Female Digital Nomad Guide: Packing for a world trip

My biggest obstacle when packing for a world trip was that I didn’t know where I’d be going during the year. The second biggest obstacle was that I’d also have to facilitate working from the road.

My Irish wardrobe is filled with jumpers, trousers, cardigans and dresses to go with black tights. There are also numerous hats, scarves and coats, because Ireland is a cold, windy and wet place. So how would I pack for sunny countries? And how do I pack for a variety of countries and climates with just one suitcase? I hadn’t officially planned on going somewhere at a time of year when it would be cold, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t likely to happen.

Deciding what to pack

Everyone’s priorities are different when it comes to limiting their possessions. Personally, I like clothes and I didn’t want to live for a year or more wearing the same few outfits on repeat. I’d have lost my mind. It’s not like I’d actually be backpacking through jungles and deserts – I’d be living in busy cities and meeting people regularly, so I didn’t want to look like a mess.

There are many people who manage to travel the world with just a backpack on their backs, but let’s face it:

  • The majority of them are guys and it’s just easier for guys to live that way;
  • Girls that do it often have that ‘mom’ look, which is fine if you’re hiking and living out of hostels;
  • It increases the regularity of doing laundry or you recycle worn clothes and smell.

I wanted to maintain my typical wardrobe from back home while travelling, but obviously on a much smaller and much smarter scale. Layering is a word I’m sick of hearing, but yeah, that ended up being my philosophy.

My other priority was making sure I was ready to kick the ass of anything that could prevent me from getting my work done. I wanted all my files safe, I wanted good internet access and I wanted back-ups in case anything failed.

Basically, some of my packing decisions may seem a little excessive to certain people, but to someone who likes their comforts and clothes and is a bit of a control freak, I think I nailed it.

The Rules

  • I gave myself a medium-large suitcase and 23kg weight to work with when it came to clothes.
  • I had one medium backpack to dedicate to things like hairdryers, travel guides, electronics, medication, etc.
  • I was limiting clothes shopping to essentials while travelling and therefore had to bring everything I’d need with me from the start.
  • I would exclude a winter coat as my first eight months of travelling (at least) would be in warm countries.
  • With clothes, I had to have outfits for cold, warm and hot weather, as well as rain. I would also need outfits for day-to-day, going out, night-time and walking in each of those scenarios.
  • The larger part of my wardrobe should be as colour-neutral as possible to give myself more combinations, while bringing a few colourful pieces to brighten outfits up.
  • With electronic items, I wanted to be prepared for possible issues I might encounter that could affect my work while travelling.
  • Hair and skincare products, as well as toiletries would be discarded and stocked up on every time I moved country with good skincare products bought in Duty Free to save money (got to get the good stuff if I’m to stop the wrinkles).

Suitcase

Packing for a World Trip: The clothes

Bottoms

  • 2 pairs of black skinny jeans
  • 1 pair of blue skinny jeans
  • 1 pair of black floral trousers
  • 1 pair of blue floral trousers
  • 1 black skirt

Dresses

  • 5 black dresses (plain & patterned)
  • 2 red dresses
  • 1 white dress
  • 1 purple dress

Tops

  • 7 6 black jumpers
  • 1 green jumper
  • 2 polka dot jumpers
  • 1 grey jumper
  • 1 2 long-sleeved striped top
  • 2 long-sleeved black tops
  • 1 long-sleeved red top
  • 1 sparkly gold top
  • 3 Breton t-shirts (white & navy)

Shirts

  • 4 white shirts (plain & patterned)
  • 1 blue shirt
  • 1 oversized denim shirt
  • 1 red checked shirt.

