When I first decided to become a digital nomad, I had little idea of what equipment to use. But after years of slomad life, I can finally say I truly know what my nomad essentials are.
The nomadic gear I use today is the result of seven years of living abroad and traveling as a “blue-toothed boobie” (as one witty yet obnoxious journalist painted those who pursue this lifestyle).
While this isn’t my digital nomad packing list, it includes the top equipment and gear I consider my must-haves.
This is the stuff I take with me everywhere, to every country I travel in or temporarily live in. And even though I haven’t polled every nomad out there, I am fairly confident most would strongly agree with every single piece of equipment or device mentioned in this guide.
That said, what are the essentials you need to be a digital nomad? And how do they make your nomadic lifestyle easier or better? Read more below for my answers!
Essential Gear & Equipment for Nomads
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1. Tech Pouch / Cable Organizer
Digital nomads are called “digital” nomads because they earn their income online while traveling and living a modern nomadic life. And working online means technology and gadgets, which means cables (lots and lots of cables), which is why a tech pouch is at the top of my digital nomad gear list.
Trust me, a cable organizer bag is life-changing. No more stuffing chargers and USB-C cables and headphones and god knows what else into every side pocket of your backpack or luggage or anywhere you can find space.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and just buy the dang tech pouch. The one I got (and gifted to two other nomads), I found on Amazon France for around $17. The closest one like it available in the US is this one by Rinvanic, but the Bagsmart pouch has way more reviews.
2. Laptop, Camera, Phone
The triple threat and must-haves for digital nomads: a laptop (obviously), a camera (not so obviously), and a phone (another “duh”). I wouldn’t say a camera is a MUST for working online and traveling, but at this point, what digital nomad doesn’t have some sort of camera to capture their epic adventures around the world?!
💻 Laptop: There’s no better laptop than the Macbook Pro. Sorry, I said it. I’ve been a Dell user and a loyal Chromebook user for years. But nothing leveled up my #laptoplifestyle quite like Macbook Pro (the Macbook Air is a good option too). Macbook is simply the best laptop for digital nomads and remote workers.
📸 Camera: I use the SonyA7II body and 24-104mm Sony G lens. It’s a kick-butt duo for travel and adventure photography. You can check out my in-depth travel blogger gear guide here.
📱Phone: Again, Apple wins. I was a hardcore Samsung girl until very recently. I finally bought my first iPhone (iPhone 13 Pro 256GB) in 2022. If you are a content creator or blogger, then you know. If not, and you just want the best phone for digital nomads (that isn’t Apple), then check out the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro. It’s kind of an iPhone copycat, but way cheaper.
I am 100% that digital nomad girl that carries her life in her backpack. Actually, make that TWO backpacks.
I use the REI recycled Ruckpack (40L) for multi-day trips, backpacking/outdoor trips, and moving countries. I usually check-in this backpack as my luggage when relocating. I love this backpack! It packs so much while remaining relatively compact, perfect for small body frames like mine (I’m 5’4″).
For just traveling around, city/day trips, and hiking, I use my WANDRD PRVKE Lite (11-16L) backpack and camera bag. I also use it as my carry-on for short trips under ten days. It’s so thin it even passes as a handbag on flights (so you don’t have to pay cabin bag fees!).
Before I used to use a generic adventure-style backpack and carried my camera and drone in their separate bags inside this backpack, plus I’d have a separate laptop bag or sleeve. It was always stuffed to the max and was fairly inconvenient for traveling, but I used it for sustainability purposes (about 5 years until it was well-worn).
Now I have upgraded to the PRVKE and holy moly, it’s AMAZING. Now I can fit my camera gear, laptop, tech gear, travel gear, odd accessories, etc, all in my Prvke backpack.
The WANDRD backpacks are incredible for digital nomads who need a travel backpack and a camera backpack all in one. (P.S. I feel the Tortuga backpack doesn’t even compare.)
I can’t imagine a life without books. And while I love the scent of a new book and the way it looks and feels, you just don’t have the “luxury” of carrying your library around with you as you travel. The solution? Kindle Paperwhite.
It’s 100x worth the investment (I think I paid right around $100) because most books are discounted for Kindle so it just pays for itself as you keep reading and buying more books. You’ve got them all in one place, and it’s just so easy. Plus, the battery on Kindle lasts forever as well (mine goes weeks before needing a recharge).
A Kindle is lightweight and small, ideal for frequent travelers. It’s easily one of my top digital nomad essentials.
5. Travel Adapter
Not the sexiest piece of gear in my digital nomad essentials, but nevertheless very useful and practical.
