How to Be a Minimalist Packing Queen

How to Be a Minimalist Packing Queen

If you’re going on your first trip overseas as a digital nomad, I’ll be glad to help you how to be a minimalist packing queen.

I’ve been location-independent for more than a decade. And modesty aside, I’ve mastered the art of packing lightly. Of course, I sometimes wish I had brought something I didn’t. But those moments are rare.

A good rule of thumb on how to be a minimalist packing queen is this:

Stuffing your suitcase until you have to sit on them to get the zipper closed isn’t the best way of packing for nine months abroad.

You must be more selective about what you bring to maximize your luggage space.

Mindful purchases will add to your trip’s fun and help your finances in the long run. And that’s crucial if your travel plans include hiking Mount Kinabalu or doing the famous Singapore pub crawl.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission (at no additional cost) when you purchase through these links.

What Should I Pack for a 9-Month Trip?

I learned how to be a minimalist packing queen when I realized I only needed a few things for long-term travel. Before leaving on that long trip, ensure you have these things on your packing list.

1. Ultra Lightweight Luggage

Anything can go wrong on a trip abroad, from ensuring your passport is valid to dealing with unexpected delays. The last thing you must worry about is a suitcase inadequate for international travel.

Your luggage must adhere to standard international travel requirements, so a suitcase letdown won’t catch you off guard once you’ve reached the airport. But it also should be light so you won’t have to hurt your arms as you lug it around.

My pick:

Delsey’s lightest luggage range ever, weighing only 5.3lbs for stylish, easy travel; Winner of the 2020 Red Dot Design Award.

Even if you already know how to be a minimalist packing queen, without a trusty, lightweight suitcase, you’d still hurt your arms carrying all your belongings.

The Delsey Paris Clavel is one of the lightest suitcases, weighing only 5.3 pounds. It’s portable and convenient, measuring just 19 inches. It should fit comfortably in any overhead compartment, making it perfect for packing for 9 months abroad.

However, despite its diminutive appearance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much clothing you can pack in this carry-on. You’ll appreciate the shoe compartments, tie-down straps, and a couple of main compartments split by a zippered divider.

The polypropylene (thermoplastic) shell gives it a rigid exterior that looks sleek and sophisticated. You don’t have to stick with black, gray, or navy for your luggage; instead, you can make a statement with a bright color or go for something that will stand out more quickly in the baggage claim.

The four-wheel spinner design makes it easy to steer and roll over uneven surfaces like carpeting and cracks in the pavement. The handle is a bit too short and flimsy, which is a notable flaw. 

2. Digital Nomad Tech and Travel Backpack

Finding a game-changing bag in a market flooded with options is no easy feat. There are travel backpacks ranging from under $50 to several hundred dollars.

When packing for 9 months abroad, a good backpack will be your best friend in terms of convenience and organization. Carrying this instead of a heavy handbag, duffel bag, or briefcase is much easier on the neck and shoulders.

My top choice for digital nomad tech and travel backpack is:

Opens up 180 degrees to breeze through security checkpoints that accept Checkpoint Friendly bags.

The Everki Business 120 backpack is excellent for extended travel. It’s ergonomic and sturdy.

The bag has numerous large storage spaces, but that isn’t its most innovative feature. It includes convenient features like easily accessible pockets, slots, and buckles for quick adjustments on the fly.

The main compartment features large, partitioned spaces ideal for keeping cables and adapters apart from paper documents and electronics. And even an enormous 18.4-inch laptop will have plenty of room in the bag’s dedicated laptop compartment. 

While the front pouch can hold business cards, pens, calculators, or other accessories, the tablet pocket has a felt lining to keep your iPad or Kindle safe. A media pocket with soft and scratch-free lining protects your portable media device. You can find the cable outlet at shoulder height. Pretty convenient.

I’m a bit paranoid, so I always pick bags that keep my belongings secure. I love the included waterproof cover to keep tech gear safe from rain. Large metal zippers with built-in lock holes ensure that your belongings remain secure. 

Reddit user says this about the Everki Business 120 Backpack: “Robust as fuck, never broken on me (not even the zippers), massive space, excellent divisions/subdivisions between pockets. I’ve literally never had a better backpack in my life.” I couldn’t have said it better.

3. Packable Daypack

Another lesson in how to be a minimalist packing queen? Choose collapsible items.

A packable daypack is necessary when packing for 9 months abroad, especially if you love hiking or weekend getaways. I prefer one that I can stash into my suitcase. They are convenient when I need an extra bag, like when hunting down Georgetown murals. 

