Work and Long Term Travel the Globe

4 Essential Things to Pack For Work Abroad (Digital Nomad)

The internet is awash with lists of packing essentials and travel hacks for backpackers looking to spend 3 months in a pair of sandals and sleeping in a hammock, but there’s a dearth of information for those looking to truly live abroad long term. Welcome to the essential things to pack for work abroad.

When I made the decision to live in a buzzing European capital I knew I wouldn’t be willing to live in a hostel and wash my socks in a sink for the next year- yet I still packed as if I would be, with a rucksack and sleeping bag slung onto my back. That butterflies-in-the-stomach moment of moving long term has come around again several times, and subsequently I overcompensated by bringing enormous suitcases.

So what, truly, does a solo digital nomad need for long term living?

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ONE: It might sound obvious to say that you need your laptop, but while backpackers frequently manage with tablets and phones, this item is our holy grail. Not only that, but pack two chargers if you won’t easily be able to replace your charger in the new country, plus an external hard disc drive for backups, a USB stick for transferring files and renew your antivirus before leaving. Consider using an online password manager such as Passpack which is free up to 100 entries and securely encrypted.

TWO: A small, wheelie suitcase: while many simply use a shoulder bag for their hand luggage, these gems are worth their weight in gold. They allow you onward travel as you can pack for a weekend inside them and also can be used to bring your books and office materials to wifi spots around the city. I often carry one nested inside my larger checked in luggage if necessary.

THREE: A Dictaphone: because in a foreign country recording conversations and meetings that you may not fully understand can be invaluable. In the past I have used this to record voice files for colleagues to reference at home or even had native speakers record key phrases for me which I could play in shops and other scenarios in case I couldn’t make myself understood. These are small, lightweight and often USB rechargeable so they deserve a place in your luggage.

FOUR: A tiny, physical address book or notebook for contact information: this has been a life lesson for me that technology can occasionally fail you, and specifically, batteries often run out of juice. To ward off those moments when you have no Wi-Fi and no mobile phone battery (and therefore no access to your address book) I keep a miniature book of crucial numbers so that, if I’m lucky enough to get to a payphone or friend’s phone, the numbers are accessible.

Happy travels! How do you survive as a working traveller? What would you consider essential things to pack for work abroad?

4 Packing essentials for digital nomads, don't leave home without these!

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10 Comments

  1. Flo

    August 31, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Great list! I rely on a good set of headphones as well so I can listen to my music when I’m working in public and not be bothered by everyone else’s conversations!

  2. Erica

    August 31, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I never would have thought of an address book! Such a good idea to have with you as a back up!

  3. Wanderlustingk

    August 31, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Great tips for traveling more generally. The notebook trick saved me while I was in Hungary trying to explain my milk allergy! It’s also good to note any allergens……

  4. Marissa @ Darling Escapes

    August 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Love the list! My must haves are headphones (I love happy plugs) and my Osprey backpack. It has rollerblading wheels- perfect for those cobble stones.

  5. Caitlin

    August 31, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I actually plan to head to Europe long term from the end of this year, so this post is helpful! I’ve never though about using a dictaphone – I’ll have to think about that one now! A laptop has been a staple of travelling for me for a while now – I couldn’t handle anything less to get work done!

  6. GlobalMary

    August 31, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Awesome list! I can’t stress enough the importance of a good suitcase. And I love your idea with a dictaphone – I have never thought about it. I am thinking about purchasing one now. Which one can you recommend?

  7. Kristine

    August 31, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Tip #4 is awesome! It’s easy to forget how ‘crippled’ we are without our gadgets!

  8. Anita

    September 1, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Great tips. Love the picture of the suitcase. Haven’t seen anything like this before. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jessica

    September 1, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I always bring a notebook when I go on trips- it tends to be an overlooked item that comes in handy for so many things. Personally I like using my 40 liter pack but if I ever get a more professional travel job it might make sense to get a nice suitcase. Is that yours in the picture? Thanks for this post- I have yet to see one like it

  10. Melai

    September 1, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Great list! You really can work anywhere even with little. 🙂 i’d add noise cancelling headphones in the list as it’s really a life saver to help me focus and not worry about loud conversations…or baby’s cries when working. :))

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