What’s in my Bag (A Digital Nomad Travel Essentials)

My lips were literally falling off from the cold chilly wind.

F**k I forgot to bring my chapstick.

Ok it was not the end of the world.

My lips were dry and cracked. It felt like that every time I tried to smile or bite into something my mouth would rip apart. Ouch.

Oh the pain.

I am usually quite prepared and thorough about the gear I bring on my trips. But as I learnt on this last trip I was missing one minor thing which caused a lot of discomfort and pain.

Over the past 20 years of traveling all over the world from America to Europe to Asia during my corporate days to now I have developed a list of essential gear I always bring on my trips.

Minimalist Traveller

I remember when I first started traveling, my first trip to New Zealand, I bought a 50 -60 Litre Hiking Backpack, you know the backpack style and I literally packed it with my entire wardrobe!

In the backpack I had shirts, pants, socks, underwear, towels and all the gear I needed for 2 weeks. Yeah I didn’t think of washing back then.

I didn’t know any better!

In pictures I looked like a well travelled warrior, but in reality I was regretting it my entire trip, since I had to carry 50-60 kg everywhere. My feet ached, my back was sore and in my head I was thinking whose the idiot said this was cool.

And the worse part was trying to find something buried deep in the bag, like that phone charger that you swear you packed, bloody good luck.

In the end I didn’t even use half the shit that was in there.

These days I follow a minimalist approach where I only bring the essentials, carry quality gear over quantity and lightweight.

Often you don’t really need to bring a lot of gear.

Tips: Deodorant and cologne/perfume can work wonders.

Luggage

Buying a quality luggage is one of the most important things everyone should invest in.

I recall previously in another awesome adventure, I have mistakenly taken one of my parents old luggages where one of the handles of it was damaged. As my parents said “don’t worry it be fine. You be fine.” Ok so I trusted them.

Then came the 50 flights of stairs! I pulled on the handled and it broke.

Well, I was cursing every single step, I knew it.

My back ached for days … lifting 20kg suitcase on your shoulder was not fun.

These days I personally fly with an ultra Lightweight, hardcover Samsonite. No more backpackers bag for me.

Been lightweight it helps a lot, especially these days with all the low cost carriers you don’t want to waste your precious weight allowance.

It has a built in TSA lock, which I love, no more worrying about losing keys or locks.

Though it does lack compartments compared to the the Samsonite Cosmolite which I gave to someone else. – Still cursing to this day, why did I do that.

Mine is a dark metallic blue colour as it is easily to spot especially when you are waiting for your luggage at the carousel where the nearly every bag is black.

Though not cheap but so worth it.

I also recommend American Tourist for a cheaper alternative.

Backpack or Day Pack

I actually have a really old backpack or day pack, which has been with me since I was 21! My first solo trip.

This is where I learnt the idea of quality, I have had it for over 18 years! Only now it is beginning to have some wear and tear but I still love it.

It has multiple compartments, drink bottle holder, a back airflow mesh and a raincoat for the bag!.
Though I am looking for a new bag as it was never built for a digital nomad office!

The most important thing is, this is the bag where I carry all the important gear! If I lose my luggage I can deal with missing toiletry or clothing but missing my gadgets is a hassle.

On a few occasions I have had luggage not turn up and because I kept all the essentials on me, it wasn’t such a big deal.

In most cases I just had to buy few shirts and I’m good.

Technology

My office these days is literally just a laptop, mouse and backup drive.

I carry an old VAIO, but looking to get a light weight Surface Pro 4or Mac Book Pro.

I also bring battery pack to charge your phone as it has become an essential part of any trip.

I don’t carry a camera anymore, I use to carry a Sony NEX. But it was way too heavy with all the lens, filters and other gear.

Honestly it is just too painful to lug around and these days most phones have a really decent camera, unless you are into serious photography.

Also having a good pair of headphones is something important , I like the noise cancelling headphones by Bose or Jabra sports headphones when I am exercising overseas.

Document Holder

I highly recommend to get a quality document holder to store all your important documents. I current use a Vitorinox as it has lots of compartments to store cards, zipper and it is slim.

As you may have noticed I’m a big fan of compartments.

The front has a nice tight front slip to store your passport and checkin passes, great for going through checkin and customs.

Jacket

I always bring a jacket. Yeah something warm.

You never know when you need one.

Shoes

A good pair of walking shoe is all I need, though back in my business days a good quality leather shoes comes in handy. But depends on where and occasion.

Organiser Sleeves

I like to keep my suitcase organised!

So these bags help keep my gear organised and manageable. I can get flustered when I can’t find my gear and would ruffle my entire luggage just to realise it is sitting on the table.

Toiletries

Get a toiletry holder. As I learnt from a recent trip having all my stuff in plastic bags and zip locks was just impracticable to go take a shower. Actually I have been saying this for years.

In your toiletry bag always bring a chapstick! When you lips are falling off you will thank me for this.

Body wash, I don’t carry shampoo or conditioner, but then again im a guy. Most places you can purchase and one less thing to worry if it explodes in your bags.

I also carry some asprins and Imodium if I know I am traveling in Asia, as finding a toilet in Asia with an upset stomach is an awful awful experience.

For Emergency

I always carry a snack or two! Just incase I get stuck! I remember I was in India for business once but was stuck on a nightmare journey in a taxi from Mumbai to Pune and because of the traffic. I was just starving! I wish I had a little lolly or something that would have made the trip so much better.

So from that day I always bring a pack sweets and maybe some biscuits, plus I have learnt it to be a great conversation starter. Especially if you happen to sit next to a real hottie. Lol

A good Book

I always carry a book especially after spending hundreds of hours sitting in departure lounges around the world, a good book is great way to past the time.

For me a physical book is good enough, I know people like to bring their EReaders or a Kindle but nothing beats the feeling of a book.

Journal

I also carry with me a journal from Moleskine. I have found the power of writing my thoughts has helped me clear my mind and document my travels.

Tip bring a spare piece of paper at the back of your book. I remember someone asking me once can I have a piece of paper! I couldn’t say no! But, it fucked up my diary! Once you tear a page, its all over haha!

Maybe I am been precious, but my thoughts and ideas in these books are like gold to me!

Water bottle!

I think this is a good idea! I really should get one. I normally forget to drink when Im overseas and get very dehydrated when traveling, I am currently eyeing a tiger flask

My detail Packing List

  1. Good Lightweight Luggage

    • Large
    • Medium
  2. Backpack
  3. Gear
    • Laptop
    • Mouse
    • USB
    • Mobile
    • International Charger
    • Journal
    • Pen & Paper
    • Headphones
    • Sunglasses
    • Battery Pack
    • A Good Book
  4. Document Holder
  5. Toiletry
    • Asprin or ImModium
    • Essentials
    • Chapstick
    • Deodorant
    • Nail clippers
    • Hair Product
    • Perfume
    • Toothbrush
    • Tissues
    • Bodywash
    • Plastic Bags
    • Towel
  6. Clothes
    – Where I am going
    – What I am doing
    – What is the weather like

    • Good warm Jacket
    • Good walking shoes & socks
    • Underwear
  7. Snack or Two
  8. Apps
    • Google Maps
    • Messenger
    • AirBnB
    • Spotify

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