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Unlike a regular vacationer, digital nomads are often on the road for weeks, months, or years at a time, so they have to make the most of their outfits. Check out the ultimate digital nomad packing list we created for you and find out how to create a digital nomad capsule wardrobe.
Digital Nomad Packing List
Written By: Maggie Fogg
“Digital nomad” is a term that has been popping up increasingly, particularly among our community of travel lovers. But what the heck is a digital nomad?
Essentially, a digital nomad is a location-independent professional. A digital nomad can be someone who owns her own business, works remotely for an employer, or works as a freelancer.
The concept of a digital nomad has been getting a lot of hype because it sounds like the ultimate dream – being able to work from anywhere in the world, due to the ‘digital nature’ of how business is conducted, and enjoying all the perks of travel and adventure along the way!
The desire to enjoy life as a digital nomad is particularly popular among older millennial professionals, who prioritize experiences like travel and adventure over material goods like owning a home or car.
This lifestyle works particularly well for this group because they’re generally tech-savvy and can better manage their schedules for working remotely. Plus, they tend to be established enough in their careers and incomes to afford global travel while working, but not yet in a phase of life where they’re ready to settle down.
To get started, read these helpful packing articles on traveling long-term:
- Round-the-World Packing List for Women
- How to Pack for a Never-ending Trip: The A-Z Packing Guide
- Packing for Long Term Travel
- What Shoes to Pack for a Long Trip to Various Destinations
- How to Pack for Trip with Cold and Hot Weather
Life as a Digital Nomad
Over the past year, I explored the life of a digital nomad, while participating in the Remote Year program. The model was one where our cohort of 65 professionals lived in a different city across four continents each month over the course of a year.
During the experience, my fellow travelers and I spent our days working out of a local co-working space in each of the 12 cities in which we lived.
While I did plenty of research about the digital nomad lifestyle before setting off on my first flight, there were many practical digital nomad packing list tips that I didn’t learn until I was on the road.
The Digital Nomad Packing Challenge
One of the biggest challenges was what to pack. Being a self-proclaimed fashion babe, my concern was whether I’d have enough.
However, I quickly learned that I not only had enough – I had way too much. Even when I purged items while leaving a city, I always seemed to have too much, and the reality was that it made each of my flights, bus or train rides cumbersome and frankly – frustrating!
It took me far too long to understand the true magic of being a digital nomad – it’s a lifestyle all about freedom and flexibility! Being bogged down with too much stuff will quickly leave you feeling trapped by limitations.
Packing Minimally as a Digital Nomad
Still, how do you pack minimally with such a variety of occasions in mind? One week you might be more in an active traveler mode, hiking and camping, or taking long walking tours around a new city. The next week, you might have a series of meetings with local or prospective clients, or even attend an industry-related conference.
The challenges of dressing under such varied circumstances are made even more complex by the fact that you’re likely traveling out a small suitcase with minimal options for each occasion.
Yet, it’s undeniable that dressing from a minimalist, digital nomad capsule wardrobe makes choosing outfits easier and less stressful.
Dressing well entirely comes down to selecting key wardrobe pieces that flatter you, are high quality, mix and match well, and are simple yet chic in design. The answer to the digital nomad packing list is a digital nomad capsule wardrobe.
Check out these tips on packing for remote year!
Digital Nomad Packing List: Clothing
A digital nomad capsule wardrobe is a simple collection of essential items that are basic and timeless in nature, and can be mixed and matched and accentuated with the addition of seasonal items, which are often a little more trendy. (What’s a capsule wardrobe? Find out here.)
Based on my experiences, a sample digital nomad packing list should include the following clothing:
- 4 pairs of shoes that are comfortable for walking – depending on your lifestyle, this might include a pair of wedges, flat sandals, running shoes, and ballet flats or loafers. These are the most popular walking shoes for travel.
- 2 pairs of jeans. Go for one casual pair and one dressier option. This might be a light wash and a dark or black wash.
- 2 pairs of trousers. Consider choosing one light and one dark colored pair, or one patterned and one solid pair. These travel pants are super versatile!
- 2 skirts. Go for a maxi length and a knee-length.
- 1 pair of leggings. These work for plane rides and exercise classes! Our readers rave about these leggings.
- 3 pairs of shorts. Go for a dressy, casual, and athletic option.
