What’s in my pack?

Good nomads travel light. We might live in a time where our car-sized suitcases have spinner wheels attached, but the earliest human travelers understood that moving quickly and freely is what mattered most . . . . and they packed accordingly. As a modern-day nomad, I try to follow their example and underlying concept: Take what you need, leave the rest behind.

With every journey I embark upon, I learn new approaches to traveling light and efficiently, while still making sure that I have everything I need and close at hand so that I can report my travels in a speedy and digital fashion. That means being able to set up and dismantle my portable office within minutes.

Readers often ask me what kind of gear I carry and what it is I’m working with at any given time, so I am finally showing you here. When I dump out all the contents of my backpack on the floor, this is what it looks like — See? I have no secrets! All the items pictured above (and listed below) make up the gear that I am traveling with right this very minute.

Obviously, I also travel with some clothes and shoes (1 or 2 pairs) which I pack in a small carry-on suitcase. As a principle, I travel carry-on only, be it only for two days or two months. Some of the world’s most exciting and far-flung destinations also have the most stringent luggage limitations, and I never like to be limited.

Of course, you don’t really need all this stuff to be a good digital nomad. A passport and a half-decent smart phone is enough to see,  save and share most of the world around you. But all these extras help me do my job in one way or another, so here it is:

My very trusty backpack.


  1. Monica
    August 29, 2011, 7:49 am

    I’d say you were fully loaded and ready for anything! Thanks for showing us your mobile office. I’m sure your selections have come about with much thought and maybe even some trial & error. I’m impressed, actually. 🙂 Traveling mercies Andrew! God bless.

  2. Where’s Andrew? – Intelligent Travel
    August 29, 2011, 11:57 am

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  3. Lorraine LeBlanc
    August 29, 2011, 12:39 pm

    Je suis bien contente de voir le drapeau acadien dans ce sac. Bon voyage

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    August 29, 2011, 3:01 pm

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  6. Ken
    August 29, 2011, 3:05 pm

    I thought that you carried a Satellite phone for transmitting pictures and reports when away from WI Fi connection.

    Also would have thought you carried a GPS, but perhaps one of your other phones has this capability.

  7. Adam
    August 29, 2011, 4:13 pm

    “Good nomads travel light.”

    This is not what I would consider light 😛

  8. […] Good nomads travel light: See what’s in our Digital Nomad’s pack. […]

  9. Chris G
    August 30, 2011, 12:23 am

    Seems a tad excessive – especially all the Apple products (did you miss any?). I’m sure you’ve got plenty of insurance and as a National Geographic reporter/photographer, you probably use everything, but when the total value of your backpack probably exceeds the per capita GNP of half the countries in the world, the awe-factor of locals turns to envy very quickly.

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  11. Laura
    March 4, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Andy, so enjoyed following you across Mexico these past weeks and seeing how you pack your gear is super helpful. It’s also amazing you shoot beautiful pictures without another bag of gear! So here’s my question: what about your toiletries? (this is probably important only to me because I’m shampoo/soap/lotion obsessed)

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