EDITED JUNE 2017:
Y'all, I wrote this before I had the first clue about packing for a year-long trip. As evidenced by the fact that I brought a check in bag in addition to a carry on. Seriously? I broke the golden rule for traveling - never check a bag. For shame, former self.
These days, I only travel with a daypack and a personal item sized duffle. Yes, really. Minimalist not by choice, but by necessity, because you learn very quickly that "less is more" for a digital nomad.
I know this ranks highly in Google, which is probably how you found it, but honestly? There are better packing lists out there. For instance, Shawn, one of our writers, put together a way better RTW packing list that applies to nomadism. Take his packing list, add the necessary electronics (laptop, smartphone, ear buds, chargers, kindle), and you're golden.
If you really want my packing list, it's in full below. I annotated and updated it here more recently.
Thank goodness for my job at Tortuga.
For so many reasons. But right now, the top-of-mind reason is because I've read an insane amount of packing advice in the past month. All part of getting acquainted with our content strategy. Timely, no?
One of Fred (our CEO)'s biggest tips is to pre-pack a week or two in advance. I did that last night. I'm so glad I did, because in doing so I realized I left my camera's battery charger at the beach.
Anyway. I think I have a handle on what to pack. I'm taking in a check-in suitcase, a Tortuga Air (my carry on), and a Tortuga Daypack for carry on overflow / the stuff I want in my seat back pocket during the flight.
I'm using three main resources to pack my capsule wardrobe: UnFancy, the Tortuga blog, and The Remote Nomad's packing list. My esteemed Tortuga colleagues are minimalists (they'd pack for the year in just the Tortuga) and I am definitely not there yet.
I like fashion. I have room in my check-in bag. I think I'll feel better about a life of constant change if I have a talisman of my favorite clothes along with me.
UnFancy's rule: your wardrobe should have a max of 37 pieces (doesn't include PJ's, accessories, or workout clothes, but DOES include shoes). Tortuga's rule: pack for 10 days. The Remote Nomad doesn't have rules, but I like her list because a) we have similar clothing taste and b) she's fine with packing some luxury items to make yourself more comfortable.
- 5 short sleeve shirts
- 2 tanks
- 1 long sleeve shirt
- 1 wool sweater
- 1 wool cardigan
- 3 jackets (one blue / black motorcycle jacket, one black bomber, one thin floral bomber - all three are nice enough to serve as a blazer for professional events)
- 1 skirt
- 1 pair of denim shorts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of tights
- 2 jumpsuits
- 2 sundresses (one that's nice enough for going out)
- Black combat boots
- Bronze oxfords
- Rainbow flip flops
- Old (but cute) sandals that I'll either ditch or replace during the year when they fall apart
- Running shoes
- 1 ultralight rain jacket
- 1 packable down jacket (La Paz, Bolivia is at 12,000 feet elevation - brrrrr)
- 1 zip-up hoodie
- 7 pairs of socks (a few no-show, one set of Smartwools, one black pair, and some trusty Balegas)
- 10 (probably) pairs of underwear
- 2 sets of PJs (two comfy tees, one pair of PJ pants and one pair of PJ shorts)
- 1 pair of workout capris
- 2 Nike dri-fit workout tops (the best)
- 1 sports bra
- 3 necklaces (one that I'll never take off)
- 1 set of earrings + 1 ear cuff
- 2 rings (that I'll never take off)
This is the most difficult part. I'm not 100% sure on this list yet.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dr. Bronner's
- Travel sized skincare - cleanser, moisturizer, and maybe a travel sized mask (one of those anxiety-reducing creature comforts I mentioned earlier)
- Makeup (which makeup? TBD)
- Travel sized shampoo and conditioner (I'll buy more when we get there)
- Simple wipes
- Nail clippers
Obviously important for the "digital" part of digital nomad life. One nice thing about traveling as a couple? Split resources. I'm bringing a DSLR and Jeff is bringing a GoPro. We'll trade off using both.
- 15" Macbook Pro, in a hardshell case
- iPhone 6 (unlocked, getting my USA phone number transferred to Google Voice and buying SIM cards locally)
- Bose in-ear noise cancelling earbuds (totally worth the splurge - they're an introvert's dream)
- Nikon D3200 + 35 mm lens (and mayyyybe a zoom lens but probably not)
- Kindle Paperwhite
- Converters (one universal, one Apple converter set for my computer and phone)
- Backup battery (for my phone)
- External hard drive
- SIM card ejector tool
- A portable pharmacy (brand names only if I don't know the active ingredients off the top of my head): ibuprofen, dimenhydrinate (motion sickness), doxylamine succinate (for snoozy woozys), Pepto, Immodium, malaria pills.
- Tortuga packing cubes
- Pen + travel journal
- My ankle brace (you suck, broken tibia)
- Travel towel
- Neck pillow
- Curling iron (a luxury to make me feel more normal)
- Collapsible tupperware (maybe)
- My travel spork (hey - it's useful)
Things I'm not bringing
- Travel pots & pans. Some of my fellow remotes are bringing these. I'm not bothering. Food is cheaper where we're going, and sometimes we'll be in apartments with stocked kitchens. I'll make do.
- Hot pot. See above.
- Travel kettle. The Remote Nomad bought a tiny one in Prague. If I want one, I'll do the same.
- Hiking boots. I've hiked Machu Picchu in running shoes before and didn't die. I'm sure I'll be fine.
I feel slightly better. But still kind of panicked.