Travel Packing Checklists Digital Nomad Carry On Suitcase

6 Months, One Carry On Suitcase

Digital nomadism is the big new “it” lifestyle. While not suited for everyone, these constant travelers have some great experience figuring out what it is we really need during a trip.  Here are lessons learned from one such traveler:

At the end of February, I left San Francisco for what is now about 6 months on the road. I’ve had one carry on + purse this whole time. So how did I do it?

Let’s start with where I started. As I originally posted here, I brought:


  • 5 socks (yes pairs, not individual socks)
  • 6 bras (3 normal, 3 sport)
  • 7 underwears (thank you kids of Kate+8 for the term)
  • 3 bathing suits
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 4 pairs of shorts (1 “normal”, 3 athletic)
  • 4 leggings (1 nice, 2 athletic, 1 sleep/lounge)
  • 7 tops (1 nice, the rest sleep/athletic/”normal”)
  • 3 dresses (1 nice, 2 whatever/beach)
  • 1 sweatshirt (though I keep stealing the boy’s sweater so I should probably count this as 2)
  • 3 pairs of shoes (sneakers, flats, and flip flops)


  • Glasses & 4 months of contacts
  • 1 of my prescription shampoo
  • 1 multipurpose shampoo/soap
  • 1 face wash
  • 2 face sunscreen (accident)
  • razor
  • shaving cream
  • toothbrush
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • deodorant
  • makeup (foundation, powder, blush & eyeshadow kit, mascara, lipstick)
  • nail clipper & file
  • tweezers
  • Advil & Advil PM
  • band aids


  • Mac & charger
  • UP3 & charger
  • Phone & usb-c cable+usb-c adapter (I have a Nexus 5x)
  • Sony camera
  • Waterproof iPod shuffle & headphones
  • 1 international adapter
  • Kindle & micro usb charging cable

Random Things

So what do I still have? Well most of it, minus:

  • I acquired 2 dresses that can be casual or dressy depending on accessories, makeup, etc. but ditched the original “nice” dress I had (it was only appropriate for a bachelorette party)
  • 1 “dead” tank top and 1 bathing suit top (no replacement)
  • The sheet set was left behind in Paris as I still hadn’t used it
  • The collapsible water bottle was replaced with a standard bottle that comes with any $1 water purchase along the way. These are easily refillable and honestly, the collapsible one was just more of a pain to use. Generally purchased a new one once/week to make sure they didn’t get gross.
  • Toiletries that have been used up. Bought as needed.

In place of the items left behind, I’ve also added a few things:

  • Another set of “sleep” leggings. Paris in May is cold.
  • Another pair of “nice” leggings.  See above.
  • Bra “hearts” for racerback tops (makes every bra I have appropriate for all those racerback tanks, more options, fewer things to pack!)
  • Roku stick + mini usb cable

Things I should leave behind somewhere, but haven’t yet:

  • Waterproof iPod shuffle. Let’s be honest, I’m never swimming laps and this is just a waste of space, as small as it may be.
  • International adapter: the Mac adapter is enough since I’ll be in Europe the whole time, everything else is USB and can be plugged into my computer

Now that I’ve been on the road six months and made my adjustments, the items I wouldn’t leave home without include:

  • Laundry bag: this has been the workhorse of my trip. Whether it’s getting dirty laundry to the washer or making trips between nearby, non-plane destinations easier to pack for, having this quick take all bag has saved me more than once.
  • Pillow Pet: My recommendation for a travel pillow.  Attaches easily to my suitcase during travels and the design of his head makes sure I don’t wake up sleeping on a plane wall instead of a pillow.  And while I’ve slowed down my travels, having something comfy and familiar makes any AirBNB or hostel feel more like home.
  • “Airplane” socks: Really just thick socks I use as slippers. On a plane I can travel in flip flops for easier walks through security, and then keep my feet warm the whole flight. Also, beachside AirBNBs often have tile floors, so wearing these at “home” means I won’t get frostbite from air conditioning.

So what have I learned? Options are more a burden for me.  Living out of a single suitcase is really pretty easy. While I’m not the “typical” girl (function over form every time), when you don’t have the options, style doesn’t seem that important. Yes, I’m spending most of my time on a beach so bathing suits and athletic clothes are all I really need.  However, I spent a month in chic Paris and bought a thing or two, but only because of the colder than expected weather.

If this is the type of trip you’ll be going on, we recommend you review our basicAirBNB, and printable digital nomad lists.

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