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Location Independent Travel Packing List: Every Essential Thing for 2+ Years of Full Time Travel

location independent packing list

When you travel 100% of the time for over 2 years, you learn some things about what things you REALLY need and what things you don't. I've made lots of tweaks and changes to my location independent travel packing list over the last couple of years, including some major ones at the end of last year. I think I've finally mastered the perfect pack, so I want to share what I've learned!

 

My location independent travel packing list below includes:

  • Backpack/Suitcase options. (I have lots of opinions on this).
  • Photography equipment (one of the most important things to get right for a traveler/blogger)
  • Electronics (everything you need as a digital nomad)
  • Women's clothing (balancing only the necessities with things that actually look good).
  • And other various things like collapsable water bottles.

I'm so excited that my location independent travel packing list finally feels complete! But of course technology and lifestyles are constantly changing things, so I'll continue to update this packing list as necessary!


Just a note that this page includes affiliate links (where I earn a small commission if you click through to purchase an item, at no additional cost to you). But I am only recommending items I use personally or have been recommended by trusted sources. And all sites below are places I shop with some of the best prices around! I really appreciate if you support the blog through these links. Hope this helps you come up with the best location independent travel packing list too. 🙂

Backpack or Suitcase: Location Independent Travel Packing List

Budget Backpack:

Ebags - TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

This is an updated Version of my first backpack. This bad boy lasted me for 2 full years of full time location independent travel.

This is a carry on size backpack, so is great for fast and easy travel. I have since upgraded to a bigger (non-carry on) size backpack because I travel full-time and want more stuff, but this is great for shorter trips, or more intense longterm backpacking.

Click on any of the images below to check them out!

Investment Backpack:

Osprey Farpoint 70L

I have heard so many raving reviews for this one from trusted travelers.

Rolling Suitcase:

Delsey Helium Aero 25" Expandable Spinner Trolley

If you're more of a rolling suitcase kind of person, here's an affordable option with great reviews.

 

And My Personal Favorite: A Backpack/Rolling Combo:

Osprey Meridian 75L

I just bought this backpack, rolling suitcase combo and I'm already loving it. I can fit toooons of stuff in it, but there are backpack straps that I can unzip and access if I'm walking a short distance over cobblestones or off-roading somewhere in Central America.

I think this is the best compromise for me right now as a full-time traveler that still wants to be adventurous sometimes (but also wear a cute outfit out in the city). I can fit all the things I need for my location independent travel packing list in this bag and the strap on day pack (where I store my electronics and valuables)

PRO TIP: Sign up for E-bags newsletter to get 25% off your first purchase. This takes this $380 suitcase down to $266. Amazing! And if you’ve already purchased from them, just use a different email. 🙂

Here's the link to the Osprey Meridian 75L on Ebags.com to save lots of $$$ (just sign up for the mailing list)!

Packing Cubes:

I just finally invested in some of these, and it's taken my organization to the next level. My bag is no longer exploding every time I need to find one item. Especially helpful when you're hopping between hotels every couple nights.

Protip from expert digital nomad, Andrea, over at Its a Travel OD - use empty plastic bed sheet cases - they are usually clear and are the same shape as packing cubes. Thanks Andrea!

Photography Equipment: Location Independent Packing List

Lightweight Mirrorless Camera:

Lumix DMC-G7

This is my main camera and I love the size to quality ratio. Traveling with a giant DSLR camera just wouldn't work for me. And if you're just starting out with photography, I don't recommend starting with an expensive DSLR anyway. You can get fantastic photos from a mirrorless camera.

It also makes life so much easier if you want to be discreet while doing some city photography like finding the best Instagram spots in Mexico City.

Click on any of the images below to check them out!

Camera Value Pack:

Lumix DMC-G7 + Extra Battery + Extra Lenses + Extra SD Card + Tripod and More

This is the value pack that I bought when I got my Lumix DMC-G7 camera and it was absolutely worth it.

The main parts that were immediately invaluable to me were the extra battery (I use almost every time I take my camera out for a full day), the extra SD card (which I also use all the time at the rate that i take photos), the extra lenses, the small flexible tripod (which is great to travel with because it's so small and versatile), the cleaning cloth/kit, and the UV filters for your lenses. It also comes with a few other items, but those have been the most handy to me.

Lots of small but important items for your location independent travel packing list.

