You don’t need expensive gear to travel and you don’t need a brand new MacBook Pro to be a digital nomad or work online. Start with what you have and pack as light as you can. You can always upgrade later.
This is our packing list for trips less than 6 months outside of Europe since we usually travel by
car motorhome in Europe. We keep a very small storage locker at our home base in the Czech Republic where we store winter clothing, books, camping gear etc.
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Bags and Backpacks
If you can keep your main bag to carry-on size, you will save a lot of money with budget airlines. Brands that are popular with digital nomads and other long term travelers are: Minaal, Tortuga, and Tom Binh.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20″ 4 Wheel Upright (Ariadne) This bag holds my clothing and Little Nomad’s. If I’m travelling for less than 6 months, I prefer to go carry on only. This is usually possible if I only need warm weather clothing but sometimes I get stuck carrying around a jacket that is too hot to wear and won’t fit in my suitcase.
Osprey Packs Women’s Sirrus 24 Backpack I need a bag with a hip belt because I have sad and weak shoulders. The 24 litre version of this bag is carry on size if you don’t completely fill it and use the compression straps. I prefer to use a padded laptop sleeve instead of buying a bag with a laptop compartment as I feel they take up too much space and make the bag heavier.
Deuter Schmusebar Kid’s Backpack Little Nomad’s carryon bag that holds small toys and snacks. I attached a small carabiner to the handle so that when he gets tired of carrying it (usually after 10 minutes), I can attach it to my backpack.
Packing cubes. I like the packing cubes that unzip on 3 sides and have some structure to them. I have tried the Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter compression bags but I don’t like them because they are more difficult to take things in and out.
22″ wheeled suitcase Micheal hates backpacks. Nothing will convince him that a backpack is better, not even cobblestone streets in Europe or the lack of sidewalks in Thailand. Micheal’s bag weighs around 10.6 kg.
Small daypack (Micheal) Cheap, replaceable, bought from local market. Micheal carries his laptop in a padded sleeve in this bag. This is his carry on bag. Micheal claims that he could travel with just this bag for months at a time but I have yet to see this happen.
Asus Vivobook E203MA 11.6” Laptop I’ve been experimenting with taking this on short trips instead of my 15″ laptop. It works well for most things. It has Windows 10 so I can run any software I need for work. The battery life is good. I don’t play games or edit videos so I don’t need more RAM. The price is low enough that if it gets stolen, I won’t be completely devastated. I don’t like babysitting expensive equipment. That just causes me stress that I don’t need.
Phone We both have an unlocked iPhone 4s in an Otterbox Defender case. Best case I’ve found. I’ve dropped my phone hundreds of times. My child has even thrown it against the wall when he was a toddler and it is still okay.
Olympus E-PL5 Mirrorless Digital Camera. I regret this purchase. I downgraded from a DSLR because I thought that I would use a smaller camera more. It is terrible in low light and I miss having a viewfinder.
- selfie stick – available everywhere. Yes, you will feel a bit silly but how else are you going to get photos of yourself if you travel solo?
- waterproof pouch for iPhone – less than 10 euro and saved my phone when I was Rafting in Český Krumlov.
- chargers for the above – packed in a small packing cube.
- worldwide adaptor
Stuff you can usually buy when you get there (and give away afterward): dry bags, snorkel mask, beach towels, etc.
Clothing and Accessories
Most travellers will not need specialized travel clothing unless they are actually going trekking or hiking. In my opinion, it is only worth spending more money on two items: A lightweight but warm jacket and comfortable shoes. If you travel long term, you will get sick of your clothing after 6 months anyway and clothing wears out faster when you are wearing the same things every week.
If you do plan on hiking or spending a lot of time in the outdoors, you will want to invest in clothing made from merino wool. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in very hot countries, consider a packing a few items made of linen.
Most of my clothing is either burgundy, shades of olive, purple, or black.
- 3 tank tops – 1 black, 2 purple. I usually sleep in one of these.
- 1 fitted t-shirt, black
- Icebreaker Merino Women’s Oasis Long Sleeve Top
- 1 merino wool sweater, black. For chilly buses and planes or cool evenings.
Bottoms and Dresses:
- 1 pair linen trousers, olive. Lightweight and perfect for hot weather. I wish I had figured this out sooner.
- 1 pair nylon hiking trousers, olive.
- 1 pair of thin, cotton shorts. Mostly worn around the hotel room while complaining about the heat.
- 1 really long, hippie skirt that takes up too much space in my bag but it has a really big pocket and I love it.
- 1 pair black leggings with hidden pockets from Clever Travel Companion.
- 2-3 lightweight, cotton sundresses.
Swimwear and Underclothing
- Swimwear long sleeved rash guard (Ripcurl) and swim shorts. Much better sun protection and really cute. Provides some jellyfish protection, at least on your arms and chest.
- 9 pairs of underwear. Ain’t nobody got time for washing underwear in a hotel sink.
