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The ultimate South-East Asia packing list
Planning a trip to South-East Asia? Can’t decide what to take? Here’s my ultimate South-East Asia packing list…
If you’re anything like me, organisation is not your forte. Open a suit case, empty contents of drawers and wardrobe into it. Throw in a bank card and passport… What else can you need right!? That’s all well and good if you’re going on a 2-week bender to Magaluf but going backpacking for potentially years is a whole different potato!
On one hand travelling light is king but on the other, a few home comforts can make the trip a whole lot more enjoyable. Learning the difference in what you’d LIKE to have compared to what you NEED is something that any longish-term traveller needs to master.
Travelling to many parts of South-East Asia between the months of May and October means you’re going to get wet!! Ideally, you’d LIKE to have an umbrella large enough to keep you and your pet elephant dry but in reality, you’ll NEED to have a waterproof cover for your backpack and you, yourself… You’ll be like a drowned rat.
For the fashion conscious of you out there (not me) you’d LIKE to have footwear to suit every outfit. In reality, you NEED one pair of trainers/walking boots (if you’re planning to get off the beaten track) and a trusty pair of flipflops or thongs if your Australian!
With all that said, there are a few things that, despite the extra weight and bulk really will make life on the road that bit easier. Let’s get into it. Here’s my South-East Asia packing list:
The amount of clothing to take varies a fair bit, it pretty much hinges on how often you want to be going on laundry runs. Here’s what I take, as a rough guide you shouldn’t be too far off the mark:
Hooded sweatshirt = backpacker staple!! Maybe 2 of.
4 t-shirts and a couple of smart-ish polo shirts for heading out for a nice meal.
One pair should suffice.
Zip off trousers:
Many of the temples dotted around South-East Asia require your legs to be covered before entry. However, travelling to and from said temple in 40c heat is no fun. Plus, they’re comfortable for flying in. Check out these Cragghoppers zip off trousers and have the best of both worlds.
3 pairs of normal shorts and 2 pairs of swim shorts.
I like to take a pair of decent walking boots and a pair of light pump type trainers. Flipflops can be picked up for next to nothing, where ever you go.
I go for 5 days-worth but I’m not going to tell you how much to take. You’ll get twice as long if you turn them inside out 😉
All in all, you don’t want to be bringing all your designer gear, D&G has no place on the road! Leave that shit at home, it’ll only get wrecked!!
As you can see from the photo, I do have to lug a fair bit of tech around with me. You don’t NEED to take as much as me but most travellers will carry most of it with them.
For me personally, this is my office. Keeping this blog up to date along with my other internet based ventures, requires a decent laptop. Most backpackers will take a laptop with them to research and share movies and music. Check out my review of the HP stream here.
After travelling around Australia without a decent camera (one of my biggest regrets) and missing out on so many unbelievable photo opportunities I vowed to never travel without a good quality DSLR again. Have a look at my in-depth Nikon D3400 review.
For the times that taking the DSLR just isn’t feasible i.e Going out and getting drunk, heading to the beach, swimming. With its compact size and versatility, just bang it in your pocket and you’ll never miss that one in a lifetime photo opportunity. Also, with the amount of brackets and fixings that the 4K Akaso EK7000 action camera comes with, there’s never a scenario where this camera is not fit for purpose. All for a very reasonable price too.
Now, I use my trusty old Samsung note 3 neo. Not that I’m recommending that you rush out and get one. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what smart phone you’ve got as long as it’s unlocked to any network capable of operating useful apps such as: Hostelworld, Skyscanner, XE currency etc.
In all fairness, some backpackers will get by with nothing more than a smart phone. You decide!
Being on the other side of the world, carrying everything you own on your back, getting robbed is the last thing you need. Unfortunately, there’s shady characters no matter where you go. Here’s a couple of investments that should stop you falling victim to one of the, how do I say this!? Thieving B**tards!!
The most common money belts on the market are big, clumpy, cumbersome bum-bag (fanny pack if you’re American) type things that allow you to stash everything but the kitchen sink in. These can be seen a mile off. Surely, the whole point is to be Stealthy!?