- 3-4 dresses or rompers. This could be a mix of maxi and short length options, or dressier and casual options. I recommend a classic black dress, a printed sundress, a maxi or midi style, and a romper or one-piece pantsuit.
- 1 multi-purpose jacket. Ideally, you want a jacket that can go from day to night, unless you plan on traveling to an extremely cold, winter climate.
- 1 blazer. A navy blue or black blazer can be dressed down with jeans or dressed up with a skirt, dress, or trousers.
- 1 cardigan. A cardigan is perfect for cooler days.
- 1 pullover sweater. A sweater is a great alternative to a cardigan.
- 4 tops or blouses. Like other items, go for a mix of patterns, solids, and different sleeve lengths for variety.
- 4 basic t-shirts or tanks. For these, it’s best to go for solids and neutrals that can be layered.
- 1 crossbody bag. They’re the easiest bag style to carry! Here’s a list of popular crossbody purses.
- 1-2 bathing suits. Consider a reversible suit to get the most wear out of it or one with a built-in underwire like these, which can double up as a bra.
At the end of the day, choose pieces that make you feel attractive and comfortable. Remember that you’ll be traveling to wonderful countries with many beautiful local pieces, so leave a little room in your suitcase for something special.
Tips for a Digital Nomad Capsule Wardrobe
There are a few general rules that will help making a truly varied lifestyle easier to pack for:
- Stick to a simple color palette. Choose neutral colors for basic pieces that you will make and match frequently.
- Add one or two accent colors and patterns for interest. Incorporate these ‘pops’ with trendier pieces that you can switch up seasonally.
- Opt for well-made, durable fabrics and pieces that are easy to clean (e.g. not dry clean only). Consider choosing antimicrobial fabrics, particularly in active wear. These are the best travel fabrics.
- Go for muted colors that show dirt less easily. These are better options than a lot of bright whites or light beiges, as you may not always have consistent access to a washer and dryer.
- Consider in which seasons you’ll be traveling. Will you be chasing summer? Or will you be in a variety of climates in multiple seasons? If you need to, you can always leave seasonal pieces in a home base and have them shipped to you as needed. Read this packing guide for mixed weather trips.
- Pack versatile pieces that can be worn for multiple occasions. Choose soft trousers that can be worn with a blazer and wedges for a meeting or a sweater and tennis shoes on travel day. Or, select a chic pair of shorts that can be dressed up for a night of drinks and dancing, or worn with sandals and a casual top for roaming around tourist attractions.
Learn more about how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe for travel!
Digital Nomad Packing List: Gear
When you’re working on the road, packing the right gear becomes essential to staying organized and not missing a beat. While specific gear may depend on your industry, there are some standard must-haves that you won’t want to miss.
If you’re traveling every couple of weeks, the last things you want is to be lugging around a large suitcase, packed to the brim and a bunch of bags. If you can, stick to carry-on only with a small rolled back and a backpack for your gear.
Packing cubes also go a long way to keep clothing organized and compact, particularly if you’re traveling with a carry-on only.We recommend these packing cubes – they’re ours! It’s also helpful to pack medications, toiletries and tech cords in Ziplock bags. A great tip is to travel with extra empty bags; they will always come in handy.
As you start packing your bags, make sure you include these musts (see above for links):
- Packing cubes
- Day pack or backpack (hiking, office supplies, travel days)
- Foldable tote bag (groceries, day trips)
- Reusable water bottle
- Laptop and protective case
- Longer laptop cord or extension cord
- Passport cover (protect your passport if you do a lot of traveling)
- Portable speaker
- Headphones (consider also bringing ear buds)
- Travel umbrella (or rain coat)
- Suitcase tag (identifiable)
- Travel towel
- Sleep mask
- Slim notebooks
- Go Pro
- Zippered pouches or Ziplock baggies
Download our FREE editable packing list – it has EVERYTHING you could ever need for your trip!
Share your digital nomad packing list in the comments below!
For more tips on packing for a trip like this, please read the following:
- How to Fit Everything in a Carry-on (Video Tutorial)
- Ten-Step Packing Guide to Travel Anywhere in One Bag
- How to Choose a Travel Backpack
- The Best Laptop Backpacks
- Backpacks vs Wheeled Luggage?
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Author Bio: Maggie Fogg is a full-time traveler and writer. She left Toronto with a one-way ticket to Spain and has been making her way around the globe ever since. Currently, you can find her dancing and hiking her way around South America. Follow Maggie on Instagram.