Being a digital nomad is no longer a small niche. In fact, in the US alone, 4.8 million people identified themselves as being a digital nomad in 2018. For people more used to packing for a short term trip, this raises the question about what type of items should be considered digital nomad essentials.
Since we’ve transitioned to a digital nomad lifestyle over the last year, we’ve found that certain items are undoubtedly more necessary than others, particularly compared to when we were only travelling for a week or two at a time. If you’re planning to become a digital nomad or are simply wondering what items will make your life easier, here’s our list of ten digital nomad must-haves!
One of the first things digital nomads need to consider when leaving their home country is what to do about insurance. While there has never been a shortage of options for conventional travel insurance policies when you’re only going away for a few weeks at a time, for a long time there weren’t any options that catered for digital nomads.
That all changed when SafetyWing introduced their travel medical insurance policies. Designed with digital nomads in mind, they offer an affordable and flexible option for coverage with prices starting at $40 for 4 weeks. It is charged every 4 weeks and can also be cancelled at any time. Their policies also have worldwide coverage excluding North Korea, Iran & Cuba so you’re covered for nearly anywhere you could be travelling to!
SafetyWing also includes some coverage if you plan to visit your home country and they provide 24/7 support so you can be sure that you’ll be able to speak to someone while you’re abroad.
Maggie & I have both been using SafetyWing while we’ve been living in Tbilisi over the last few months and are thrilled to have found an affordable and easy-to-use insurance option that covers us. Having insurance coverage is absolutely a must-have for digital nomads.
For a long time, I resisted the urge of buying an e-reader. When you’re only travelling for a couple of weeks at a time, taking paper books with you isn’t that big of a deal. However, if you live a more nomadic lifestyle and like to read, it simply isn’t feasible to be lugging around several books. That’s why I consider my Kindle Paperwhite to unquestionably be one of my favourite digital nomad gadgets.
The battery on a Kindle Paperwhite can last for several weeks without a recharge and the in-built backlight means you’re not at the mercy of a bedside lamp that might or might not exist wherever you’re staying. While I still love the feeling of a reading a paper book, nothing can beat the convenience of a Kindle, which is why I consider this a must-have digital nomad item!
3. First Aid Kit
Of course, if there’s something seriously wrong with you, you’re going to want to take advantage of your SafetyWing Insurance, however, it’s also a good idea to pack a small first aid kit with you for those more minor injuries or illnesses!
You can either buy a small pre-made first aid kit that will contain items such as bandaids, tweezers and antiseptic cream or, alternatively, make your own. It’s also worth adding any medicines that you regularly use as well as traveller’s favourites like Imodium.
While you can get a lot of these items anywhere in the world, it can be challenging to find at short notice depending on where you are, which is why I find having a first aid kit with me abroad one of my absolute digital nomad essentials!
4. Packing Cubes
If you’re a digital nomad who is planning to move around a lot, then one item that will save you a lot of time packing is a good set of packing cubes. Owning packing cubes has completely revolutionised the way I organise my clothes and means I’m no longer the messy packer that I once was!
Packing cubes allow me to easily find what I’m looking for in my bag and I am a big fan of the Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectre cubes in particular, as they have the additional benefit of compressing your clothes so you can save space in your bag.
5. Water Bottle
Hopefully, it doesn’t come as a shock to many of you but in a number of countries around the world, tap water is perfectly safe to drink. So to avoid consistently contributing to plastic waste and also to save money, it’s worth adding a reusable water bottle to your digital nomad must-haves!
If you’re living or travelling in countries with drinkable tap water (like most of Europe) then an insulated stainless steel bottle will work perfectly. Otherwise, if you’re living in countries where the water might not be safe to drink straight from the tap, it’s worth investing in a premium filtered water bottle to make sure you don’t get unwell and have to make a claim on your SafetyWing insurance…
6. Portable Hard Drive
While cloud storage might reign supreme these days, I find having the additional safety net of a portable hard drive can give digital nomads extra peace of mind. Particularly, if you’re working on your own projects and want to ensure that you have everything safely backed up, carrying a lightweight portable hard drive is undeniably a digital nomad essential!
I personally like the WD Elements Portable Hard Drive which comes in a variety of sizes and has a 2-year warranty.
7. Power Bank
As a digital nomad, chances are having access to your electronics is paramount to your day-to-day life. If you’re moving around a lot, you simply never know when you might find yourself in the dreaded situation where your smartphone is discharged and there isn’t an electrical socket in sight. This is when carrying a power bank can save the day!
There are many lightweight choices on the market today — such as the Anker PowerCore Lite — that can give your phone a quick charge and won’t take up a lot of space in your bag. So whether you need to send off a quick email or contact SafetyWing’s 24/7 support, a power bank will help you avoid running around looking for an outlet!
8. Universal Adapter
Speaking of charging your phone, another great use of your power bank might be if you arrive in a new country without your universal plug adapter. It can be difficult to stay on top of which plug outlet is used in which country, particularly if you’re moving around a lot.
Packing a universal plug adapter in your bag allows you to be prepared for whichever country you land in as it can be adapted to fit the majority of major plug sockets around the world. Many also come with USB slots so you can charge multiple things at once from the one outlet!
9. Cord Organiser
My bag used to be an absolute mess. I would shove cords into random places and then completely forget where I placed which one. That all changed when I purchased a cord organiser and I haven’t looked back since.
A cord organiser does as the name suggests and organises your cords into one handy pouch. There are different sizes available on the market and you can even fit in your power bank and universal adapter in some of them as well as countless other cords and batteries!
10. Travel French Press
If you’ve developed a caffeine addiction over the years, are living in a tea-drinking town or simply want to save money on your daily coffees, then having a travel french press is undoubtedly a digital nomad essential.
We travel with an Espro Travel Coffee Press which makes a fantastic cup of coffee and also doubles as a stainless steel flask so you can use it for other hot drinks. Adding one of these into your travel bag means you can easily get your caffeine fix in the morning and get going with your day!
While having insurance might be the number one must-have digital nomad essential, hopefully, the other items on this list make life as a digital nomad easier for you!
What did you think of this list of digital nomad essentials? What would you add? Let us know in the comments below!