Can you list 10 items that can't miss in your backpack as a digital nomad?

Hey guys,
I’m still a digital nomad wannabe but I’m trying to plan my future as an actual one.
I’m now looking forward to buy my Digital Nomad essential gears to fit into my backpack.

Budgetting is really important to me and I’d like to know what is really usefull and what’s not when working and travelling in order to avoid spending lots of money on those things I don’t really need.

So here is my question:
Can you list 10 items that can’t miss in your backpack as a digital nomad?
I’d like to know more about your personal experience and why you think they are so important to you…

I hope this could be of help for wannabes like me but that it could also be of help to those veteran nomads looking to optimize their own backpack inventory.
Thanks for your time and your help!

Not counting the clothes on your person (jeans, shoes, shirt, sweater, maybe a jacket if you are going to frigid places), your smartphone and wallet (with debit card) in your pocket , probably less than 10 things:

  1. Passport
  2. Laptop + Charger (I recommend Macbook Air 13", the best nomad machine)
  3. Minimal clothes: 5 sets of underwear, 2 shirts, 2 shorts, a pair of sandals
  4. Copies of passport, debit card, issued visas, etc: documents in case of emergency
  5. Headphones/earphones that suit your taste
    6 (personal preference) A small thermos (<500ml)
    7 (situational) mouse/drawing tablet depending on your work needs
    8 (situational) Backup battery (that can be used for both laptop or smartphone)
    9 (situational) Hard drive for recoverable backup of your laptop

Anything else you take along is a non-necessity unless relevant for your work, and more likely a liability than an aid. Keep in mind that as a nomad, the monetary cost of having to buy some $0-$100 item that you situationally need is negligible compared to clutter, weight, volume and stress given how much time your belongings will spend weighing your shoulders down rather than being put in use. I’m not a coffee person, so I skipped the thermos, but this is essentially what I went on my last nomad leg (6 months long, 5 countries/cities) with. I didn’t miss much at all. I didn’t have a jacket and it turned out I needed one in Japan in April, so I had to buy one from Uniqlo (got an ultra-compact down jacket that’s the size of a soda can when rolled up), and I had to replace my headphones which got busted, but that was about it.

I use a Tortuga Travel backpack, so I had plenty of space to spare after this much stuff, in which I carried one of my side projects, a board game I’ve been working on, and which serves as a great icebreaker with people I meet. I carried one sweater and one dress shirt more than I recommended above, and I wish I hadn’t.

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Absolute essentials:

  1. Passport is a given.
  2. Wallet, of course, with cards and cash.
  3. Medication (prescription)


  1. Clothes - I don’t pack a lot but I’m not a minimalist packer either. I think you can get away with less depending on your size. I have a hard time buying things like shoes and bras in Asian countries.
  2. Some toiletries - if I can buy it easily at my destination then I don’t pack it but I have some make up items, good quality tweezers, nail clippers that would be more trouble to replace than carry with me. Nail clippers are incredibly handy. I just used them to open a carton of milk :smile:
  3. Laptop - of course, for working.
  4. Headphones - noise cancelling ones are life saving for me.
  5. Tablet - probably not essential but I don’t like lugging my laptop around with me all the time or dragging out my laptop when I just need to check maps or something. When it dies, I might just get a better phone and use that instead.
  6. Hair elastics - not just for hair but handy for many uses.
  7. Fold back clips - again, handy for many situations.

I have a few comfort things I take with me too. I figure it’s not a competition to see if you can travel with the lightest load but finding a balance between lugging stuff and having the things with you to make your lifestyle enjoyable.

Thanks guys, that was awesome!
It’s cool to see two different points of view and how you both share some of the essential items.

I’d be curious to find out how many different opinions I can find about this topic.

@kathrynoh I’m about to collect my things up.

I’ve seen you talked about medical prescriptions. If I have some made here in Italy, are they still available around the world?

I’m probably not the best person to ask since I got 6 months of prescriptions in Australia before I travelled and I’ve not had to deal with getting more medication yet.