Packing light is not rocket science. Whether you pack for one-week vacation or you’re looking for an ultimate digital nomad packing list for your long-term travels, minimalism is a king.
Traveling light will save you not only space and unburden your shoulders, but it’ll save you considerable amount of time (skipping the queues for checking your luggage), and money (fees for check-in luggage).
Check out some pro travel packing tips based on long term experience of traveling only with a carry on backpack.
Digital nomad packing list
Digital nomad backpack
It has ideal size, lots of pockets, and also a laptop compartment. Bonus: very good back padding. Check price on Amazon.
Backpack rain cover
You can buy it separately if your backpack doesn’t have one included. It’s lightweight, and you can use it as a cover for your camera bag and as a head/ shoulders cover during heavy rains. Check price on Amazon.
These are life savers! We can’t imagine travelling without securing our “mobile houses”. It’s always good to lock your backpack when you leave your room in a guesthouse/hotel and also every time you travel by bus/train/plane. Check price on Amazon.
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Compression sack for clothes
Great space saver! We played with an idea to buy packing cubes, but because of the design of our backpacks, we felt it’d be more convenient to get all our clothes into compression bags which saved a lot of space and we can easily separate clean and dirty stuff in the bag, too. Check price on Amazon. Check this article for the best packing cubes.
Best laptop for digital nomad and other electronics
We were choosing our working tools very carefully and this is so far the best travel laptop we’ve found. Gianni edits his photos using Lightroom software and the computer is powerful enough to handle that. I would prefer for my video editing Macbook Pro, but this would add up on the weight so I keep the lighter model for now. Check price on Amazon.
Macbook Laptop Sleeve
Very useful when you work in cafes and don’t want to carry along your backpack. It’s also a great protection of your laptop during travel days, when the backpacks move around more than usually. A must item in your digital nomad gear. Check price on Amazon.
Contactless payments are the best way to go if you’re constantly on the move. Unfortunately, you risk your cards being scanned by criminals due to the chips present in them. Placing your credit and debit cards inside an RFID-blocking wallet can keep your information safe.
If you just check your emails when travelling or do “only” writing, maybe you won’t need a mouse. But if you edit photos and videos, a mouse just makes the job easier and faster. Check price on Amazon.
WD My Passport Hard Drive
How to store all material from the road is probably the biggest issue when you work as a digital nomad and travel only with a carry-on. If you shoot in RAW, you know the files are too big to store in the iCloud. Carrying a portable external hard drive is so far the only solution how to keep your photographs and videos with you. Check price on Amazon.
A necessary accessory when changing the countries around the world. Check price on Amazon. For different plugs and outlets, check out World-Power-Plugs.com
USB flash drive pen
Very handy if you need to print a flight ticket, new travel insurance, visa letter or other important confirmation emails. Check price on Amazon.
If you travel as a digital nomad, your phone is probably your “second computer” and an important working and travel tool. We use our phone a lot as a map, notebook, cameras and to reply to urgent emails and messages while on the road. Check price on Amazon.
Good to make a Skype call, or to listen some music in a train. Check price on Amazon.
Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi
Your portable library! The best option for avid readers and carry-on travellers! Check price on Amazon.
Best camera for digital nomads and photography gear
Gianni’s most favourite toy and a great camera for travellers! He’s switched into mirrorless camera after shooting with DSLR for 10 years and never looked back. It’s not only lighter, makes high quality photographs, but you look more “innocent” when doing street photography. Get inspired by our article about Best Camera for Travel Photography. Check price on Amazon.
Not sure which camera lens to choose? Read the article Best Camera Lenses for Travel Photography. Check price on Amazon | Adorama | B&H
Very useful when you plan to document your digital nomad lifestyle while hiking, biking, running or swimming. Check price on Amazon. Read our guide to GoPro ALTERNATIVES.
Transcend Flash Memory Card
A must have thing when traveling and taking pictures. Check price on Amazon.
Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag
We do love these bags! It’s a perfect day bag that fits into your carry-on backpack. It serves as camera bag, and it’s easy to carry with you even when trekking or walking in cities for a whole day. Check price on Amazon.
More packing lists to read:
- What to Pack for Your Mexico Vacation
- What to Pack for Thailand: the Ultimate Packing List
- Packing List for Europe: The Ultimate Preparation Guide
- What to wear in Paris: The Ultimate Guide
What to pack for him
The North Face Trekker Convertible Pants
The best choice if you travel with a carry-on! Gianni has been travelling with this model of North Face convertible pants for almost three years (bought a new one after 1.5 year) and he can swear by it. Check price on Amazon.
