The Professional Nomad Workbag

IMG_6297In my last post I described my wardrobe and the Samsonite (wheeled) cabin bag that I keep it in. My second bag is a Tortuga Air backpack (1077g) which I use to store my gear and tech. Whereas my wardrobe weighs in at 12Kg the Tortuga generally only weighs half that and has plenty of space left.

So why bother having two bags?

Three reasons:

  1. Optimised Space
    Airlines generally allow a cabin bag and a personal item, with a perfectly sized cabin bag and a mostly empty backpack that fits under the seat in front I can get away with this (most of the time). If I loaded all my gear in to a single bag I almost certainly wouldn’t. In this sense my gear is optimally sized for capacity and air travel
  2. Daily Commute
    The Tortuga is the bag I carry with me to work every day. Even when mostly empty it retains it’s shape and looks good, it’s light (just over 1Kg) and it protects my laptop from the hazards of daily life. I certainly wouldn’t use the wheeled Samsonite as a work bag each day.
  3. Onebag Travel
    My Tortuga is also my Onebag when I travel. I’m a Twobagger only when I’m moving (jobs, homes or countries). When I travel for leisure I’m a bona-fide Onebagger, in fact the term Onebagger is generally used to refer to someone who travels with one bag rather than lives out of one. I blogged about my onebag packing list last year.

So what’s on the gear and tech list:

There’s four key elements:

  1. Washbag (Eagle Creek Specter Washbag bottom right) 985g
  2. TechCell (Sea To Summit Tech Cell bottom left) 787g
  3. GearCell (Black thing on top of the other two) 742g
  4. Other (Stuff in pockets within the Tortuga itself) 2683g

These are compartmentalised this way because I don’t need the Washbag or TechCell for work and I very seldom carry the TechCell for trips.




From L-R (ish)

  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Washbag (Not pictured above) 42g
  • Large baggie (used to hold liquids when going through security) 1g
  • Cotton Buds 7g
  • Alfred Lane Bravado Solid Cologne (awesome stuff) 21g
  • Interdental brushes 5g
  • Floss Sticks 5g
  • Philips PQ203 Electric Shaver (with 2x AA batteries) 130g
  • Antiseptic Savlon Cream 18g
  • EcoDent DailyCare Aniseed ToothPowder (200 brushings) 50g
  • Body Crystal Ammonium Alum Deodorant 139g
  • Stingoze bit cream (Straya) 25g
  • Sunscreen factor 50 (Straya) 48g
  • Hard Muk Hair Fiber (in plastic pot) 34g
  • Mini Lint Roller (for my suit jacket mostly) 15g
  • 20x Spare Hearos Earplugs (awesome earplugs) 20g
  • Oral B Professional Care 1000 Electric Toothbrush 130g
  • Oral B Professional Care 1000 Charger 125g
  • Dr Bronners bottle filled with medicated shampoo 75g
  • Colgate 360 Optic White Platinum Toothbrush with guard 48g
  • 5x Spare Oral B Heads 20g
  • Sewing kit nabbed from hotel room in Singapore 2g
  • Zwilling flat Nail Clippers 15g
  • Philips shaver brush 2g
  • Safety Pin 1g
  • Tweezers 7g

A total of 985g



The first few items are loose in the Tortuga rather than in the cell:

  • Ultimate Ears UE Roll Bluetooth Speaker (one of my greatest ever purchases) 315g
  • Sony Laptop charger cable (UK) 126g
    and Apple iPhone charger (UK) 46g wrapper in Outlier band
  • Zevek Digital Travel Luggage Scale (with CR2032 battery) 52g

A total of 539g

So in terms of the TechCell:

  • Sea To Summit Cable Cell Large 61g
  • Spare Lithium Ultimate batteries (2x AA, 3x AAA, 2x AAAA) 66g
  • 50x Business Cards 96g
  • Apple iPhone Lightning Cable 17g
  • Apple iPhone Charger 28g
  • Transcend Jet Flash 64Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive (totes legit Movies n TV) 3g
  • Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter 49g
  • Cyclone Micro 4 Media Player (Awesome piece of kit) 63g
    and Cyclone Micro 4 USB charge cable (charges from TV!) 22g
    and Cyclone Micro 4 Remote Control (with 2x AA batteries) 59g
  • HDMI Cable (for use with Cyclone Media Player) 28g
  • Samsung 2.5″ Portable 4TB USB 3.0 Backup Disk 242g
    and Samsung USB 3.0 Cable 22g
  • InSystem Portable HardDisk Soft Case (to protect 4TB Backup) 31g

A total of 787g



  • Black Organiser Cell (purchased in Boots UK a long time ago) 87g
  • VGA to HDMI Adapter (Use this all the time at work) 10g
  • Griffin PowerJolt double USB Car Jack 12g
  • Retractable 3.5mm Phono cable 11g
  • Retractable Amzer Micro USB cable 20g
  • Retractable RJ45 cable 24g
  • Double 3.5mm Phono Adapter to single pin (for sharing tunage) 5g
  • Micro USB to Lightning Adapter 1g
  • Spare Energizer Lithium AA battery (for the mouse) 16g
  • Apple USB Charger (Oz) 28g
  • SATA to USB Mini Board with Adapter 6g
  • Anker RJ45 to USB Adapter 20g
  • Transcend Jet Flash 32Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive (Windows 10 Installers) 3g
  • Spares Baggie (CR2032 battery, UE clips, iPhone SIM keys) 11g
  • Gorilla Tape in Baggie (Great for fixing anything) 19g
  • Blu Tak (White) in Baggie 12g
  • Safety Pins in Baggie 13g
  • Paper Clips in Baggie 10g
  • Rubber Bands in Baggie 10g
  • Baggies in Baggie (Spares) plus Large Baggies to right 36g
  • Anker AstroMini 3200mAh Battery Backup 83g
  • Sharpie 9g
  • Parker Biro (I prefer ink but biro is good for planes) 15g
  • Stanley 4-way multi screwdriver (comes in handy quite often) 21g
  • Kensington Bluetooth 4.0 SmartPro Presenter (with AAAA battery) 25g
  • 15x Cards (Credit / Airline / Loyalty / Metro) 70g
  • Spare Ultimate Ears 600Vi Headphones 18g
  • 3x Spare Comply Tx-500 Isolation Foam Tips 2g
  • Passport (most important possession!) 34g
  • Moleskine Notebook 36g
  • OSK – Oh Shit Kit (Paracetemol, Ibuprofen, Plasters, Lemsips etc.) 40g
  • Chapstick (a requirement for long haul flights) 9g
  • Boots Sweetner (for tea) 20g
  • Hearos Earplugs (in plastic case) 6g