A universal travel adapter is one of those little things you don’t think about until your phone and laptop are dead and you have no way of charging them because you neglected to buy one. Now you’re stuck on the go and the only one around is the overpriced $40 piece of plastic at the airport.
Ok, I may be exaggerating just a little, but a quality travel adapter really does come in handy especially when your nomadic travels take you from continent to continent.
6. Digital Nomad Insurance
Ever since I lived in Mexico as a digital nomad (for about 2.5 to 3 years!), I “smarted up” and have been insured by an affordable monthly travel medical insurance for digital nomads — SafetyWing.
Travel insurance is no joke, and I waited way too long as a nomad to get covered.
Forking over $40 per month is fine by me, especially because it’s the only way to calm my worries and anxious thoughts like, “If I die abroad, my family will be broke for generations to come trying to get my body back overseas.”
Signing up literally takes less than five minutes, and coverage starts the VERY day you sign up abroad. (You can’t sign up while in the US, only once you’ve traveled and are out of the country.)
You can learn more about SafetyWing here or by reading my in-depth SafetyWing review.
7. External Hard Drive & SD Cards
A hard drive and SD cards serve as external storage for my laptop and camera equipment (DJI Mini 2, Sonya7II, Osmo Action).
I don’t know how I would be able to offload and backup all my work and content without them, so they’re absolutely a part of my essential digital nomad gear.
If you’re not a blogger or creator, you may not need these, but I would highly recommend safeguarding and backing up your work somehow, on an external device rather than keeping it all logged on your laptop or another device.
What if you got something stolen?
8. Blue Light Glasses
Digital nomads spend hours zoned in on their screens across all their devices.
These screens produce blue light, which, with prolonged exposure, can cause chronic headaches, eye fatigue, loss of sleep (or quality of), and poor focus, among other dangers of blue light.
I may be biased, but I know no better brand or quality blue light-blocking glasses for working on a computer than Horus X. I have a pair, and my partner Paul wears them all the time for work. 👓
🤓 Click here to purchase your glasses from Horus X!
9. Travel Credit Card
I am not a huge credit card user, but I will say my Aviator Mastercard (AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard®) by American Airlines has literally been one of two cards I use for every purchase. And because I use it for nearly every purchase, I get flight miles.
What do miles do? Well, you can use them for travel and for booking more flights and get discounts on rental cars, hotels, etc.
My card also includes perks like zero international transaction fees, free car rental insurance, and a free 2nd checked bag on AA flights. Their sign-up bonus is 60k miles, which is the equivalent of a free round-trip flight (from/within the US or you could even use it for Europe or Asia).
Note: I also use Delta’s SkyMiles card, but end up using my Aviator way more.
10. Reusable Water Bottle
Last but not least on this digital nomad gear list is a reusable water bottle!
Anticlimactic, much? Maybe, but it’s really key for reducing single-use plastic on your travels which is a priority of mine as I try to promote eco-friendly travel and sustainable travel practices as much as possible wherever I go.
I love and would recommend these brands: Hydroflask, Camelbak, Chilly’s, and S’well.
Bonus! Portable Laundry Bag
What, a bonus?! Yes! I wanted to drop the last piece of nomadic gear I have been been using for a couple of months now. It’s not been a lifesaver like my new tech pouch, but it definitely comes in handy for digital nomads.
It’s the Scrubba portable wash bag for dirty laundry. It’s basically a bag you can fill with water and soap and wash your clothes in while saving money on laundromats and water from filling up gross dirty sinks for cleaning socks or undies on the fly.
Other Digital Nomad Gear to Check Out
Of course, this list is just scratching the surface of what equipment to use as a digital nomad. Some other digital nomad equipment and gear I use every day but that aren’t necessarily “essentials” in my book include:
- Laptop stand — I use the Moft laptop stand which is a compact adhesive. I love it! The Roost laptop is another option for those who like to work standing up or need something more robust.
- Pela phone case — compostable and biodegradable phone cases 🌱
- Tripod — I use the compact Manfrotto but also heard good things about PeakDesign! 📷
- Switch Lite (in yellow, obviously) — for self-care and me time playing Legend of Zelda 🎮
- USB-C hub — comes with 7 ports, might not be essential depending on your set up ⚡️
- Portable charger — I actually rarely use my portable charger, but it can come in handy when traveling in a van, hiking, or camping!
Stuff like a travel towel and clothing aren’t really what I consider to be digital nomad essentials. But, then again, I do travel with those staple items everywhere I go — they’re just not tech gear essentials, let’s say!
If you have any questions about the gear I use as a nomad, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Likewise, if you are a digital nomad yourself, I’d love to hear your tips and gear recs to level up my equipment!
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