Starting out as a digital nomad – a lesson in living lightly

13 Apr

This tiny bag will soon hold everything I own in the world.


I didn’t think I had a lot of stuff. I rarely buy anything and move around so much that I’ve purged piles of crap over the years (and probably a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have ditched. Oops, sorry Nanna.)

But I’ve just spent half an hour looking around my room, then at my teeny 50 litre backpack, then back to the room, then back to the backpack. How the HECK will I reduce all that stuff to the bare essentials? How will I have enough possessions to last 3, 6, 12, 150 months, as I roam around the globe? Can I take my beloved blender? Should I embrace the frizz and forget the hair straightener? Can I still satisfy my inner girl with just a few basic, bland outfits? Will I really wear wedges in Vietnam? What if I decide to flee Asia and explore Europe, but only have yoga pants and el cheapo market singlets? I only just bought some beautiful bed linen for my boudoir (which I can now call a boudoir thanks to said bed linen) – what a waste… 

Moving overseas is an epic lesson in living lightly. 

It’s so tempting to cling to things. To think we really need items that sit around collecting dust. To convince ourselves that survival is about having an outfit, a utensil, a guidebook for every destination, every situation. 

But it ain’t.

As I start to simmer down my belongings to what will fit into a baby-sized backpack, I’m realising that it’s important to strip back.

Even if you’re not planning an overseas adventure, it’s a great experiment to live with little. Get by with what you need – and not much else. We surround ourselves with stuff, security for the ‘what ifs’ that never arrive. We celebrate milestones by giving gifts bought in a hurry at vacuous malls. 

It reminds me of this quote by Dave Ramsey: 

“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”

A tad cynical, sure, but bloody true!

I’m still struggling to work out what to take on my travels. I’ll be hitting up a few digital nomad blogs in coming weeks for ideas – and will share my eventual packing list with you here.

What are you tips for travelling and living lightly? I’d love to hear your ideas!

3 Responses to “Starting out as a digital nomad – a lesson in living lightly”

  1. Rob April 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    Don’t do as I did and think you have to buy stuff before you go. Computers, laptops, mobile devices and cameras are all cheaper here than in Australia and are just as good. My Acer laptop cost $425 and my Samsung Galaxy $525. I don’t know about other countries, but internet in Cambodia is excellent. I put my camera away a couple of years ago because I can share photos instantly from my phone.

    I also bought a bunch of clothes before I came over and they all wore out just as fast as the clothes I’ve bought locally have.

    Check out – I met Camille just the other day. She’s lovely and offers some good tips for female backpackers on her blog. She’s been travelling for about 2 years now and also freelances.

    Visit us in Sihanoukville!! Camille came for “just a few days” and liked it so much, she decided to extend her visit.

  2. Rob April 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Just don’t spend money on stuff you might think you won’t be able to find here. Computers and phones are plentiful and cheaper than in Australia. My laptop cost $425 and my Samsung Galaxy was $525.

    Have a look at – I met Camille the other day. She’s also a freelance writer and has been travelling around for a couple of years now. She offers some good tips for female travellers on her blog.

    Me: “How many visitors do you get on your blog?”
    Camille (slightly embarrassed): “Only about a thousand a day.”

    Visit us in Sihanoukville!!! Camille came here “for a couple of days” and liked it so much, she extended her visit. She agreed that it’s much nicer than it’s rumoured to be.

    • Kat Tate April 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Awesome, thanks Rob! Great tips…and I will be sure to visit you in Sihanoukville. 🙂

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