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Travel Light: Packing Hacks for Digital Nomads & Backpackers

Travel Light: Packing Hacks for Digital Nomads & Backpackers

If you're anything like me and want to ensure you have everything you need while avoiding the hassle of carrying heavy bags, then you've come to the right place. In this guide, I'll provide you with a list of items to pack if you're planning to go backpacking or traveling as a digital nomad, just like me and Ryan! I've kept this guide of packing travel hacks simple so you can refer to it anytime you're preparing for a trip or already on the road so you can avoid overpacking.

Some of our packing successes and failures from being on the go for 5 months:

Travel Essentials: Before you start to Pack for Your Next Trip

Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be stressful if you forget to pack some essential items. To ensure you have a smooth journey, here's a list of things you need to pack for your next trip (let's call it some packing hacks for travel):

Travel Documents

Make sure you have all the necessary travel documents with you, including your passport, visa, and any other required identification. Also, ensure that they are valid and up-to-date, and that you bring digital copies with you in case of loss or theft. Also make sure they are in decent enough condition. You can read about the incident that Fabio faced with a slightly torn passport in Bali, here.


If you are traveling to a foreign country, it's essential to research and understand the health risks and vaccination requirements for that region. Be sure to get the recommended vaccinations and medications well in advance of your departure date to allow time for them to take effect.

Valid Financials

It's crucial to ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover all your travel expenses, including accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. Consider carrying both cash and credit/debit cards, but be aware of any foreign transaction fees or restrictions on the use of your cards in certain countries.

Your Packing List for Travel: Self-Care, Clothing, Tech, and More tips


  • Don’t bring big packages of products because you can often find stuff, especially in hostels, for your self-care or in hotels to try (it depends on the country, but generally yes). Once in an accommodation in Japan, I even found a lotion for eye bags and a face mask. Plus, remember that some airports don't allow you to bring liquids on the plane that are more than 100 ml.
  • Bring small towels (you might be surprised how a small towel is enough to dry yourself). But you might need one big towel, possibly not too thick, which you can use for the beach, yoga, or whatever.
  • I guess I don’t need to specify why, but remembering to pack dental hygiene products is a matter of life and death?

finding free beauty products in japan


  • Generally, bring clothes that don’t need to be ironed, and avoid nice shirts, especially long sleeves because of wrinkles.
  • Bring clothes that can serve a double purpose, like shorts that you can use for the gym, pool, or beach.
  • Bring clothes that you like but can get rid of on the way, not the newest stuff you bought.
  • Bring a jacket or coat that is waterproof (it depends on the season).
  • Don't forget normal thickness T-shirts (whether it's winter or summer, or to use as pajamas in a dirty hostel, you always need a couple of normal T-shirts).
  • Bring two pairs of shoes or waterproof shoes that you can also use for sports or running.
  • Bring socks and underwear for about a week, maybe 7-8. You can always bring them to a laundry once a week, but you need a change while they are drying. Bring plastic flip-flops or slippers (slippers are better, even if less fancy).
  • At least one swimwear, you might go to the hotspring if not on the pool

Route Planning & Packing Tip 🗺️

We love a spontaneous trip, but in actuality, effective route planning is essential for packing lightly when you travel. By gathering detailed information about your intended route, such as the length of the road, estimated trip duration, water conditions, weather patterns, and potential hazards, you can significantly reduce the amount of gear you need to carry. For example, when camping, identifying resupply points, portage trails, and suitable campsites allows you to plan for strategic stops where you can restock supplies, reducing the need to carry everything from the start.

Consulting reliable sources, such as guidebooks, maps, and local authorities, ensures you have accurate and up-to-date information, helping you streamline your packing. Thorough research and preparation help you avoid unexpected challenges and enjoy a lighter, more enjoyable adventure, as advised by William Montgomery Cerf in this article.


  • A good laptop and a good phone with a good camera are a must if you need to work while traveling or simply make good memories
  • Always bring a power bank and and all the necessary cables to charge your devices
  • Headphones are always good to have, in case you forget to charge the wireless ones.


  • Consider packing basic over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medication, and antihistamines in case of unexpected illness or allergies. Disinfectant, gauze, waterproof plaster are also quite a must.
  • Also bring any necessary prescription medications in their original packaging with the prescription label intact.
  • Don't forget to research any necessary vaccinations or preventative medications for the specific destination you'll be visiting. It's always better to be prepared in case of an emergency. That being said, if you have good travel medical insurance, then you won't need to be as highly stocked. Check out our most recommended back packing travel insurance, SafetyWing.

Free Time

  • Remember to bring a smaller bag or fanny pack, you don’t want to do travel excursion with the entire suitcase. At best, it needs to have a pocket to store your valuables.
  • Don't bring books, or just bring one pocket book. When you travel, you don't have a lot of free time. You can always find things to read, like brochures or books in the place you’re staying, or you can just use your phone.
  • Or, if you're an avid reader like us, we recommend using a Kindle so you can bring your library with you wherever you go. Here, you can discover the best LGBTQ+ books we recommend.
  • Same goes for portable consoles, leave them at home or with a friend. You can always download games if you have a decent phone.
  • Generally leave you hobbies at home and just discover new things! Don't be like Ryan and bring your entire DJ console 🤣.

Special Mention:

  • Consider that some destinations require special equipment (for example trekking shoes if you are planning to hike). But only bring them if you are 100% sure you will use them, otherwise, they will just be a burden.

  • If you travel with a partner, be sure not to bring the same things twice. Do you really need two chargers?

In conclusion, packing light is key to a successful and enjoyable travel experience and to greatly improve your digital nomad lifestyle. By focusing on the essentials and avoiding unnecessary items, you can reduce the weight and hassle of your luggage, and make the most of your journey. Remember to prioritize self-care and comfort, versatile clothing, essential tech gear, and crucial documents and medications.

With these tips in mind, you can travel with ease, freedom, and peace of mind, and create unforgettable memories wherever your journey takes you.

So what are you waiting for? Go pack and live your next adventure!


For more packing ideas, check out this 5,4,3,2,1 Packing Trick from the New York Times.