3 Bags, 1 Year, 75 Items – How I Packed for Remote Year

Remote Year is a program that brings 75 Digital Nomads together to travel the world for a year. To prep, I had to figure out what to pack. Reducing all your material possessions to a few bags is not easy. I ended up with 3 bags containing approximately 75 items. Total value: $6,988.

Here’s everything that I packed:

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Here’s a breakdown of the monetary value of all the items I own:


Here’s how I packed:

First, I piled all the possible items I wanted to pack in my living room carpet. Second, I separated everything into 2 categories: must-have and nice-to-have.

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Finally, I packed everything into 3 bags. For items that didn’t fit, I held a Spontaneous White Elephant Party (SWEP) and gave it away.

Here’s a picture of everything in 3 bags. All the must-have items are in the 2 carry-ons on the right and all the nice-to-have items are in the large hiking backpack on the left.


Here are 3 strategies that I followed:

1. All must-have items must fit in carry on bags. These are items that will heavily impact me personally, financially, and legally if I lose them in a checked bag.

Here are some must-have items:

  • Work must-have items (laptop, camera, headphones, passport)
  • Personal must-have items (soccer cleats, deck of cards, clothes)

Most of my nice-to-have items are items add an extra “spark of joy” and “luxury” to my Digital Nomad lifestyle. For more info on how to decide which items will give you a “spark of joy,” check out Marie Kondo’s talk on “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

In other words. If I lose the nice-to-have items, it’s not a big deal. But if I had it, it makes my life a tiny bit better.

2. Items will get picked by their frequency of use, no matter how silly they are.

Buckwheat pillows are awesome. I’ve always slept on them. I packed it as one of my nice-to-have items since I use it every night. Breakfast is awesome. It’s part of my morning routine. I packed a German egg kit and a tea set for two of my nice-to-have items since I use it every morning.

I use the German egg kit and tea set to make this every morning:IMG_9079.JPG

3. Add redundancy. A year is a long time. You never know what’s going to break / get lost / get stolen. For all the hard to replace must-have items, I brought an extra set. This meant 2 laptops, 2 chargers, 2 plug adapters. Redundancy also means dividing your clothes amongst your bags. Two of my fellow classmates temporary lost their checked bags to the airline Gods. Both of them also had all their clothes in their checked bags. They ended up having to wear the same shirts / pants / underwear for 3 days. If I lost my check in, I would have only lost half of my clothes.  Redundancy also allowed to share my gear with others. One of my classmates left his laptop charger. I lent him an extra one.

Other constraints that helped me decide how much to pack:

  1. I packed my bags under the weight limit of what airlines allowed. The total weight limit on most flights is 30kg (66 lbs), but can be as low as 20kg (44 lbs) on some airlines. I didn’t want to pay the overage fees and made sure my bags were under.
  2. I had to be able to walk with my bags. Our stellar community managers gave us this suggestion: “As long as you can carry all your bags through an airport and for a short walk through a city, you will be golden.” I used this as my north star.


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