I’m just going to start this by saying that I am a notorious over-packer, and I’m not ashamed to admit that my mother’s help was instrumental in me managing to get my life for four months into a 45L backpack… I’m spending 4 months in Asia; 2 months in India and 2 months split between Thailand and Cambodia in SE Asia.
I’m currently only a month into the trip, and still stationary in India, so I don’t know if all the stuff I’ve brought will be useful when I’m on the move, but I’d hazard a guess not for some of it, so I imagine I will end up dumping some things. I will reserve judgment on the usefulness or lack thereof of some of the stuff I brought with me until the end of my trip!
I’ll start with the bag itself. My main piece of luggage, and the one which is cabin baggage on planes, is the pink rucksack pictured below. I do have another rucksack at home which I bought for my trip to and across America last summer, but it’s about 80L, and I didn’t want to have to lug it around like I did last time. *war flashbacks to my bulging backpack knocking out old ladies on the New York subway*
I’m also taking my tiny 10L day backpack which usually attaches onto my big one from America (covered with souvenir patches!) for trips out, a zip-up over shoulder bag (top left), and a small purse which holds a wallet, phone or camera, and a few other bits and bobs, which I can sling across my body when going out during the day or travelling. On the way out, I used the shoulder bag as my hand luggage and put the little black one across my body with my passport, phone and wallet. Handy, surprisingly, seeing as it’s the one I wear clubbing at home!
Next up is shoes. I umm-d and ah-d for a while about whether I should take a pair of walking shoes, or at least closed trainers, but decided against it in the end as I’m not really planning any major hiking or anything that active (I actually bought a cheap pair of trainers here for my bungee experience, so I might take those on with me). What I DID bring in the end was:
- A pair of travel/walking sandals from Mountain Warehouse – these are very comfortable and fairly breathable, and so they’re good for the kind of travelling I’m doing. I wore these on the journey out too.
- A pair of black Toms – these are good because they’re easy to slip on and off quickly, and offer a tiny bit more toe protection, being closed. However, they’re only cloth and I imagine them falling apart before I get even halfway into the moving part of my trip…
- A pair of black flip flops – useful for wearing around the house/hostel, showering and pretty much anything else.
- A pair of nicer sandals – on the unlikely occasion I go out somewhere in the evening, or want to wear something that isn’t black/grey, these might come in handy!
I might buy another pair of sandals or flip-flops whilst I’m travelling; but I’ll see how it goes!
Now moving on to clothes… Now, I feel like I did fairly well with clothes; it’s toiletries and bits and bobs which weigh my bag down and I think take up unnecessary space; it seems like so little when you’re packing at home, surrounded by all your stuff, but once you’re on the move, you realise that a lot of stuff isn’t necessary.
In terms of outer layers, I took a lightweight fleece and a small cardigan; I don’t imagine I’ll be using these much, but they’re useful for journeys on planes and buses when the air con gets a bit much, and perhaps also for cooler evenings. In case of rain, I’ve also got a Pac-a-Mac.
Other tops I brought with me:
- A longer kaftan
- A short kaftan or loose ¾ length sleeve top
- A loose wrap-around top – this is mainly for when I’m visiting temples or in an area where I should have my shoulders covered; I can wear it over a tank top or dress
- 3 short sleeved T-shirts – 1 white, 1 dark green, 1 blue
- 1 ¾ length sleeve T-shirt – dark blue
- 1 sports top (sleeveless) – lycra type material, useful if I do anything sporty?
- 4 sleeveless cotton tops – purple, white, white/black striped, red-brown
- 2 tank tops – spaghetti straps, purple, orange, I’m going to be using these as pyjamas!
- 2 pairs of black leggings
- 1 pair loose black trousers
- 1 pair hippie-style trousers – bought in Morocco, not pictured because I’m wearing them! So comfortable and airy in hot climates.
- 1 pair grey harem pants
- 2 pairs cotton shorts – pyjamas in India!
- 1 pair denim shorts – not anticipating a chance to wear these until on the beaches in SE Asia!
- Colourful maxi skirt
- Black tunic dress – more of a top, but can be worn as a dress or top depending on the cultural restrictions of location. Can wear with leggings/trousers/skirt.
Underwear & Miscellaneous:
- 1 black one-piece swimming costume
- 1 bikini
- 12 pairs of underwear
- 3 bras
- 3 pairs trainer socks
- 2 pairs normal socks
- 1 pair walking/thick socks – nice to have on the plane to be comfortable and stop my feet from getting cold!
- 1 large pashmina scarf – can use as a cover up, headscarf, sarong, towel, blanket – very versatile!
- 1 smaller scarf
- 2 bandanas
- 1 sunhat
That’s all for clothes; looking back on that, I can see I’ve actually over-packed enormously, as usual… And I thought I’d done so well!
Now for the nightmare that is toiletries, random junk and electronics…
IN MY HAND LUGGAGE:
- 1 book – currently 1984.
- Travel journal – gift from amazing uni friend (cheers, Hannah!) which has come with me to Germany and Asia!