A total of 742g

Tortuga (and Other)


  • Sony Vaio Pro SVP1321C5E Laptop (2013) 1059g
  • Spare keys to apartment 17g
  • Keys to UK property 67g
  • Boots Sweetner (for tea) 20g
  • EuroSchirm LightTrek Automatic Umbrella (2014) 353g
  • Sony Vaio Charger block 194g
    and AU Power Cable 78g
  • Security Pass (Work) 35g
  • Logitech M337 Bluetooth Mouse (with AA battery) 74g
  • Gel Wrist Rest 65g
  • Pack Pocket Tissues 23g
  • Ray Ban Aviator Black Sunnies 31g
    and Ray Ban Case and Cloth 51g
  • 2x Transcend Jet Flash 64Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive 3g each
  • Apple iPhone Lightning Cable 17g
  • 10x ClearWipe Phone Cleaning Wipes 10g
  • Sony Vaio Antistatic Cleaning Cloth 14g
  • 3x Uniball Micro Pen (Black, Blue, Red) 10g each

A total of 2079g

With the Tortuga itself weighing in at 1077g the bag fully laden tips the scales at 6274g.

Many of the items listed above are worthy of a lengthier explanation but I will save that for future posts.

Suddenly realising that even a minimalist has to tidy up before he can go to bed… priceless.


The Professional Nomad Wardrobe

I’ve spoken before about Monochrome Simplicity, every item of clothing I own is black. I take it one step further – each item is the same brand (mostly Outlier or Icebreaker). There are some exceptions to this rule but essentially this simplifies life further for me (in terms of what to buy / wear / wash). I own 51 items of clothing, and they all fit in to one cabin luggage sized bag (which simplifies moving). Here’s the list:

Weighing a total of 11.432Kg. And here’s what that little lot looks like (save for what I was wearing):


Bottom right are:

  • Ultralite Packtowl XL 104g
  • Sea To Summit Ultrasil Daypack 72g
  • Sea To Summit Utrasil Duffel Bag 78g
  • Expandable Coat Hanger 29g
  • Etihad Mesh Sack (used for storing washing on the go) 28g

I am a big fan of Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cubes for keeping things organised and I use them for all of my clothes. Here’s what they look like cubed:


In the photo are:

  • 4x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Full 28g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Half 18g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Quarter 14g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Tube 19g each

So for the weight watchers among you that’s 214g of organisation – but then some packing cubes weigh that much on their own!


And packed:


The bag is a 48L Samsonite Spark Cabin Bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) weighing 2.5Kg. All packed the bag weighed in at 12Kg on the nose, which means I was wearing about 2Kg of clothing (including the 1.2Kg Dr Martens – always wear the heaviest items :).

I will be explaining my clothing choices in my next post – although many of these are covered in my Onebag Packing List 2015

I am a one-bagger when I travel, but I live out of two bags. My Tortuga Air backpack (also my travel bag) is normally home to my tech and my gear; a topic for another post.

The Homeless Professional Nomad


I don’t have a ‘home’ per se, rather I like to think that I have multiple homes across the planet. My life fits in to a bag (or rather two small bags) and I go where I need to be. I consider myself a Professional Nomad (as opposed to a Digital Nomad) because I am a consultant and I tend to work on client sites. This can mean different client sites each day – travelling regularly, or it can mean long terms contracts with the same client – travelling less.

Digital Nomads make their living on the go using their laptop and internet connection. This is the ultimate freedom since DNs can work literally anywhere but it comes at a price:

  • isolation and self starting (not working as part of a team)
  • small-scale projects (less likely to work on a large and complex project) and
  • financial uncertainty (unsure where the next chuck of income will come from).

The upside is being able to choose where you work and live and changing that at the drop of a hat.

As a Professional Nomad I have much greater certainty over my income and I get to work on some fantastic large-scale complex projects. The lifestyle also lends itself well to my particular skillset which is Engineering. I still get to travel (since I’m not tied to a single ‘home’ location) and the gaps in contracts still allow for a much greater amount of time for personal travel.

Living like this relies on;

  • Travelling Light (being able to quickly pack up and go)
  • Renting Furnished (AirBnB / hotel or serviced accommodation)
  • Being Flexible (working around client deadlines / locations)
  • Having Funds (for those unforseen emergencies)

The internet, portable technology and cheaper flights have made the world a smaller place, so being away from those you love is no longer the major deal it once was. I make the effort to fly back to see my immediate family as regularly as I can, and I try to take in a new city on the way there and back each time too.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do I live permanently out of just two bags. I have decided to answer this question over a series of posts detailing what I carry with me and why:

The Professional Nomad Wardrobe

The Professional Nomad Workbag