The Minimalist Digital Nomad Ladies Pack List

I’ll be real: this is not my first, or second, time writing a pack list. After 7 years as a nomad, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve packed and repacked. My packing has evolved as my travel style changes and I’ve managed to finally feel like a bit of a pro when it comes to packing.

Finding the right amount to pack

It has always been my goal to get everything I need to fit into 2 carry-on sized bags; a main bag + personal item. And, friends, I can tell you it is definitely possible to pack less and still appear put together and feel prepared.

I have seen pack lists far more minimalist than mine, however because of my job and my desire to look clean and put together, I shy away from being too sparse. I will admit there are definitely times when my bags are bursting at the seams or when I need to give Jim a few things to hold. Nobody’s perfect.

Whether you’re a digital nomad, full-time traveler or a backpacker who prefers to not look like a backpacker, here is my ultimate guide to packing for a long trip!

Clothing

Tip: Choose your colors strategically. Buy neutral bottoms and coordinating neutral sweaters/layers in black, beige, shades of grey. This way with tops, I choose some brighter colors and know that won’t clash–I personally like coral, teal, and red.

When it comes to clothing, keywords are lightweight and versatile. I like natural, cotton blends and extra-light merino wool blends. I want everything to be cute yet practical; neutral and easy to mix & match. My favorite versatile brands are Athleta and Prana because they make great packable clothes–that can easily take you anywhere from a nice restaurant to a trail and they hold up extremely well. I also tend to buy a large amount of my clothing from second hand stores around the world. You’d be surprised by what you can find that fits your criteria.

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a linked item, I will made a commission, at no extra charge to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Warm or Tropical Climates

Such as:

  • Southeast Asia

  • Coastal Central America

Tip: Pick the heaviest items to wear for flying days. Using items from the following list, I might wear a t-shirt with light pants and my chambray shirt or cardigan on top, with my heaviest shoes.

Danskin Women's Active
Lucky Brand
TASC

4 tank tops;

5 shirts;

  • One basic light

  • One stylish/dressy

  • One comfy/active/hiking/hybrid

  • One pajama/lounge

  • One “work” shirt to wear when I’m teaching online

2 layerables

  • 1 cardigan/light zip up in neutral color–I like light blue, grey and beige.

  • 1 Chambray Shirt–matches everything I own! This one is great!

6 bottoms

  • 1 black basic short

  • 1 neutral basic short–in dark grey, beige or navy. I like something high waisted and loose with a sash belt; as its comfortable and travels well yet looks a bit nicer.

  • 1 active short-
    Cute enough to take hiking or when exploring a city

  • 1 ¾ legging in black or dark grey

  • 1 hybrid light pant–in beige or grey.

    • These are great for long travel days, lounging, evenings out when it's a bit cooler, or to wear to temples in Southeast Asia.

  • 1 neutral skirt–black : Super cute, super versatile and super packable. If in a country with a conservative dress code for entering temples, pack a long/maxi skirt instead.

Toad&Co
Prana
Prana
Prana Sports Apparel

3 dresses

  • 1 cute floral or fun patterned

  • 1 Basic, cotton, comfortable- something that can be dressed up or down depending on accessories

  • 1 Lightweight LBD

Daily Ritual

TIP: Instead of buying new, bring things you already have! You can always ditch them along the way when you find a worthy replacement.

Here I am shortly after arriving to Paris on red eye flight from Chicago, before catching a train to Barcelona– carrying everything I own.

Here I am shortly after arriving to Paris on red eye flight from Chicago, before catching a train to Barcelona– carrying everything I own.

Moderate/mixed temps

  • Mixed Altitudes in South America, Europe or Northern Africa

  • Europe, China, Japan in Spring/Fall

South America or Asia:

  • 1 Packable, lightweight jean. There is no better jean for travel.

