Living As a Digital Nomad
The whole point of becoming a digital nomad and making a living abroad is to experience a new culture and a new way of life. Not everything experienced needs to be new though. In fact, most digital nomads will need at least a few of their own belongings to feel comfortable and to ease some of that homesickness away. Follow along as we discuss what every digital nomad must have to survive abroad.
Here are the most tried and true items that digital nomads find essential for making a home for themselves in a different country.
Your Own Computer
This one seems like a given. As a digital nomad, your entire livelihood will depend on your computer. Some digital nomads even bring multiple computers! Technology overseas can be limited and certain brands even more expensive than your home country, so it’s best to bring your computer from home.
Theft and mugging can be slightly more common in developing countries which is why many digital nomads bring more than one computer. If you own one computer that is much nicer than the other, it is recommended that you leave that one in your residence and only use it while at home. Bring the cheaper of the two out in public with you, especially when riding public transportation.
Don’t be worried about getting into these situations though. They are rare and can be easily avoided. Just keep your bag close to you at all times and be aware of your surroundings.
Along with your computer, bring all the accessories it may need and extras. Multiple chargers, several USBs, camera card readers, headphones, etc. You may never know when you can lose something and then you are stuck searching high and low for a replacement.
Make sure your computer is well-protected as well. Invest in a good case that is durable and can repel dirt. A waterproof sleeve of some kind may also be a good idea. Keyboard covers are also great for protecting your keys against oils and bacteria.
Good Quality Water Bottles
A water bottle may seem like an odd choice to bring along to countries that generally don’t have to save access to clean water. Hear me out on this one though.
Most hostels, ex-pat housing compounds, and shared living places have a safe water drinking system in the house and the use of it is included in your monthly cost. Constantly buying bottled water can get expensive and tiresome.
The easy access to being able to fill your own bottle at home is priceless (literally). For some reason, water bottles are hard to buy in other countries. It is a great idea to just bring your sturdy favorite one from home.
Okay, am I living in a house or camping? Yes, it’s true that digital nomads often live in really nice housing because the rent is cheap. However, most developing countries, unfortunately, experience power outages quite often. This is when a headlamp comes in handy.
It can be used as an emergency flashlight when you need it. Headlamps are also extremely convenient because they allow you to continue cooking or working without holding anything.
As a digital nomad, you may be living in community housing and sharing a bedroom. A headlamp is a great way to continue reading or light up your area of the room once your roommate has already gone to bed.
For weekend adventures such as hiking and camping, traveling with a headlamp is fantastic. Some cities don’t have well-lit streets so even using the headlamp on the way home from a late dinner or a drink at the bar is also a great option.
Books or E-reader
Living abroad most likely means living in a country where the language is not your native one. This also means books will most likely not be sold in your primary language. Bringing a few books from home can help you settle in easier and give you something to do in your downtime.
E-readers are also fantastic because they are light to pack and give you instant access to new material. If bringing an e-reader, make sure to bring the charger and durable cover for it as well.
Keep in mind that large cities have international bookstores. Any time you’re in the capital, restock on books. Many hostels and ex-pat living communities also do book exchanges and swaps. You can ask on your local city’s Facebook page or another ex-pat friend where book exchanges take place.
Your Own Pillow (Regular or Travel Size)
In general, accommodation in other countries simply is not the same as places you might stay in your home country. Pillows and mattresses tend to much thinner and harder than in the developed world.
Bringing your own pillow from home can be that extra amount of comfort that you need. Quality sleep is essential for working and living abroad. Some people opt to bring the full-size pillow that they use at home, while some digital nomads prefer to bring a smaller travel-size pillow.
The travel size can be great for plane and bus rides. They are also easy to wash and roll up to fit into a bag. Good quality travel pillows can be the same thickness and softness as regular size pillows. My best advice is to bring both. Travel pillows barely take up any room in your suitcase or backpack, they can even be clipped to the side if you desire.
Power Adaptor and Portable Charger
Chances are the outlets in your home country will not be the same as the ones in your new country as a digital nomad. A good power adaptor will be necessary to use all your chargers and gadgets.
Some power adaptors also give you the option of plugging in USB cables, so the actual head of the charger is not necessary. This also allows you to plug in various devices at one time. Alternatively, you can bring a power strip to plug into the adaptor and then use your normal chargers in the strip.
A small portable charger is also key to success. It is an amazing way to charge your phone during a long bus ride or at a place that does not have enough outlets. Power outages can also be common in other countries so having a portable charger gives you an extra charge while you wait for the power to come back on.
Vitamins such as probiotics, daily wellness vitamins, and electrolyte tablets are basically unheard of in underdeveloped countries. If you regularly take any of these at home, make sure to bring a good supply of them with you.
As a side note: if you do not take vitamins while at home, you will probably not start taking them while you live abroad, so don’t waste the space in your suitcase. Most ex-pats find that they follow the same habits abroad that they do while away.
Most medications and basic antibiotics are available worldwide, so there is no need to stock up on medication unless you have a prescription that you take every day at home.
In general, you can find almost everything you need abroad, especially when you know where to look. However, bringing special things from home is essential to creating a home away from home as you travel.