- 2 bras
- 1 pair SmartWool socks that I never wear since I am always in sandals.
Accessories and Shoes
Sunhat Just a cheap sun hat I picked up in Spain. It survives being scrunched up in my bag pretty well.
Skechers Mary Jane Flat A friend gave me these shoes and they are the most comfortable pair of walking shoes that I have ever owned.
Other shoes I almost always wear sandals or flip-flops. I really like Merrel sandals. Winter boots are stored in Europe.
Warm clothing stored in Europe. More sweaters, winter coat, etc.
Micheal is a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy most of the time. I don’t keep track of how many he has in his bag. He also carries a pair of cargo shorts, a nice pair of trousers and 2 dress shirts. Micheal foolishly refuses to wear a sun hat no matter how much I nag.
For short trips, I keep my toiletries in these 2 oz Gotoob travel bottles. I’ve never had one leak yet.
- Jojoba Oil used as a moisturizer and to tame flyaway hair. Some people prefer coconut oil but coconut oil makes my face break out and it is a pain to deal with in cold weather.
- Dr. Bronner’s Baby-Mild Castile Liquid Soap I actually prefer the peppermint one but I use this since I share with Little Nomad.
- tooth powder and toothbrush and floss.
- comb and brush, razor, nail clippers, tweezers
- Contact lens solution and 6 months of lenses
- glasses and case
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 45 Ultra Light Sunscreen – Very light, non-greasy, and works under makeup.
- Mad Hippie vitamin c serum – Most skincare products are just “smoothums” and bullshit. Vitamin C serum, applied at night, really makes a difference in your skin. You don’t have to buy this exact product. There are lots of recipes on the internet for making your own vitamin C serum that are also just as effective. This one is just handy for travel.
- BB powder and lip balm – I rarely wear much makeup.
- Homemade shampoo
small bottle of shampoo, toothbrush, small toothpaste, deodorant, razor and shaving cream, pocket comb, sunscreen/moisturizer (currently Nivea), aftershave (Armani)
Health and Safety
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight First Aid Kit I have an older version of this kit but any small first aid kit will work. Just take out the stuff that you know you won’t use and add a small amount of the medications you might use.
These are the extras I add to my kit:
- tea tree oil
- Magnesium Citrate 125mg tablets – helps you sleep and helps anxiety
- Multivitamin, vitamin C tablets, liquid multivitamin for Little Nomad (the gummy ones melt in hot weather)
- Allergy medicine for Ariadne
The extra bits
Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket Many travel bloggers will tell you that you don’t need a money belt. Those lucky individuals have never had the misfortune to have their bag snatched and then spent 2 months trying to replace all their documents in a foreign country.
Sea to Summit Tek Towel Large 24″ x 48″
Because we travel for several months at a time, it is often convenient to carry some extra items that a normal traveller may not need.
Small travel kettle dual voltage. You can buy one of these from Amazon or in an airport. Allows you to make instant coffee or noodles in a hotel room.
Stainless steel mug, the kind sold for camping. Allows you to drink instant coffee, eat cereal, etc. Can be used to boil water over a small, backpacking, canister stove. Some people think this is a waste of space but I use mine every single day for instant coffee.
Bamboo Cutlery 2 spoons, 2 forks, and 1 butter knife. If you don’t at least carry a spoon, how are you going to be able to eat yogurt or cereal? Bring a spoon. It doesn’t take up that much space. You might also want a butter knife to make sandwiches.
Plate or bowl for eating takeout or making sandwiches. If you are staying in a hotel and want to buy some yummy curry from a street food vendor (usually sold in a plastic bag in SE Asia), how are you going to eat it without a plate or bowl? This collapsible, silicone plate from Sea to Summit solves that problem nicely.
Cocoon travel blanket, made of made of 72 % merino wool and 28 % silk. I hate being too hot or too cold. Some hotels don’t provide a top sheet, only a duvet which is too hot in the summer. This packs up very small and is also useful to have on planes or air-conditioned buses. You can probably find something similar in a camping store. Micheal has the Cocoon CoolMax Blanket.
Pre-schooler Packing List
As Little Nomad gets older, he requires less special gear but keeps acquiring more toys and books.
Clothing: 1 pair cotton shorts, 1 pair jeans, 1 swim trunks, 1 pair trousers, 4 short sleeved t-shirts, 2 long sleeved t-shirts, hoodie (for air conditioned buses), sun hat, socks, underwear, 1 pair sandals, 1 pair runners. This all packs up pretty small in one Ikea cube except for the shoes.
Toiletries: uses my soap. Has his own comb, toothbrush, baby toothpaste (Alverde) and baby nail clippers.
Toys Small stuffed toys, cars, trains, washable crayons, etc. He has many more toys and a bike when we are in Europe and travelling by car.
Books 3-4 books that are replaced every so often.
BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat You will need this in many countries to be able to use Uber.