  • 1 hybrid hiking pant- Long gone are the days of wearing dorky, masculine zip off hiking pants. Now, there are better options!  Athleta is genius for hybrid hiking pants that look nice enough to wear to an office but are built for hiking/movement.

  • Prana also has so many that are functional, light, well-made + cute: Get them in black, and you’ll find so many cute ways to wear them.

  • 1 pair long leggings: These are great for hiking, fitness, or wearing under dresses in cooler climates. You can use the hidden pockets to store cash under your dress on travel days in sketchy places.

Prana

Europe/Cities:

Pants X3

  • 1 neutral or blend pant (black works great)

  • 1 medium weight pant straight leg, can be dressed up or down; can be worn on active or long travel days.

  • 1 colored jean in neutral tone like dark navy, dark grey or camel.

Lucky Brand

Tops X6

  • Basic tanks - 1 black 1 neutral

  • Neutral comfortable v-neck (merino wool blend)

  • Active t

  • Cute, more stylish top

  • 1 “work” shirt

  • Longer length t or tank that could be worn with leggings or tucked into pants

4 long sleeve

  • 1 merino base layer, v-neck

  • I have and LOVE this one. So versatile and layers well in cool or cold climates:

  • 1 thick cotton blend v or boat neck, different color

  • 1 button up long sleeve blouse

Morocco; this was as much skin as I was willing to show in Morocco. Bought the scarf in Marrakech and the new purse in Fez. Otherwise wearing a light high neck navy cotton blend tank with light green skinny pants and Merrell leather loafers.

Morocco; this was as much skin as I was willing to show in Morocco. Bought the scarf in Marrakech and the new purse in Fez. Otherwise wearing a light high neck navy cotton blend tank with light green skinny pants and Merrell leather loafers.

1-2 non-tank dresses

Layers:

  • Chambray or plaid button up: I’ve worn this item of clothing more than anything. Its almost embarrassing looking back at how many photos I’m wearing it.

  • Layerable merino wool cardigan or sweater in a color that matches EVERYTHING

Helly Hansen - Private Brands - US

Warmth:

South America:

  • Micro Fleece Jacket or wool zip up: I really like Helly Hansen fleeces because they are slim and lightweight. I also have a warm, but lightweight, Mountain Hardware wool zip up, given to me by a friend, that I love for travel.

  • 1 black leggings ideal for travel.

Europe/Cities:


Wind & Wet:

Europe:

packing for Peru

Cooler to cold

Similar list to moderate-mixed; though fewer tanks & short sleeves + add an extra base layer of a heavier weight.

+Add some good top-layers

Wind & Wet layer:

Dressier jacket for winter in Europe/US:

TIP: If you’re going to be moving between moderate and cold climates, buy something when you need it. Going to be in South America? Take advantage of cheap, comfy alpaca wool sweaters. In Asia; pop over to Uniqlo and buy a packable down jacket or thermal sweater. Or buy a knock-off brand name fleece or shell in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam? Get a custom-made wool jacket made.  

I was happy to have my light patagonia down jacket for December in Paris.

I was happy to have my light patagonia down jacket for December in Paris.

Shoes:

Typically, I bring 3 pairs of shoes; these change, of course, depending on the climate and the type of trip we are taking. But typically I bring:

  • 1 pair for running/walking/exercise

  • 1 pair “everyday” shoes that match everything I wear

  • 1 that can be dressed up or down.

South America, Southeast Asia:

  • Everyday shoes: Cairn active sandal; my favorite active sandal. For city, wilderness, wet places and more. So lightweight and easy to pack. I’ve walked hundreds of miles in these babies and they show no signs of stopping. Buy them in turquoise for a fun pop.

    • Alternative: I’ve bought these before I discovered Cairn, and really liked them. They are cute and light and match most outfits. They aren’t quite as durable, but they are a great option and they are light and pack well.

  • Exercise shoes for trips that involve lots of walking or for when you want to workout: Nike Flynit shoes or Addidas Cloudfoam. So light and comfortable + attractive.

