Best Luggage Combinations for Digital Nomads

Over the last 5 years of travel, I’ve cycled through more backpacks, suitcases, totes, duffles, and holdalls than I’d like to admit.

Maybe it’s my engineering background or maybe it’s because I’m a self-professed gear freak - but I love optimizing my luggage set-up for each trip. On the last count, I’m now the proud owner of 10 different backpacks (9 of which live in my car, waiting to be picked for the next leg). From tech bags and carry-ons to clamshells and camping packs - I’ve tried them all and in every combination.

But I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Oversized bags in Japan, giant suitcases in Croatia, and unorganized chaos in countless other top digital nomad destinations. But those errors have led me to where I am today - a digital nomad with an appreciation for onebag travel.

In this article, we’ll explore the best luggage for digital nomads. We’ll then discuss how we picked each combination and cover our recommended additional gear to consider packing for your next nomad adventure.

Top Luggage Combo Picks for Different Nomads

1. Ultra-Light Carry-On + Versatile Backpack + Expandable Checked Bag

The Frequent Flyer Combo

Nomatic Navigator Lite 15L, Samsonite Freeform Hardside, Osprey Quasar
Luggage Items
Pros
  • Easy access carry-on for flight essentials
  • Plenty of space in an expandable checked bag
  • Versatile backpack for tech/valuables
  • Checked bag easy to maneuver with wheels
Cons
  • A checked bag runs the risk of lost luggage
  • Can be heavier as a set than a single-bag travel
  • More difficult to travel with public transport (buses, trains, tram, etc.)

The frequent flyer combo is one of the best travel luggage combinations for those regularly traveling internationally. Traveling with only carry-on luggage for digital nomads will always be a squeeze. With an expandable checked bag - you won’t have to worry. The Samsonite Freeform Hardside is a fantastic example of an expandable checked bag. Use it to check your clothes and accessories for ultimate freedom during the airport/airplane portions of your trip.

Pack an ultra-light carry-on with your tech and travel essentials. The Nomatic Navigator Lite 15L is a super high-quality, expandable carry-on that’s great for day trips. We love how this feels on the back and with plenty of pockets and storage space it’s even perfect as a standalone tech organizer.

A versatile backpack - ready for anything - should also be carried by frequent flyers. I regularly use the Osprey Quasar. I picked up an earlier model of the pack a few years ago, and it still looks and performs like new.

2. Compact Carry-On + Tech-Focused Backpack

The Minimalist Nomad Combo

Osprey Arcane Day and Farpoint 40 L/Fairview 40
Luggage Items
Pros
  • Carry-on fits most overhead bins
  • The tech-focused backpack protects all work essentials
  • Kangaroo-style carrying offers great weight distribution
  • High maneuverability - great for frequent travel by public transport
Cons
  • May lack the capacity for very long trips
  • No checked bags means always carrying all luggage

The Minimalist Nomad Combo uses two comprehensive packs - a compact carry-on (40L) and a smaller tech-focused backpack (15-20L). The combination offers similar benefits as one-bag travel without the tight constrictions that come with a single pack.

Use the compact carry-on backpack to pack all clothing, shoes, toiletries, and accessories. Treat this similarly to a one-bag set-up that fits the carry-on dimensions of your most frequented airline. The Farpoint 40L for men and the Fairview 40L for women are fantastic solutions and industry-leading entry-level travel bags. The 40L model offers ample space, but check the Osprey store for plenty of other sizes.

To separate your tech and keep it protected, a 15-20L tech-focused backpack joins your larger carry-on. This sits under the seat in front of you when flying and should contain tech and flight essentials only. The Osprey Arcane Day is less of a highly featured pack and more of a commuter - making it the perfect compact carry-on for nomads. There’s a laptop sleeve, plenty of organization, multiple colorways and it looks as good as it performs.

This minimalist travel luggage combination is fantastic for digital nomads planning to move around a country or continent frequently. The smaller bags are easy to transport and your tech always stays safe in a separate, focused pack.

3. Durable Spinner + Organized Backpack + Duffle for Overflow

The Extended Stay Combo

Rimowa Original Cabin, Osprey Ozone Laptop Backpack, Patagonia Black Hole
Luggage Items
Pros
  • Plenty of space for extended trip essentials
  • Great organization options
  • Backpack doubles as a daypack for excursions
  • Duffle provides additional support
Cons
  • Can be heavier as a set than a single-bag travel
  • Hard-sided spinners may be above budget for some nomads

A durable, hard-sided spinner is the gold standard for checked luggage - a fact that’s often reflected in their price tag. A four-wheeled aluminum case is recommended for ultimate peace of mind - but it’s not always necessary. A lesser soft-sided or wheeled duffle may do the job just fine.

It doesn’t get better than the Rimowa Original Cabin. The price point may be high, but there’s a method in the madness. Expect the highest quality materials designed to keep everything you pack safe and secure. You’ll also get TSA-Approved Locks, a Flex Divider construction, the ultra-efficient RIMOWA Multiwheel System, and a delightful Telescopic Handle. Choose a bag with a capacity of 40-90L, depending on your requirements.