This is where the Zero Grid Travel Security Belt comes in. Designed with backpackers in mind, it looks like a normal Nylon material belt but has a long, zipped compartment that will allow you to fit copies of id and a good amount of folded bank notes. Best thing about it is that the metal looking buckle, is made of plastic! So no taking it off at airport security.
Sorry, actually the best thing about it, the lifetime guarantee!!
The jury on this one is still out but I like to use TSA approved padlocks on my bags. With the TSA padlocks, airport officials in the UK, Germany, Netherlands and America (with more countries joining the band wagon) have master keys to which open the padlocks should they wish to check your luggage.
Instead of cutting them off and leaving your baggage without locks. In some instances, the contents of your bag arriving on the arrivals conveyor belt before the actual bag… Disaster!!!
Whether you buy TSA locks or not, when you’re walking through busy cities like Bangkok, Backpack on your back and day bag on your chest it’s always wise to have some security. Also, many hostels will supply lockers for you to use but you’ll need your own padlocks to lock the door. Get yourself some padlocks!
Now I’m going to list a few of the more random things and some of which you might not have thought about.
It’s all well and good taking all that tech with you but what isn’t good is trying to plug your UK 3 pin into an Australian 2 pin socket. I recommend the Bez worldwide travel adaptor. It comes in a nice little case to keep dust and sand out, has great reviews I can personally say it is of solid build quality.
Sleeping bag liner:
Now I must admit this one was a recommendation from a well-travelled friend and I must say what a tip it is!
There’s nothing worse than being too hot while trying to sleep at night, especially when you can’t sleep without something covering you. This is where the sleeping bag liner comes in, made out of cotton it’s light weight, thin and still lets the breeze from the fan through to keep you cool.
Also acts as a mosquito net without having to rig it up everywhere you go. Also, it gives you piece of mind that what ever critters/deadly Australian spiders maybe lurking around will have some sort of barrier to get through before they can feed on your blood/soul.
And the final benefit, when the last available bed in town is well, let’s just say less than sanitary, again another barrier!
All that protection and piece of mind from something that’s about the size of your fist and costs less than £10. Nice one Russel!!
Although in the UK full on Tom Hanks in Castaway beards are in fashion. “Wilson!!!!!!” I’m not a fan. A small, compact shaver is a requirement.
I use the Phillips PQ203/17 men’s travel shaver. It comes in a nice little neat carry case and uses AA batteries. Normally I would shy away from anything that uses non-rechargeable batteries but in this case, it’s more than capable and its one less charger to carry around.
For less than £15 it’s pretty good and the batteries last for quite a while. Get the best price on Amazon.
You go to the beach, you get wet, you want to get dry! Nuff said!
Mosquito repellent: In all honesty, my favourite form of mosquito repellent is just gravitating towards other people. I’m normally pretty lucky in the fact that mosquitos don’t really like me.
Still, no bites is better than the odd bite, especially when mosquitos pass Dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever etc.
For a little extra protection I use Skin So Soft from Avon. Not actually marketed as a insect repellent but according to the Royal Marines it works a treat, plus that DEET stuff that is in most of the competitors is some nasty stuff!
Kind of self explanatory but here goes anyway:
Bath towel: Well, you could always drip dry.
2 in 1 shower gel/shampoo: Saves on a bottle.
Toothbrush/toothpaste: Clean them gnashers.
Roll on deodorant: Lasts longer than a spray.
Pain killers: Well after a skin-full the night before you’ll need some help on that early start touring the temples.
Diarrhoea tablets: For when you’re shitting through the eye of a needle! The last thing you need on a 4 hour bus ride.
So, to pack it, sorry, wrap it all up….
That’s it, pretty much everything I take with me when travelling around South-East Asia. Without a doubt, overtime this will change as I drop certain items and gain new ideas and tips from people I meet on the road. After all, no matter how experienced you think you are someone else you meet will have an idea that you will haven’t thought of… The beauty of travelling and meeting new people every day. In many ways, with travel comes wisdom.
So that’s my South-East Asia packing list, have you got anything that you’d like to share so I can add it to the list and help the next wave of adventures out? Fill that comments box…