The thought of getting rid of (almost) everything you own- or packing it away in your parent's basement or a storage unit- can be thrilling to some people and a bit unnerving to others.
The trick to a successful digital nomad lifestyle is to plan carefully and then basically expect a significant amount of your plan to change along the way. Learning to be flexible and to "just roll with it," and yet having the knowledge about where you are going, what is around you, basic methods of transportation, and the main aspects of the culture will go a long way to making your adventure easier.
Also, having the right gear is really helpful. Making sure that you have everything you need packed away in an organized manner is crucial to cutting down on stress.
Here are a few of my must-haves that I used on my 9 month long digital nomad journey through Panama and Spain throughout most of 2017:
Note: Some of the product links below are affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you purchase / subscribe to / use some of these products. Just keep in mind that I love you guys, I would never recommend something that I don't love and believe in (and most of these products are used right here in Mind Her Business!).
Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack - So, those who know me know that I am an absolute research-aholic when it comes to things I consider super important, and, when it came to the object I would be storing (what I thought would be) the majority of my life in, my research process was no different. I poured over blog posts and videos reviewing different backpack options for digital nomads, shopped at just about every store in town that carried any kind of backpack, and eventually settled on this one and ordered it from Amazon.
It is surprisingly large and my absolute favorite part is that it zips completely open (like a suitcase), so you can just unzip and then flop the top over, allowing you a full view of your stuff. No more digging through a top loading pack, or having to take the top stuff out so you can get to the bottom stuff. There is also a cover that unzips out of the bottom that will cover the straps, so when you use it as your carry-on in a plane (the size totally works!), your straps and clips don't get caught in the doors. I also cram my thin windbreaker/rainjacket into this pocket too, so I'm never without it.
It has a nice waist strap, so your shoulders don't have to do all the heavy lifting, and it has internal straps to keep your things in place when you're on the go. It also has a nice protective laptop sleeve inside the middle compartment.
You think you can't fit much into a backpack, but I managed to pack 5 days worth of clothes, my laptop, my kindle, and a rice cooker (yes, I love my rice cooker enough to take it on trips sometimes... maybe I'll explain why in a blog post someday!).
Full disclosure- we don't actually travel with just backpacks. I really wanted to... I learned all the tricks and tips and hacks... but when you are traveling with 2 young boys (10 and 11) and don't want to ask them to give up all their favorite objects (like their Playstation, for instance), you compromise a bit and use suitcases, too. So we each have 1 backpack + 1 suitcase, and that is the extent of our "stuff" in this world. And when you stay in furnished homes when you travel, that is just about all the stuff you actually need to be happy! It's a bit more expensive to have to check luggage, but they need to feel seen and acknowledged and important on this adventure too, which means recognizing that they need some video game time in their life.
eBags Small Packing Cubes (3 Piece Set)- These are so amazing to keep your clothes organized and packed tightly, and they fit perfectly, lined up side-by-side in the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack mentioned above. I have some other packing cubes that I picked up very inexpensively in Panama, but they don't even hold a candle to these bags. Are they a little pricy at $25 for the set? Maybe. But I will never ever pack without them again, so, to me, they are worth it.
I can get 3 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, one dress, 8 shirts, 2 tank tops, 2 PJ pants, a Turkish towel, a fleece jacket, 5 cotton scarves, and enough socks and underwear to last a week with some to spare- all crammed into one backpack, thanks to these babies! I even have room for my (overloaded) earring bag and my toiletries! Most people would have a hard time fitting all that into a normal suitcase! Also purchased from good, ol' Amazon.
THIS IS IMPORTANT IF YOU LIKE YOUR ELECTRONICS! GET A SURGE PROTECTOR!
Take it from someone who has lost a Wii U and a microwave during a lightning storm in Panama- you should always protect the stuff you love. In lots of places around the world, the power grid is not so dependable or maybe you live in a house that wasn't properly grounded (I'm looking at you, Panama...).
I bought a 2 of these (the GR-8 Power Compact & Slim Travel Charging Station) from Amazon for us. I think they are super cool. In addition to the 4 plugs, they have 4 USB outlets as well, for your phone, iPad, Kindle, or other electronics. And this particular kit comes with tons of different adapters, so no matter what part of the world you're in, you can probably use your electronics!
I also bought one of these for each of us. It is a folding power adapter that has just about every combination on the planet. It has 2 USB ports and one regular plug, so its perfect to keep by the bed so you can charge your phone at night and keep a few other things plugged in, too. I bought them here on Amazon.
Turkish Towel - Yes, I know it sounds a bit like I'm repeating the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy here, but you should seriously not leave home without one of these towels. They are super soft, thin, large towel-blanket things that make traveling wonderful.
Sure, you could be boring and just use it as a towel, but why stop there? It can be a beach blanket, sarong, blanket on a cold plane, scarf, sheet (yeah, for those hostels...)... heck, you could even use it as a tablecloth if you wanted to!
There are two reasons why Turkish towels are all kinds of wonderful: 1) They are super thin and lightweight, so it fits anywhere and doesn't add any bulk or weight to your luggage, and 2) It dries super fast. Those microfiber towels they try to sell you for backpacking are super small, and they smell after a while. Also, microfiber just feels... weird. That's not what towels are supposed to feel like! And, while this doesn't feel the same as a terrycloth towel, it is soft and really absorbent, and, unless you don't let it dry right, it won't smell.
Now that I am back to living like "a normie" with a house and roots and all, I not only have Turkish bath towels, but I also bought smaller ones to use in the kitchen and as hand towels in the bathroom. These are the best. towels. ever. You can get them in all kinds of fun colors, or just be boring like me and choose black.