Daypacks are ideal for digital nomads because they can carry everything from a laptop to a change of clothes. The list of potential uses is endless: getting to and from the cafe for work, running errands, going on a short hike on the weekend, etc. 

My top pick:

Airmesh harness provides comfortable carry anywhere in the world.

The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack is as innovative as its name suggests. You can fold this 18-liter tote and store it in its carrying case, which is no bigger than an apple.

The backpack’s Deluxe AirMesh™ harness makes it unusually comfortable to carry for a pack of this size. And because the fabric and seams are fully waterproof, you won’t get wet in the rain, whether it’s a light mist or a sudden downpour.

Aiming for convenience and order, Osprey has provided convenient storage options like a zippered pocket, a hidden pocket, and a stretchy side pocket. 

It has everything you need in a daypack without being cumbersome or taking up too much room in your suitcase.

4. Waterproof Laptop Sleeve

A laptop sleeve can prevent an expensive laptop from hitting the floor should you accidentally drop it, scuff it, or spill something on it.

My pick:

Military-Grade Protection: Based on the patented CornerArmor technology and High resilience edges design, the bag has passed the Military-Standard-Drop-Test in Sep 2020, and also it’s the first bag with this feature.

The Tomtoc-360 Laptop Sleeve has it all covered. It has a minimalistic design that is both elegant and functional. It’s water- and wear-resistant and features corner padding to protect against drops and bumps.

A front zipper pocket provides additional space for your phone charger and other small accessories, which you can quickly access thanks to its simple zipper closure. 

5. Travel Medical Kit

If you forget your prescription medicines and first aid items, you haven’t mastered how to be a minimalist packing queen.

Getting medical attention while abroad can be difficult in some regions. So, it is wise to pack a first aid kit. A quality first aid kit can help you take care of minor injuries and illnesses on your own, saving you the hassle and risk of purchasing questionable medication while traveling.

ust enough to hold emergency necessities for your personal first aid kit.

Compact, lightweight, and convenient, this first aid kit from Homestockplus is ideal for travel. It’s adequate for carrying the components of a basic first aid kit in a time of need. It doesn’t require much room in your bag. 

This first aid kit will last a long time thanks to the high-quality EVA case and zipper design. 

6. Laptop Power Bank

It’s already tough to get things done on the road, even more so when your laptop battery is on its last legs. With a high-capacity power bank, you won’t have to worry about running out of juice or being stranded without access to an outlet.

A laptop power bank keeps you from missing a deadline, whether in the middle of a camping trip or trying to charge your phone during a blackout.

Ultra-Powerful Two-Way Charging: Equipped with the latest Power Delivery 3.1 and bi-directional technology to quickly recharge the portable charger or get a 140W ultra-powerful charge.

Anker PowerCore 24K is a portable charger that you can fast charge at 140W. You can use the charger’s large 24,000mAh battery to power various electronic devices. If you’re using the MagSafe to USB-C cable, this power bank can charge a 16-inch MacBook Pro to 50% in 40 minutes.

The new Power Delivery 3.1 specification built into the PowerCore allows it to deliver more power than ever through a single USB-C port. Two USB-C ports on Anker’s new power bank can provide 140 watts of power each, and the other USB-A port can deliver 18 watts.

Anker’s PowerCore products have the high-powered GaN 3-based “GaNPrime” features. GaNPrime chargers are smaller but boast increased power output and accurate temperature monitoring in addition to improved AC-to-DC conversion efficiency.

6. Ebook Reader

Books are a great way to educate yourself about the histories and cultures of the places you visit. In addition, they can help pass the time when you’re waiting for a flight. A good book is an excellent travel companion.

Since books would take up too much when packing for 9 months abroad, I recommend getting an ebook reader instead.

My top pick:

More books in more places – Store thousands of titles, then take them all with you. A single charge via USB-C last weeks, not hours.

Amazon’s waterproof Kindle Paperwhite comes in three updated models: the standard, Signature, and Paperwhite Kids versions. The displays on all three are 6.8 inches in size, and they all have warm white lighting that you can adjust to mimic actual book pages. The regular Paperwhite and the children’s edition have 8 GB of storage, while the Signature has 32 GB.

While the newer generation’s display is undeniably superior, the software upgrade that allows for fast page turns, menu switching, and library browsing is where this edition shines. The USB-C charging port is also a notable plus. The Signature model offers wireless charging, an automatically adjusting front light, and additional storage; however, the standard model will satisfy your needs.

7. Travel Adapter

A high-quality international power adapter is part of my list for packing for 9 months abroad. It ensures the safe charging of electronic devices wherever your feet lead you.