The organized backpack will act as your main tech hub for your trip and a focus on digital nomad luggage is recommended. Look for a heavily featured pack boasting a laptop sleeve, internal and external organizer pockets, a dedicated water bottle pocket, and a quality, comfortable harness. The Osprey Ozone Laptop Backpack ticks every box (and more) whilst maintaining a minimalist, stylish design.

Finally, a duffle (regular or wheeled) is used as an overflow and can be carried on to most airlines. We recommend looking for those with versatile carrying options, such as the Patagonia Black Hole. Available with plenty of features, and in 40L, 55L, 70L, and 100L - there’s a size to fit every nomad's needs.

4. A Single Digital Nomad Backpack

For The One-bag Traveler

40L Nomatic Travel Bag
Luggage Items
Pros
  • No additional airline fees for checked baggage
  • Effortless travel between destinations
  • Enforces a minimalist travel approach
  • Inexpensive solution (only one luggage item)
Cons
  • May lack the capacity for very long trips
  • Single backpack can be heavy (difficult to lift into overhead bins, etc.)

One-bag travel is a fantastic solution for digital nomads completing short trips with frequent travel between destinations.

I’m a big one-bag travel advocate - but do tend to stick within Europe when carrying a single pack. Any further afield (Asia, etc.) and my luggage capacity will increase (additional footwear, camera gear, etc.).

Specialist digital nomad backpacks are the best choice for one-bag travel. Typically around 40L of capacity, these are highly featured packs with bags of organization options. For me, it doesn’t get much better than the 40L Nomatic Travel Bag. Designed by nomads, for nomads, it’s packed full of features that we love. From the TSA-approved laptop sleeve to the dedicated shoe pouch, it’s a proper piece of kit.

Not only will you save on airfares (no checked luggage makes for cheaper tickets), but there’s no waiting at baggage claim, no worries about lost luggage and it’s super easy to carry. The downsides do, however, include limited capacity (no room for a coffee kit, extra pair of shoes, etc.) and the weight of the pack itself.

It can be difficult to store heavy packs in the overhead bins. Always make sure you can lift your pack without assistance for one-bag travel.


Other travel gear you may also be interested in:

11 BEST Digital Nomad Backpacks Reviewed
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Best Disposable Travel Underwear: Men’s & Women’s Top Picks
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12 Best Women’s Travel Pants (Tested & Reviewed)
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How We Choose Our Luggage Combinations

Luggage Materials: durability vs. weight

In an ideal world, digital nomad luggage would be created from the strongest, lightest material available. But you can’t have one without compromising the other.

The key is to strike a balance and find a moderately lightweight, moderately durable bag that can take everything intensive travel throws at it. Ripstop materials are a great example, but nomad-specific solutions often use a durable, water-resistant fabric to keep everything safe and dry.

Organization

Different luggage solutions (and different brands, models, etc.) offer different levels of organization. High levels are vital for long periods of travel, especially when carrying a lot of tech.

A duffle bag may only have a single main compartment to pack your life - not exactly a cutting-edge solution. However, a nomad-specific carry-on could feature a laptop sleeve, tablet sleeve, 8 internal pockets, 2 external pockets, and a built-in rain cover. These bags are suited for different purposes and have different features and selling points.

Complying with Airline Rules

Each airline offers different carry-on rules and regulations, typically boiling down to bag dimensions and weight.

If you travel with one airline more than others (RyanAir for Europeans, Emirates for international, etc.), it’s good to view their specific policies. Once you have their exact dimensions (RyanAir, for example, offers a small personal bag (40x20x25cm) and a 10kg bag (55x40x20cm)) - you can go shopping with a much clearer picture.

Additional Travel Gear to Add to Your Luggage Combo

Packing Cubes

Peak Design Packing Cubes
Peak Design Packing Cubes

Living out of your luggage can be a real headache when everything is, well, everywhere.

To solve the chaos and organize your clothing, packing cubes are - without doubt - the way forward. Use any combination of small, medium, and large cubes to organize your clothing however works for you.

Personally, I use one for socks and accessories, another for underwear, and a final cube for t-shirts. It’s a game changer, I won’t travel more than a weekend without them.

Toiletry organizers

Peak Design Wash Pouch
Peak Design Wash Pouch

Carrying toiletries is inconvenient at best and a nightmare at worst (here’s looking at you, shampoo explosions).

An organizer (wash kit, toiletry bag, whatever you want to call it), is therefore a necessity. Look for small, easy-to-pack organizers with plenty of pockets. If you can hang it from a hook in the bathroom, even better!

Travel tech pouch

Peak Design Tech Pouch
Peak Design Tech Pouch

If you’ve previously traveled with tech, you’ll know just how frustrating it can be to keep everything organized.

A travel tech pouch eliminates the stress of lost SD cards, hard-to-find adapters, and wires-gone-walkabout. It’s similar to a toiletry organizer - only instead of a toothbrush and deodorant, you have your external hard drive and headphones.

Ready to Pick Your Favorite Luggage Combo?

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