KEEN Men’s Newport Sandal
Honestly, we cannot imagine our travel without KEENs. They’re our most favourite travel shoes. Ideal for light trekking, walking in the cities, even in hot climate (for this we recommend buy a pair with a soft leather sole, not rubber). Check price on Amazon and read some more suggestions on the best walking shoes for men.
Barefoot running shoes for travellers
A must have item in your backpack if you are keeping yourself fit on the road. Opt for lightweight barefoot shoes if you feel comfortable with them. Check price on Amazon. Read our detailed review on Vivobarefoot running shoes.
This is the moment to remember about your minimalistic packing. Take only 2-3 of them. Check price on Amazon.
Short sleeves shirt
Always useful when it happens to attend a more formal occasion. Check price on Amazon.
A rain jacket
Great to pack if you visit countries during a monsoon season. Keep it as light as possible, preferably with a hood. Check price on Amazon. Read our guide to the best rain jacket.
A must have item for your travels. Keep it minimalistic, and pack one, maximum two pairs. Tip: Opt for a swimsuit suitable for running. That way you don’t need to pack too many outfits. Check price on Amazon.
Once again, less is more. 3-4 pairs will be sufficient. Check price on Amazon.
What to pack for her
Convertible light pants
Ideal when you intend to go trekking to tropic destinations, and then stay in cooler places or opposite. Great space saver. I do love female models of Meru, NorthFace, or Prana. Check price on Amazon.
KEEN Women’s Sarasota Sandals
As mentioned above, KEEN is the brand we’ve been using since 2008, and we can swear by it. The shoes are durable, and super comfy. Check price on Amazon.
It’s a good idea to pack a pair with you. You can wear it while trekking, or as a pyjama while camping. And, naturally, for your yoga practice. Check price on Amazon.
2 or 3 tops will be perfectly fine. Try to pair it with the colour of your skirt or trousers. Check price on Amazon.
In case you plan to go out somewhere more formal, pack one. Check price on Amazon.
A skirt or a dress
Just take it. You don’t want to stay all the time in your hiking pants or shorts. Pick a lightweight one, preferably with some pockets. Check price on Amazon.
A rain jacket
It’s good to have it when hiking through different climate zones or visiting a country in its monsoon season. Check price on Amazon.
A fleece hoodie
You’ll need it in the evening, and it’s a life saver when taking buses or train with strong a/c on your travels. Buy one with pockets. Check price on Amazon.
A pair of swimwear
Well, you’ll need one. Or two, but don’t pack more than two pairs of bikini. Check price on Amazon.
Keep it minimalistic. Max. 4 pieces, no matter how long your travels are going to be. Check price on Amazon.
Bring one sporty, and one elegant. That’ll do it. Check price on Amazon.
A must have for all travellers, especially for those with a carry-on. You’ll be grateful for packing it with you because it’s the most multifunctional item in your digital nomad backpack. You can use it as a scarf, bed sheet, bed cover, curtain, headband, skirt, dress, beach towel, towel and much more! Check price on Amazon.
Love it! We use it as a scarf in buses/trains/planes with strong a/c, as a headband, hairband, camera protector and we clean our lenses with a buff, too. Check price on Amazon.
Which toiletries to pack
A toothbrush, a toothpaste, dental floss
Travel size hairbrush
Black charcoal pills for diarrhoea
Menstrual cup > lLadies, this little thing will make your travels easier, and your bodies healthier. Check price on Amazon.
Spare passport photos
Photocopies of passports
Vaccination card (What vaccinations do you need?)
A gaffa tape
A ball pen, a marker
A travel writing notebook
Waterproof dry bags for your documents
OverBoard Waterproof Dry Tube Bag
Here are other interesting packing articles you might want to check:
Carry On Packing List by Make Time to See the World
Carry-on Size Chart by Travel Made Simple
Digital Nomad Packing List by Hobo with a Laptop
Packing cubes list by Adventure in You
Best Backpacking Gear by A Backpacker’s Tale
Packing lists by Travel Fashion Girl
Never Ending Voyage Packing List
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31 thoughts on “Digital Nomad Packing List: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling Light”
Great list for aspiring travelers! Personally, I’ve gotten my pack WAY down from when I started backpacking in 2006 with a 10,000 liter pack. But I still manage to have 10kg of clothes, toiletries and scuba goggles… along with my 13kg of electronics. It’s a real killer on the back, but I really don’t see how I can do less. The camera stuff alone is about 7kg with lenses, body, gear and tripod. Alas!
