A few of my favorite things
The most useful stuff I brought on Remote Year (so far)
When it came to packing for Remote Year, I was just as clueless as everyone else. I read blogs, watched vlogs, and scoured through Amazon until my eyes physically hurt. Even the tiniest decisions on what to pack felt like they were going to make or break the year for me. It felt like I had to pack perfectly for the entire year before I left.
Turns out, that is most definitely not the case. Believe it or not, places other than the U.S. sell stuff, too! Crazy, right? I didn’t believe it either.
You don’t need to pack perfectly from the start, and you’re not going to. However, there are certain things that you can get before you leave that will make life a little bit easier. I want to share the things that have been most useful to me through my first third of Remote Year.
Michael’s main tenets of choosing what to travel with:
- Can it be used in a variety of different situations?
- Is it portable and/or light?
- Is it durable?
- Does it make you happy?
- When in doubt, go with Amazon’s Best Seller because it’s probably not the worst.
Shorts with liners
Having a liner built into shorts is great because it’s less underwear that you have to pack and wash. I am a huge fan of the Patagonia Baggies shorts and have two pairs of them with me. I use them as gym shorts, casual everyday shorts, and as a bathing suit. So many activities!!
Merino Wool Socks
I didn’t buy a lot of merino wool for this trip, mostly because that shit is expensive, but I did invest in some Smartwool running socks. These things can be worn multiple times before they need to be washed. I have five pairs and I’ve never ran out of them in between washes.
If you’re chasing summer like we are, you’re going to be wearing sandals a ton. I wanted a pair that I could get wet at the beach, use in the showers at hostels or gyms, and also be comfortable taking a walking tour in. However, I didn’t want them to absorb water and be all squishy after you get them wet. I found a pair from Sanuk that does all of the above really well.
The Houdini is an ultra lightweight windbreaker and collapses into a ball the size of your palm. I keep it in my backpack at all times in case it gets windy or rainy unexpectedly. Supes convenient. It’s water resistant — not waterproof — so you’ll probably want a rain jacket as well.
I wouldn’t overthink this one too much. The combo of this charger from Anker and a short charging cable has been ideal for me. The charger is small and fits in your pocket easily, while the short cord makes it way less annoying to handle. I’ve yet to be in a scenario where this wasn’t able to tide me over until I was able to get back to a regular outlet.
If you have a MacBook, I would recommend getting the international adapter kit. It makes plugging in everywhere you go so much easier and doesn’t require you to have an extra adapter to plug into.
For charging your handheld devices, very rarely have I ever needed more than two USB plugs at a time. I bought a basic one from Amazon and it has been perfect.
Noise cancelling headphones are an absolute game changer when it comes to helping you focus in otherwise distracting environments — such as the coworking spaces. While they can get pricey, I really think that they’re one of the best investments you can make because of how much more productive you will be.
I also bought a pair of Beats wireless headphones for working out and walking around the city. Combine these with a running belt, and exercising outside just got a ton easier.
Apple Watches are one of those things that you don’t know how much you want it until you have it. From the watch face alone I can see local time, date/day of week (surprisingly difficult to keep track of, turns out), local weather, and how active I have been. My favorite feature, however, has to be the ability to easily see what time it is back home in Austin so I can plan for meetings more easily.
UE Roll 2
The UE Roll 2 is an ultra durable bluetooth speaker and it’s the shit. It’s portable, it’s water/dirt/sand resistant, it can attach to basically anything with its little bungee cord, and it can get plenty loud. Also, you can link it via bluetooth to other UE Roll 2’s if your fellow Remotes have them.
UE has other speakers that are bigger and louder, but I prefer this one because of its portability and because of how easy it is to attach it to things.
Got this rec from another Remote’s blog and it turns out he was on point. I use this SPIbelt all the time for running or just walking around when I don’t feel like carrying a backpack or don’t have pockets. Not only does it easily fit the holy trinity of your phone/wallet/keys, but it is also super discrete for situations that are higher risk for pick pocketing.
When you’re only carrying around 2–3 cards and some cash, you don’t need a regular sized wallet. Minimalist wallets are super thin and fit comfortably into your front pocket. The one I have is stretchy, too, for when you have an annoying amount of coins (which you will).
These are great because you can use them as a daypack, a gym bag, or to carry groceries. I got this one from North Face, but there are a ton of other ones out there. They are super lightweight and collapse down to basically nothing.
These are a must, in my opinion. They help keep you organized, allow you to pack more, and are great for side trips. There are a million to choose from, but I got these ones and like them a lot.
I like these a little too much. It’s for good reason, though. In each city, you end up buying more toiletries (shampoo, body wash, etc.) than you can use in four weeks. You can just fill the GoToobs up at the end / during the month and now you’ve got shampoo and body wash for your side trips.
Be careful. You will get attached to them, and if you go through certain airports a little buzzed and they end up getting confiscated at Security, you will tear up and embarrass yourself…or so I’m told.
Side Trip Backpack
I think I hit a home run with the Surge Transit Backpack from North Face. It’s my carry on bag for our travel days and is perfect for side trips. For side trips, I pack it with my largest packing cube, toiletry bag, a pair of shoes, and everything I need for work. I took this on a 10-day side trip earlier this month and it fit everything I needed plus a bunch of shit that I didn’t. Even though it can fit a lot of stuff in it, it’s still small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on the budgetiest of airlines.
Electronic Travel Toothbrush
I knew that I would be going on a lot of side trips this year. I also knew that I wouldn’t want to waste space in my backpack on a side trip with the big traveling case that I carry my Sonicare toothbrush in.
To make sure that I wouldn’t ever be stuck with a manual toothbrush (*cringes*), I got a Quip electronic toothbrush as a compliment to my Sonicare. It doesn’t take up any more space than a typical manual toothbrush would, but it still gives you that nice polished feeling you get with a Sonicare.
During travel days when you see fellow Remotes frantically digging through their backpacks trying to find their passports or Priority Pass cards that are loose somewhere in the bottom of their bags, you will laugh maniacally as you pull out your beautifully organized passport wallet that has everything you could possibly need. This thing has my passport, list of shots, Priority Pass card, backup credit cards and IDs, Global Entry card, extra cash, pen, and paper in it. Cannot recommend it enough.
I originally bought these just to lock my checked bag and carry on backpack, but it turns out they are also great to use at the gym and in hostels. I ditched my heavier padlock in month 2 because of these luggage locks. I wasn’t sure if they would get cut on my checked bag in international airports, but I’m 4/4 so far.
Planning what to pack as a premote is stressful and exciting. You simultaneously want everyone’s opinion and also no one’s opinion because they’re all different and make you even more unsure of what to bring.
Just keep in mind that everyone is going to have different circumstances, needs, preferences, etc., so go with your gut when it comes to what you should be packing.
…and then divide that in half because you’re going to pack too much, dummy.
Don’t feel too bad though. We were all told the same thing and still did it anyways, too.