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Long Term Travel Packing List: Tips and Hacks for Digital Nomads

Last updated May 21, 2022 | Published on May 21, 2022

One of the most challenging aspects of long term travel is deciding what to bring and what to leave at home. For travelers who plan to be gone for months or years at a time – how do you decide what to include in your long term travel packing list?

The answer to this question depends somewhat on the kind of travel you will be doing. Will you be moving around a lot or staying mostly in one place? Do you require a lot of electronics or technical gear?

No matter what kind of traveling you plan on, however, I’m a firm believer that less is more.

My first experience with long-term travel was as a university student when I backpacked across Europe. Years later, I spent 5 months in the wilderness hiking most of the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

These experiences informed my long term travel packing list for a 3-year trip around the world with my husband Daniel. We had no permanent home and lived out of carryon-sized luggage the entire time (except for a short stint in a VW Rialta motorhome during the pandemic).

Believe me when I tell you that you don’t want to overpack. Lugging around giant heavy suitcases gets really old really fast.

Rather, focus on bringing a few lightweight versatile items with you. Look for clothing that doesn’t wrinkle and can serve more than one purpose (for example, a dress that doubles as a nightgown). Wear layers and plan to do laundry about once a week.

And remember – unless you’re traveling in highly remote areas or require specialized gear or medication, you can usually pick up what you need as you go.

This photo was taken at the beginning of our long term travels. I have since added an additional backpack for day hiking.

My Travel Priorities

Before you begin packing, give some thought to your travel priorities. What’s most important to you when you travel? What activities do you plan to engage in along the way?

One of my biggest travel priorities is hiking, so you’ll notice that I mention hiking frequently in the list below. While I only packed 4 t-shirts, I prioritized a pair of hiking poles and 2 pairs of trail running shoes. I planned to hike the 150-mile Portuguese Camino during our trip, so I ensured that my backpack was comfortable enough to wear on a long-distance trail.

My other major passion is blogging. This is why I put an emphasis on digital nomad gear including a good camera, laptop, and portable hard drive.

I also have an autoimmune disease called Ulcerative Colitis. The medication is expensive and hard to obtain, so I brought a lot of it with me in case I suffered from a flare-up on the road.

What you choose to bring will vary depending on your own travel priorities. Just take care not to go overboard and remember – less is more!

Finishing the Portuguese Camino at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Favorite Gear from My Long Term Travel List

Before diving into my comprehensive long term travel packing list, I’ll start by calling out a few of my favorite items.

Favorite Travel Clothing: Arc’teryx Delta LT Jacket

I *LOVE* this soft fleece Arc’teryx Delta LT Jacket. It is lightweight and warm without being too hot and layers well with other coats. I can wear it while I’m hiking or pair it with a nice dress at a fancy restaurant. Daniel has the exact same jacket in the men’s version and we both wear our coats all the time (and look like twins while we’re at it).

 

Favorite Electronics Item: WB 2TB Portable Hard Drive

The WB 2TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive only weighs 4.2 ounces and holds 2TB of data. It’s a great way to store tons of photos or digital media without weighing down your pack. Be sure to also buy a durable carrying case for it.

Best Travel Hack: Tiny Bottle of Deodorant

My favorite travel hack is one that I picked up when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. I’ve used Mitchem unscented deodorant for years but didn’t want to bring along the bulky roll-on applicator. So I bought a 2-oz wide mouth plastic container and filled it with gel deodorant. I simply apply it to my underarms with my finger and it lasts for about four months.

              

Essential International Travel Gear: International Power Adaptor

This Ceptics World Travel USB C Plug Adaptor Kit has EU, UK and USA/AUS plugs as well as 2 USB ports and 1 USB-C port. I love it because I can plug 4 items into it at once! I pair this with a 9-ft power cord and l’m good to go!

Favorite Hiking Gear: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

I never go hiking without trekking poles because they save my knees from extra wear and tear. My favorite hiking poles for travel are the LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles. Not only are they super lightweight, they also fold down to a small size and easily fit into almost any backpack.

             

Essential Digital Nomad Gear: Dell XPS 13 Laptop

The ASUS ZenBook 13 which is significantly cheaper, but I prefer the keyboard on the Dell.
 

Best Ultralight Gear: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket is an excellent lightweight puffy jacket that won’t add much extra weight to your pack. It’s super warm and the hooded version only weighs 9.6 ounces.

