I must pack light… very light.

There’s something romantic about hopping on a plane with nothing but a passport and the clothes on your back. However, I think I’ll opt for comfort over romance in this case. Therefore, I must pack a bag.

I took a 65 liter bag to Europe in 2009 and to China in 2010. It was perfect for those trips because I was staying in pre-booked hotels/hostels and getting around by train. I didn’t have to do that much walking around with my bag. However on this trip, it may take longer to find a place to stay for the night (I only have the first 2 nights pre-booked) and I may be aboard a little tuk-tuk zooming on an unpaved road. Therefore, packing light is key.

For this trip, I’m planning to fit everything into a 40 liter bag. When I went to REI, the 40 liter bags were classified as “weekend packs.” Ha! (Calvin assured me that a weekend trip and a 4-month trip are totally the same thing. I’ll trust him on this one.) I have agonized over almost every item, making sure it’s absolutely essential.

Tops + bathing suit


  • 3 tank tops
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Not pictured: 1 bra, 1 strapless bra, 1 sports bra

Bottoms + windbreaker


  • 1 long dress/skirt (This can be worn a dozen different ways – as a dress with various amounts of coverage and as a skirt.)
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 pair of pants/capris (These can be worn as long pants or rolled up and worn as capris.)
  • 1 windbreaker (I plan to wear this on boats for wind and ocean spray, also for New Zealand rain.)
  • Not pictured: 7 pairs of underwear



  • 1 pair of walking sandals (Yes, they are ugly and yes, they are super comfortable.)
  • 1 pair of flip flops (Nothing comes between me and my Rainbows.)
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 4 pairs of socks (edit: 3 pairs of socks, I downsized after the photo.)

Medications, toiletries, etc.


  • 1 head lamp
  • 5 Mojo Clif bars (No one makes good decisions when they are hungry.)
  • 20 water purification tablets
  • 1 sunscreen and 2 Deet mosquito repellent
  • 1 toothbrush and 2 small toothpaste tubes
  • 1 travel towel
  • 1 bandana
  • 1 razor and 3 extra blades
  • 1 deodorant
  • 1 “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring” guidebook
  • 30 q-tips
  • Medications (Sudafed, Immodium, Tums, Airborne, Dramamine, Advil)
  • Sleep aids (eye mask, ear plugs, sleeping pills)
  • First aid (bandaids, Neosporin, antibiotic spray, AfterBite)
  • Cleanliness items (wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues)
  • Passport and extra photos for on-arrival visas
  • Hair (comb, hair ties and pins, headbands, Argon oil)
  • Makeup pouch
  • Calvin, my travel rabbit
  • Not pictured: 1 sleep sheet, copies of passport/credit cards, moneybelt, notebook and pens, shampoo/conditioner, soap



  • 1 smart phone and charger (I’m putting the service on hold and planning to use it for Wifi access, when available.)
  • 1 music player, headphones and charger (4gb, super basic)
  • 2 SD card readers (The second one is to back up photos as I go.)
  • 1 world phone
  • 1 converter
  • 1 watch
  • Not pictured: 1 camera and charger (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3)

Shopping List

There are a few things I’m waiting to buy once I arrive:

  • 1 sarong (I plan to use it to cover my shoulders in temples, as a skirt, as a beach coverup, etc.)
  • Anti-malarial pills (I’m still not sure if I’ll need to take these, but I’ve decided to buy them over there if I do.)
  • SIM cards (I’ll need a new one in each country to use my phone.)

I’m hoping this is just enough and not too much. I’m packing it all in my bag tonight!


2 comments on “I must pack light… very light.

  1. […] I had read and listened to tons of advice before I left on my trip. One of my takeaways – Buy a sarong. I wanted to buy one in SEA so it was one of the things I didn’t pack. Although I did include it in my original packing list. […]

  2. […] to thieves, easier to keep track of everything, easier to lift onto the top bunk. Check out my original packing list to see what I brought on a four-month […]

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