The World Travel Adapter Kit includes a set of seven AC plugs with prongs that fit different electrical outlets worldwide.

I’m an Apple user, and I’m aware they’re pricey. So I want to ensure my gadgets stay alive as long as possible. If you only use Apple products, the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit is something you need to have. The kit’s all-white Apple aesthetic will go great with your other gadgets. It comes with attachments and converters that will work in North America, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, and Brazil.

Travel Design: Compact size (6x3x1.57 inches) with 5 foot detachable power cable makes this power converter easy to pack and take anywhere you go.

You can use this universal travel adapter to recharge a laptop or power bank. Use the included extension cord to use the universal adapter and converter. Or, remove the cable to use the device as a wall plug-in small enough to fit in the space between your hotel bed and nightstand. 

The four USB ports and three AC sockets allow for simultaneous charging of up to seven devices, and the set is compatible with more than 150 countries (including the EU, the US, the UK, and Australia). This adapter is great for smaller electronics that can handle up to 220V, but it won’t work with higher-energy appliances like hair dryers.

8. Bluetooth Tracker

Consider a Bluetooth tracking device if you need a no-frills method to keep track of your bags while traveling. Mini Bluetooth trackers are ideal for localized tracking. Typically, their range is between 400 and 800 feet, but this will vary depending on your device. 

If you’re waiting at the airport’s baggage carousel and your bags still haven’t shown up, you’ll be glad you have a Bluetooth tracker. It could still be on the plane or the next item to roll off the conveyor belt. You can use Bluetooth to pinpoint its precise location if it’s nearby.

My Pick:

Keep track of and find your items alongside friends and devices in the Find My app

Apple’s AirTag is the best way to keep track of your belongings if you have an iPhone. There are two main reasons why I prefer this tracker to others on the market: 

  • With the help of Apple’s extensive network of devices, the AirTag can identify the general area where you left your luggage.
  • Precise tracking aids in homing in on the accurate location.

Because of these two characteristics, the AirTag is superior to other Bluetooth tracking systems in helping you locate your lost item.

Tile Mate and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag are two Android-friendly alternatives that serve a similar purpose.

9. Swiss Army Pocket Knife

After learning how to be a minimalist packing queen, you’ll need to learn how to be self-reliant. And it’s true especially if you’re a solo traveler.

A Swiss Army knife is not merely a camping accessory. There are countless situations in which it would come in handy. There have been innumerable occasions on which I was glad to have it on hand.

It’s impossible to overstate how valuable a Swiss Army Knife is.

Bring this knife with you on your daily adventures without sacrificing space. It makes a great gift for any occasion or stocking stuffer for Christmas.

The impressive Victorinox Classic SD 7 Function Pocket Knife is a compact and portable item with up to seven functions, including a Phillips head screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, and a can opener. You can keep it in a pocket or backpack, and it comes in handy whether you’re camping, backpacking, or needing an emergency tool for small DIY chores.

10. Lightweight Packable Rain Jacket

You might get forced to cough up some serious cash for a cheap umbrella from a roadside stand during an unexpected downpour. Instead of buying low-quality rain gear that won’t even last the duration of your trip, you should always pack a high-quality rain jacket to keep you dry in rough weather.

My pick:

2-way zipper for freedom of movement and full length windflap for protection from the elements

This rain jacket has all the desirable qualities: comfort, lightweight design, and style. The adjustable cuffs, hood, and zippered side pockets will keep your belongings dry, and the reflective trim on the front and back will ensure your safety in the dark and heavy rain. 

This jacket is water- and wind-resistant and features heat-sealed seams and mesh underarm vents to keep you from getting too hot. Charles River Apparel made the coat more versatile by installing a two-way zipper in the front. 

You can pick from 26 colors and prints, like matte mauve, shimmering champagne, and a festive floral pattern perfect for spring.

11. RFID-Safe Neck Wallet

It’s best to be mindful of security issues when traveling, especially if you plan to visit a city with many tourists. Concerns about Radio-frequency identification (RFID) theft have been the subject of much discussion amongst travelers. RFID crime involves the remote scanning and theft of sensitive personal and financial data from credit or debit cards and passports. 

Everyone agrees that RFID crimes are uncommon, but it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions. It’s still better to err on the side of caution, especially when traveling.

PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY – Keeps cash and important cards and documents close; RFID Blocking Material helps protect against identity and credit card hacker scanning. Enjoy protection from unauthorized transactions, and travel with peace of mind.

