Skip to Content

Digital Nomad Gear: 19 Essential Items

This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking and making a purchase through the links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclaimer for more information. This and display ads allow me to keep the site up to date and give back.

Wondering what the essential digital nomad gear is? You’re in the right place! As someone who’s been navigating the digital nomad lifestyle for over six years, I’ve learned my lessons the hard way—packing too much, too little, or just not the right stuff.

Stepping into the life of a digital nomad comes with its share of thrills and challenges. There’s the freedom of working from anywhere, the excitement of new destinations, and the joy of living life on your own terms.

But then, there’s the daunting task of figuring out what to pack. Every item in your backpack counts when you’re living a life untethered to a single location. The question is, how do you distinguish between wha’s absolutely essential and what’s not? This is where I come in.

I’ve faced the inconvenience of dragging unnecessary gadgets across continents and the panic of not having something I crucially needed. It’s a balancing act that took years to perfect, but you don’t have to go through the same trial and error.

You’re probably wondering, “What are the digital nomad essentials?” Whether you’re just starting out or looking to streamline your digital nomad travel gear, this guide is crafted from personal experiences and countless hours of research to bring you a curated list of digital nomad must haves.

Let’s dive into the must-haves for your digital nomad packing list that will make your nomadic journey smoother and more enjoyable. Trust me, learning from someone who’s been there, done that, can save you a lot of hassle (and extra luggage fees).

Digital Nomad Essentials

1. VPN

lora working on her laptop in tenerife spain. the ocean is in the background.

Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is like having a personal security guard for your online presence, especially when you’re connected to public WiFi. Public networks, like those in cafes, airports, or hotels, are notorious playgrounds for hackers.

They can easily intercept unsecured connections to steal sensitive data such as passwords, financial information, and personal emails. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it unreadable to anyone who might intercept it. This encryption protects your privacy and secures your data from prying eyes.

Beyond security, a VPN offers a world of freedom and convenience for digital nomads. Ever noticed how some content, like U.S. Netflix, has a much better selection than in other countries? Well, a VPN can help with that too. By connecting to a server in the U.S., you can access content as if you were there, opening up a vast library of shows and movies that might not be available in your current location.

I’ve been using NordVPN for years and am super happy with it. Not only as it kept my data safe from breaches, but NordVPN also offers seamless connection options for both my computer and phone. It’s incredibly user-friendly, making it easy to switch between servers or adjust settings as needed.

Get up to 69% off NordVPN’s 2-year plans

2. SafetyWing Insurance

For many digital nomads, travel insurance seems like an optional add-on rather than a necessity. However, it can truly be a lifesaver, something I learned firsthand during a scary bout of severe dengue fever in Barbados.

Without warning, I found myself needing daily home visits from a doctor, racking up thousands in medical bills. Fortunately, I had SafetyWing insurance, which covered all the expenses once I submitted my claims. This experience made me an advocate for the importance of reliable travel insurance for anyone living the nomadic lifestyle.

SafetyWing is not just any travel insurance; it’s specifically designed with digital nomads in mind. Their subscription-based model provides flexibility and ease of use, making it a perfect fit for the unpredictable nature of nomadic life.

The founders are themselves digital nomads, and they’ve tailored their services to address the unique challenges and needs we face on the road. I’ve even had the opportunity to meet some of the SafetyWing staff at various travel conferences, and I can vouch for their passion and commitment to providing a safety net for nomads.

Recently, SafetyWing has added some impressive new features. One such addition is insurance for your gear, protecting against theft or damage to the essential tools of our trade. They also now offer an option for insurance with no deductible at a slightly higher monthly cost, giving users more control over their coverage and expenses.

Get a quote for SafetyWing insurance here

3. eSIM

A woman sits cross-legged on a sofa, smiling as she looks at her phone.

Discovering the convenience of an eSIM has been a game-changer for me, especially in the digital nomad lifestyle where staying connected is non-negotiable. Plus, with Apple removing physical SIM card slots in the new iPhones, it’s become a necessity for many.

