The travel lifestyle is one that doesn’t require much stuff – but if you’re going to work remotely, it does require the right digital nomad gear.
Being a digital nomad is the dream for many travelers. It’s also a lifestyle that many people don’t know anything about, or how to prepare for it. Even after months of exhaustive research, I still packed the wrong digital nomad gear and had to make tons of changes as I went.
I know, because I wish that I had packed these when I embarked on the digital nomad path.
Pause and pin this for later so you know where to find it! 👇
14 Pieces Of Digital Nomad Gear That Will Make The Lifestyle Easier
1. Tech Repair Kit By Sugru To Upkeep Your Digital Nomad Gear
You may recall seeing Sugru on my gift guide for the eco-friendly people in your life. In case you’re unfamiliar: Sugru is a silicone glue that’s flexible and mouldable. It’s essentially like a glue Play-Doh, and turns into rubber when it sets.
It’s a priceless product, and the tech kit is the perfect first aid kit to your digital nomad gear.
I recommend taking this on any trip, filed away in the just-in-case stuff (If you’re interested, I have an entire blog post on the just-in-case stuff you should always stake traveling). But for the digital nomad lifestyle, some sort of plan to fix your tech gear is a must.
2. Travel-Ready Sun Lamp To Help Reduce Jet Lag and Improve Mood
For minimalist digital nomads, this will probably be overkill. BUT, A sun lamp could be perfect for you if:
- you’re frequently traveling between very different time zones
- you’re traveling somewhere during the rainy season or with a polar night (think Alaska or Norway’s winters without sunlight)
- you struggle with getting enough sleep or feeling energized when you travel
I recommend this specific lamp because of it’s slim design. Similar to carrying an iPad or Kindle, this lamp can easily be stowed away in your bag, unlike bulkier lamps.
3. Skillshare Membership (some digital nomad gear is indeed digital!)
In any job, and of course just life in general, it’s important to never stop growing and evolving. It’s especially true for the digital nomad lifestyle.
Continuing to sharpen our skills makes us more valuable, more relevant, and, ultimately, is non-negotiable for long-term success.
The good thing is that this type of growth is easy. I use and recommend Skillshare.
Skillshare is an online learning platform, where connoisseurs in their respective industries teach via videos that you watch at your own pace.
Some of the opportunities specific to the digital nomad life are (number 3 was a game changer for me):
- Increase productivity and time management – less time on your computer is more time actually traveling
- Learn a new language – getting more out of that travel experience
- Continually build your skill set and become more valuable in your industry – this will be a game-changer for bloggers and freelancers
A Skillshare membership is a priceless piece of digital nomad gear, whether it’s for exploring passions, or at the very least, staying relevant in your industry.
Plans can be paid for monthly or annually, and the annual plan is the best deal. My readers get 2 months for free to try it out.
4. Portable Dual Monitors For Your Laptop
This piece of digital nomad gear isn’t a necessity for everyone, but could be a game-changer depending on your line of work.
Before becoming a full-time blogger, I was a graphic designer and I worked at half speed with just one monitor (but more on that here if you’re interested in reading my story).
5. The Most Important Piece Of Digital Nomad Gear: A Reliable Laptop
Now, a sad but true reality of the digital nomad lifestyle is that nothing is guaranteed to be kept safe.
You may get robbed, have your room ransacked while you’re gone (this happened to me in Nicaragua), be in a scooter accident with your expensive camera in your bag. No piece of digital nomad gear will provide 100% assurance.
That being said, a preventative measure you can take ahead of time is packing reliable digital nomad gear. Besides general safekeeping of your computer, the best defense against laptop breakdowns is a reliable laptop.
Truth be told, I don’t think how much money you spend, the brand, gigabytes, resolution, etc. really matters.
If you’re going to be traveling and working worldwide, think of your laptop sort of like a car: if you buy a rare, foreign car and take it across the world, do you think you’ll be able to find parts?
This piece of advice was a lesson I learned the hard way. I accidentally left my laptop charging cable behind at a hostel in Colombia, and it took an entire day of going from computer store to computer store in Bogota to find a replacement.