  • Ultralight, comfy flipflops. I’ve had them for years and they still look good. And can usually easily be squeezed into any bag. Extra useful in Southeast Asia

  • Exercise for trips that involve heavy hiking: Waterproof hiking shoes: Love these; I wore them all the time in Chile & Peru: Cute and light for hiking boots.

Sanuk
Ahnu
Merrell
Teva Womens

Europe/America/Dressier locations:

  • Exercise shoes: Black “fancy” tennis shoes

  • Everyday shoes: Leather walking sandals

  • Can be dress up or down: Slip-on leather loafers

More cultural/city stuff:

  • Can be dressed up or down: Low suede boot: I bought these over 3 years ago and still wear them. I have them in “putty suede” and they match everything and make me feel polished. I still get compliments on them all the time. I wore them on a long trip to Europe and another trip in Mexico and Colombia.

  • Everyday shoes that match everything: Flat, cute, lightweight loafers that you could probably wear with ANY outfit from dresses and shorts to pants. I’ve worn these all over Latin America and Europe.

  • China or “cold Asia:” everyday goes-with-everything-shoes.

Caleres, Inc
SOREL

Undergarments & Swimwear

7x Underwear

2 exoficio: I’ve been wearing this brand since my first backpacking trip and I still love them.

2 seamless cotton

3 under armour super lightweight : Unbelievably comfortable and light.

ExOfficio
SmartWool
Under Armour Apparel

3x Bras

  • 1 everyday nude convertible bra

  • 1 sports bra

  • 1 hybrid every day/active bra

4-5 pairs of socks:

  • A mix of light active, warm merino wool depending on the climate. Less for the tropics, more for cool climates.

Swimwear

  • 1 bikini

  • 1 one-piece

My favorite samsonite suitcase with a daypack I bought in Taiwan

My favorite samsonite suitcase with a daypack I bought in Taiwan

Suitcases & Bags

Tip: Have a main bag that is carry-on compatible plus a small backpack as your personal item. Keep your valuables and electronics in the small backpack and check the main bag if you need to. For long bus or train rides, continue to keep your valuables on you in your backpack/purse, never letting that bag leave your sight.

  • 40-55L; Depending on where we are going and what kind of trip it will be I sometimes travel with my Osprey Fairview 40L

    • OR other times, in Europe, or trips where we won’t be bouncing around as much, I travel with my Samsonite roll-behind carry-on.

  • 1 personal item for electronics & carry-on: I bought this Patagonia water-resistant backpack before a trip to South America and I really like it. It’s nice to have something waterproof for trips to the tropics or when we were in Patagonia; plus its spacious enough to fit all my electronics and my teaching supplies.

  • 1 packable daypack: Comes in handy on so many occasions–can carry my camera, a sweater, water bottle and more for day trips etc. Packs into the size of a small ball.

  • 1 packable purse: This is something I will buy special when on the road. I’ve bought small handmade purses in Taiwan, Vietnam, and Mexico. It’s one of the small things I collect if I’m in a location with cool handicrafts.

  • 1 toiletry bag + 1 makeup bag: I bought mine in Vietnam, they were handmade from a fair trade/women’s collective.

  • 1 electronics organizer

  • 2 clear reusable plastic bags

Packing Cubes: If you’re a frequent traveler and don’t have these...what are you waiting for? A non-negotiable. With me on every. single. trip. Game-changer and the only way I feel organized. Marie Kondo it and you’ll be on top of the world.

Toiletries & Beauty

  • Deodorant : Got hooked on this stuff in Thailand. It lasts forever. Its tiny and packs easily and is NOT a liquid. I’ve been using natural deodorant for a few years now, so if it’s new for you know that it may take some time to get used to and for your pits to “detox.” But it’s something I recommend all women try to do!