RFID microchips embedded in common forms of identification and travel documents store private data that an RFID reader can scan from a distance of up to 10 feet. 

If you’re concerned about identity theft while traveling, the RFIDsafe V150 anti-theft RFID blocking compact passport wallet from Pacsafe is an excellent choice. 

The RFIDsafe V150 from Pacsafe blocks transmission of this data at frequencies between 10MHz and 3GHz thanks to award-winning RFIDsafe blocking material. Wrapping the sturdy Dyneema webbing strap around your wrist or fastening it to the inside of your bag provides an extra line of defense against thieves. 

The RFIDsafe V150 has several compartments for your items, including a slip pocket for your boarding pass, six card slots, and a zippered compartment for your notes. 

12. Water Bottle with Built-In Filter

No one learns how to be a minimalist packing queen when dehydrated! 😅

Hydration is crucial for good health and clear thinking.

Bringing a hydration bottle when traveling is always a good idea to ensure you have access to clean drinking water. For added peace of mind about the safety of the water you drink while traveling, you can invest in a water bottle with a built-in filter.

My pick:

This versatile water bottle not only helps providing healthy, drinkable water in harsh outdoor conditions, but will help you to find direction using the built-in compass on the top.

This water bottle has an internal filter of coconut shell-activated carbon, a medical-grade hollow fiber UF membrane, antimicrobial beads, and PP cotton. These features eliminate bad tastes and odors, chlorine and other chemical contaminants, and 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoan parasites. 

It is a must-have item for those traveling in areas without reliable access to potable water. The bottle cap has a survival compass, a handy feature ideal for camping, hiking, backpacking, and travel.

13. Basic Toiletries

Basic toiletries include oral care items like a toothbrush and toothpaste, hygiene products like deodorant, soap, shampoo, and a razor. It would be best if you pack your toiletries in TSA-approved travel bottles and containers.

14. Lotions and Skincare Products

Moisturizers, sunscreens, and body creams are essential items to pack on a long trip. Pack your preferred skin care products in small containers. Your carry-on liquids, aerosols, gels, and creams, must not exceed 3.4 ounces and must fit into a single quart-sized bag.

15. Clothing

You won’t need to bring more than a week’s worth of clothes. But make sure to pack:

  • Ten tops (shirts, blouses, tank tops)
  • Eight bottoms (long and short pants, skirts)
  • Two dresses (one plain, one printed)
  • One swimwear
  • A week’s worth of underwear and socks
  • Two pairs of footwear (sneakers and sandals)

How Do You Travel with Minimum Clothes?

Digital nomads often stay more than a week in one place. Usually, you’ll find laundry facilities at your extended-stay hotel. Just avoid clothing that needs ironing or washing by hand. 

Below, I list some clothing items you’ll want to invest in if you want to master how to become a minimalist packing queen.

Learn How to Make a Minimalist Travel Wardrobe so picking clothes for your next long-term travel will be a breeze.

16. Transitional Dress

Clothing items to include when packing for 9 months abroad must be multipurpose. A transitional dress fits the bill.

Transitional dresses can “transition” from one season to another or from more casual to semi-formal settings. 

Attending a wedding might not be on your to-do list abroad, but who knows where fate might take you, right? So, pack an easy-to-pack slip dress that doesn’t cost much. You can dress it up with heels for a special occasion and down with a short-sleeved tee and canvas sneakers.

My Pick:

A lightweight silky lingerie-inspired style with a hint of stretch and a body-skimming fit. Dress it up or wear with sneakers for a versatile look. Side slits and adjustable straps, midi-length silhouette.

This $50 The Drop Ana Silky V-Neck Midi Slip Dress is available in several colors, including red, pink, black, and blue. I love it in red. 

17. Running Sneakers

Good exercise should be a part of your routine wherever you are in the world. So I always bring a trusty pair of running shoes because running is the only workout I enjoy.

My pick:

CUSHIONED MIDSOLE: Cloudfoam midsole for step-in comfort and superior cushioning

I always pack light, but I also make sure I have a pair of shoes that would work for both running and getting around airports, city streets, and country roads.

If you’re the same, I suggest packing these clean white Adidas sneakers that will go with every outfit in your suitcase.

Your casual attire can now include the sporty flair of running shoes thanks to the Adidas Women’s Racer Tr21.

You can go about your day with complete confidence thanks to the snug fit and lightweight midsole that provides continuous cushioning for your feet.

It contains Primegreen recycled materials, perfect for those who aim to live more sustainably as a digital nomad.

18. Travel Towel

Before learning how to be a minimalist packing queen, I didn’t think it was necessary to bring a towel. I expected always to be staying in accommodations that supplied towels.

