Let’s face it—packing for an international trip can be completely overwhelming. There are a lot of factors that need to be weighed, especially because items you have access to at home may not be readily available in the countries or cities you will find yourself in.
MUST HAVE Packing list for SE Asia (Amazon Links):
- A rain jacket (if you don’t have one, knockoff North Faces can be purchased easily while there)
- Comfy walking shoes
- Sandals or flip-flops (you often take your shoes off to enter homes or temples, and having something that can be removed easily is a huge help)
- Lightweight / Dri-fit / Loose clothing (you’ll be sweating a lot, and some fabrics don’t dry easily in the humidity)
- Lightweight long sleeves and pants (for both the mosquitos and for visiting temples)
- Bug spray
- A towel (they surprisingly aren’t available at all hostels)
- A hat (good for the sunshine)
- Bathing suit / Swimwear
- Sunscreen (it’s weirdly expensive in SE Asia)
- An adapter for your chargeable devices
- Travel documents (bring copies of your cards / passport / identification)
- Ear plugs (especially if you are a light sleeper, and are staying in hostels)
- Feminine hygiene products (they aren’t always readily available, depending on where you are)
- Backpack cover (if you bring a backpack, be sure to bring the rain cover…it helps, obviously for the rain, but also to prevent your pack from getting dirty / ruined as it’s thrown around on buses and trains)
Questions to consider while you’re packing for a trip abroad.
Where are you traveling to?
This one seems obvious, I know; however, you would be surprised how many people are completely clueless about local customs… watching tourists walk around Angkor Wat in shorts and a tank top is a prime example of this.
Please, remember to consider what is socially acceptable in the country (or countries) you will be visiting. If people dress modestly, or if it is customary to cover your knees and shoulders, it isn’t appropriate to walk around in a bathing suit or shirtless (no matter how hot it is!) Look in to what the traditional clothing is in the country, and pack accordingly.
What is the time of year / season where you’re going?
The weather should have the biggest effect on what you pack, especially in SE Asia, where the rainy season requires drastically different style choices than the dry season. Remember to check the average temperature and rainfall for both the country and cities you will visit.
The rainy seasons in SE Asia are different in each country, and can even vary within a country (for example, when it rains heavily in eastern Malaysia, it is actually quite sunny on the Western coast…these differences can help you to attune your packing plans). Temperatures can also be drastically different as well (for example, in the south of Vietnam, weather remains consistently hot, while it can snow in the northern mountains!).
What are your plans?
Are you going trekking? Then pack hiking shoes and long pants. Are you going to the beach? Then bring a good towel and sunscreen. Are you planning to wander around different cities and temple hop? Bring comfortable shoes and long pants.
Ask yourself what your primary activities will be, and remember to pack specifically for that. Often we bring things that we don’t actually need, because we don’t consider that our plans are very specific and require certain equipment and clothing.Sponsored Link
How long will you be gone for?
This brings us to the question of whether or not you should pack a suitcase, a duffel, or a backpack. Backpacks limit how much you are able to bring, but if you are moving around frequently, they are extremely manageable and convenient. No matter what you decide, you should NOT fill up your bag; you should leave room in your suitcase of the souvenirs and clothes that you will inevitably buy.
You should also remember that laundry is both accessible and very cheap in SE Asia; don’t feel obligated to pack enough for your entire trip, but consider having clothes washed while you’re traveling.
What you DON’T need to bring:
-A lot of medicine (apart from prescriptions, most medicine you will need can be purchased at any pharmacy in SE Asia…stock up for way cheaper right when you arrive)
-Toiletries (they can be annoying to pack, and can be easily bought there)
-Books (they are heavy, and can be purchased / discarded easily while you are there)
-Jeans (it’s way too hot for that, and they are the most uncomfortable fabric when sweaty)
-Makeup (speaking from experience…you will sweat it off anytime you wear it!)