Digital Nomad Survival Kit: my backpack

I don’t like working at home, so I spend most of my days roaming the city and hanging out in cafes, lounges, restaurants. Sometimes I spend hours at airport terminals. Most of them are comfortable but still very far from the being perfect. So over time I put together quite an interesting survival kit made of a few objects, devices, and habits.

The rules

There are three rules about my backpack:

  1. It needs to fit the average carry-on-size on airplanes: I don’t want to switch bags depending on whether I’m traveling or not. I want a single bag, always the same.
  2. It needs to pass airport security: I don’t want to pack and repack over and over. I want a single setup that can easily pass through airport security and raise no red flags.
  3. It needs to be as light as possible: I always carry my bag with me. I never leave it behind. I never leave it in a parked car, for instance.

My former and my current bag

I used a Lowepro Runner 250 for almost four years. I recently switched to a Booq Boa Flow XL.

Obvious content

Computer, Phone, Camera. Who cares, boring stuff.

The real survival kit

Noise cancelling headphones and sleeping mask

I bought my Bose QC15 in Los Angeles at Best Buy and it was one of the best purchase ever. They allow to completely isolate myself wherever I am. Airports, cafes, bars, restaurants, metro stations, airplanes, trains, are all as relaxing as a summer rain. I packed my offline track lists on Spotify with nature sounds and I rely on when I need extra relaxation.

They come with a very nice semirigid shell which can fit a sleeping mask too. The two of them together make long flights short.

Waterproof Field notes and Akismet notebook

I love Field Notes and the waterproof edition is really cool. Combined with Akismet notebooks make a nice combo which allow me to take notes and sketches everywhere at every time, even when all the batteries are dead.

Personal Hygiene pack

It’s a sealable transparent bag containing: portable toothbrush, toothpaste, hands sanitiser, shaving razor and contact lenses liquid. It’s airport friendly and simply have to take it our of your bag when passing through security.

Rubik’s cube

A classic cube is one of the most powerful items you can carry around. It helps me to relax, have fresh ideas, concentrate on work. It also sparkles new conversations, makes new friends, opens doors. I cannot even remember how many times people on planes started conversations with me about my cube.

Magic Shifter

The Magic Shifter is a new entry in my survival kit. It’s an array of high-luminosity LEDs, controlled by an Arduino based open hardware control unit, all packed into a 3D-printed case. It can be used as a flashlight, a light signal, an emergency light a POV device. I use it when I need an extra kick of light in my pictures. It can be charged via USB.

Business Cards

Business cards may be old school, but they are useful to gain people’s trust and they can save a lot of time. You need to check in at a hotel? You need to reserve a table at a restaurant? You need an invoice? Drop them a business card, they won’t misspell your name and they will take you more seriously. I get my business cards at and so should you.

Deodorant and mints

If you need me to tell you why, then you totally need them.


Condoms save lives. You can quickly waterproof your phone. You can carry water or other liquids. You can keep water off the muzzle of your rifle. You can use them as emergency tourniquet to stop severe bleeding, and much much more. Be wise, pack them up!

Spare T-shirt

You never know when that nacho is gonna break and let that delicious guacamole make a mess with your T-shirt. You can also use a spare T-shirt as a pillow case a small blanket and so on. Just roll it up and it won’t take too much space in your bag.

Power Adaptor

Every country has a different power plug so I need to be ready to get juice no matter what. Get a universal power adaptor and you are good to go.

IKEA Sealable Plastic bags

These bags are awesome. They are cheap and they are so handy. You can waterproof your camera, your phone, contain dirty clothes. They come in several sizes and they are easy to replace.

Energy bars

I don’t like processed food very much. But there is something nastier than processed food: airplane food. No matter if I fly coach or business, I don’t eat airplane food. In order to do so I need to pack energy bars in my bag. I also use energy bars to mitigate jet lag. Having single portions with me, easy to manage, I can simply sync my calories intake with the destination city. I fast for 16 hours before the first breakfast on site and this helps me to get rid of drowsiness quite quickly. I can do that only with energy bars because they give me control over carbs, protein and calories.

Cables, Memory Cards, Adaptors

Until everything will be wireless we need them. I try to keep them all together in a small bag, tied with elastic bands and hidden in a pocket. More devices, more cables. I know, it’s a pain.

How About You?

How about you, is there any special device or trick you want to share? Drop a comment!





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *