Last week, I shared the entire contents of my “mobile home” on YouTube. I won’t list every item and tell you to bring 10 t-shirts, 5 shorts, a toothbrush etc, but I’ll cover the essentials.
Luggage: I love duffel trolley bags like this pink one pictured. They’re lighter than a hard case, and its handle makes it easy to grab to throw on busses and taxis, to pick up and cross uneven surfaces… You can stuff a lot in there too. My current one is from Little India in Singapore, and my previous one was a credit card freebie. Here’s one I found on Amazon. The smaller your “mobile home” the better! It’s pain to drag around. Though I’m personally not a fan of backpacks as you have to a) dig through it, & b) I don’t want to be carrying so much weight on my back.
Backpack: I started nomading with a Jansport, which quickly started to hurt my back. I went in search of a backpack with cushioned straps, & a water bottle slot. This PacSafe has those 2 things, and so much more. A padded back, slash proof front, locks, anti-theft RFID pocket, etc. It’s been serving me well & I highly recommend it.
I also have a small handbag which just nicely fits my iPad, shawl, wallet, and phone. I also have a little clutch that I use to dinner, partying, running errands, and even hiking!
MacBook Air: Once you go Mac you never go back. This baby is so light and so powerful. Multitask i.e. have a gazillion tabs or applications open at once? No problem. Edit videos on iMovie, no problem. A+
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a thing. After 9+ months on the road, working remotely out of cafes, co-working spaces, hotels, I’ve started to feel a pain in my right forearm and fingers. Laptops are not designed to be used long term and their keyboards and touchpads create awkward movements for your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers. The following setup is ideal:
- A Roost stand to raise your laptop to a “proper level” (eye-level), which will save your neck.
- An external keyboard that lies as flat as possible on a table, so that your arm and shoulder will be in a natural posture. (By nature of a laptop’s design, its keyboard is risen)
- An external, ergonomic mouse. Logitech’s has a curved shape which fits your hand naturally.
In addition, regular stretch breaks and exercise helps to prevent or cure RSI. Stand when you can! Get creative – bar tops, kitchen islands etc can function as standing desks. Remember to keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle!
I also travel with an iPad mini, which I use to read and watch ukelele and yoga tutorials as I practice along. If I only used it to read, I’d definitely get a Kindle instead as the glare from an iPad does get annoying.
A power bank! Let’s face it, phones don’t last all day anymore, especially if you’re a Pokemon catcher. Plus it’s nice to know you can count on your phone in case of emergencies, or to use the GPS if you get lost. I use this one by XiaoMi, and Tim Ferris uses this smaller one by Jackery.
And of course, an adaptor.
- Google Voice. Call US and Canada numbers for free. (You have to be located in the US or Canada to do so, else use a VPN) You can even pick your own dedicated Google Voice number for free. I use this number when I fill out forms and such, and texts and voicemails get transcribed and emailed to me – so awesome.
- MagicJack. Great if you have to call the US and Canada from elsewhere. It seemed to be free for a couple months for me, then I had to pay $13.99/year.
- WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family!
- Trail Wallet to keep track of your expenses. Cash expenses. I use Mint back home, but since I’ve been in Asia where everywhere mostly only takes cash I’ve turned to this. (I’ve shared my expenses in SEA here)
- Your bank’s app. I often transfer money from my Savings account to Checking account while standing infront of an ATM, then immediately withdraw money. My bank charges me CAD $5 per international withdrawal, and the local bank charges a fee too, so I always withdraw the maximum amount that the ATM allows. In Vietnam most ATMs allow a maximum of $2 Million Dong (CAD $115). HSBC allowed $5.6 Million Dong (CAD $322), with a higher fee of course.
- Besides reading eBooks on my iPad, I have the Audible app on my iPhone, which I use to listen to audiobooks while doing mundane activities, having lunch, or on the road. Get 2 free audiobooks with an Audible trail here.
- Instagram, which I use as a journal of sorts
- Snapchat, to keep your family, friends, & network up-to-date on your day-to-day life
- Uber! It’s available in so many countries, and I love how they localize it. I was in Singapore in February and one day I saw an UberLIONDANCE option, which is a lion dance troop for the Chinese New Year festivities. In Bangkok there’s UberMOTO, which is… a motorbike taxi! If you still don’t have it, use the code “ubernicolefu” to get your first ride free!
- Airbnb, to book local, pocket-friendly accommodations. If you’re staying a week, a month, BARGAIN! And, get $40 CAD off your first stay.
- Google Translate. Use their camera function to take a photo of a (non-handwritten) menu, & translate it on the fly. I’m allergic to peanuts, so I often look it up on Google Translate to show to the staff at a restaurant or street stall. As a result I can say hi, thank you, and peanuts in many languages. Mai sai thaw!
- Swarm, to keep track of where you’ve been. It comes in handy when I talk about an awesome restaurant I went to, but whose name I forgot.
- XE Currency
- I recently started meditating daily via Calm, and I love it. Everyday I have 10 minutes to myself, focussed on the present, and on practising patience.
- Clothing: invest in higher quality ones that can withstand several washings, are versatile (can be mixed and matched), and that don’t require ironing!
- Footwear: for the Summer, thick and slip-proof sandals from Havaianas and Ipanema are 👌🏽 I also have a pair of walking shoes, and a pair of running shoes.
- Underwear: comfortable, seamless lycra ones (read: no panty line) are easy to wash, and dry quickly. I have these ones from Uniqlo, and a male nomad recommends Uniqlo for men too!
- Accessories: Cheap sunglasses. I started out with 2 Ray-Bans and 1 Oakleys. 2/3 are no longer in my possession due to water-related activities (Songkran in Chiang Mai and tubing in Vang Vieng). A hat!
- A quick dry towel!
- Do not start out with body soap, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen and all that jazz. Buy them when you get to your first stop.
- I don’t use a DivaCup myself, but that seems like a great idea as it takes up so little room, and is good for the environment.
+ a couple of things I’d like to add to my mobile home:
Are you a digital nomad or a long-term traveller? I would love to hear what your essentials are!