What do I Always Bring when I Travel 

 December 3, 2020

By  Wilson

The lifestyle of a digital nomad typically implies one important point:

Bring as little as possible.

It obviously depends on the person, but I’ve noticed that most people travel with just a backpack and a carry-on suitcase. Cough, me.

Things to Bring

But… how?

This goes along the lines of the principles set forth officially by The Minimalists (I read one their first books – super interesting and I would recommend it!) The idea behind minimalism is this: do I really need that 4th pair of shoes?

This is the same idea with traveling. You should simplify your physical inventory as much as possible because it’s just a lot easier to travel with a backpack and a carry-on bag than it is to drag 3 giant bags across the city of Singapore.

With that said, what are the main things I absolutely need? Let me break it down.

What I Always Bring When I Travel

1. Electronics

As a WFH Nomad, this is 100% the most prized possession. (And right underneath that on the list is your passport, if you travel internationally.) Electronics include:

  • Work Laptop (if supplied)
  • Personal Laptop (I personally love my MacBook mainly because I can do video/photo editing much more easily on Apple products)
  • Phone
  • AirPods
  • IMPORTANT: laptop charger(s), phone chargers, and universal charger adapters.

In another article, I write about which services I need while traveling abroad. Subtle but different category 🙂

Recently, I’ve added GoPro (to share pics/videos of me surfing or scuba diving) and a Wireless Headset (for clear speaking/listening during conference calls) to my list of must-haves for electronics.

Things to Bring

2. The Correct-Sized Backpack and Carry-On Suitcase

There are millions of products you can choose from when it comes to backpacks and suitcases. However, you need to choose one that’s:

  • Heavy duty
  • Carry-on-friendly.
Things to Bring

My backpack was provided to me by my employer (3 years and only a tiny rip so far!) My suitcase I purchased on Amazon, and it was a great investment. I’ve had this suitcase for over 2 years now.

Although I’m a United Gold member, which means I can check up to 2 bags for free, I decline to use that option 90% of the time. Because I choose to travel light and minimize the stress of having unnecessary baggage.

Because I have these two luggages, I have a simple rule for myself: if I can’t fit my stuff in these two bags, I brought too many things.

3. A Bag of Miscellaneous Medicine

You never know where you end up when you travel. Needing to locate the nearest pharmacy isn’t the most convenient thing.

That’s why I pack my own medicines. Here is a short list:

  • Painkiller/fever reducers
  • Allergy relief
  • Stomach relief
  • Anti-Diarrhea (in case of food poisoning)
  • Drowsy tablets for cold/flu in case I have a cold
  • Inhaler (I have a history of minor asthma)
  • Contact lenses + Saline solution
  • Earplugs + Eye mask (I love these…)
  • Vitamin C tablets
  • Chapstick
  • Hand Sanitizer + Masks

I honestly don’t travel without the items listed above. I typically buy lotion, sunscreen, cotton swabs,… the “less important stuff” at the local pharmacy. Again, it’s the line I draw between nice-to-haves versus must-haves.

You will more than likely have a different list, but I wanted to share mine.

4. Travel Friendly Credit Cards + Debit Cards

For my credit card, I love my United Explorer card. Check out my blog post on how I use the United Explorer Chase card to get free first class flights to São Paulo.

For my debit, I would highly recommend applying for the Charles Schwab Debit Card. Why? Because I get charged $0 for withdrawing foreign cash from an ATM. (For Wells Fargo, I was charged $5 every time I made a foreign transaction at ATM’s.)

Things to Bring

By using my Charles Schwab debit card to withdraw from the ATM, not only was I not charged an ATM fee the US-side, I was rebated the ATM charge that the Mexican bank charged me.

From the screenshot above, I essentially saved $10 from that transaction because I used a Schwab card instead of a Wells Fargo debit card. If you need cash on average every week, these fees can rack up.

If you are interested and if use my Schwab referral link, you’ll be able to get up to $500 credit to start.

5. Clothes

Duh. My rule of thumb is this: do laundry once a week, make sure 85% of your clothes get washed.

This means 8-9 pairs of underwear, 6 pairs of short socks + 6 pairs of long socks. Yes – even if you’re planning on going to a place with 100F (37C) weather, you never know what will happen next. You may need to be open to the possibly that you’ll fly somewhere very cold within the same year.

If I do laundry once a week while I’m traveling and only get to, for example, 50% of my clothing inventory, I packed too much.

6. Small Items in my Backpack

Here is what I have:

  • Passport
  • Pen (I know, although everything is electronic these days, but you still need to fill things out at passport control. It’s so much more convenient if you have your own pen)
  • My wallet, which includes International ATM-fee-free debit cards
Things to Bring

Closing Remarks

6 category of things. 6 THINGS. That’s all I need to travel. This is the exact reason why I don’t enjoy souvenirs that have no use. I really don’t need to bring my rice cooker, or my basketball shoes, etc.

Thanks for reading – I hope this was helpful, and as always, please feel free to reach out with follow up questions!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Hi, my name is Wilson, founder of WFH Nomad. I was born and raised in the US, and I boast engineering and business degrees from top programs in the US. I work a normal, WFH job for a great company in America. I am extremely passionate about traveling and my job in the Tech industry, and the best part of the WFH Nomad concept is that I can do both at the same time.

I have traveled to over 47 different countries in my lifetime and I look forward to continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future. Thanks for visiting the website!

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