SD Card:

64gb SD Card:

You should definitely have a couple of these lying around, and the larger gb options just make life easier.

Camera Case:

VanGoddy Laurel Carrying Case:

I have had this case for 1 1/2 years and it's served me well. I like that it's non-descript but still sleek. It also has extra pockets for the charger, cleaning cloth, extra battery, sd cards, etc.

Action/Underwater Camera:

Go Pro Hero 6:

This is the classic for adventure photography.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Budget Action/Underwater Camera:

Fitfort 4k:

This is the camera I just got because

  1. I'm sometimes cheap.
  2. I don't feel like I'll be using this a lot - mostly just for water/underwater photography when I go to the beach.

    So I did a bunch of research about GoPro alternatives and this one had the best reviews and seemed like the best fit for me. Will continue to update this as I use it more!

MicroSD Card 32GB:

This budget camera requires a microSD card. Here is a good option:

Handheld Stabilizer for Video:

DLC Video Stabilizer:

This is the stabilizer that I use and have traveled with for 1 1/2 years. It's great for shooting video with my mirrorless camera or a GoPro/Action Camera. It minimizes all the shakiness from your hand or walking around, and makes your videos 1000% more professional. Super important if you want to develop your photography/videography, but still small enough to fit in your location independent travel packing list.

Photo Editing Software:

Adobe Lightroom:

I can't say enough about Lightroom. It changed my photo game and is absolutely essential in my life now. Highly recommend buying the license outright. It's surprisingly affordable and will make all the difference in your photography. Plus it's software so it takes up 0 space in your location independent travel packing list. 🙂

Click on any of the images below to check them out!

Tip: You can get a monthly subscription for $9.99/mo as above, or buy the license outright for about $160. I recommend buying the license - it just make sense in the long run.

Adobe makes it kinda complicated to buy the license, so here is a link explaining how to do it:
https://helpx.adobe.com/creative-cloud/help/download-install-single-app-Lightroom-6.html

Adobe Photoshop:

For when you want to get deep into editing, or add those flock of birds in the sky. 🙂

A Color Story:

This iphone app kills it. It's really powerful and easy to export edited photos in seconds. Definitely a good app to have on hand.
https://acolorstory.com/

Electronics: Location Independent Packing List

Laptop:

Macbook Pro 13"

This is my baby, my prized possession. I couldn't do my daily life without it. And it's small and light enough to bring everywhere and easily fit in with your location independent travel packing list.

Click on any of the images below to check them out!

Laptop Sleeve:

To protect your most prized possession. 🙂

External Hard Drive:

Lacie 2TB Rugged External Hardrive:

This is essential to hold all my large photo and video files, since I only have a laptop. Also essential to back up all my important files.

Plus it feels indestructible - which is important for how much it bounces around in my suitcase.

Harddrive Case:

Case Logic Hard Drive Case:

Gotta protect that hard drive with all your important photos & docs!
The LaCie rugged hard drive above won't fit in this slim case (and you won't need it with the rubber LaCie casing), but if you have any other hard drives, be sure to protect them.

Headphones:

Shure SE112

My newest earbuds, recommended/purchased by my sound engineer husband.

I can suddenly hear during my video call meetings so much better!

Travel Speaker:

UE Roll Bluetooth Speaker:

This little guy is hardcore. You can float it in water, or throw it across the room and it'll be fine. And the sound quality is great. Just ask my picky sound engineer husband who picked it out.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Phone:

iPhone 8 64gb:

My other prized possesion. My iPhone 6 finally cracked, so I upgraded and noticed a huge difference in the camera quality, not to mention other new nice features.

Lightning Charger:

This charger gets your phone juiced up much, much faster. That way you can get some precious percentage points while sitting in a cafe for a few minutes before exploring the city more. Isn't that worth it?

Portable Charger:

Cheero Power Plus:

This is an item that I use several times a week, EVERY WEEK. It's proven to be one of my most useful items in my location independent travel packing list.

If you're out exploring the city all day long, are on a day-long tour, or a long bus ride, you'll be so glad you have this guy to recharge your phone to take more photos, or upload those Instagram posts when you're wandering a pretty city like Cusco.