Surprise Gear Favorite: Patagonia Ultralight Mini Hip Pack

After the 1980s I swore I would never wear a fanny pack again. Well… as it turns out they are insanely comfortable and convenient! I stored my camera in this Patagonia Ultralight Mini Hip Pack during my long term travels and wore it pretty much every day!

    

Essential Sleep Gear: Sleep Mask

A good night’s sleep is important. Unfortunately, many hotels and AirBnB apartments have gauzy curtains or cheap blinds that permit sunlight to stream through. This 3D Contoured Memory Foam Sleep Mask is great because it contours to your face to prevent light from getting through. I never leave home without it!

     

Most Important Gear: Altra Timp Trail Running Shoes

The biggest priority when I’m traveling is protecting my feet. I do tons of hiking, walking and exploring – and therefore need to ensure that my feet do not become hurt or injured. Altra Timp Trail Running Shoes are super comfortable and I wear them constantly both on the trail and off.

 

All-Around Gear Favorite: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III Camera

The Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III is my go-to camera both on the trail and in my travels around the world. It’s super lightweight, shoots 4K video, and boasts many advanced features. Plus it has a 4.2x optical zoom and a tilting 3-inch LCD touch panel – which is perfect for taking selfies! Don’t forget to bring along extra batteries and memory cards!

Comprehensive Long Term Travel Packing List

Now that we’ve gotten the preliminaries out of the way, I present to you my comprehensive long term travel packing list.

The Most Important Things: Passports & Documentation

Let’s start with the most important thing of all: your passport! Have you checked to see if you need vaccinations, visas, or if there are any COVID-related travel requirements for your destination? I recommend printing these all out in advance.

  • Passport
  • Visas (if required)
  • Travel vaccines (if required)
  • COVID vaccine documentation (if required)
  • Negative COVID test result (if required)
  • Travel insurance
  • Wallet
  • Change purse to carry local currency

Backpacks, Carry-on Luggage, and Storage Solutions

I love backpacks! I travel with 3 of them.

Backpacks

I’m a huge fan of traveling with a backpack rather than pulling along a roller bag. This is because I like the flexibility of being able to easily walk to the train station or amble along a beach without lugging a bag behind me.

In fact, I like backpacks so much that I travel with 3 of them.

  • Main backpack: REI Co-op Ruckpack 40L – women’s
    This is my biggest piece of luggage and I couldn’t be happier with it. I chose this bag because I wanted a pack with very comfortable hip straps so that I could also use it on the 150-mile Camino Portuguese. The bag features an optional back panel that zips over the straps in case I want to check it in at the airport (which I usually do).
  • Day Hiking & Electronics backpack: Osprey  Manta 24L (Men’s) / Mira 22L (Women’s)
    This is a great backpack for day hikes because it features comfortable hip straps and can comfortably carry a reasonable amount of gear. I store my laptop and all electronics in it when we travel (and wear it on my front side if my main backpack is on my back).
    Note: I actually had the 28L size which is no longer manufactured, but I think a smaller size would have worked fine for me too. If you want a bigger size, Osprey makes a larger version for both the Manta (34L) and the Mira (32L).
  • Packable backpack: REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack 20L
    This lightweight backpack is great because it carries a surprisingly large amount for its size. It packs down into a tiny size and easily fits into my bag when I’m not using it. The bag doubles as a purse and a reusable grocery bag.

Carry-on Luggage

Not a fan of traveling with a backpack? Use a wheeled carry-on bag instead. This is what Daniel uses when we travel because it puts less stress on his knees.

  • Carry-on Bag: Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 22″ 38L International Carryon
    The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior is an amazingly durable bag. Daniel has lived out of it nonstop for the past 3 years and it has held up like a champ. It is very rugged and is still in great shape. We have the version with 2 wheels rather than the 4-wheeled version because it is sturdier.
    Note: it appears that these bags are no longer being manufactured by Eagle Creek which is a major bummer. I have found a few online at secondary resale stores so grab one if you can find it!