I’ve been using Airalo for my eSIM needs, and it’s incredibly user-friendly. The ability to instantly get data service upon landing in a new country without the need to hunt for a physical SIM card makes life so much easier.

It simplifies the process significantly, ensuring you’re connected and ready to go with just a few taps on your device. There are many eSIM providers now with more popping up all the time!

4. Universal Adapter

A woman in a hat looking out over the city of jerusalem.

The universal outlet adapter is one of the indispensable digital nomad accessories, and for someone who creates travel content, it’s an absolute must-have. The last thing you want is to be caught unable to charge your devices because you don’t have the right adapter.

That’s where a universal outlet adapter shines, allowing you to connect to power outlets anywhere in the world without the need to carry around multiple country-specific adapters.

Moreover, the convenience of having multiple USB ports cannot be overstated. It means you can charge several devices simultaneously—your phone, camera, laptop, and more—all from a single power source.

I’ve been using this adapter from Amazon for the last few years and can vouch for its reliability and efficiency.

I’ve managed to forget this indispensable tool a few times while jetting off from one accommodation to the next. Each time, there’s that heart-stopping moment, the rush of panic, and the realization that, yes, life as I know it is over (okay, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic). But seriously, forgetting your universal adapter sucks. So, what do I do? I promptly replace it, because it truly is a necessity.

5. Power Bank

Ah, the power bank, our unsung hero during those long stretches without a power source. Picture this: You’re on a seemingly endless bus ride, the scenery blurring past, and your phone does dead.

It’s in these moments that the true value of a lightweight power bank becomes crystal clear. Because not being able to take a work call or navigate your way through a new city because your phone decided to take a nap is, mildly put, not ideal.

Thankfully, power banks have evolved significantly over the past few years. Now, you can snag one that’s not only lightweight but also mighty enough to charge your phone multiple times and even give your computer a much-needed boost.

I bought a 20,000mAh power bank just a couple of years ago and it was about 6x this size – now look how small they are! I highly recommend Anker power banks, they’ve never let me down.

6. Noise Cancelling Headphones

It’s funny how some gadgets sneak up on you, becoming essentials almost overnight. Noise-canceling headphones are precisely that for me. Initially, I got them to escape the relentless symphony of construction outside my apartment in Mexico. Little did I know, they’d become my travel MVPs.

Flying has been transformed from a battle against engine roars and crying babies into my own personal retreat. The ability to block out the world and dive into my own bubble of productivity or relaxation has been nothing short of life-changing.

Noise-canceling headphones show how a simple shift can drastically improve our mobile lifestyle. Whether you’re up in the air or on the ground, they’re the ultimate companion for anyone looking to find a slice of peace in our noisy world. I bought these Bose headphones and am very happy with them – especially how long they last without a charge!

7. Laptop

A smiling woman working on a laptop by a pool.

Pointing out the necessity of a laptop for digital nomads might sound as obvious as saying water is wet, yet it’s a fundamental truth that can’t be overstated. In a world increasingly reliant on digital connectivity, having a reliable laptop is non-negotiable for anyone looking to work remotely.

While it’s true that smartphones have come a long way and offer a surprising amount of functionality, they have their limitations, especially for tasks requiring more screen real estate or processing power.

I’ve always leaned towards Apple products and my MacBook Air has been a faithful companion on my travels. It’s lightweight, powerful, and has never let me down, whether I’m editing photos, writing blog posts, or handling admin for my websites.

However, the market is filled with laptops catering to the diverse needs and preferences of digital nomads. Whether you prioritize battery life, display quality, or overall performance, there’s a laptop that’s just right for your nomadic lifestyle.

8. Portable Monitor

While not essential for everyone, many who require the productivity boost of a dual-screen setup find them invaluable.

Having used my iPad as a makeshift second screen has been a game-changer for multitasking, yet the allure of a dedicated portable monitor is growing, especially as advancements in technology have significantly improved their portability and ease of connectivity.

The latest generation of portable monitors offers a blend of lightweight design and simple, seamless connectivity, making them more appealing than ever for those of us in the digital nomad community.