Outdoors

  • 1 leather jacket
  • 1 black blazer
  • 1 floral blazer
  • 1 floral shrug
  • 1 camel shawl
  • 1 oversized green cardigan.
  • 1 light cream cardigan

Shoes

  • 1 pair of red flats
  • 1 pair of black plimsolls
  • 1 pair of black ankle boots
  • 1 pair of black patent dress shoes
  • 1 pair of runners

Miscellaneous clothing

  • 14 pairs of socks
  • 14 pairs of underwear
  • 4 bras
  • 2 scarves
  • 2 collars (fake shirt look to spruce up jumpers)
  • 4 pairs of pyjamas
  • 1 bikini
  • 1 flip flops

Exercise & Relaxing Gear

  • 1 sports bra
  • 2 pairs of yoga pants
  • 1 zip-up
  • 2 t-shirts.
  • Comfortable Leinster hoodie (a piece of home – woo rugby!) and tracksuit bottoms (for lounging)

Packing for a World Trip: The others

Electronics

  • My iPhone 6s Plus (and my old iPhone 5s as a back-up)
  • An Ethernet cable
  • Kindle
  • iPhone charger (plus back-up)
  • 2-way adapter plug
  • Kindle charger
  • External hard drive
  • Removable phone Selfie lens for wide-angle shots
  • Hairdryer (curly hair, need good dryer)
  • Hair straightener
  • Work laptop & personal laptop + adapters

Extras

  • 2 travel towels
  • Medication
  • Make-up (basics like foundation, primer and eye liners – no eye shadow palettes or anything fancy)
  • Roller brush
  • Comb
  • Hair accessories like hair ties, bobby pins and claws.
  • Hot water bottle (for night-time cuddles)
  • Guide books for Lisbon and Greece

Let’s see how it goes…

January 4th 2016 update

I have no upper body strength so the suitcase was a little heavy for me to drag along for extended periods of time. It was, however, under the 23kg weight restriction I’d set myself as that’s the common allocation for most airlines I’ll be travelling with.

March 2nd 2016 update

I’m leaving for Barcelona tomorrow and after two months in Lisbon, the system seems to be working so far. I can easily go a few weeks without doing laundry (and smelling) and have yet to get bored of my wardrobe. My darker clothes suited the Lisbon vibe and I was warm during the cold and rain of my first few weeks here, while also comfortable when the weather got warmer.

My (fake) leather jacket is now gone as it began falling apart at the start of February (it was old and cheap). I’m sad as I really liked it, but from a practical point of view, it’s not a loss as the weather’s a lot warmer from here on out.

I made the executive decision to send my camel shawl, one black jumper and my fancy shoes back home with my friends after they came to visit. I’m a flats girl anyway, so my red shoes will do for nights out. I’m also leaving the hot water bottle behind – there was no kettle in the apartment to fill it up so I got used to sleeping without it.

The Lisbon guidebook will also be left behind and I ripped out a lot of unnecessary pages from my Greece travel guide to lighten its weight. I also discarded the Selfie lens as I only used it once in two months.

May 4th 2016 update

So I’ve moved on from Greece and a few more suitcase items. The boots were left behind after all my walking wore the soles and heels down too far. Truth be told, they were pretty but they pinched my toes, so it’s a sensible decision. I also ripped the sole of my plimsols while ‘ice skating’ across a cobbled path (long story, friends involved). Clothing is a little expensive in Budapest, so I’m going to make do with my runners and flats until I reach Penneys during my 6-day trip to Dublin at the end of June or until I get to North America. I just need a few cheap pairs to keep me going – no sense in investing in fancy shoes when I’m going to wear them out.

Clothing is a little expensive in Budapest, so I’m going to make do with my runners and flats until I reach Penneys during my 6-day trip to Dublin at the end of June or until I get to North America. I just need a few cheap pairs to keep me going – no sense in investing in fancy shoes when I’m going to wear them out.

Decided not to invest in anymore travel books – internet research saves both money and space.

June 15th 2016 update

I’m back in Ireland for a week before moving on to Canada, so I’m currently evaluating my suitcase. I have a lot of clothes with me that I haven’t worn yet and 4-5 apparently low-quality H&M jumpers that are bobbly messes, so I’m going to have to leave some stuff behind in Dublin. Despite living in warm-to-hot temperatures for the last six months, I’ve been shunning my dresses and white tops due to the inconvenience of ironing and separate washes. Clearly won’t need them going forward.

Will also need to abandon my hairdryer, which won’t work properly in North America.

I broke my ‘No Shopping’ rule last month. Needed a bikini and flip flops to visit the famous Szechenyi Bathhouse in Budapest. Also bought a long-sleeved Breton-style top because I’d broken the metaphorical dam. Been strict with myself since then and will only purchase necessities going forward, like shoes.