  • Toothpaste

  • Bamboo Toothbrush: I switched to bamboo about a year ago and haven’t looked back:

  • Face wash, Serum & moisturizer

  • Favorite Facial Sunscreen: Love this stuff and this brand; natural sunscreen that doesn't turn my face white or cause breakouts:

  • Favorite natural body sunscreen-Soothing and smells nice + inexpensive. Also, its’ a reef safe SPF

  • Dr Bronners - For everything else…

  • Shampoo & Conditioner Bars: Smell great, last a long time and even come with travel containers. Nice carry on option. And great if you’re trying to minimize single-use plastic. If you find yourself near a Lush Store, pick up a few of their S&C bars; they’re the best.

  • Makeup: I bring these items in my makeup pouch: Mascara, under-eye concealer, brow pencil, eyeliner + tinted lip balm.

TIP: There are stores everywhere in the world. You don’t have to bring everything! We tend to buy soap or other toiletries we find we need shortly after arriving in a new country. Nobody wants to carry big bottles around–plus it’s fun to try new stuff!

My work set up; bluetooth keyboard + mouse, computer stand, Macbook, ethernet cable, smartphone, and teaching tools.

My work set up; bluetooth keyboard + mouse, computer stand, Macbook, ethernet cable, smartphone, and teaching tools.

Tech

  • 2016 13” MacBook Pro (Non-Touch Bar), these have been getting a ton of flack but we both have one and love it.

  • A Moto G6 with Project Fi. It’s around $260 and a solid budget option for a travel friendly smart phone. Both Jim and I have Google’s phone plan, Project Fi. I recently switch and has had his for about 2 years now and it’s been great. It’s worked in every country we’ve been to except Belize. Highly recommend it as the best data plan for Digital Nomads if you’re thinking about getting the plan use this and get $20 off!

  • 2 TB WD My passport - gotta back up all our beautiful travel photos etc.

  • Nexstand laptop stands - Folds into nothing and is stable enough to put my laptop in a more ergonomic position. If you work on a computer all day, do yourself (and your neck/back) a favor and get one of these. Game-changer.

  • Bluetooth mouse same as this one.

  • Chromecast - it’s great! Almost every Airbnb has a tv that we can plug in and watch Netflix, Prime

  • Kindle Paperwhite - it’s easier than carrying around dozens of books.

  • Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard - Necessary if you have a type-heavy job and use a laptop stand.

  • Camera & Lens; Recently got a mirrorless camera and I’m in love!

    • Camera Cover: Keep this on my camera whenever I’m not using it.

Other:

  • Packable Yoga Mat: Jim got me this for xmas and I LOVE it.  Believe it or not, it fits well in the bottom of my suitcase. I use it almost every day to stretch or do a video on Youtube.

  • Reusable shopping bags: I have this set. I always keep 1-2 in my purse, one in my backpack and one in Jim's bag. And I use one as our laundry bag. This way we always have bags.

  • Reusable Produce Bags: This is thrown in with my reusable shopping bags. We often live places where I can shop at produce markets and these come in really handy and help me avoid using plastic bags etc.

  • Stainless steel water bottle: Buying bottled water is lame. And something you notice in most of the world–the tap water is not potable. So I never leave home without a reusable water bottle. This one keeps my water cooler & fresher longer:

  • Bamboo thermal tea thermos: I’m an avid tea drinker and I can use this thermos to make loose leaf tea wherever. I’ll also carry it with me and use it when buying juice, smoothies, and coffee from vendors to avoid plastic use. I bought mine from an organic shop in Vietnam, but this one appears exactly the same.

  • Supplements: I always bring Magnesium Glycinate for days when I don’t eat very healthy; I take it before bed and it relaxes me and helps me sleep deeper. I also always bring Pure Encapsulations Melatonin SR. Whenever I know I need a good night’s’ sleep, I know magnesium + Melatonin SR will help.

    And that should do it! Is there anything I’m missing that you can recommend!?

Manduka
the ultimate pack list for any destination