Women’s Clothing: Location Independent Packing List

Shoes:

Walking Sandals:

Birkenstocks:

These are the most comfortable sandals ever. The end.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Sport Sandals:

Tevas:
The other comfortable sandal. But I'm not the kind of girl to wear these around the city. However, if I'm in a wet, tropical place (like jungley Santa Teresa, Costa Rica) - these feel essential. Perfect for hot weather hiking, spelunking in caves, walking around in tropical rainy season, etc.

Soft Ankle Boots:

These are my every day walking shoes (when I'm not in a hot, tropical climate). I prefer a soft upper (like suede) so that I can smash them in my suitcase and have more room. I've been smashing my current pair for 4 months and they still look great.

Since I'm a full-time longterm traveler, I'm no longer okay wearing backpacker-style worn out t-shirts and beat up sneakers. This means I want to have shoes that look decent, especially in the city. These are essential in my grown-up location independent travel packing list.

Flip-Flops:

For the beach, the suspicious shower, or the cold tile floor.

Running Shoes:

Nike Flex Trainer:

I don't travel with hiking shoes - they're too damn big and bulky. But a good solid pair of running shoes has done dual duty for me. I use them for running/exercise as well as hiking.

They've been so reliable they have served me well up and down on the Inca Trail, hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru at 16,000ft., as well as coastal hiking.

 

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Jackets:

Jean Jacket:

I travel with 3 light jackets. My jean jacket is my everyday, go-to.

Rain Jacket:

A rain jacket is essential. You will end up in downpours and be happy you have this.

Fleece Jacket:

Patagonia Zip Up Fleece Jacket:

This will keep you sooo warm.

Leggings:

What would I do without leggings? My life would be a lot different. And I would be cold.
For sleeping, working out, wearing under dresses in colder places (or for modesty in more conservative areas), hiking, etc, etc..

Jeans:

One pair should be enough for you to dress up or down.

T-shirts:

2 or 3 should do the trick. Versatile is best so you can wear them to bed, or wear them out with jeans and a cardigan.

Easy Dresses:

This is most of my wardrobe. Works for the beach, or the city by adding or taking away layers. 

Cardigan:

To throw on top of any t-shirt or dress for warmth. I prefer it to be black for versatility and something that can look dressed up (as opposed to a hoodie or fleece for casual circumstances).

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Button Ups:

Another versatile thing to throw on top of t-shirts and dresses. I sometimes wear one like a cardigan, or button it up and tie it at my waist. Great for the beach, in-between weather, or just adding layers for warmth.

If You're Going Somewhere Cold (Or Hiking/Camping:

Uniqlo Heattech T-shirt:

This somehow keeps you so much warmer. And it's so small. Perfect for layering and packing.

This was essential for my Peru adventures on the Short Inca Trail Hike /Machu Picchu + our epic Rainbow Mountain trek.

Socks:

I prefer lowcut and black so that they can blend in with my black leggings, and/or be the right length for inside my ankle boots.

Underwear:

This brand is comfy, durable and super affordable.

Soft Bras/Sports Bras:

Cause sometimes you don't want to go braless in a shared hotel/hostel room, but still want to be comfortable. Also, I just hate underwires and think these are cute.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Scarf/Beach Blanket/Sarong Combo:

I was gifted a large square geometric print cotton scarf when I started traveling full-time, and it's been one of the most versatile and well used items I've traveled with for the last 2+ years!

I wear it as a scarf in the city and colder climates, as a beach towel at the beach, as a sarong at the beach, as a picnic blanket in the park, etc.. Plus it's beautiful!

I would suggest a cotton woven scarf (rather than wool or knit) so it can be used in warm or cold weather, and will be durable as a beach blanket as well. A large square or round shape works best so that it's large enough to sit on or wrap around your body as a sarong.

Bathing Suit:

Cupshe - Cheap and Cute!

I love this cute suit and find it super flattering! It's also a $$ steal.

Women’s Toiletries: Location Independent Packing List

Toiletry Case:

SpacePak Toiletry Bag Plus Pouch:

My husband gave this to me as a present about 3 years ago and it's become one of my most important packing tools in my location independent travel packing list. The toiletry case fits a TON of stuff and has lots of compartments. I can separate my shower stuff, from the rest of my toiletries, from my first aid kit, and even a big zip in the back for all my jewelry.

It also has a hook to hang! So convenient for cramped hotel bathrooms.

It's been used and abused for 2 years. It's still in perfect condition and washes easily.

