So you’re thinking of travelling around South East Asia – good for you! Before I came here all I could do to contain my excitement was read endless packing lists, from the swanky and glamorous 2 week lists to the 6 month ones where you’d feel guilty packing more than 2 tops! But what do you realistically need?
I’ve got a 65-75 litre backpack, and these are the top 10 things that have been extremely useful as i’ve travelled from Hong Kong to Bangkok, and up through Northern Thailand, in 40 degree heat! (also verified by other fellow backpackers):
The 10 most useful items for your backpack:
1. Packing cubes – an absolute must! Not only do they help to keep your things organised but they also save space and keep everything compact. I am using three that are different colours so I can easily grab clothes in the dark and when short on time.
2. Microfibre towel – It’s not the fluffy towel you’ll be used too, but they dry quickly and are compact. Many hostels charge for using a towel, so if you’ve got your own you’ll be saving some money. Plus you’ll often need your own if your going to go on a trek or go swimming.
3. Padlocks – You can sometimes rent them from where you are staying or if you’re lucky, borrow one for free, but most of the time if you are staying in hostels (even the luxurious ones) a padlock will come in handy. You should be allocated a large locker for your backpack, so you’ll want to pop anything valuable in it. I’ve got two padlocks with me just incase one gets lost.
4. Dry bags – Everyone I have met this far uses them. Be it for electronics, keeping clothes dry or for keeping wet clothes in, they are really useful!
5. Insect repellant with deet – Bring several bottles, spray or lotion. You can buy insect repellent here but it’s hard to find ones that have 50% deet content. Top up at home. Dengue fever is more common in Northern Thailand at the moment than Malaria, so you will want to douse yourself in insect repellant! The mosquitoes here love ankles!
5. Moon Cup (for the ladies) – You may have regular periods or not have them at all, but trust me, the mix of weather, food and mixing with other women in numerous hostels changes your cycle! A moon cup or similar product will ensure that you’re never caught unaware, and will save you money in the long run.
6. Sunglasses – This is an obvious one, but when you land in Hong Kong / Bangkok or anywhere in South East Asia, the suns rays are strong! Find a pair that will protect your eyes from UV rays. You only need one pair (I brought 3 and gave away 2 pairs as was conscious that they would just get broken)
7. Ear plugs – no matter where you stay or where you snooze, these will help cancel out noise.
8. Canvas bag / bum bag – For nipping to the markets for food a canvas bag will stop you using plastic bags and can be used over and over, even for dirty washing. A bum bag is a great way to stay hands free and a good way to carry money and valuables.
9. Water bottle that will keep water cool for several hours – You will need to drink water, a lot of water. Instead of buying small water bottles buy a large one, then decant it into your own bottle, then recycle the plastic one. I’ve got used to drinking warm water but if you can keep it cold, it tastes even better when you’re sweating buckets!
10. Extension lead and adaptor – Get a small extension lead and a universal adaptor. You may think this is an odd thing to bring, but an extension lead will mean that you can safely charge several things at once without blowing the power socket.
Think we’ve missed something? Share your favourite travel items with us!