Updated: Jan 31
If you are thinking about booking a one-way ticket and never looking back, or just setting off for a longer trip, it's important to start with the right gear.
Regardless of my destination, these travel must-haves are always with me.
For the duration of my four years as a digital nomad, I have traveled carry-on only! Having the right luggage and using compression packing cubes helps a lot. I highly recommend investing in travel gear that will last rather than trying to replace cheap items abroad. It will pay off in the long term.
The following are luggage and items that have passed the stress test in my time traveling. Here's the gear I use and love!
Samsonite Ascella X Softside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Black, Carry-On 20-Inch
Samsonite makes sturdy and reliable luggage. I prefer a soft carry-on like this over a hard bag as I feel I can fit more, or squeeze in objects with irregular shapes. The walls/front can stretch and give. This bag fits most carry-on size limit requirements and can expand an additional 1.5 inches.
Sterkmann Expandable Carry on Backpack, 30L
This bag, and its more expensive rival, the Nomadic bag are high-quality Mary Poppins bags. They look small but can stash so much! The Sterkmann has three compartments. The tech pocket has a sleeve for laptop and tablet. I love that I can open this compartment to pull out my electronics at airport security without disturbing the rest of my carefully packed bag. The middle section expands for extra storage or zips away for daily use. It also comes with a nice packing cube and shoe bag as a bonus!
Foldable Duffle Bag
This duffle folds down to the size of an envelope and can easily be stored in your carry-on for later use. I love having this for overnights and weekend trips when I can leave my larger bags behind. It also comes in handy when I've bought too many souvenirs! It's lightweight and can fit over the handles of your carry-on.
Compression Packing Cubes
A divisive subject, are packing cubes a yay or a nay? I'm a big fan, specifically of the compression cubes. Each bag can be designated for a clothing type to keep items organized so that pulling out one outfit doesn't wreck the entire bag. The extra zip squeezes down the contents so that sweaters or layered items become less bulky. If I'm staying somewhere without dresser drawers, which happens frequently, I can expand my cubes and use them to keep socks and undies organized and contained.
Portable Cord Organizer Travel Bag for Cable Storage
Keep your cords organized and untangled with a cord organizer. As a digital nomad, I've got bunches of batteries, cords of different types, chargers, headphones, and tech accessories. I love that this bag is water-resistant and has enough sections to hold all of my cords.
Hooded Packable Ultra Light Weight Short Down Jacket
Similar to the Uniqlo Ultra Light Packable Down Jacket, this jacket packs down into a small carrying case that can easily be tossed into a purse or backpack but is warm enough to get you through chilly environments. Outerwear can be the bulkiest part of your luggage. This jacket and the following rain shell help me fit into a carry-on while staying warm abroad.
Columbia Women's Arcadia Ii Jacket
Having a rain shell that's good for wet tropical environments, wind, and can be layered over something warmer for cold destinations is essential. I particularly like this Columbia jacket as it can sinch around the wrists and neck for a more water-tight fit, and is slightly fitted in the back for a bit of shape. While some rain shells are simply water-resistant, this one really holds up in a torrential downpour.
Bose SoundLink Micro:
Small Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof)
This is a small speaker with big noise. I am always impressed by the volume and quality of sound that comes out of this little guy. It's waterproof and has a stretchy clip on the back which makes it easy to attach to backpack straps, bike handlebars, a beach umbrella, or anywhere else you can imagine hanging it.
Microfiber Beach Towel - Quick Dry, Sandless Pool Towels
71x35 inches Oversized Travel Towel
If you're headed to the beach for your trip, you'll want a microfiber beach towel that packs up small. I'm particullary fond of this one as it repels sand, is reversible and comes in bright colors! If you're backpacking or camping, a towel is a must-have. Hostels will often rent you a towel for free or in some cases not have any available, expecting you'll come with your own.
Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle:
Leak Proof Twist Cap - BPA Free, 22 oz
Traditional water bottles can be bulky to pack, but this one rolls up tiny to squeeze in-between your packing cubes for easy transport. Unlike other soft water bottles, the Nomader has a hard plastic ring to hold at the center so you don't accidentally squeeze the bottle onto yourself. The twist-off spout is air-tight and the bottle is sturdily built.
Collapsible Coffee Dripper Pour Over Coffee Filter
If you're a coffee addict like I am, you may find it difficult to find good coffee out in the wild. Drip coffee is not available everywhere. With a pour-over filter, you can make your own on the go! This one packs flat and is dishwasher safe. It's even got a little hook to attach to your backpack for coffee on the road.
60" Phone Tripod, Packable
When traveling solo, it can be difficult to get just the right photo of yourself. Introducing- the tripod! When I first purchased this, I was too embarrassed to set it up and use it to take a quality selfie in front of other people. While I'm still a bit shy to pull it out in crowds, I've captured some great memories that I otherwise would not have been able to. This tripod packs down to 16.9" in a compact carrying case, and can fit easily into a backpack.
Did we miss any?
Drop us a comment and let us know what you can't travel without!
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