to save you from the same experience, either wear them on your body or put them in your checked luggage. I haven't had that issue on any other flight since thank goodness.
That wraps up my travel must-haves for Digital Nomads. If you think I am missing anything please let me know!
Happy Traveling ~