Guide For The Digital Nomad Packing Checklist
Packing is never a piece of cake — just look at the number of articles and tips on how to go through this tiring process efficiently. When it comes to digital nomad packing, it has to be top-notch like a Mary Poppins bag: always ready for any inconvenience there might be.
Digital Barbaros talked to digital nomads and created a checklist of things for smart packing before hitting the road. Let’s see what you’re missing!
First of all, your passport. Depending on where you’re traveling to, an ID card might be enough, but better safe than sorry. Check in advance what kind of identification document you need to have — and pack both, just in case. If you need a passport to travel, make sure you have one, otherwise, your first stop is your Department of State or Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Next on the list is a visa. If you’re traveling to a place where you require a visa, it should’ve been taken care of long before actual packing. Check if you need a visa to travel to any of your planned destinations and if you do, make sure you applied and got one ahead of your travel.
I just got my new Schengen visa and planned on visiting Italy, but for some reason, I didn’t pay much attention to the actual date of my visa. When I arrived at the airport, with tickets and all, and found out my visa is only valid starting next week, I was utterly surprised. Sad, but true. — Denis, QA engineer
As the story of Denis teaches us — always check the date on your visa, new or existing, so that it definitely covers all the time you plan on spending traveling.
✅ Driving License
Many digital nomads rent a car to travel around their chosen destinations. If you plan on driving in the country you’re going to, make sure to get your driving license with you.
Also, check beforehand if your license is valid in another country — in some cases, one might need a special international license made beforehand.
Plus, a driving license is another ID option that is not sufficient in most cases but might come in handy in crises.
✅ Travel Insurance
Things happen on the road, be it a common cold or a broken arm, and it’s always better to be prepared to resolve the crisis with little to no stress. In some cases, having travel insurance lifts the money burden and helps navigate a foreign healthcare system.
On my nomadic travels, I always had travel insurance but never had to use it until that one time in Turkey. I felt terrible tonsillitis taking over me as soon as I got off the plane. My insurance company made sure I got a doctor's appointment the next morning, COVID-19 tests ran, and all my medication for free. So much easier than trying to figure it all out by yourself. — Xenia, Content Manager
Check what kind of insurance you’re entitled to and what your options are in each country to make sure you know how to act in case of an emergency.
✅ Your laptop (naturally)
You are a remote worker, so your laptop is the core of a work trip, obviously. Make sure your laptop is feeling ok before the trip to avoid unpleasant surprises — or maybe even pack an alternative to be 100% positive you’d stay on a work path no matter what.
My laptop had this weird thing that sometimes the screen brightness would drop all of a sudden. Wasn’t much of a problem until I went traveling to sunny Portugal: an unpredictable dark screen limited my options for workplaces to my apartment or a closed-up cafe because the sunlight would make it impossible to see anything. Good thing I had my iPad on me too, just in case. — Mark, Project Manager
✅ Chargers and wires
A digital nomad usually has quite a lot of electronics to take care of: your laptop, smartphone, watches, headphones… Check that you packed all the chargers to all your devices.
A few extra wires might also do you good. Here’s the gentleman’s set from other nomads:
- Micro USB
- USB Type-C
- HDMI cable
- Mini jack
- A couple of adapters
✅ Power banks
No one wants to stay in a foreign town out of power! Traveling takes time, be it a plane, a bus, or a train, and you never know if there’s going to be a power outlet there. So throw a charged power bank into your backpack to be certain your phone won’t die in the middle of nowhere.
Remember: if you’re traveling by plane, you can only transfer your power banks in your carry-on luggage!
Adapters are a must-have on a traveler’s checklist, otherwise, no charger would make sense. Here’s a full guide to the most common power outlets:
You can find special traveling adapters on Amazon or in your local electronic shops. These adapters usually combine several types of power sockets in one which makes it a Swiss knife of the electronic world.