- PASSPORT! – I’m not getting anywhere without this…
- Money belt – I see this not getting used because is there any more effective way to say “I’m a tourist; please rob me!”
- Tarot cards – they seem to go everywhere with me at the moment!
- Eye mask and earplugs
- Tiger balm
- Notebook for recording expenditure
- Inflatable neck pillow
- Pair of warm socks
- Pair of trainer socks
- Mints/tic tacs and assorted food
- Small padlock
- Hand mirror
- Toothbrush, toothpaste (mini), mouthwash (mini)
- Sun cream
- Hair brush
- Water bottle
- Small perfume
- Spray deodorant
- Roll on deodorant
- Hand sanitiser
- Lucky mascot!
- Lip balm
- Spare luggage tag
- Spare phone case
- Face wipes
- Wet wipes
- Water bottle!
- Dollars for international currency – will be needed in Cambodia and Thailand; most likely for visas and border crossings
- Wallet! (GBP) – With Indian Rupees being an internal currency, money needs to be withdrawn or exchanged on arrival
Well, that really is an enormous amount of unnecessary crap! Oops, I forgot, I’m reserving judgment! I think I tend to pack for a lot of “what if” situations as opposed to what I actually know I will use…
- 1 book in hand luggage
- 4 books bought at airport – I panic-buy, ok?
- Travel journal – hand luggage
- 2 small notebooks
- 1 letter writing pad – my mum’s a bit mental about proper writing paper… Why? No idea.
- Assortment of pens, pencils, and a gluestick – for my journal!
- Photocopies of important documents, passport size photos (for visas), list of contact numbers (embassies, hosts etc)
- 2 books for teaching young children
- 1 storybook for teaching English
- Laptop + charger
- Laptop case
- iPhone + case + charger
- Memory stick
- Camera + case + strap + spare battery + charger
- 32GB SD card x 2, 4GB SD card x 3
- Power bank + cable + plug
- Headphones x 2
- Spare iPhone cable
- Spare USB feed wall plug
- Travel alarm clock
- Alcatel phone + charger
- India adapter x 2
- America adapter
- Europe adapter
- These last two are both used throughout South East Asia
- Assorted paracetamol/ibuprofen – around 2 packs
- 2 packs of feminax
- 2 condoms (you never know!)
- ½ pack of Kalms tablets
- 1 pack of cold relief tablets
- 2 packs of allergy relief tablets – I don’t have allergies, but they help in case of a bad reaction to insect bites
- 2 packs of diarrhoea relief tablets – ew but the threat is real
- Instructions for any medicines I don’t take regularly at home e.g. allergy relief
- Roll on insect repellent
- Bite and sting relief spray
- Bite/sting electrical zapper
- Blocked nose spray x 2
- Hand sanitiser x 2
- Antihistamine cream for bites
- Personal medicine/creams
- 1 packet of soap leaves
- Roll on deoderant
- Toiletry bag
- Athletes foot powder
- Insect repellent spray
- Sun cream
- Feminine wipes
- 12 x sanitary towels
- 64 x tampons – perhaps excessive, but apparently they’re not really a thing in Asia? *shudder*
- A few pantyliners
- Baby powder – good as dry shampoo and prevents sweating
- Actual dry shampoo!
- Mini mouthwash
- LUSH shampoo bar x 2
- LUSH conditioner bar
- Nail varnish x 2
- Nail varnish remover pads x 2
- More tiger balm!
- Moisturiser/face wash/toner
- Cotton pads/cotton buds
- Dental floss
- Manicure kit – scissors, tweezers, clippers, nail file
- 4 x razor
- Spare plasters
- More mini toothpastes!
- Spare nail file
- Luggage tags
- Spare padlock
- Spare eye mask and earbuds
- Hair scrunchie and big hair clasp
- Head torch
- Reading torch
- Lip salve
- 2 bracelets
- Spare earrings
- Spare headphones
- 2 x eyeliner – black and blue
- Elastic bands
- Strap for glasses – aka the dork strap
- Bobby pins x 15
- Hair elastics x 20
- First Aid Kit
- 2 Microfibre towels
- Pack of playing cards
- Sewing kit
- She-Wee – I thought this was a brilliant idea when I bought it on Amazon but I see it being used approximately once every never…
- Spare glasses
- Rope – for clothes line!
- Small plastic pot
- Foldable water bottle
- Laundry bag
- Sweets for the kids – Haribo, of course!
- Gift for host (book of sketches of my town and a scarf)
- Sleeping bag – very small and light, 2 seasons, mummy top
- Silk sleeping bag liner
- Travel pillow
I know I said I’d reserve judgment, but that is utterly shameful! I have no idea how I’m going to get it all in once I leave my placement in India… We’ll see, I suppose! Later in my trip, or after I get home, I plan to do a recommended packing list, after I’ve learnt from my mistakes (of which I’m sure there will be many more!
Any comments on my awfully long list? What would you pack for mid to long-term travel in Asia?