28 Oct 12 Items We Take With Us on Every Trip
We pack and re-pack our suitcases a lot as Digital Nomads. Typically, we travel with a backpack and laptop bag each; or a rolling carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag. Our trips can be a house-sitting gig just a few miles away, to visiting our Peace Corps community in Jamaica, or country hopping around Europe for a month or more.
Through all of this, we’ve found there are a few choice items that make it into our packs no matter where we’re going and no matter how long. They’re tried and tested belongings, most of which have been in our possession through the wear and tear of Peace Corps life (2012-2014) and all of our trips since then.
These undies are made with high-tech, quick drying fabric which is especially helpful when you’re traveling and have to hang-dry laundry overnight. I thought for sure I’d have to replace my Exofficio “collection” after two years in the harsh, hand-washing realities of living in Jamaica. But not so! They are still going strong.
Hot Pink Earplugs
We both happen to be light sleepers and combined with our constantly changing sleeping locations, reducing audible interruptions is imperative to our sleep. We use them even when we’re not in a noisy area (like our former open-air apartment in Jamaica where we were constantly serenaded by cicadas, roosters, dogs, a pig, and the occasional late-night dance party down the street). We’ve actually tested out all kinds of earplugs and both agree that these hot pink, slightly-smaller-than-most foam earplugs are the most effective.
Uniqlo down jacket
Yes, we even pack this during summer trips, with the exception being truly tropical places. The jacket is so compact, bringing it along takes up almost no room. Compared to a bulky sweatshirt or any other kind of jacket, you can always be sure you’ll stay warm without wasting a lot of luggage space. It’s perfect for when the temperature dips at night in an otherwise warm location. And, of course, it’s great in cold places too. Also doubles as a tiny travel pillow!
Being Digital Nomads, this is a pretty obvious one. We can work wherever we go, thanks to our laptops. Personally, I like having the lighter-weight Macbook Air.
I’m not much of a purse person. But as soon as I slipped my laptop, passport, pens, business cards, and phone in this bag’s pockets – which were perfectly designed for each item – I was converted. The Portland-based company, Clark & Mayfield, has a whole line of carry-all handbags specifically designed for the working or traveling woman who needs to carry a laptop, along with the rest of her life. I use their Morrison laptop bag every day of my life and now write for their blog.
Bonus: Right now you can get 15% off any Clark & Mayfield bag if you enter the discount code ITRAVL at check out!
Jedd swears by his Deuter backpack which neatly fits his laptop. His favorite feature is the netted separator that prevents direct contact (and thus, sweating) on his back.
The Kindle was a birthday gift while we were in Peace Corps (a period of my life where I had ample time to plow through oodles of books!). Not being much of a gadget person, I would have never bought it for myself, but I was quickly converted. I still love turning the pages of a real book when I can, but when we’re constantly moving around, it’s way more practical to have access to hundreds of titles on one small device. I especially love that it’s self-illuminating so I don’t have to have an overhead light on, or walk across the room to flip off the light switch after I’ve read myself half-to-sleep. I also have a few foreign language books I read (to keep my mind fresh) and I can just tap on a word I don’t know to bring up the definition! Also, there’s a basic web browser that works on wifi in a pinch.
Power strip/Surge Protector
We always have our laptops and phones to plug in (plus, occasionally, the Kindle and a few other random things), and outlets are hard to come by in some places. Plus, you can’t always trust that your electronics will be safe without a surge protector. Our Belkin power strip can also charge via USB, and we have a set of adapters for countries where the outlet plugs are different.
We’re not talking about greeting cards here, although having a few blank thank you notes on hand has also been useful during our travels. As many of you know, we rely on travel hacking and credit card bonus points to cover the costs of most flights. We always carry a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and a no-fee ATM card.
Alright, there are a few more. But I don’t think they need too much explanation and we don’t feel strongly about recommending a specific type or brand. So here’s the rest of the list:
- Idea notebook(s)
- Running shoes
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