Hi Greg, thanks for commenting. We have reduced a lot our clothes, we have only a couple of changes, if we need some clothes then we buy on the road. As regarding the gears I have always tried to keep the minimum weight possible. We use DX cameras with only 3 lenses with us and in the future we might switch to mirrorless full frame. Laptops are Mac Air so weight reduced to a minimum. Great blog you have. 🙂
I was traveling last year with a huge 70l bag. Now on the road with only 25L (http://www.amazon.de/Tatonka-Rucksack-Tivano-alpine-1530/dp/B004GHNET2) + a 10L Decathlon bag. This later contains a700g sleeping bag (more convenient for CS) and 1.5kg camera gear, or my daily stuffs.
One major point to travel light is obviously to go in warm places, and don’t bring warm clothes, that we all do here!
A second point about photography is to get rid of the heavy DSLR and their lenses. I recommend the µ4/3 system (check especially the Olympus OM5 and their new M1, but quite expensive), the best compromise between quality and size. Or even with DSLR, depending what you like to shoot, a standard zoom can easily get replaced by one or 2 light prime lenses. I have 4 lenses and a body for less than 1,3kg (or 900g without the tele). The main issue with these systems is however the poor batteries so you need to carry 2 extra…
Enjoy your travels!
Hi Eric, nice to hear from you. Yes, you are right, packing light is good for warm climates, that’s why we have chosen to travel first to South-East Asia. I have also 1,3 kg for my camera gears. I am following the developing of the full frame mirrorless, those cameras will be really travel friendly. 🙂
The decision about the cameras is always a big one. I am forever on the lookout for the best camera with the most features in the smallest package. For me that means it has to be easy to always have the camera with me which rules out pretty much all DSLRs. I know that’s a compromise, but if I cannot stick the camera in a belt pouch which I can carry easily all day long, I won’t take it along. My latest choice is the Nikon P7700 which takes good pictures, good video, has 7X zoom, most DSLR controls and a flip screen. The biggest thing is it does fit into my belt pouch. It’s not up to the standard of a full size DSLR, and you cannot exchange lenses, but my motto is the best camera is the one which you always have with you.
Luckily technology is gradually getting where cameras are getting more compact all the time. So this decision will become easier for us every year since there will be smaller and more powerful models coming out.
I agree with you that the clothes are the least important thing when you pack. You can always buy them cheaply on the road. The tech items is where we have to plan well. Macbook Air is a great machine, my only issue is that if you want to do any video editing on the road, this is really difficult with this small screen. If you mostly stick to photography, then this should be no problem.
The Nikon P7700 is a great camera also. We are thinking to buy smaller cameras at some point without compromising on image quality. I guess the 2014 will bring lot of new interesting models especially after Sony recently launched the A7r. As regarding the Macbook Air, we just love it 🙂
Great useful post.
It is so true that you literally need a few essentials and you can survive. None of these ridiculous backpacks bursting at the seams.
You know you end up living in the same outfits anyway.
Thanks, Charlotte, we are really happy with the stuff we are carrying and also we wish to reduce it a bit in the future 🙂
I’ve bought pretty much everything on this list for my own carry on after finding this! Thanks!
Glad to hear that, Kate. Enjoy your travels 🙂
We have been travelling about 29 months, but the only time we have lightened our bags is in Central America, where we didn’t need shoes or clothes. We make films so we carry all manner of gear including tripods, bounce/shade boards etc. on top of that we carry a snorkel and mask each for diving, shoes for hiking/training and it starts to build up! We have just accepted that for our work and interests there is a certain amount of gear that we must have 🙂
I can hear you, Serena, we had a big dilemma which gears to pack and there have been some moments when we miss warmer clothes, but otherwise, we’ve been able to survive 🙂 On the flip side, you can train with your gears for longer and tougher expeditions 🙂 Happy travels guys!
Great list – well done! I love using multi-purpose products to keep the packing list short – things like lavender essential oil is great for insect bites or to help you get to sleep (which is sometimes tricky on your travels).