I had a business trip from Los Angeles to Saint Petersburg, Russia, and honestly — I simply forgot to check the power outlets in Russia beforehand. Luckily, one of my local colleagues had a spare adapter, or else that would have been an interesting trip. Since then, I always pack one, even if the outlet seems similar. — Julie, Brand Manager
If you can’t find an adapter, try the first airport shop you find when you land. The duty-free shop most probably sells suitable options.
✅ Extra phone
Not necessarily a fancy one. If you have a local or a travel sim card, and you still want to keep access to your primary one, the second phone is your solution.
Also, a spare option comes out in handy in case of… stealing. Not a pretty scenario but we’re covering all the possible fallbacks here.
I was living in Germany at the moment and went for a five days solo trip to Paris. Within two days I got my phone stolen, and the only thing I had left was my old feature phone. You know, the one with buttons and barely able to connect to wi-fi. Nevertheless, it helped me stay connected through the last days of my trips, return to Hamburg, and buy a new one. — Marie, Freelance Translator
For digital nomads, staying connected is vital. So make sure you have at least one spare means of communication.
The amount of cash varies depending on where you’re going. Probably if you’re traveling from New York to London or Rome, your bank card would work just fine, and you won’t need much cash.
However, some countries are not that great at accepting card payments. Usually, it depends on the bank that issues the card. If you’re traveling to a new place, ask your bank manager if your card works at your destination.
In case you’re not sure about the bank system in another country, be ready to transfer your travel budget to analog. Check if it’s better to exchange currency on the spot or beforehand, and always have at least a bit of local cash in your pocket.
✅ Sleep kit: earplugs and a sleep mask
Sleep kit is a game changer for digital nomads on the road. Earplugs help in a hostel, on a plane, in a crowded workspace — basically, everywhere you need silence and lack it. The same goes for the sleep mask: it’s just way more comfortable to know you can create sleeping conditions wherever you go.
When I’m traveling as a nomad, I tend to stay in Airbnb or special nomad housing. But one time I spontaneously moved to Madrid, and the housing situation was tight. So I stayed in a hostel, and let me tell you: it would be a lousy two-week performance for me if it wasn’t for the earplugs and a mask. Sleeping in a hostel always requires some adjustments. — Rodrigo, Android Developer
Even if you’re planning on staying in a country long-term, stockpile a few of your most used medications with you. Gather a classic first-aid kit adjusted for you. This especially concerns contraceptive pills, specific chronic disease medications, your to-go painkillers, or anything else you might not get easily in another country.
Gathering a kit for yourself will prevent you from running around the local pharmacies stressed and in pain, trying to find a particular medicine you’re used to.
✅ Hobby equipment
When you’re taking off for a vacation, you usually leave your routine behind for a couple of weeks. But in the case of a nomad trip, especially a long one, one tends to preserve as much routine as possible. So take your hobby with you.
If you’re a fan of the gym, throw in resistance bands. Yoga master? Pack your yoga mat. Get your sketchbook, favorite crochet hook, or e-book with you for inner comfort!
The first time I took off for a nomad trip of two months, I only had a laptop and a phone on me. I thought: “I like traveling, and I’m gonna be working most of the time, so I won’t need anything else”. But the truth is, I really missed my embroidery! I know, sounds lame, but it’s my favorite hobby. Since then, I usually smug at least a small kit for every trip, for passing time while on the bus, or in a park, or for when I start missing home. — Anastasia, UX/UI Designer
✅ Compatible clothes
Digital nomads prefer traveling light — at least, it’s not very common to have two pieces of luggage booked on a plane. It's hard to predict all the weather turns in the world, but it’s possible to be ready to face the most common conditions.
So when you decide on your wardrobe for the trip, opt for items you can mix and match for colder or warmer weather. Layer up (or down, depending on what’s going on outside your window)!
The final pack is very personal: each decides on their comfort themselves. However you do it, packing smartly is a key to efficient and comfortable nomad traveling. It saves money, nerves, and space when you’re on your next low cost flight. Time to pack your things and go on another adventure!