I had a freelance deadline the next day, and I can vividly remember the frantic this-lifestyle-all-comes-crashing-down-without-my-laptop-working feeling.
Whatever computer you buy, just think ahead a bit. Something brand new off of Kickstarter might not serve you as much as a basic computer will.
This is the computer that’s faithfully been running my blog and business since 2017. It’s a little pricey, but I got mine used and haven’t had a single problem.
6. A Plan B If Your Laptop DOES Break
The most important part of being a digital nomad is being able to do your work ~digitally~. Your digital nomad gear must include a plan b.
Having a safety net keeps the ~adventures going and the money flowing~ (that sounds like a good song title doesn’t it?) to make it possible.
Say you’re trekking in Nepal, or deep in the mountains in Montana, or on an island in Mexico (that’s where I was working when my laptop wouldn’t start one morning…).
Plan B #1: A Backup Laptop
There are two levels of Plan B that you should consider. The first is flat-out taking a backup computer.
Yes, for some people, this will be major overkill. But if your entire career and ability to travel rest on your ability to meet deadlines, it’s not that unrealistic.
You can look at this as “taking two laptops.” I see this more in the vein of a photographer or videographer, who takes camera equipment that they don’t use every day but they pack for special scenarios.
This Google Chromebook is my backup computer of choice. It’s a sweet little low-key laptop, with a long battery life and ruggedization against drops and spills. And it only costs $199.
Plan B #2: A Tablet
A more minimalist Plan B is using a tablet, such as the Amazon Fire Tablet, with a keyboard.
- If your laptop breaks, the Amazon Fire will fill the gaps. While you fix your computer, this will fill the void for sending emails, writing and staying online. A keyboard is more comfortable and practical for writing and sending emails than your phone.
- It’s a low-budget fix that will help you in a pinch. “Mini laptops” or “pocket laptops” are expensive. Waaay more expensive than a normal-sized laptop. The Amazon Fire Tablet is compact and comfortable to write on, checking the boxes of a mini laptop. Unlike a mini laptop, it’s only $49.
- The Amazon Fire Tablet is essentially just a Kindle that does more, and you were probably going to pack a Kindle anyway. This is a safety net that you can still enjoy without anything going wrong.
I already have a Kindle paperwhite, but before my next backpacking trip I’ll sell it and replace it with this combo.
And a collapsible keyboard to accompany it:
8. Solar Phone Charger
Realities about the digital nomad life that you will learn along the way:
- Power outages will happen
- Deadlines will also happen, despite the tropical storm that hit your island and took out power (this happened to me in the Caribbean)
Uncertainties are unavoidable, but HEY – that’s why you left the normal world anyway! If you wanted the same routine day-in and day-out, then you would’ve never pursued this lifestyle in the first place.
The uncertainties are manageable with some preparation. And this specific solar phone charger is perfect for three reasons.
1. This is a super powerful portable charger.
It can fully charge and iPhone 10+ times. A portable charger is a non-negotiable packing item for long-term travel, and this battery capacity is hard to beat.
2. It’s travel proof.
Rain, dust, falling out of your bag as you hop out of a tuk tuk – this charger can handle it. It’s made for the outdoors, so you don’t have to be worried about keeping it safe.
3. You don’t need an outlet to charge with solar panel.
The solar panels are the big draw for this charger. For transporting, all of the panels collapse and are secured on top of the battery panel. For charging, unfold to reveal 4 times the solar charging surface.
Every digital nomad needs a portable charger. You might as well get one that does so much more for you.
9. Notebook And Pen
Bursts of productivity and creativity can strike at any time, but those aren’t always the ideal times to pull out a laptop or tablet and start working.
Many bus rides or nights in a terminal come to mind where I was too nervous about being robbed to pull out any electronics.
Take any ole notebook and pen with you. My fave notebook that I journal in every morning is from Moleskin.
10. Cord Organizers
When your entire life and office are contained to a 65-liter bag, organization becomes a essential to the sustainability of lifestyle.
There are tons of travel organizers for sale on Amazon, you know the type: with a spot for SD cards, a hard drive, a dozen cords.