Whether you’re coding, designing, writing, or just prefer having more digital real estate for your workflows, a portable monitor can enhance productivity and make multitasking a breeze.

9. Laptop Stand

A smiling woman working on a laptop in a room with cultural artifacts on display.

A laptop stand is one of those small investments that can have a big impact on your work life, especially when a proper desk setup is out of reach.

For digital nomads, who often find themselves working from coffee shops, airport lounges, or wherever they can find a spot, a laptop stand can significantly improve ergonomics. It brings the screen to eye level, helping reduce neck strain and promoting better posture.

I remember the first time I used one while camped out in a bustling café in Mexico City. The difference in my work posture and overall comfort was immediate. Gone were the days of hunching over my laptop, and instead, I found myself sitting up straight, with my screen at eye level, reducing the strain on my neck and eyes.

Beyond the ergonomic benefits, a laptop stand can also help keep your laptop cool by enhancing air circulation around it, which is crucial during those long work sessions.

The affordability and portability of a laptop stand make it an accessible tool for anyone looking to set up a more comfortable and efficient workspace anywhere.

10. External Storage

Managing storage while on the move is a common challenge for digital nomads, especially when it comes to handling a vast amount of photos and videos. Combining cloud storage and an external hard drive offers the best of both worlds, providing both accessibility and security for your digital files.

Cloud storage is incredibly convenient for backing up photos and videos taken on your iPhone, or any smartphone for that matter. It allows for easy access across all your devices, ensuring that your memories are safe, even if your phone is lost or damaged.

Services like iCloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox are popular options, each offering a certain amount of free storage with the option to purchase more if needed.

On the other hand, a portable hard drive gives you that tangible assurance of having a physical copy of your data. It’s particularly useful for those working with large files, such as high-resolution photos, videos, or extensive documents.

Hard drives have come a long way in terms of storage capacity and durability, with options that are shock-resistant and water-resistant, making them more travel-friendly than ever. I use this shockproof storage drive and it’s always been reliable.

While the cloud offers convenience and accessibility, the hard drive provides a solid backup and extra protection, especially in areas with limited internet connectivity. For digital nomads dealing with large files, this dual approach to data storage is not just advisable; it’s essential.

11. Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard

For many digital nomads, the trackpad on a laptop can feel limiting or even lead to discomfort during extended use. That’s where ergonomic wireless mice and keyboards come into the picture, offering a more comfortable and productive working environment.

While I personally don’t use them, I understand their appeal and have heard from several fellow nomads who consider them indispensable.

An ergonomic wireless mouse is designed to fit naturally in your hand, reducing strain on your wrist and fingers. Similarly, ergonomic keyboards are tailored to maintain a natural hand and wrist position, potentially minimizing the risk of repetitive strain injuries. They often feature a split design or curved keys that align better with how our hands naturally rest.

For digital nomads who spend hours typing or navigating on their computers, investing in an ergonomic mouse and keyboard can significantly improve comfort and productivity.

12. Luggage

lora in thailand with nomatic carry-on suitcase, behind her is the ocean.

Choosing between a suitcase and a backpack, and deciding whether to carry on or check in, is a pivotal decision in the realm of digital nomad essentials. It’s a debate many of us, myself included, have circled back to time and again.

I’ve transitioned into being more of a suitcase enthusiast, drawn by the structured space and ease of movement it offers.

No matter your preference, one of the ultimate digital nomad products is quality luggage. The importance of investing in good luggage cannot be overstated—it’s a crucial piece of nomad travel gear. Airlines are notoriously rough on baggage, and a cheaply made bag can quickly become more of a liability than an asset.

I learned this the hard way when I borrowed a friend’s inexpensive suitcase for a trip. After a single flight with Avianca, it emerged on the carousel minus a couple of wheels, a stark reminder that not all luggage is created equal.

On the other hand, my experience with Nomatic gear has been nothing short of fantastic. It’s a brand that truly understands the needs of digital nomads, creating durable, thoughtfully designed products that withstand the rigors of frequent travel (I’ve tried and tested it).

