Travel Minimal: One Bag for 2 Months in South East Asia
After innumerable google searches, perusing travel blogs and onebag subreddit lurking, here is my very indefinitive minimal packing list for two months in South East Asia. My itinerary includes the well-worn backpacking route through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, so the lighter warm weather clothes definitely helps with packing less.
First things first! The backpack I ultimately decided on was the North Face Overhaul 40. It has great shoulder support with hip and chest straps (can be tucked away into sleeves for easy onboard flight storage), a crazy amount of organizational pockets and a TSA approved fold out laptop compartment. The backpack’s main drawback is the semi-front loading zipper, meaning that it doesn’t fully open like a suitcase when laid flat. It unzips about a good two-thirds of the way open, but it’s not a huge deal-breaker for me.
The most helpful bit of advice I’ve read is to bring enough for a week-long trip. Having access to Airbnb washer machines and cheap laundry service means being able to pack less, which helps free up space for stuff I might pick up along the way like souvenirs and clothes.
- REI stuff travel daypack (zips into itself nice and small when not in use)
- 3 slim packing cubes (these mostly hold all my clothes)
- electronics accessory travel bag
- hanging toiletry bag
- small polyester laundry bag (to separate dirty clothes)
- inflatable neck pillow
- dry bag (for boat trips and swimming holes)
- headlamp (for camping out in jungle tree tops and caves)
- travel clothesline
- microfiber body and hand towel
- 2 Icebreaker merino wool shirts (super light, quick drying and odor resistant)
- 2 tanks (any old light cotton ones will do)
- 2 pairs of shorts (1 new ways outlier shorts, 1 cheap H&M linen shorts)
- swim trunks
- 5x underwear
- 2x smartwool ultra light socks
- lightweight foldable rain jacket
- money-belt (LOL sup tourists)
- five panel hat
- Rayban sunglasses (gotta look cute, obviously)
The first packing cube holds the shorts and laundry bag, while the second contains shirts, tanks, bandana and hand towel. Lastly, the swimming trunks, rain jacket, socks and underwear go into the third. Easy peasy!
For the plane ride over, I’m wearing light jeans, a light long sleeve button down, Uniqlo quick dry hoodie and comfy sneakers to cover those places where shorts and t-shirts might not cut it (some temples and nicer dining).
- Dr. Bronner’s (multi-purpose body wash/shampoo/shaving lotion)
- foldable travel toothbrush
- shaving razor
- Tom’s deodorant unscented
- disposable ear plugs
- nail clippers
- grooming scissors
- spf chapstick
- travel size kleenex
- wet wipes (for sanitizing seat trays/arm rests/airplane grossness)
- Woolite travel size laundry soap (for quick clothes sink washing)
- plastic sink stopper (see above)
- Tide to Go pen
During flights, all liquids go into a Flight 001 Clear Carry-On Quart Bag to avoid accidental spillage during transit. After landing, they’ll go into the hanging toiletry bag and the quart bag will pack away flat.
- hand sanitizer
- antibacterial ointment
- multi-size bandaids
- anti-malarials (might be overkill but mosquitos LOVE me)
- extra-strength antibiotics
- mosquito repellent with DEET
- allergy meds (Claritin)
Most of this goes into my handy first aid kit that I usually bring along for hiking and camping excursions. But this little guy is great and compact enough to bring along on international trips as well.
- Macbook pro + bootleg laptop charger (for blogging and photo editing)
- iPhone + iPhone charger (unlocked for use with SIM cards overseas)
- earbud headphones
- electrical converter
- kindle + charger
- Sony A6300 mirrorless digital camera (small, light camera perfect for travel)
- Sony prime lens (awesome lens for some nice bokeh and low light situations)
- extra camera battery
- memory cards
- memory card reader
- aux cord
Aside from the laptop, camera and ginormous universal plug converter (seriously why is this thing so huge tho?), various cords and chargers are put away in the electrical accessories travel bag for easy access.
- playing cards (for those long train/boat rides)
- mini padlock (to deter hobos from rifling through my backpack)
- combo lock (for keeping the backpack safe in hostel lockers)
- mini moleskin notebook
- black sharpie
And the Rest
- driver’s license
- passport photos
- photocopies of essential travel documents
Even having packed way in advance for this trip (embarrassingly so), I’m debating on what to leave behind. I’m looking forward to updating this list while on the road to see what gets thrown out and what I wish I would have brought with me. The great thing about minimal travel is if you’ve forgotten something, you’ll probably be able to purchase it whatever your destination may be. Hope you enjoyed!