Your life in a suitcase: 4 ideas on how to pack when moving to a new country

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Packing is a big part of a digital nomad’s life, the most annoying one for me. I’m about to move to Bali and here I go again: I have everything in my head but just hate putting it into the suitcase and will wait to do it last minute.

Talking to some fellows digital nomads I found out that everyone has their own ideas on how to pack when moving to a new country.

I could divide them into 4 categories. Have fun placing yourself.

You never know

how to pack when moving

I used to be in this category but had to find a more efficient way. I need to be able to carry everything myself in case there is no trolley or I don’t have the right currency to pay for it.

People in this category have a lot of stuff and want to take as much as they can in more than 2 checked bags. They also leave a lot behind, usually at their parents’ place. Don’t assume it’s just girls, I know a couple of guys who take more than I do…

When they pack they’d typically say: “you never know” to sort of feel better for how much they’re taking. At the airport they need someone to help them carrying all their luggage.

The good thing is: they have the perfectly matching shoes for every outfit. The downside: they might end up paying a lot for extra luggage or overweight.

The delegators

how to pack when moving

Similar to the “you never know”, people in this category are actually very smart. They travel with a small bag, but ship the rest from home.

They have all the advantages of bringing everything, but don’t need a sherpa at the airport. Plus, cargo shipping is cheaper than getting extra luggage or paying for overweight.

The downside: they need to have an address in the new country where to ship everything.

They also have to pack some days in advance in order to get their stuff as soon as they are there.

Less is more

how to pack when moving

At the other opposite you have the minimal and super efficient ones. I honestly admire those people for how organized and simple they live.

They say that everything important they have can fit in a suitcase. They would typically buy the rest and sell it when they have to move.

Another aspect I find very interesting is that they don’t leave anything at their parents’ or someone else’s place. They have already sold or given away what they had before becoming digital nomads and just don’t have more stuff.

Besides being able to travel lighter, the other big advantage is that they take only the many things which are most meaningful. When you accumulate a lot of stuff, it’s much harder to care about the few wonderful things you want to keep around. That’s not a problem for the minimalist traveller.

The downside: what if the ambassador of their country invites them for a gala at the embassy and they don’t have proper cloths? They’d actually answer: “I don’t get those type of invitations that often, in case I’ll improvise”.  

The golden mean

how to pack when moving

It took me years but I finally found my ultimate packing style: take the most you can but optimize it for a solo traveller. I would say this is somewhere in between the 2 extremes.

Even though I live around the world, I love my stuff and especially my clothes and shoes. I don’t wanna be in the situation where I am wearing an outfit that would match that specific shoes and realize I don’t have them with me. I know, you can buy everything everywhere but you still wanna use what you want when you want.

So, I take the most I can and put it in one huge suitcase. This is super efficient for a person travelling solo. After all I only have 2 hands…

The downside? The big suitcase is always overweight. And the same scene repeats over and over again: I put the bag on the check-in scale and the employee at the counter usually looks at me and feeling very sorry says: “Miss, I’m afraid it’s too heavy”. And I smile and answer: “ I know, but I had no other option” and pay, actually happy that they would still accept it on the plane.  


Could you find yourself? Tag your nomad friends and let me know what is your secret on how to pack when moving to a new country!