Thanks for the tip, Kerry. For the insect bites and mild headaches is great to use a tiger balm that you can buy in Asia easily. Happy travels!
Oh wow, I really wish the Kids had read this before packing to come to South East Asia. Watching them unpack and try to then repack each time we move on would be hilarious except that the joke is on me as I actually have to travel in the suitcase. Sardines have it easy!
Boy even brought a scarf with him to South East Asia that he hasn’t used for over 10 years just because he said it had ‘sentimental value’ and didn’t know what else to do with it. All I can say is that it certainly smells sentimental.
Thanks for such a useful guide, all the same. I will do my best to get the Kids to read it to understand where they’ve gone wrong.
Hi Kluk, thanks a lot for commenting! It took me some time to say “bye” to all sentimental objects and my favourite scarfs, too 😀
We’re very happy to carry only 10kg each, however, it happened a few times we needed some warmer clothes that hadn’t fit into our backpacks. It’s all about balancing and finding the right destinations, too. Happy travels and cheers to all your family 🙂
Wow you guys really know how to pack light! I always end up packing too many clothes and then not wearing half of them anyway. Next time i’m going to take a leaf out of your book and only pack a few clothes. Plus then I will have room to buy more if I see something i love!
Thanks for stopping by, Izzy 🙂 Yup, that’s smart, you can always buy whatever you need and like on the road! Happy & light travels 😉
My rule of thumb has always been pack, then remove half the stuff because you won’t need it. I can’t remember who first gave me that advice, but I find it works more often than not.
Great tip, Mike! Not applicable for us, I’m afraid. We downsized to maximum and sold/gave away everything we own. What we carry it’s all what we have 🙂
Thanks for sharing your list! We’re making our own at the moment and packaging in a couple of weeks. Can I ask why you’re taking 4X 1Tb hard drives? I was just planning to edit as I go and upload to Google Drive/ Dropbox as I feel it’s safer than a hard drive that can be lost/ damaged. What are your thoughts?
Now we actually carry 4x2Tb. I know, it looks too much, but what we have in our backpacks, that’s all what we have. Our luggage is our house basically 🙂
We’re on the road full time and we have no physical home, apartment, or flat. We had to upgrade the size because we shoot in raw, so the files are too big to upload to Cloud or Dropbox for us, unfortunately. We also do lots of videos, which are big in size, too. Moreover, it takes time for us to edit photos and videos for the articles, we don’t blog every day (lots of other blog related things to complete during the day), so that’s why we need to store them somewhere before working on them.
Well, yes, it’s risky to carry them everywhere we go, but we have a backup drives with us, so hopefully all will be fine 🙂 Cheers and happy packing!
Guys, impressive list. We’re also travelling light whenever we can but as we love camping our backpacks are always quite heavy. Anyhow just out of curiosity, I was wondering, how about rainproof or windproof jackets? Ivana how do you manage wothout face cream or sun block? Safe travels!
Hi Kasia! We just upgraded our packing stuff and got some softshell rain and wind proof jackets, and ditched the old jumpers. They are light weight, and we usually wear them at the airport or just tie them to the side of the backpacks. Need to update the list on the blog 🙂
When in Asia, I usually don’t use any facial cream since the climate is so humid that skin hydrates itself 😀 And for the sunblock I use only coconut oil that I buy in Asia. No chemicals, smells nice and does its job 🙂
WOW – I am very impressed with how little you are able to bring when traveling. I have one of the 18+ (maybe even double that) bags of wardrobe so I couldn’t see myself getting to this point. But, definitely some really helpful tips and recommendations. Thanks!
The earphone is great and his discount is very shocking. I am a traveler. I read a many blog and post about packing list.But your packing list was different. That is very important for any traveler. I am very helpful for that. Can you give me some information about this earphone?
Very informative! Thanks for the tips!
Thanks a lot Vivienne
Great packing article. Thanks for sharing!
Cheers from a fellow Nomad
About to start my 2nd long journey (too much fun on the last one). I am adding a mirrorless camera with prime lens for this trip. Without using a dedicated camera bag, what are some of the ways with decent protection that these can be put into my 30L pack?
Hi Ron, we recommend Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag (the one mentioned in the article), which fits perfectly in a 30L backpack. I’ve been traveling with the 32L NorthFace bag and the Lowepro bag for over 4 ys now, without any problem. You’ll just need to a use vacuum bag or packing cube to create more space for the bag 🙂
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