Your flight is scheduled, your Airbnb booked and you’ve carefully studied our ultimate digital nomad packing list. There’s now just one final piece of the puzzle before making your way to the airport—learning how to pack as a digital nomad.
Packing as a digital nomad is not an easy task. High-value technology, leaky toiletries, and your favorite pair of pants all sharing the same backpack real-estate is a recipe for disaster. Nobody wants a shampoo-coated Macbook no more than they want toothpaste in their underwear. The solution to this disastrous imagery lies in smart packing.
From taking care of your technology to organizing your checked luggage, let’s dive into exactly how to pack your bags as a digital nomad on a remote working trip.
Which Luggage Solutions are Best for Digital Nomads?
There are countless digital nomad luggage solutions out there directly tailored to remote workers looking to travel the world. From hard-shelled suitcases to large rucksacks for one-bag travel, there’s a dedicated subculture passionate about the perfect bags for hitting the road with. As a general rule, there’s a total of four choices that all digital nomads must choose from:
- Suitcase + daypack
- Travel backpack + daypack
- Daypack + travel backpack combination
- One-bag nomad backpack
No matter which of the top four combinations digital nomads decide on, learning how best to pack their luggage is the next job to tackle on the list.
How to Pack Technology
Even the most minimalistic digital nomads need to pack, at the very least, a laptop or streamlined remote working setup. Unfortunately, the majority of technology isn’t designed to be thrown around an airport baggage system and live to tell the tale. Laptops, tablets, and cameras are all expensive, fragile tools and—if you’re a full-time digital nomad—are vital to keeping you on a remote working trip.
A carry-on backpack, even if it’s just a small dedicated laptop rucksack, is vital for air travel as a remote worker. Your technology, no matter how well you pack it, should not be packed in the checked luggage—it almost never ends well. Protection is the aim of the game and depending on how much technology you’re traveling with, you may need a lot of it. Your claustrophobic Macbook will appreciate the extra padding when it travels on your back, as will you when it arrives at the other end in one piece.
How to Pack a Laptop
A portable computer is the number must-have item on a remote working trip and protecting your digital workhorse should be your priority when packing. We would always recommend a quality laptop sleeve to give your PC that extra layer of protection when carting it around the globe. These protective sleeves come in different shapes and sizes with features including additional pockets, waterproofing, and different levels of padding. Choosing a laptop sleeve is a personal choice, but anything with a sleeve that will protect your equipment will be the best for frequent travelers
Once you’ve got the sleeve sorted, it’s time to decide where to pop your laptop on travel days. A dedicated laptop sleeve in a daypack or larger backpack is the obvious choice for this one. We’d recommend choosing a backpack with either a padded or a hidden laptop sleeve for an additional layer of security.
How to Pack a Tablet
Tablets fall much in the same category as laptops and are also a little fragile, meaning extra care should be taken when packing. Protective tablet sleeves are available and offer that extra layer of security for digital nomads packing up their remote working set-up. These can then be slotted into the same rucksack as the laptop, keeping all delicate screens together. With an increase in the amount of tech that the average person owns, nomads can now find backpacks with both a dedicated laptop and a separate tablet sleeve. This gives your iPad personal space in your backpack so it’s not battling for territory against your computer.
How to Pack a Camera
A camera is not only a great tool for digital nomads specializing in creative industries but a must-have for capturing remote working memories regardless of your profession. Cameras are, however, notorious for their fragility, and packing them incorrectly can have devastating consequences. How to pack a camera depends heavily on what kind you have and how much gear you’re looking to bring. If it’s a small point-and-shoot like the trusty Canon G7X you’ll need less protection than a full-frame mirrorless Canon R5 and a selection of lenses.
How to Pack a Point-and-Shoot Camera
A small point-and-shoot such as the Canon G7X or the nomad-friendly GoPro Hero 10 are compact and simple to pack. A hard-shell case will be plenty strong enough for these smaller cameras, offering a protective layer to withstand dirt, dust, and potential impacts. These cases can offer good organization options for accessories such as camera straps, additional batteries, and chargers.
