How to Pack for Working Remotely & Traveling
Packing is a huge travel topic these days and I love talking about it. As I’ve traveled more and more, I’ve taken an increasingly minimalist approach and optimizing use of a lot of my stuff. I’m currently traveling for four months with Remote Year, which has been awesome so far. During the next four months, I’ll be living in Lima, Medellin, Bogota and Mexico City, and taking side trips as well.
In packing for a trip this long, I had to take into account how I could pack in order to comfortably work remotely, be prepared for a range of climates and take along some favorites from home.
What to pack for working remotely
What changed for me in packing for this trip was what I needed in order to have the essentials for getting work done.
- My Dell XPS 13-inch laptop: I got this a few months before Remote Year, and because I get weighed down easily by heavy purses or backpacks, this laptop is only 2.7 lbs! It also has incredible resolution that is great for editing photos.
- A small-size wireless mouse by Logitech: I just got this Logitech mouse and it’s the size of my palm! It even fits in my jacket pocket. I like having a mouse to use with my laptop because it feels more like a home setup.
- The Google Pixel buds: I can take meetings hands-free with these because they’re Bluetooth. The string that attaches them is helpful for keeping them around my neck when they’re out of my ears.
- The Google Pixel 2 phone: I love the camera on this phone, and I use the Pixel 2 with Project Fi for international service and data. This has changed travel for me because I no longer rely on wifi zones and can use maps, Whatsapp and apps while on the go.
What to pack for different climates
- Birkenstock sandals: they’re durable, not too heavy and have tons more support for your feet than most other sandals. These are my new favorite.
- A jean jacket: I used to not really like jean jackets, but the fact is that they can go with a dress, leggings or shorts and provide more style than a sweatshirt. I wear leggings nearly every day, so I use my jean jacket as a layer under another coat if it’s cold out.
- Bottoms: For these four months, I took along one pair of jeans, two pairs of leggings (one designated for yoga), one pair of athletic shorts (and one pair to sleep in) and one pair of black high-waisted ‘paper bag’ shorts as a more dressy option in hot weather.
- A light scarf: I typically bring a scarf that qualifies for travel in all seasons. It can double as a way of covering shoulders when entering a religious place, too.
- Other shoes: a pair of Allbirds walking sneakers, running shoes by New Balance and a pair of black flats that can dress up most outfits.
My travel hacks
- A canvas tote bag: for me, this doubles as a bag for grocery shopping and also as a lightweight purse. With a canvas tote, you can help save the environment and not have to worry about traveling with a valuable purse, all in one!
- Quick-dry towel by Shandali Microfiber: This towel folds up into a tiny square and dries fast, so it’s great for taking to the beach, using for hair, using in a hostel that doesn’t give towels or even laying out in a park.
- A trusty water bottle: mine has a squirt top, which keeps things neat if I’m in the car, on a bus or storing this bottle during a flight. Having a plastic or metal water bottle cuts down on waste from buying single-use plastic bottles, and I can fill up from water coolers or big water jugs.
- A mini lightweight umbrella: I don’t own a rain jacket, so I use this mini umbrella from H&M and that has cute blue stripes. Having a lightweight umbrella in my bag for the day doesn’t weigh me down too much. This has saved me so many times!
- Lonely Planet travel books: while you could say that books are heavy in luggage, to me, there’s nothing like having a physical book rather than a book on Kindle. I like marking pages, making notes and drawing on the maps. I’ve been traveling with Lonely Planet books since around 2009.
- The FlipBelt: I used this tight belt when I went jogging in various countries in Europe all summer, and it was perfect for keeping keys, an ID and a credit card or cash when I went for a jog. It can also double as a money belt.
- A travel lock with a key: locks come in handy for locker use (at gyms, hostels or day trips) or for locking my backpack zippers on long bus rides.
How to pack for travel photography
I take photos between my Canon 77D and my Google Pixel 2. I’ll use my camera if I’m somewhere where it’s socially acceptable and safe to have a larger camera, and I’ll use my Pixel 2 if I’m doing something adventurous, like sand-boarding or hiking.
The best backpacks for long-term travel
I travel with two backpacks, as I find backpacks more versatile than suitcases. I use a 50L Quechua front-loading backpack, which I prefer over a top-loading backpack. The front-loading feature allows me to pack in everything and not have to unpack layers when I want to get something out. Quechua bags are moderately-priced and washable, so I only have good things to say about the 50L size.
As a second and smaller backpack, I use a 20L CamelBak daypack. The CamelBak supports weight well and the straps aren’t too far apart, which is good because I have narrow shoulders. I don’t use the water bladder and use the back compartment instead for my laptop. I also like that it has a strap across the chest and a strap for your waist, for a lot of extra support and balance. This has been excellent during hikes or taking stress of my shoulders if I have heavy weight inside it.
If I forgot anything…
What I always try to tell myself when packing is, “If you realize you forgot something, chances are you can find something similar while on the road.” Through the years, I’ve gotten much better at minimizing what I pack, knowing that I can shop when I get to a destination if I need something additional! Now that I’m traveling with a group, I’m also keeping in mind that I can make trades with other Remotes, borrow clothes or electronics (both have happened in the last three weeks) and lend out my belongings as well.