What does a digital nomad family pack for long term travel with a toddler?
Not as much as you’d think. We’ve been expats for four years, but living a digital nomad lifestyle for three weeks and are living comfortably out of three carry-on bags – an eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, an eBags TLS Professional Weekender and a YuHan Diaper Backpack. In this post we share the packlist for David’s bag, which includes most of our gear and all of David’s clothing. In our next post, read about what Sarah packed for Spencer and herself. You can find links to all of these products on Amazon below. If you buy anything through them, you get an awesome product and Amazon sends a small cut to an awesome digital nomad family. Killer efficiency, that.
The Cardinal Rules of Nomad Packing:
- Digitize Everything. It almost goes without saying, but you can bring your entire media collection (books, music, movies, etc) as long as it’s digital. Keeping a digital library (whether in a hard drive or in the cloud) both reduces weight and increases the warm fuzzy comforts of home when you can access your favorite old movie or book with the click of a button. The exceptions for us are a small notebook for sketching or jotting down ideas, and backup documents like paper passport copies.
- Eliminate Redundancies. We love the Kindle but we had to let it go, along with the portable scanner and the mini flashlight. For every functionality or tool you think you’ll need, see if there’s an app that allows you to access it from your phone or laptop. Evernote and Google Drive both have good scanning apps, and there’s a Kindle app for pretty much any device with internet capability.
- Minimize Toiletries. I once saw a packlist video of an entire suitcase of OTC medications one worried parent brought on a vacation. I promise, you can buy practically everything in your destination country and sometimes for much cheaper than you can buy it in the states. I am grudgingly including Sarah’s list of exceptions to this rule: her Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Ageless Youth Perfecting Moisturizer, SPF 30, because she’s been using it for 10 years and isn’t going to quit now, a small travel bottle of conditioner because they often don’t have it in hotels outside the states, a tiny Travelo perfume atomizer with her signature scent, and anything we need on the plane or soon after. We pared that down to: Advil migraine, baby aspirin, toothbrushes and a bit of toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash for feeling fresh after a red-eye, chapstick, and deodorant.
- Choose Cheats Carefully. By this, I mean that you should each get to pick one or two comfort items that make you feel at home on the road. Knowing your comfort items both helps you limit them and turns them into sacred objects that help maintain your sanity and identity in a life of constant travel. Some examples: a favorite pillow or blanket, a pair of running shoes, a favorite toiletry, pair of jeans, or maybe even that battered, note-filled copy of On the Road, or Vagabonding, or Into the Wild.
David’s Pack List
The TLS Professional Weekender is primarily our gear pack – carrying my laptop, cabling, chargers, camera and other tech gear. It also has room for a couple packing cubes of clothing. The video above takes you through the pack.
The Tech Gear:
Microsoft Arc Mouse – A super light mouse that folds flat for travel; equipped with wireless usb.
USB Charging Cables – various mini usb, lightning, and USB 3.0 cables for our devices, as well chargers for our MacBooks. We also bring an HDMI for connecting our hard drive > computer > hotel TV = movie night on the road!
Bank Authentication Token – keeps our online account in the EU secure.
Seagate Hard Drives – 1TB and 2TB hard drives used for backups and movies. Many Airbnb apartments have TVs with a usb input for streaming from our hard drive. If so, bonus points in our review of the place.
Case Logic Hard Drive Case – A case that hold both drives and a USB 3.0 cable comfortably.
Macbook Pro 13in – Seems to be the digital nomad standard in Chiang Mai. It’s the perfect size laptop with performance and durability to boot.
TopCase Macbook Pro Rubberized Shell – protects my laptop while maintaining a light and minimal profile.
DJI Spare Battery and Charger – to keep our DJI Osmo powered and ready to shoot our next adventure.
Rode VideoMicro On-Camera Mic – our primary mic for filming, comes with a nice furry windshield to minimize background noise.
Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Mic – a tiny lav used for vlogging or as a second mic.
Lumix G Spare Battery & Charger – keeping our camera charged for blog and social media pics.
High Fidelity 3.5mm Audio Cables – high quality audio cables to preserve sound.
First2savvv Camera Bag – a perfect fit in the front compartment of the TLS Professional backpack, carries our sound and charging equipment.
Panasonic Lumix GM1 – our micro four thirds camera; big punch in a tiny package.
GM1 Neoprene Case – tight fitting protection for our Lumix G.
SD Cards – used for our camera, but also to store some of Spencer’s favorite movies.
Camera Tripod – flexible tripod used for night shots and selfies with the family.
Gear Ties – Useful for keeping cables untangled.
Sunflower Seeds – not the best choice for travel, but our preferred snack. If you have extra room, splurge on edible treats from home you may not find in your destination. Sarah brought green tea powder, red bean cakes, and seaweed sheets from our stopover in Kobe, but I’m sure you can find more appetizing examples.
Travel Adapters – a couple decent travel adapters, preferably with USB access points, will do just fine.
Travel Laundry Sheets – sheets of detergent, great for day of arrival washing.
Sea to Summit Clothes Line – used almost daily to dry wash at our Airbnbs.
Electrolyte Powders – an easy way to stay hydrated and energized on the long-haul flights.
Luggage Scale – avoid paying excess baggage fees or rearranging bags at the airport.
eBags Packing Cubes – light weight and fit perfectly into the center compartment of the TLS Professional. For the ultra light weight, you sacrifice some structure. See the alternate packing cubes Sarah chose in our next post.
T-Shirts – packing 8 t-shirts may be a bit much, but I have a few favorites. The merino wool and 32degrees weatherproof shirts have been great in the Thailand heat.
Levis – not the best for heat, but I have two pair dark enough to be dressy when needed.
Merino Wool Socks – packed only three pairs of socks, since I switch into flip-flops fairly often. (Darn Tough are the best deal with lifetime guarantee)
Briefs – packed six pair to give me some runway on doing laundry.
Shorts – packed three pair of Woolworths shorts. Really liking these and tracking down their manufacturer for our brand.
Shoes – two pairs, Saucony Low Pro Vegans and New Balance NewSky Recycled Runners.
Original Penguin Dress Shirts – set of three, these are my go to for dress shirts.
That’s it. All of this fits into the first of three packs we’ve brought on our trip. See Sarah’s post covering the final two packs – an eBags TLS Motherload and our smaller in-flight bag with family travel essentials.
Are you a digital nomad family with a packlist to share? Let us know! We’re always keen to get a peek into other family packlists to see what we may be missing out on.