How to Pack a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
The fun starts when packing a larger DSLR or mirrorless camera that comes with interchangeable lenses. There are countless different camera packing solutions out there spanning from dedicated photography-focused backpacks to large, hard-shelled, and heavily padded suitcases. Our typical recommendation comes in the form of a dedicated adjustable camera sleeve, great for slipping into your carry-on with the rest of your high-value tech.
An adjustable camera sleeve gives digital nomads options depending on how much camera gear they’re looking to travel with. Whether you’re traveling with a single body and a pair of lenses or three different cameras and an arsenal of telephoto lenses, there’s an adjustable sleeve out there perfect for your packing needs.
How to Pack Toiletries
It goes without saying that a dedicated toiletry bag is the go-to solution for digital nomads packing up their toothpaste and body wash on a remote working trip. Toiletries typically make their way into the checked bag for most with no restrictions on the amount of liquid that can be traveled with. Shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash can therefore be packed as normal for a trip overseas. We would, however, recommend storing these liquids in separate individual sealed bags to avoid any leaky disasters.
For one-bag travel, a clear toiletries bag will be your best friend when traveling through the airport. All liquids in your carry-on luggage must be packed in containers of a maximum size of 3.4 ounces (100ml). Again, we would pack these in separate individual sealed bags if we’re being super careful. It’s worth noting that any fluids must be kept in containers of 3.4 ounces or less—any larger containers may not be permitted through security. Dedicated travel liquid containers are readily available online, often offered in packs of three, to make the packing process as smooth as possible.
Alternatively, there are a handful of great liquid-free alternatives including shampoo and conditioner bars, great for packing haircare products without compromising on quality. If packing toiletries doesn’t appeal, it can be just as easy to purchase new essentials from upcoming destinations to ease shampoo-related stress.
How to Pack Clothing
Packing your clothing as a digital nomad is usually the simple part. Clothing can be quickly organized and packed away in dedicated packing cubes, making it easy to jump into your luggage and pull out exactly what you need, when you need it. Packing cubes that feature compression straps are the favorite among digital nomads, offering tighter packing to cram even more into your luggage.
When packing for one-bag travel, clothing can be the most frustrating part and it’s not uncommon for nomads to quickly rearrange (see: bin, store, or donate) their wardrobe in favor of a lighter, freer rucksack. However, if you are heading to a colder destination, it might be time to bite the bullet and invest in a suitcase to manage your extra layers. When opting for a suitcase and dedicated carry-on solution, it’s wise to keep a spare outfit packed away in your rucksack in case of lost luggage during any stint of the trip.
A dedicated laundry bag is something that I’ve grown attached to when traveling away from home, clearly separating washed and unwashed clothing when traveling between locations. If you’ve been prepared and don’t have anything left to wash, this can simply be laid flat, taking up minimal space in your luggage.
How to Pack as a Digital Nomad
Whether you’ve chosen to travel with a suitcase and daypack or a one-bag nomad backpack, the next step for all remote workers is learning how best to pack their luggage. With high-value technology, an integral part of remote work, protecting laptops, tablets and cameras is half of the battle when traveling as a digital nomad. With this in mind, we would always recommend that digital nomads travel with at least one form of carry-on luggage when moving between locations.
Remote workers should invest in protective sleeves for their technology, packing it exclusively in their carry-on backpack before boarding a flight. Toiletries and clothing are fine to pack in the checked baggage and can be packed in dedicated packing cubes for easy organizaton. The aim of the game is protection and by keeping your technology safe, digital nomads can enjoy much-needed, stress-free trips year-round.
Adam Mace is Nurall's Lead Contributing Writer and a full-time digital nomad in search of the best hikes, unique stays, and local delicacies. When he’s not exploring far-flung places he can..
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