When I faced a minor issue with a clip on my bag, their customer service was impeccable, going above and beyond by providing a replacement for the entire bag.

13. Computer backpack

A computer backpack is another item that falls squarely into the category of digital nomad gear. It’s not just about carrying your laptop; it’s about doing so safely, securely, and stylishly, all while keeping your hands free and your gear organized.

The right computer backpack can make all the difference in your day-to-day mobility. It should have a dedicated and padded laptop compartment to protect your device from bumps and drops, plenty of organized pockets for your digital nomad equipment, and ergonomic features to ensure comfort during long commutes or explorations.

From personal experience, choosing a backpack that’s specifically designed with tech in mind—such as those offered by brands like Nomatic – means you’re getting a product that’s been thoughtfully designed for digital nomads. Features like RFID-blocking pockets, water-resistant materials, and USB charging ports are just a few examples of the details that can enhance your travel experience.

Moreover, investing in a high-quality computer backpack is investing in the longevity of your digital nomad must-haves. Like with luggage, the durability of your backpack is crucial. It needs to withstand the rigors of travel, from being squeezed into overhead bins to enduring the occasional dash through the rain.

14. Electronic Organizer

An electronic organizer is a must-have among digital nomad essentials, especially for those of us with a penchant for gadgets and the multitude of cords and accessories they entail. Nomatic, known for their attention to detail in designing travel gear for digital nomads, often includes an electronic organizer in many of their bags.

If your current bag lacks this organizational lifesaver, don’t fret. You can easily find a standalone electronic organizer on Amazon. These organizers come in various sizes and configurations, featuring compartments and elastic straps designed to hold everything from your power cords and USB cables to memory cards and external hard drives.

Having an electronic organizer not only keeps your gear neatly arranged and accessible but also protects your items from damage and makes packing and unpacking a breeze. It’s a simple and affordable addition to your digital nomad gear that can make a significant impact on your travel experience.

15. Water Filtration Bottle

lora sitting on top of a mountain in bansko bulgaria after a hike. behind her are stunning mountain ranges. she is smiling looking proud.

Having a water bottle with a built-in filter is necessary for digital nomads, especially when venturing into areas where water safety is a concern. Staying hydrated is crucial, and this type of water bottle makes it easy and safe to refill from almost any source.

I love the LifeStraw bottles, for the versatility of being able to remove the filter when you’re in destinations with safe drinking water and reinsert it when necessary.

I always go for the insulated version of the LifeStraw bottle. It’s a fantastic choice for keeping your water cold, which is a blessing in tropical climates where a refreshing sip of cool water can feel like a luxury. Not only does it ensure that you have access to safe drinking water, but it also helps in reducing the environmental impact and cost associated with buying bottled water.

LifeStraw’s filter technology is effective against various contaminants, making it a reliable companion for both urban explorations and wilderness adventures. By incorporating such a water bottle into your travel gear, you’re making a conscious decision towards health, convenience, and sustainability.

16. Sleep Mask and Earplugs

Adding a comfortable sleep mask to your travel kit is another essential item for the digital nomad lifestyle. Whether you’re catching a long-haul flight or dealing with accommodations that leave a bit to be desired in terms of blocking out light, a high-quality sleep mask can make all the difference in ensuring you get the rest you need.

Sleep masks are designed with comfort in mind, using soft, lightweight materials that sit gently on your face without putting pressure on your eyes. Many also feature adjustable straps to fit a range of head sizes, ensuring that your mask stays in place throughout the night or flight.

Similarly, earplugs are a small but mighty tool for ensuring quality rest. Whether you’re on a noisy flight or in a busy hostel, earplugs can help block out distracting sounds, enabling you to sleep or focus on work. They’re an inexpensive yet essential item for maintaining peace in various environments.

Incorporating a sleep mask and ear plugs into your nomad travel gear ensures that you’re prepared for any sleep environment, making it easier to adjust to new time zones and maintain a healthy sleep schedule on the road.