Staying Organized

Electronics

All of the electronics on my long term travel packing list

Camera and Camera Accessories

  • Camera: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III
  • Camera Battery Charger: Canon G7X Battery Charger
  • Extra Camera Batteries: Canon G7X Battery
    I always bring along at *least* 2 extra fully charged batteries with me (sometimes more).
    Pro Tip: Buy the battery from the manufacturer rather than an alternate brand as it will last much longer.
  • Extra Memory Cards: SanDisk 250GB Extreme PRO SD Memory Card
    *ALWAYS* have an extra memory card on hand – preferably the biggest size possible to save on pack weight. I usually travel with at least 2 or 3 extras because it’s hard to find the 256GB size on the road.
  • Portable Tripod: Tamrac ZipShot Tripod
    Folds down to 9″ and only weighs 9 oz.

Laptop, Portable Hard Drive, and Computer Accessories

Charging Solutions and Phone Accessories

I have a Google Pixel phone so these cords and chargers are designed for a USB-C plug. Equivalent versions are also available for USB plugs as well.

Clothing

I wore a variation of this outfit pretty much every day while we traveled.

Shirts and Dresses

  • Short-Sleeved Shirts (4)
    I typically pack 4 short-sleeved shirts: a dressy shirt, a plain black versatile shirt, a fun printed shirt, and a hiking shirt.
  • Tank top
  • Long-Sleeved Sun Shirt: Columbia Sun Shirt
    I pack a Marmot sun shirt which unfortunately is discontinued. The Columbia sun shirt is pretty great though and has SPF 40 built in.
  • Casual Dress/Nightgown: Mountain Hardwear Women’s Everyday Perfect Dress
    This casual dress is super comfy and doubles as a nightgown and bathing suit cover up!
  • Packable Fancy Black Dress – for those fancy dinners!

Skirts and Pants

  • Hiking Skirt: Purple Rain Skirt
    I’m a big fan of hiking in a skirt because it’s so freeing. Wearing a skirt makes going to the bathroom a breeze!
  • Hiking Pants: prAna Women’s Halle Pant
  • Leggings
    I packed a light pair of leggings to wear under my skirt on chilly days.

Socks and Underwear

Hats and Shoes

Coats

Toiletries and Medication

COVID Kit

COVID Kit

COVID is an unfortunate reality when it comes to travel these days. Be sure to bring along some N-95 masks (or equivalent) plus some at-home COVID tests in case you feel sick. Also bring along a digital thermometer and some cold medication in case you do end up getting COVID on the road

  • Thermometer
  • At-home COVID tests
  • N95 or equivalent masks
  • Kleenex
  • Cough Drops
  • Cold Medicine
  • Hand Sanitizer

Toiletries Bag

Here is peek inside my toiletries bag.

Be sure to only bring very small quantities of toiletries along with you. You can buy more as you go.

  • Toiletries Bag
  • Night Guard
  • Travel size shampoo
  • Travel size conditioner
  • Travel size sunscreen
  • Facial sunscreen
  • Daily pillbox container
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Travel size hand lotion
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste & floss
  • Small bar of soap
  • Ear plugs
  • Comb
  • Q-tips
  • Tweezers
  • Small cuticle scissors
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Chapstick

Medication and First Aid Supplies

Medicines and vitamins

I pack all of my medications and first aid supplies into a Quart-sized Ziploc baggie. Remember that you can pick up most first aid supplies and over the counter medicines quite easily so you don’t need to bring very much.

An exception is prescription medicine. Be sure to bring along extra quantities of any prescription medications you may need (I asked my doctor to prescribe me extra). Also some countries don’t sell allergy medicine like Benadryl over the counter so I always bring a lot with me.

Pro Tip: repackage all your medicines into small pill bags or snack-sized bags.

  • Claritin/Benadryl (Allergy Medication)
    Can be hard to find in Europe
  • Tylenol/Ibuprofen
  • Vitamins
  • Foot cream
  • Imodium / Anti-diarrheal tablets
  • Feminine supplies (pads, tampons, period cup or period underwear)
  • Birth control/sexual wellness
  • Band-aids
  • Footcare
  • Prescription medicine

Miscellaneous Items

Some of the miscellaneous items from my pack

  • Hiking Poles
  • Bathing Suit
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Pens
  • Small sharpie
  • Small Swiss Army knife
  • Bandana (pee rag)
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • Safety pins (3-5)
  • Carabiners (2-3)
  • Laundry soap
  • Shout wipes
  • Sunglasses
  • Sleep Mask
  • Gear patch

Do you have any questions about the best gear for long-term travel? Shoot me a question in the comment below!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. While clicking these links won’t cost you anything, they will help me to keep this site up and running!

 

 

 

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!

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