My recent blog post about minimalism from the point of view of a digital nomad and online psychologist prompted a number of questions. Today I’d like to try to answer two of them.
1. What do you own as a digital nomad and what do you pack in your backpack as an online psychologist?
At the moment I travel with a larger 45L hiking style backpack and a smaller carry on size backpack. The big one, right now, weighs 13kg and the smaller one 5kg, with all the electronics you need as a digital nomad (or human in the 21st Century).
Digging deeper, my backpack as an online psychologist contains:
* Clothes for about one week and various seasons
* Yoga mat
* Toothbrush, sunscreen and mosquito spray as well as a few other personal hygiene items
* Pocket knife, tea strainer (I love loose tea!)
* Various bags and pouches to facilitate plastic-free shopping as much as possible, anywhere in the world
* Laptop, mobile phone, ebook reader, headphones, and the corresponding charging cables
* At least 2 notebooks – one for my work as an online psychologist (I still prefer to write my to-do lists by hand) and a private one
* Paper: 99% of my online practice is paperless, but I still prefer to document my client sessions on paper (and then digitize them regularly). From time to time I have to keep a receipt, be it for the tax or for the health insurance. Fortunately, today almost everything can be regulated online and saved digitally.
Additionally, I have a few stored furniture items and memorabilia in Germany and have strategically left a few pieces of clothing for the winter in 3 countries on 2 continents. These don’t count for what I travel with, but they’re important things I still hold space for in the world.
My best tip for economic and relaxed travelling and packing, no matter if with suitcase or backpack, as an online psychologist on a permanent trip or for the next short break is to use packing cubes! You will never want to travel without them again!
How much possession is too many?
The average European reportedly owns around 10,000 items. And, if you consider that people living a non-nomadic life may not move often or downsize, it’s easy to understand that there isn’t a push to think about how many of those 10,000 things are essential or could be used by someone else. They’re just there and maybe barely noticed. Indeed, we live in a time and societies in which consumption is encouraged and valued, be it the bigger TV, newer laptop or latest home furnishings.
Even among digital nomads, the question of how many possessions you should have can prompt serious debate. Some self-styled experts argue you’re not a ‘true’ and ‘free’ digital nomad unless you travel with cabin/carry on baggage only. If you travel with check-in baggage then it’s too much. But others with a differing view are becoming more prevalent and their voices are now being heard too.
Personally, even though I get annoyed every time I have to pay extra for my bigger backpack, especially in Asia, I like to travel with more than just carry on. Considering I travel quite a lot and move often, maybe more so than nomads who stay in a location for 6-12 months, maybe in a place of one climate, it’s just practical (and more planet-friendly) to carry a little more with me, especially as I don’t want to buy a new tube of sun cream or mosquito spray at every place. When I’m in a cold country I also want a real coat rather than just my rain jacket and five layers clothes. And, I want to continue to travel with my pocket knife, because not every wine bottle has a screw cap and not every Airbnb apartment has a corkscrew, and when travelling and hiking a pocket knife is often surprisingly useful. My yoga mat is also an important everyday companion for me and therefore worth the extra weight.
So, how many possessions is too many? Maybe the question should be ‘How many possessions is enough?’. Even so, there may not be one answer for everybody and a number might not be the right way to determine the amount. The important thing is to be aware of your possessions and whether or not they are useful and enjoyable for you and if they help or hinder your lifestyle or your goals and values in life.
What about you? Can you imagine living only from your backpack? What would you take with you if you were a digital nomad travelling the world?