Digital Nomad Jobs: Picked it, packed it, backed it? Ready to fly.
Welcome to the first of a regular(ish), exciting(ish) series on essential kit for the modern-day digital nomad.
What better place to start than with arguably the most important piece of kit every digital nomad is going to need. The place your possessions will be calling home for the duration. The place where it all begins. Your bag.
Choosing the right kind of bag for your travels is a big deal, too big and you run the risk of filling it with junk, not getting it on planes and it becoming a needless drag of weight. Too small and you’ll need military precision folding to make that incredibly hilarious ‘keep calm’ t-shirt you bought for £29.99 in London fit in*. Do you go for fashion or function? Leather or canvas? Hard or soft? Suitcase or backpack or that weird hybrid between the two? It’s a veritable minefield of luggage choices. Thankfully, I made my decision long ago and it worked out pretty well, a great backpack for a decent price. Unfortunately, that bag is no longer available, otherwise, this would just be a series of links to various pictures of it. Still, whilst you can’t have the bag adored by me, and a surprising amount of young ladies across the world, you still have a few pretty wicked options open to you.
*Maybe just leave it behind or, you know, don’t buy it in the first place?
First things first, the suitcase. I remember a time not so long ago when going on family holidays meant getting to the airport 3 hours early to join the queue (I’m British) to check-in and load on 3 suitcases, carefully having to move things around all 3 to avoid going over the weight limit, whilst being soundtracked by 89 other tutting families. A great start to a holiday, I’m sure you’ll agree. Still, suitcases do have their place in this world – they are sturdy, sizeable, they have wheels, they are easy to customise (see picture below), have little compartments for your things and they eliminate restrictions on what you can travel with, well, except the illegal things. However, they are often clumsy, awkward, expensive to fly with, useless on tiny cobbled streets and impossible to use in a crowded place without being in someones way or hitting them in the legs. On top of that, if you are flying with a laptop do you really want to put it in the hold and risk it breaking? You’ll need another bag at least for your electronics. All that cost and hassle doesn’t seem worthwhile to me.
You may like the idea of a pull along that you can take onto the plane, giving you the best of both worlds. I can get on board with that idea as long as you are very sure what will fit in the cabin*. I like the idea of a pull along because I think they can look incredibly stylish and whilst I’m no fashionista I suppose I secretly would like to be. A pull along can be great if you aren’t planning on bringing too many possessions with you on your travels, they are easy to move, small enough (hopefully) to go on to the plane with you and come in prices to suit all budgets. The new ones can be incredibly swish and come with special ‘tools’ to help you pack. I mean, I’m fairly sure they are just extra pockets and clips but who am I to argue with the luggage gods? They do have their downsides, you can’t really squash them to fit inside small spaces, they can be a pain getting off of a plane in the inevitable scrum that occurs on landing and frankly, a lot of them are plain fugly. All in I think the pull along can be a solid option for any digital nomad, you can safely store all/most of your worldly possessions with you on the plane, train, bus or camel, never have to pay baggage fees and you even have something to sit on whilst you wait.
This is a particularly well reviewed hard case carry on which also looks pretty space age. It comes in a variety of colours and seems pretty cheap to me (minus the $367 import and shipping fee I would have to pay).
It’s time for the backpacks. I’m a backpack kinda guy*. Big fan, they’re the greatest, everyone says so. I like the ones with lots of buckles and dangling straps. I find them therapeutic to fiddle with whilst flying or waiting for a bus to turn up. I’m not sure my fellow passengers are as enamoured but hey, it is what it is. If you are deciding to go the backpack route there are a couple of things to look out. Go for a waterproof material, you don’t want soggy pants. If you think you’ll find it difficult to avoid getting soggy clothes in another, unrelated incident, you should probably look for a bag with many compartments, it’ll stop your other clothes getting soggy and smelly. Many people will tell you it’s essential to get a bag with lockable zips, to those people I would say that your bag is made of canvas. If someone really wants to get inside it they can use hi-tec equipment like scissors. Be backpack security conscious for sure but I wouldn’t suggest spending a fortune on locks. If you just want to stay clear of pickpockets go for a cheaper alternative like a carabiner. Finally, comfort. Aim for an ergonomic design (that’s a thing in backpacks, yeah?) padded straps, padded everything. Comfort is king/queen.
Another notable bag for your consideration is the duffel bag, ideal for stylish, short trips but probably not the most comfortable for long distance treks. If you find yourself settling down in one place for a while but still take weekend breaks make a duffel a must.