By Charlotte Connelly
Packing for any trip may seem like a daunting task but for a trip to Southeast Asia it really doesn’t have to be, the trick is to keep it simple. Keep packing to the bare minimum; the less you have to carry, the better. Trust me the last thing you will want to be doing in the heat and humidity of Asia is lugging a heavy backpack around. Whatever you don’t have, you will be able to find when you arrive and usually for half of the cost back home. The types of things you will want to take will purely depend upon what you plan to do with your time, but use this handy list as a general guide to help ease your packing preparation.
Packing a ton of outfits may seem wise at the time but with cheap markets and clothing stores at almost every turn, you will soon find yourself picking up additional items, so do yourself a favor and leave some room for the inevitable purchases you will make along the way.
- Opt to take a variety of lengths which will cover all options. Longer lengths such as a maxi dress or skirt are ideal for visiting religious sites where it is required your knees are covered; they will maintain your modesty whilst keeping you cool. Shorter summer dresses that are light and airy are perfect for throwing over a bikini for beach towns/islands. Choosing to wear a skirt or dress will also make life much easier for those not familiar with the squat toilet! Pack a couple of each.
- 1 Long trousers or leggings. If you plan on doing a lot of treks or climbing, it is a good idea to have some long trousers. Trousers will protect your legs from the sun and against mosquitos and critters.
- 1 Loose cotton or linen trousers
- 1 Denim shorts. A staple choice for any girls packing list as they go with everything.
- 2/3 Cotton shorts or playsuits
- 4 Light vests/camis. Essential for anything from trekking, sightseeing or nights out. Pick materials that dry quickly which will help when it gets sweaty
- 1 Nice top. For special nights out
- 2 T-shirts
- 1 Long sleeved top
- 1 Shirt
- 1 Light cardigan or hoodie. Choose a color that goes with everything, like black
- 2/3 Bikinis or one-piece swimwear
- 1 Light rain jacket. Southeast Asia has a tropical climate and sometimes it rains. Lots!
- 1 Flip-flops. A pair of slim black Havaianas are my go-to choice. Perfect for walking around, on the beach and to wear at night too.
- 1 Pair of comfortable walking shoes. You will no doubt be doing tons of walking so it is essential you have shoes you are comfortable in. Consider something like a pair of Birkenstock sandals that will offer good support whilst allowing your feet to breathe.
- 1 Sports shoes. Unless you plan on doing lots of intense hikes you wont need proper hiking boots/shoes and a simple pair of trainers or runners will do fine for any adventure activities and trekking.
- 10-12 pairs of panties
- Bras (1 black, 1 white and one strapless is a good rule of thumb)
- A sports-bra. Good for trekking or adventure activities
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of light cotton pajamas or a sleep-tee
Things like shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, deodorants and shower gels are easy to come by so I would recommend taking a travel size with you and then buying as you go but there are some things you may wish to take:
- Those sold in Southeast Asia often contain whitener
- Face wipes/cream. As above!
- Hairbrush, hair ties and bobby pins
- Whilst you can find them in some of the bigger cities, they are not readily available in all of Asia
- Mosquito repellent (Deet)
Consider packing your toiletries in a hangable bag.
Most girls choose not to wear make-up when traveling Asia as it’s just too hot and sticky but if you can’t go without, do yourself a favor and stick to the basic items below:
- Powder form foundation. Liquid will just run off
- Bronzer or blush
- A good lip-balm. I swear by Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Skin Protectant which is more than just your average lip balm as it is so multi-purpose.
Forget nail polishes you can get manis and pedis cheaply.
- Small first-aid kit
- Pain relief tablets
- Motion sickness tablets
- Contraception (if required)
- Any personal medicines
Electronics (if required)
- Mobile telephone. Unlocked to any network
- Light laptop computer, notebook or iPad
- Power-pack charger
- Small travel hairdryer
- 2 Small locks. One for your bag and one for lockers in hostels
- Universal travel adaptors
- Small hand sanitizer
- Travel towel. One that is quick drying is ideal for when you need to just pack up and go
- Sun hat
- Small purse or coin pouch to keep on you at all times
- Small grooming kit (Tweezers, scissors, nail file & clippers etc)
- Can be used for covering shoulders, sitting on at the beach, etc.
- Silk sleeping bag liner. For when hostel sheets look questionable, extra protection from mosquitos or keeping warm against the air-con on bus/train journeys.
- Thin scarf
- Inflatable pillow and eye mask for comfort on long journeys
- Notebook or journal
- Small bag or bumbag to carry essentials at night
- Money Belt
- Mini sewing kit
- Small torch
- Copies of your passport
- Insurance documents
- Some passport photographs for visas
- Certificates of vaccinations
So there you have it. Remember, if you ready don’t need it, don’t take it, you will only end up ditching it along the way.
All photos in this article have been taken by Robyn Nicole.