As I began traveling more, however, I frequently encountered scenarios where having one would have been useful. Travel towels can serve as pillows, blankets, or beach towels.

Even though a soft, absorbent bath towel is lovely, it has no place on a suitcase; instead, you need a lightweight, compact travel towel. Find one that doesn’t skimp on comfort or style without sacrificing drying time, compact size, or resistance to odor. 

My pick:

Quick-drying microfiber towel for camp, beach, sport, and travel

The PackTowl Personal towel dries quickly and folds into a compact, airy pouch.

The body size is suitable for wrapping around most people and is exceptionally comfortable to wear. This towel absorbs a lot of water, and the material keeps dirt away.

Additionally, you can quickly shake the beach sand off the towel’s surface, leaving it clean even after repeated uses. The antibacterial treatment aids in odor prevention. 

19. Sun Protection Hat

Wearing a good sun hat will shield your face, nose, head, neck, and ears from harmful UV rays. The skin is thinner there, so picking a hat that can cover those areas is crucial. When packing for nine months abroad, having a hat that won’t flatten out when stuffed into your suitcase is essential.

It will shield you from the sun’s rays while complementing any outfit you wear on your vagabond adventures.

This adorable little bucket hat may immediately give you out as a tourist, but you can’t resist its retro good looks, durable canvas construction, and packability.

20. Lightweight Travel Wrap

One of my favorite travel hacks is carrying a travel wrap that can double as a blanket. We’ve all experienced flights where the air felt colder than the Arctic Circle, and we know that the short airplane blankets don’t do much to combat the chill.

My pick:

Fully reversible, you can choose to display the dark side or the light color side, Different exquisite patterns on both sidesor you can play with your folding methods or twist to display both complimentary color patterns.

This bright, ultra-warm scarf/blanket combo is a lifesaver, regardless of your destination. It’s fully reversible; you can show off the dark or light side.

21. Personal Security Umbrella

Taking all the precautions when going out on your own is important. Be prepared for any eventuality by bringing along a GPS tracker, a whistle, pepper spray, and a Swiss Army knife for personal protection. Additionally, pick an umbrella that’s sturdy enough to defend yourself against attackers.

My pick:

Heavy Duty Umbrella Stands Up to All Weather: Engineered for battle. No matter how much rain, snow, or sunshine Mother Nature throws at you, this unbreakable travel umbrella’s 9 reinforced fiberglass ribs hold up against the elements.


What are Some Packing Tips for Long-Term Travel?

Packing your belongings into a suitcase can be a major pain. Here are my packing tips for nine months abroad:

✅ When in doubt, prioritize ease over appearance. Wearing black and neutrals makes pairing pieces and concealing any stains simple. 
✅ Roll garments to save space and avoid wrinkles.
✅ Consider bringing a travel iron if you have items that require ironing.
✅ To protect delicate items, slip them into your shoes. Inserting socks into footwear is another option.
✅ Make sure your toiletry bottles don’t spring any leaks. Remove the tops, cover the openings with plastic wrap, and then reattach the tops.
✅ If you want your clothes to smell lovely after a long trip, throw a dryer sheet at the bottom of your suitcase.

What size backpack should I get?

Shorter weekend trips call for packs of 25-30 liters, while longer trips and extended travel require 30-45 liters.

But I think once you know how to be a minimalist packing queen, you’ll find that a 30-liter backpack is enough for long-term travels.

What backpack brand is best for digital nomads?

The best backpack brand for digital nomads is Pacsafe. We rely on our tech gadgets for work. So, digital nomads need a backpack brand that offers excellent anti-theft technology. Pacsafe presents lots of choices in this area, but some prefer Osprey.

An Everki Business 120 Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpackis also a fantastic option.

Do I need a smaller daypack too?

Carrying a smaller daypack is your choice, depending on your work or how you are as a traveler. A packable daypack like the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Packis a must if you like hiking. But if you prefer exploring the cities, you might want to bring a tote bag instead.

I think you’ll find this out for yourself once you’ve traveled several times. One thing I learned about how to be a minimalist packing queen? No two digital nomads are the same. You find out your needs along the way.

With these tips, you can prepare for a successful trip with careful planning and packing for 9 months abroad.

You can finally become a digital nomad. You’re embarking on a long-term journey worldwide while maintaining your remote job. You can finally see all the places on your list.

Once you have tried long-term travel, you’ll find more lessons on how to be a minimalist packing queen. Please share your travel hacks and digital nomad stories in the comments.

Safe travels!