17. Money Belt

A money belt is a smart way to keep your cash, cards, and important documents safe. Worn under your clothes, it offers a discreet way to protect your valuables from pickpockets, especially in crowded or unfamiliar places. It’s peace of mind, neatly tucked away.

It played a crucial role in keeping my valuables safe, not once but twice during the frenzy of Carnival in Rio. This event draws crowds from all over the world, creating an environment ripe for pickpockets. Thanks to my discreet money belt tucked away under my clothing, I managed to navigate through the packed streets without losing a single item, despite the chaos.

18. E-reader

An e-reader is indispensable for those who love to read without the bulk of physical books. Devices like the Kindle offer access to thousands of books, adjustable lighting, and long battery life, making it perfect for travel.

However, a word to the wise from personal experience: be mindful of where you place your Kindle, especially on flights. I’ve managed to leave mine in the back pocket of the airplane seat enough times to find myself on version 5. It’s an easy mistake that can be both frustrating and costly.

19. Onward Flight Reservation

Having an onward flight reservation can be crucial, especially when entering countries with strict entry requirements. Services like Best Onward Ticket provide temporary flight bookings, ensuring you can fulfill visa requirements without locking in a travel itinerary. It’s a safety net, allowing for flexibility in your plans.

FAQ: Best Digital Nomad Gear

What do you need as a digital nomad?

As a digital nomad, you need reliable technology (laptop, smartphone), internet access (possibly a VPN for security), and practical travel gear (such as a durable backpack or suitcase, travel adapter, and portable charger).

What do nomads carry with them?

Nomads typically carry technology for work (laptop, phone), clothing for various climates, essential travel documents, and personal items that help maintain a comfortable and efficient lifestyle on the road.

How do I prepare for digital nomad?

To prepare for a digital nomad lifestyle, start by securing remote work, research destinations with good infrastructure for digital nomads, organize your finances for international banking, and invest in travel insurance and necessary tech gear.

Do I need a VPN as a digital nomad?

Yes, a VPN is recommended for digital nomads to secure their online activities on public Wi-Fi networks, access geo-restricted content, and maintain privacy.

How much money do you need to be a digital nomad?

The amount of money needed to be a digital nomad varies widely based on your destination, lifestyle, and spending habits. It’s possible to live on $1,000 to $3,000 per month in many countries, with some regions requiring more.

What is the ultimate digital nomad setup?

The ultimate digital nomad setup includes a lightweight, powerful laptop, a smartphone with a good camera, noise-cancelling headphones, a portable charger, an ergonomic portable stand for work, and a reliable internet connection or mobile hotspot.

How do you pack like a digital nomad?

Packing like a digital nomad involves selecting versatile clothing for layering, minimizing electronics to essentials, using packing cubes for organization, and always considering the weight and bulk of your luggage.

What type of clothes do nomads wear?

Nomads typically wear versatile, durable clothes that can handle different climates and are easy to care for, such as merino wool.

Final thoughts: Digital Nomad Travel Essentials

From the indispensable laptop and smartphone duo, safeguarded by a VPN, to the practical magic of a sturdy backpack or suitcase equipped with an electronic organizer, these digital nomad essentials form the backbone of a seamless digital nomad experience.

These essentials, along with the adaptability of clothing that suits a range of climates and the organization afforded by packing cubes, ensure you’re ready for whatever your nomadic life throws at you.

While there’s always the allure of additional gadgets and digital nomad tech gear—like a high-quality camera to capture your adventures —the items listed here are my non-negotiables, the core essentials I wouldn’t dream of leaving behind.

They represent the balance between necessity and efficiency, ensuring that, as a digital nomad, you’re prepared, protected, and perpetually ready for anything.

Remember, the essence of digital nomadism lies not in the quantity of items you carry but in the quality and versatility of each piece. So, as you pack your bag, consider each item carefully, ensuring it earns its place in your mobile life.

Read more: Digital nomad equipment

lora working on laptop by the ocean with overlay text 19 digital essential digital nomad gear

Author

  • Lora Pope

    Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

    https://explorewithlora.com/about [email protected] Pope Lora