This is a discussion that comes up rather frequently within my community. Sometimes someone new moves into the staff village and you can’t help but judge what they are carrying around with them. Other times, you are that person and you just know that your physical baggage is a mess.

Now, I’m not talking about the everyday essentials here. We all know to pack our underwear and toiletries (actually, funnily enough, they are generally things we Pro Nomads discard in each location and buy new on arrival), so those items have been disqualified from the following list.

This is not a packing list for backpackers or travellers, but a list for people like myself who make their living moving around the country. While travelling light is a must, (especially when dealing with small airlines and strict baggage restrictions) there are certain things that we nomads need to get by. These are often little things; tokens of home and memories of friends or items that provide a sense of creature comfort.

After a year on the road, this is my comprehensive list of suitcase essentials that make being transient so much easier.

10. Camera.

suitcase essentials camera

This one is a no brainer, but I thought that I’d add it. People who live on the road know to snap the moments that they pass by, but those who lose themselves in their jobs often miss these opportunities. For a professional nomad like myself, I find that I get caught in between the two.

Sometimes work eats up more time then I’d ideally like. However, an afternoon off walking through my current town with my camera in hand reminds me to focus on the world around me and helps to bring me out of work mode.

9. Colouring in Books.

Yes, they’re heavy. Yes, they can be expensive. But it’s hard to argue against the serenity that comes with this new adult trend. After a hard day it can be overwhelmingly nice to sit on your bed with a glass of wine and aimlessly colour between the lines. Or outside of them, if that’s how you roll.

8. Ipad. Or Kindle.

When you’re moving around a lot, despite the above items, you don’t want to be lugging around heavy novels. A good book or ten go a long way though. They work to dull down long bus rides, provide mental escape when things get hard and make for great afternoons in the sun.

I personally use an I-pad mini instead of a Kindle for all my reading. Why? Because it can double as a personal cinema for all your binge watching needs.

7. Music.

suitcase essentials music

Music is a powerful tool. It has the power to bring you up, make you dance around and then can crash you just as quickly. Like the above, a good travel playlist is key to surviving long distance trips and with music being so universal, it is also a great way to keep a spark of connection with those you’ve left behind.

I met my best friend in the world through music (in Japan, too) and now that we are once again far away from each other, it is nice to have songs that remind us of certain times together.

My personal Long Distance Travel Playlist is available to listen to here.

6. Cards Against Humanity.

Nothing breaks the ice in a new location like a late night politically incorrect card game. Break out the drinks and your sense of humour with this perfect way to get acquainted with your new family.

5. A pillow.

home is behind the world ahead pillow

Remember when you were a kid and you had that blanket, or that teddy or doll that you carried around with your everywhere? It was your friend and protector; the thing that would keep the dark away and the monsters locked in their closest? Well, as most of us adults know, while you do grow out of that childish frame of mind, we do still form emotional attachments to materialistic things. Maybe it’s the comfy corner of the couch, or that coffee mug that seems to fit oh so perfectly in your hand.

Or maybe it is your pillow.

Pillows are great and provide so much comfort, especially for such a small little thing. A bad pillow equals a bad sleep and a bad sleep can lead to unnecessary stress, especially when on the road.

My pillow is a cushion purchased from RedBubble and is perfect for bus trips and flights and doubles as room decoration. With ‘Home is Behind, the World Ahead’ printed on it, it stands as a nice token of my life.

4. Laptop.

suitcase essentials laptop

This is a given, especially in this day and age. I use mine for everything. Music, movies, photos, skype, studies and blogging. It also makes lining up my next destination so much easier. There is a sense of real world normalcy to having your laptop even if it is just watching Youtube over a cup of coffee in the morning

3. Fairy lights.

A cheap, light and space conscious fix for any drab, small or dark room. I personally carry around 4 strings of battery operated lights and they are generally the first things to be unpacked and placed around my room.

2. Photos.

suitcase essentials photos on the wall

In the age of Facebook and Instagram, photos are often things that we no longer associate with carrying around. I personally don’t keep that many with me, but then my friends and I have never really been ‘photo squad’ sort of people. But walls in staff accommodation are generally far from pretty, the rooms are overly sparse and can often resemble little cells.

The traveller in me has found a colourful, inspiring way to combat Four Wall Syndrome though. Travel magazines, once read, get ripped apart, cut up and stuck on my walls in a mishmash of places to go and memories to collect for myself. For those more budget conscious you can do the same with tour company brochures. Jump on line and order some free brochures from the top companies and they’ll be delivered to your door at no cost.

1. YOU

This is something you can’t pack, but something that you need to weigh and consider at every turn. Remember why you are living like this, what your goals are and, during the bad and hard times (and there will be plenty of those) remember the good.

You need to have a sense of adventure for this sort of life; a willingness to forgo materialistic things and let go of character traits like pride. You also need to be fiercely independent and strong within yourself, both to survive the constant string of new places and faces, as well as to know when you’ve reached your limits.

Of all the things you need to maintain this lifestyle, this is the most important. Look after yourself, enjoy yourself and be yourself; the world will respond to that.

suitcase essentials all you need is you

After my year on the road, I’m convinced that these things are essential. They allow you to feel normal and create a homely sense around you with as little effort and luggage weight as possible.

What you guys think? Have I left anything out?


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professional nomad series top 10 suitcase essentials

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