Nomadic software developer packing list

When I first started traveling, my packing list was as basic as it could get. Just my carry-on and a backpack. My “office” consisted of my laptop and no more.

After doing this for awhile, I noticed that I was starting to feel all sorts of pain on my body, especially my back and my neck area. So I upgraded my travel gear so that I could fit all of my daily necessities while still being mobile as possible. Below are the things that I carry with me when I move to new locations. I’ll try to keep the list to things that may pertain specifically to software developers.

Also, just as a disclaimer, the links below are affiliate links. So if you buy these products with those links, it would help me out, but feel free to buy them straight through Amazon. I actually use these products and I found them to be good products for someone who lives a slow-travel lifestyle and who happens to code for a living.

Travelpro Crew 10 Expandable Spinner Suiter (25″)

Travelpro Crew 10 25 Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter, Navy, One Size

I used to use a 22 inch carry-on but I found that to be too small for me as I have four shoes when I travel. For those of you that are wondering why I have four shoes as a guy traveling, I have flip-flops, weight lifting shoes, boots, and running shoes. They all serve a purpose. I found that this 25 inch version gives me plenty of space for all of my stuff.

While I cannot use this 25 inch spinner as a carry-on, as long as the weight is below 50 pounds (depending on the airline), I can check it in for free on most airlines. Most of the “stuff” I have in this bag are clothes and the three shoes, so I found that I’m always well-below the weight limit for the check-in bags.

Timbuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack

Timbuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack, Black, One Size

It’s a backpack that I’ve been using for a few years now. It’s compact enough to not be a nuisance when I’m out and about and has plenty of space for every day things like wallet, notebook, pens, and etc. It also has a nice laptop compartment where I keep my laptop and power adapter. It’s not one of those fancy “one-bag” solutions, but this works for me.

ROCCAT TUSKO Widescreen Gaming Bag Designed for up to 24-Inch Flatscreen Monitors, Black

ROCCAT TUSKO Widescreen Gaming Bag Designed for up to 24-Inch Flatscreen Monitors, Black

I carry a 24 inch monitor with me wherever I go and this is the best monitor bag I could find that I can take as my carry-on. I carry an actual 24 inch monitor with me mostly because of two things: 1) Android development and 2) Recording PluralSight courses (yes, I’m in the process of making PluralSight courses)

If I only did web development, I can get by on just a 13 inch laptop with vim and t-mux, but I need a bigger screen for anything that requires a proper IDE.

This bag is great for safely transporting monitors up to 24 inches. It’s well-cushioned and fits in carry-on compartments in airplanes well. At first, I was a bit worried it not protecting my monitor well (especially my first trip with it), but it has never failed in properly protecting the screens of my monitor.

You may get weird stares at airport security and airport personnel will ask you to take your monitor out to examine it, but I’ve never had problems getting through security with this. If you’re a software developer who needs a large external monitor to work productively, and was looking for a way to travel with a monitor, I highly recommend this bag.

Roost Laptop Stand – Portable & Adjustable (For Apple MacBook and PC) Eye-Level Ergonomic for Productivity, Lightweight folding for travel, Universal Fit, Compact & Strong

Roost Laptop Stand – Portable & Adjustable (For Apple MacBook and PC) Eye-Level Ergonomic for Productivity, Lightweight folding for travel, Universal Fit, Compact & Strong

I mentioned the back and neck pain in the beginning of this post. Roost stand is a lifesaver (or back and neck saver in this situation) in this regard. Sometimes when I’m somewhere only for a few days, I don’t feel like setting up my monitor. So I just take out my Roost stand to have my basic ergonomic setup. Also, sometimes I like to take the Roost stand with me to coffee shops to have my ergonomic set up wherever I am. The Roost stand is easy to set up and very lightweight so that you can easily carry it along with you.

Apple Magic Keyboard (MLA22LL/A)

Apple Magic Keyboard (MLA22LL/A)

I used to carry a proper mechanical keyboard with me, but I found that to be too heavy and bulky. Also, I broke it in Ukraine 🙁

So I went to a local electronic store and bought an Apple Keyboard, mostly because that’s the best keyboard I could find in Ukraine (Ukrainians seem to a bit obsessed with Apple products). At any rate, this “works”.

Being somewhat of a keyboard-nerd whose preference is mechanical keyboards with brown-switches, I hated this keyboard at first. But I’m actually starting to like it. It’s wireless, has a long battery life, very light-weight which is great while on the go, and has many keys that integrate well with the Mac OS. It’s expensive as hell though, so if I was in the United States, I probably would have ordered something else.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Laptop

Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display, Intel Core i7 3.1GHz, 512GB Flash Storage, 16GB DDR3 Memory

I use a Macbook Pro 13 inch Retina from late 2013 (or 2014? I can’t remember). When I bought it though, I maxed the specs out, so it came in at 512gb of storage with 16gb of memory.

I personally prefer a ThinkPad with a Linux distro, but ThinkPads these days are essentially a poor imitation of Macbooks (those island style keyboards on the new ThinkPads… makes me depressed), so I’d figured that getting a proper Macbook was a better option than using a half-assed ThinkPad.

At any rate, this laptop “works” for Ruby on Rails development and for Android as well. I’ve also found it useful for occasionally opening up iOS codebases at those times when I’m working as a back-end developer for iOS projects and I need to quickly run the iOS simulator to help the team debug something.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus Condenser Microphone with Pop Filter

I’m an author on PluralSight (courses coming soon!). So, I need to carry a decent microphone with me. I’m a fan of Audio Technica as a brand (they make excellent headphones), so I chose the entry level condenser microphone from Audio Technica.

I know almost nothing about professional audio recording, but I was able to pass the audio quality bar set by PluralSight with this microphone. If I wasn’t recording videos though, I would not be carrying this microphone around with me.

Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker

Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker with 24-Hour Playtime, 66-Foot Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic, Dual-Driver Portable Wireless Speaker with Low Harmonic Distortion and Superior Sound – Black

This is probably a small luxury more than anything, but it was an impulse purchase back when I was in the USA for about 2 months in winter of 2016. Amazon makes it too easy to spend money unnecessarily 🙂

Either way, I decided to throw it in my backpack as it was portable enough. The sound quality is decent and the battery lasts forever. I tend to pair it with my laptop when I’m working at home.

Sony DSCRX100M2/B 20.2 MP Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera (Black)

Sony DSCRX100M2/B 20.2 MP Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera (Black)

And finally the camera. I’m not much of a photographer, but I’m trying to take better pictures to document my journey. Also, those stock photos on DepositPhotos cost money. The camera is compact and takes great quality photos.

All in all…

Aside from the items I listed above, the rest of my items consist mostly of clothes. I carry just enough clothes to last me about a week or two, depending on how frequently I change my clothes.

All these items fit in my backpack and check in bag, and these are enough to live comfortably wherever I am. In fact, I’m looking to become more mobile by getting rid of my 24 inch monitor and my monitor bag because I hate lugging that thing around when I’m on the move.

If you have any questions or comments about any of the items below, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

About the Author Chris Jeon

Software developer currently focusing on Android development.