Checklist: The Top 10 to pack when traveling to South East Asia

Top 10 to pack in Asia

What’s in my backpack?

I consider myself quite minimalistic. I am willing to sacrifice many things, but as an adult I realize I value quality over quantity.

So when planning for a long-term backpacking trip there was a lot to consider. But before we get into trip preparation and cool stuff in my bag, we need to ask ourselves a few questions to decide exactly what to pack:

  1. What countries and climates are we going to?

  2. How long are we planning to travel for?

We left Boston in January and wanted to be back for June. That means roughly six months of living in our backpack. Our initial plan was travel to Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and go south to New Zealand. Then we would finish in Greece the end of May for a destination wedding.

Sadly, but eventually, we ditched the idea of one month in New Zealand and decided to save that for another trip. And I added the Philippines and Cambodia to our list.

Six months and one 65L bag. I tried to remember less is more before I left, but I still overpacked. Hopefully this will help you pack less than me.

Pack small backpack Asia

Pre-departure packing feels like one of the tougher parts to traveling long-term. But, it doesn’t have to be. One of the biggest lessons I learned is pack less, pack neutral clothes, and buy clothing while abroad. Especially since Asia is a dream for affordable clothing shopping, buy clothing abroad.

Think about the climate you’ll be in and leave room for additions. Luckily, traveling to Asia means your packing problem will be for one climate only, hot and fucking hot. 

Below is some travel gear, not clothing, I suggest considering when traveling. Please be aware the links are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase something, at no additional cost for you, I will get a small commission to keep me traveling.

Packing gear for Asia

Travel Gear:


        No one wants to pack more than they can carry. If it’s going to be 90*, think about how much you want on your back. Do you really want a 75L backpack? I bought a 65L osprey backpack and it was worth it, but I could go lighter. Osprey is known for consistent back support and for having lots of pockets.


        I found one of these universal adaptors and absolutely love it. It charges everything and it’s quite fun to play with. Also, I recommend buying clothing compartments like the Lewis & Clark Gear packing cubes (mine are neon yellow) – it makes taking out a shirt way easier than pulling everything out. It has been a an organizer’s dream for backpacking.

        Click the photos below to be directed to the Amazon product 

    1. LAUNDRY

      How committed are you to do your own laundry? Do you want to save some money or always have someone do it for you for a few bucks? I am a DIY-kind-of-person so I bought the Scrubba. This green bag is small but carries a ton of added value. Instead of paying for laundry every few days or washing clothes in my sink we throw everything in this washing bag every few days and hang our clothes to dry.

      Click the photos below to be directed to the Amazon product 


      Self explanatory. I didn’t believe it at first, but it really does dry quick.


      As I get older, I realize I value comfort. My mother bought me a blow-up neck pillow and I am so happy she did. Since it deflates, it doesn’t take up much space. I also bought an eye mask to shut out bus lights or neighbors when flying. I know it’s added weight, but if it doesn’t take up much space and provides enough value for you, I definitely recommend it.


      Ask yourself a few questions before investing in a camera: What are your goals? Do you want to be a great instagram photographer? A camera-phone works just fine. Do you want to blog? Are you trying to make a hobby from travel photography or sell your photos on stock photo?

      Depending on what you want will play into how much you invest into a camera. I am an amateur photographer, but I want this to turn into a lifelong hobby. I bought the Canon T4i and invested in different lens. The 50mm lens, standard zoom lens, and all in one lens the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (mostly used).

      I see a lot of backpackers with mirrors cameras. If you can afford it, a mirrorless camera takes up less room and the quality is immaculate. Because they are expensive figure out what your photography goals are before investing.

      If you are just looking for instagram worthy-photos, why not upgrade your phone? The iPhone X is more expensive than most camera’s, but the quality is incredible (make sure you have insurance). Even the iPhone 7 or 8 takes glorious pictures.


      A Zomei tripod (with carrying case) does take up a lot of space. I have only used it a handful of times, but I am glad I have it. The best thing I brought with me was a Polaroid Snap. Initially, I bought it to give photos to locals when I meet them. For me, it has created the most rewarding experiences that I have had during my entire trip. It gives me a chance to interact with locals when their is a language barrier and it puts a smile on a strangers face. Read more about my post on the Polaroid Snap here.

      Click the photos below to be directed to the Amazon product


      I live in my Birkenstocks, I have a pair of black Nike sneakers, Tevas for hiking and flip flop shower shoes. I packed too many pairs of shoes, I think two would be just fine.


      One of the most useful things I have packed is the Yeti water bottle especially in Asia, this water bottle keeps water cold all day long. For the eco-friendly traveler I suggest the lifestrpaw. You can purify anything. I also suggest the SteriPen and glass straw for the environmentally friendly. These are two I have picked up since traveling.

      Click the photos below to be directed to the Amazon product 


    I have my favorite Patagonia backpack with laptop pocket. I have used a small collapsible backpack in the past which helps to lessen the weight if you want to carry less. It ends up being a lifesaver for small trips out of the country when hiking or bicycling, its not so clunky and doesn’t take up much packing space.



These are some items that have helped me during my time in Asia. If you have other recommendations, please add. The photos are actually links to Amazon if you are interested in the products, I can answer questions.

If you would like health and inoculation suggestions, travel insurance or are wondering about feminine products, see my post here before traveling to Asia.

Airplane traveling to Asia

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My adventures and ramblings through Europe, Australia, and now back the United States. I generally write from daily inspirations or from random thoughts.

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