In my experience, those organizers are a poor fit with the digital nomad lifestyle. Their biggest flaw: They’re trying to make it easy to keep all of your electronics gear together.
But most of them don’t fit your most important electronic companion when traveling: your outlet converter.
Instead of an overly-specific travel case, these colorful cord wraps are a much better piece of digital nomad gear:
- They’re small and weightless in your pack
- Multipurpose, anyone? These come in different sizes and are a simple enough design that they can be used to organize a myriad of things, not just cords
- You can use a bag that perfectly fits your gear needs, and these will keep the inside the way you want it
- The colors will reduce the odds of someone accidentally walking off with your charging cord
Not everyone is going to understand your choice to pursue the digital nomad lifestyle. I talk about this a lot my blog post “6 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Digital Nomad,” and there’s no piece of digital nomad gear you can buy that will make everyone understand.
But the closest you can get? A camera. Don’t just tell people why you travel and are pursuing a life off the beaten path. Show them! You don’t have to be a professional photographer to share the magic (although with a class on Skillshare, you can get a few steps closer).
Small, discrete and powerful – this camera is my favorite for hobby photography. I always get asked about my case too – you can buy it here.
Putting All Your Digital Nomad Gear Together: Your Bags
Carrying everything that you need for living, working and traveling all on your back means that you need a smooth as red rum system to keep yourself from leaving things behind or getting frustrated.
12. Big Backpack
When you’re traveling long-term and living the digital nomad lifestyle, your backpack is like your home in the world.
Now, I’m including the Amazon link here below so that you can look at the reviews and see pics (I know that’s how I always so my research) but you’ll want to go to REI to try these packs on IRL.
But I really recommend buying your pack from REI. REI has a one-year return period where you can return your bag if it’s not the right fit for you and exchange it. And these returned bags aren’t wasted – they’re sold as a part of REI’s garage sales and sold at a lower price.
This results in more sustainable shopping. Instead of buying a bag, it not working and tossing it for a new one, you can return it and it will be rehomed to another adventurer. You can purchase some of the same bags on Amazon, but they don’t have this return window that’s so important on backpacks.
13. Day Bag
After many tested and failed bags, my all-time FAVORITE day bag is the REI Co-Op Trail 40L Pack.
I love this bag so much that I could go on and on about what makes it so great. But I’ll keep this love letter brief.
The 3 best features of this bag are:
- The massive mouth of the bag helps keep you organized. This opening of this bag covers so much ground that it’s almost like opening a carry-on suitcase. You can arrange your stuff so easily and fit sooo much in this 40L pack.
- It comes fully loaded with features of a bigger pack. Some of these features being loops to store a sleeping bag, hydration pack (I never go anywhere without a full hydration pack – this one’s my favorite), walking sticks, pack cover – this list goes on. They thought big while designing this compact day bag.
- The discretion helps you fly under the radar. Some packs just look big, even when they’re empty. This pack is 40L, but can easily slide by in an airport without being inspected and weighed. It can be used going to the library or coworking space, or taking a weekend trip on the train. You don’t scream “tourist” carrying this pack, which can be a safety advantage sometimes.
14. Dry Bag
Protecting your digital nomad gear is a must. Even when it’s not raining, this dry bag is handy just for groceries or any other bag-like responsibilities.
If you’re going to take this bad boy out onto the water (a dry bag’s normal purpose, for those who AREN’T walking around in monsoon season with thousands of dollars of electronics on their back). don’t buy this in a neutral color!
Take it from a kayaking enthusiast – if your bag goes overboard and you can’t spot it in the water, it doesn’t matter how dry your phone is. She gone. My bag is a loud-and-proud yellow.
Digital Nomad Gear Summary
What digital nomad gear are you packing for your adventures that’s not on this list? Or are you still just toying around with the idea but you haven’t taken the plunge yet??
If you’re still on the fence about the digital nomad lifestyle in general, fellow blogger Kelsey at Sights Better Seen shares her insights about the digital nomad experience in her blog post Pros And Cons Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle: Is It Worth It?
I would love to hear from you about your travel plans, and of course, your packing plans.