My Remote Year Packing List

This is a WIP post, but I was getting the list together for another project and realized I could start this one with that content.
(Teaser alert: I’m working on something exciting! To be announced soon…)


I talked briefly about packing in my Remote Year FAQ / Participant Advice post, but this is the first time I’ve looked back at my photos of packing days to see what has actually made it around the world with me, from Texas to Montevideo, through South America to Europe to SE Asia.

Remote Year meant packing for a full year of my life, and I enjoy having variety of my belongings with me (especially after 2 years on the road already).

Yes, this is my caveat that mine is not a ‘pack light, have less!’ list. I’ve been embarrassed about how much stuff I’ve had at times, but now I’m pretty over it.
Definitely, pack as little as possible to have what you really want and need. This was easy enough for me to manage all year, and I think I only paid about $150–200 total in baggage fees over the year, which was reasonable for me for the benefit of having this clothing and stuff.
But that’s just me. Do what works for you.

Our RY2 itinerary ranged from cold + rainy + mountain climates to hot + tropical + beach, so it’s been good to have a range of options, from semi-formal to workout to hiking to beach clothes, plus gear.

I use packing cubes — I don’t know whether they’re necessary, but I like having them to organize while I pack (and they double as a way to protect my clothes from less clean drawers). Using them does help me pack in an organized fashion and then easily / neatly access an item without fully disturbing everything else.

My first test packing attempt at home before starting RY. Some of these items didn’t make it the cut, but 90% did.

Here’s a top-level summary of what I’ve had in my bag (and how it fared) throughout my Remote Year:

Regular clothes

  • 7+ dresses — a whole outfit in one! I love dresses because it requires no effort yet usually looks good (and I like compliments)
  • Madewell high rise skinny black jeans — fit me like a glove, match everything, I wear them until they rip and then I replace them with the exact same pair (key insight: I, surprisingly, hate spandex in my jeans)
  • JCrew navy chinos — nice pants that match most of my tops, travel surprisingly well
  • 1–2x black CAbi stretch pants — I wore these a lot in South America and then sent them home in Europe once it was warmer
  • 12–15+ tops — I don’t know! Lots of them are silky and roll up small, and I don’t even wear them all that often, definitely somewhere I could cut down if I wanted to / are the items I get rid of most often.

Workout

Used for (almost) any setting.

  • 3x Lululemon spandex pants — LOVE them, wear them all the time — yoga, pajamas, travel day. not too many pairs!
  • 2x running spandex pants — both are 6 years old and were great for training for my half-marathon
  • 1x Under Armour ColdGear pants — great for South America hikes, staying warm, and avoiding bug bites (sent home in month 6)
  • Icebreaker merino wool long sleeve top — same as the UA pants use
  • 4x workout tanks — use for yoga, running, travel days, hanging out at home
What I brought on my (rainy, cold) 4 day camping trek to Machu Picchu. I used a small duffle from the trekking company + my little backpack. And fanny pack, obviously.

Jackets

  • CAbi jean jacket — great weight, comfy, pairs well with casual and dresses
  • Columbia reflective heat jacket — perfect for South America, squishes well
  • Patagonia H2No rain jacket — perfect outerlayer over my Columbia for cold SA weather and hikes, handy for SE Asia and other warm, rainy climates

Accessories

  • 2x bathing suits
  • A million pairs of underwear and socks — I love not having to panic over laundry, obviously, and I have never been mad at having clean underwear forever.
  • 2+ scarves — I started with 2 summer weight scarves, picked up a couple more on my travels; I love them as a fashion accessory, a makeshift pillow, and keeping myself warm
  • robe — bought it in India last year with my mom (we match! so cute), it’s lightweight and comfortable, great for keeping me appropriate around roommates and RY hangouts in apartments, definitely a top item.
Packing before RY travel days! Buenos Aires, Split, and Phnom Penh.

Stuff

  • Yogo travel yoga mat — I wish I used it every single day, but I do use it at least 10x a month and am so glad to have it, packs down small [I reached out to their team & got an affiliate + discount code from them, use KCYOGO for 15% off!]
  • Manduka yoga mat towel — love using this, both because I slip a lot in yoga without it and also because it adds cushion to my mat, which is really thin
  • Flannel headband — great for South America
  • Emergency medical first aid kit — never opened but seems logical to have
  • Whistle — mom insisted
  • Silk pillowcase & an allergy pillow cover — definitely useful in South America, lost the pillowcase at some point but would still use it if I had it at times. I’ve got super sensitive skin.
Travel Day from Belgrade to Split

Luggage

Evidently I have a lot of baggage…

  • Eagle Creek big rolling suitcase — got it 13 years ago, still serving me well
  • Herschel duffle — zipper is wearing out now, sadly, but it’s a good size for a longer side trip, and it’s cute!
  • Delsey carry-on rolling suitcase — bought at the KL mall before RY and has been a nice way to travel more comfortably through airports and also protect my tech gear and other valuables both in transit and by locking them up in my room
  • Lo & Sons OMG bag — perfect women’s laptop bag, lots of compartments, a bit heavy but I’ve loved it, and it stood up to a fight during my attempted mugging

Then I’ve got bags in my bags!

  • Herschel packable backpack — 18 months of use as a side trip / activity bag wore it out, it doesn’t feel super durable, but it was nice having a light packable bag
  • Longchamp Le Pliage large purse— these are usually my everyday laptop bag and purse, but I wanted to use the L&S OMG bag for my main bag, so I brought my mom’s used Longchamp bag as a handy side trip bag / emergency purse
  • Dakine fanny pack — great for hikes and outdoors activities

Technology

  • MacBook 13” Air (refurbished 2013, bought in 2014; 4 GB memory, 250 GB flash storage) — love love love it
  • iPhone 5 — I like that it’s smaller and was a hand-me-down so I’ve been less stressed about having a super nice phone while traveling, and it fits in my zip wallet / hand easily, which keeps it more secure
  • GoPro — I barely use it and still haven’t downloaded all the footage off it from last year’s travels… but some people use theirs all the time and make great videos
  • Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch Tablet — sometimes I do design work for client projects, so I’ve used this 4–6 months of the year
  • Blue Snowball Microphone — I’m recording a podcast!
  • Beats by Dre headphones (purchased in month 9) — I’m not an audiophile, and I asked for advice but didn’t get a lot of help, so after going to a bunch of stores in malls in KL and Hong Kong and feeling overwhelmed, I just bought these because they were $100 — less than a lot of better headphones and the brand recognition made me feel like I wasn’t making the worst possible choice.

More to be added later… like probably a spreadsheet / downloadable packing list!

Any questions? Tell me in the comments!


Katherine is a digital nomad, working remotely while she travels the world — on the road since June 2014. She’s a member of Remote Year 2 Battuta, living around the world with 75 other digital nomads from February 2016 to January 2017.

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