There is also a second pouch that comes with it. I used it for my underwear for a long time before I bought actual packing cubes. Now i use it to hold all my computer cords, phone charger, earbuds, etc.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Menstruation Game Changer:

The Diva Cup:

This cup changed my life. Why?

  1. I no longer need to insert chemical filled cotton into my body.
  2. It saves me tons of money on feminine products. You can use one diva cup up to 2 years.
  3. It save me from hunting down tampons in countries where they are very uncommon.
  4. You only have to remove and clean the cup twice a day - saves tons of time and bathroom runs.

I love this for travel and for life. I think everyone should try it out.

Get the Model 1 if you are under 30 and haven’t had a child.

Travel Size Reusable Shampoo/Conditioner/Lotion Set:

Kitdine Portable Soft Silicone Travel Bottles:

Cause you're not gonna carry around lots of giant shampoo, conditioner, etc bottles, right?

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Travel Size Hair Dryer:

Conair Vagabond:

I actually didn't travel with a hairdryer for over a year, mostly cause I'm lazy and put almost 0 time into my hair.

But then I cut bangs, and need to dry them so they don't look curly and crazy. Plus it's nice to have if I take a shower and don't want to go out with soaking hair.

Various: Location Independent Packing List

Reusable Water Bottle:

Saves so much plastic. Plus essential for hikes. This two pack means you can give one to your partner or friend.

Click any of the images below to check them out!

Yoga Mat:

This is essential for me to be sure I can practice wherever I am. As long as I have my mat, I can find any space to do Yoga in whatever hotel/Airbnb I happen to be in. These mats are also great for HIIT or other cardio. I prefer thinner mats so that they aren't so bulky for travel. Also great to have if you decide to try out a Costa Rica yoga retreat.

I've realized it's super important for me to prioritize exercise in my location independent travel packing list, and this is the best way for me to do that.

The only tricky thing is traveling with them on flights. I have a soft backpack from Peru that has a drawstring top. I can put my mat in that soft bag and tie the drawstring as tight as it'll go along the top so it doesn't move. I've never yet had a problem bringing this on as a carry on.

Or you can just carry it on it's own with a strap or mesh, but it will count as 1 carry on. A drawstring backpack will give you a little extra space.

And that's it! My perfected location independent travel packing list from 2+ years of constant full-time travel. I hope my trial and error can help save people time and money!

Do you have any other items that you can't live without on the road?

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10 Responses

  1. Johnny Morgan
    | Reply

    Nice list, Suz!

  2. Juliann
    | Reply

    I really need to try these packing cubes! For exactly the reason you state: I look for one item and the whole suitcase is a mess. I also need to remember to pack sarongs. Very handy. And scarves. Great tips!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      I can’t believe it took me 2 years to finally get packing cubes! I can see how valuable they are right away – and so great for fast travel when you just want to remove a couple things from your bag before heading on to the next place.

  3. Jenn and Ed Coleman
    | Reply

    We took our Osprey pack to Sri Lanka but are really considering getting something like your rolling combo. We love our Osprey for trails, but the geometry is just a little difficult for pure travel. Having a square luggage area will have considerably more internal volume and accessibility for our stuff. It always seems like we need to unpack the entire bag because something we needed was stuck at the bottom.

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      I totally know what you mean! I don’t think any backpack/suitcase is 100% perfect for every single situation, but I’m really liking the versatility of my Osprey Meridian combo so far. I’d prefer to keep my bag off my back now, except for when I really need to. But it’s nice to know that if I want to hop on a boat and traipse across an island without roads, I can throw it on my back for short distances. And it carries so much!

  4. Jen
    | Reply

    This is such a great list! I love the idea of packing cubes. Have you had any problems with that carry on rolling suitcase while traveling internationally? That’s always my hardest piece to get right.

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Yes, packing cubes are amazing for organization!
      My rolling suitcase/backpack combo is not carry on size. I made the decision to upgrade to a larger bag since I travel full-time and got tired of only having so few things. But the first backpack on the list is definitely carry on – I traveled with an older version of that one full-time for 2 years and never had any problems taking that as a carry on in flights.

  5. Efi
    | Reply

    This is the third time someone mentioned Adobe Lightroom. I have to give it a try! Thanks for the useful list!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Lightroom really upped my photo game more than anything else I did – even upgrading to better cameras. I highly recommend it! It’s been amazing for me. And glad you found the list useful! 🙂

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