What to pack? The always emerging question when it comes to travelling – and especially to long-stay trips – is how much stuff to take with you and how to fit it in your backpack or suitcase. This travel packing list for nomads helps Us prepare for long travel journeys.
From experience, I know that there is two ways of living the life of a digital nomad. Only the second one really counts if you are calling yourself a travel nomad, because in this case you have completely abandoned any kind of home base.
Jump to the travel packing list that sounds more like yours:
I would still like to talk about the option of living a nomadic life while having a secondary home base, either on your own, or at your mom and dad’s, friends or partners place. We can still talk of a nomadic lifestyle, when you are basically only returning to this place in between longer travel periods and to repack your suitcase.
The advantage if this option is that you can travel very light and very cheap. Talking about traveling within Europe budget airlines have increased their number of daily flights and extended their geographic reach enormously over the last few years. The trick about these sometimes ridiculously cheap flights is not to bring any check in luggage.
As long as you can fit all your clothes and equipment in a carry-on sized bag or suitcase (usually 20 x 15 x 10 cm, but each airline has their own restrictions), you can travel on a very low budget.
Huge is also the fact that by packing light, you can carry all your most important belongings with you and keep an eye on it. I have gone through the hassle of dealing with delayed luggage and I was very happy that the bag I had lost only contained clothes, no camera equipment, medicine or wallet.
What we would pack when traveling light within Europe:
1. Clothes: one pair of shorts, 3 T-Shirts, underwear and bathing-suit, Socks and (depending on the time of the year and the destination) one pair of long pants and one warm sweater.
2. Shoes: One pair of Sandals or other light summer shoes in which you can still walk for a while
3. Wash or Cosmetic-Bag: Preferably see-through, containing only liquids (lotion, shampoo etc.) under 100ml and no scissors
4. Handbag or Daypack: Ideally you should be able to fit that one into your carry-on sized bag, because some airlines (Easyjet!!) are very strict with allowing you to take only ONE PIECE.
5. Laptop, Camera, Phone and other important electronic equipment: For us Digital Nomads this usually takes up the most space. Not to speak of all the chargers and hard drives that need to come with it. If you are not flying Easyjet, you might get away with stuffing these in your daypack/ handbag and still bring the carry-on suitcase.
6. Wallet with money, credit cards, passport etc. (and copies of everything in a separate place!)
Useful advice: Wear as many clothes as possible on your body. Even if it might get a little hot underneath your rain jacket, you’ll need the space in your bag(s) for other stuff. I have made the experience that most planes are freezingly cold and that I usually appreciate an extra jacket or scarf when during the flight.
Also, wear running shoes or sneakers when boarding, as you won’t have to take them off when going through security and they would take up more space than your sandals.
Let us now continue with the likely case that you don’t have a base to come back to or that you simply don’t want to, because that is what a nomadic lifestyle is all about.
The length of your trip does surprisingly not really matter. Staying away for a month, two or 3 years, you will need the same amount of clothes and equipment.
For backpacking, a backpack with good back support will come in handy, which makes living out of a suitcase to living out of a backpack. The latter is easier to carry around, but makes it harder to keep your stuff clean and neatly ordered. But as backpackers, we don’t focus on that too much anyway, right?!
My longest trip so far lasted 11 months and took me around Australia, my Deuter Backpack as a loyal companion with me through ups and downs. Greg has done far more time on the road, but he would hardly travel with more than a backpack and a day-pack either.
Preparing for our next big trip to Canada and Central America, starting in September (2017), we are already organizing our bags. Here is an overview of the things we can’t leave behind.
1. Clothes: Basically a bit of everything and enough pieces to tie us over for a couple of weeks without a washing machine. Light clothes have to come along as well as some warm sweaters and socks, but it is important to choose pieces that don’t get dirty too quickly (no whit clothes!) and are easy to wash and not too expensive (preferably no cashmere pullover).
2. Shoes: Again, sandals and sneakers (which I would wear on the plane), maybe hiking boots
3. Wash or Cosmetic-Bag: Can be a little bigger and contain scissors, but shouldn’t take up too much space, as shampoo etc. can easily be bought on the road.
4. Working equipment/ electronics (see above). A portable power bank and/or cigarette lighter adapter for the car can be very useful.
5. Wallet with money, credit cards, passport etc. I can also recommend having a little notebook with handwritten information, phone numbers, ID details and whatever could be useful in the likely case your batteries go flat or your wallet gets stolen.
6. Camping/Outdoors Equipment: sleeping bag, hiking boots, mosquito repellent and a headlamp. A Swiss Army Knife also comes with me on every longer trip.
7. A book or sketching book, whatever entertains you apart from your phone.
You see that in total, the long stay travel list is not much heavier than the hand luggage option. The trick is to reduce your essentials to a minimum and to leave things behind and collect new things as you go.
This should be about it. I will update this travel packing list whenever I have stumbled over more useful equipment for our nomadic travel lifestyle . Equally, I would like to encourage you to leave thoughts, ideas and comments on this checklist!