Backpacking Asia: What to Pack

I’ve been in living in beautiful New Zealand for about 6 months and although life is superb, it’s time shake things up with a new adventure! I’ll be flying out to Singapore to start my 3-month backpacking journey around Asia. I’ll be embarking on this trip with a new approach: I don’t have an itinerary. In this past I’ve created detailed plans to explore new places, but to add to my travel experience I’d like to try not having a plan. My itinerary will be improvised with photography and content creation assignments, local recommendations, and by wisps of sheer inspiration.

In order to travel in this manner I need to be efficient and mobile. Having these two factors in mind, I decided to load an Osprey Farpoint 70 with the following:

packing, southeast asia

What’s in My Backpack

Important Documents

  1. Passport – Be sure that it’s at least valid for 6 months and that you have all the proper Visas.
  2. Driver’s License 
  3. Credit Cards – Go for ones that give points for traveling and have no international fees.
  4. Cash
  5. Notebook/Journal + Pen – My go-to setup for daily note taking is a small Zuquenz 360 and Fisher Space Ball Pen. The notebook is small enough to fit in one hand comfortably, has a durable feel, and contains enough pages to last the duration of the trip. Since discovering the Fisher Pen, it has become my favorite writing tool. It writes incredibly smooth and is environment proof! You can write in freezing temperatures and even underwater.

Luggage

  1. Backpack – I’m using a Osprey Farpoint 70 Backpack, which in a S/M size equates to one large, main 52L backpack and a 15L daypack.  They can be carried together and fit in the overhead compartment of most airplanes.
  2. Organizing Units – Ebags Packing Cubes and lots of zippered bags from DAISO are my best friends for keeping things organized.
  3. Lock – I’m using a pair of TSA friendly padlocks that fit keep my luggage’ zippers locked together.

 

Things I’ll Wear

packing list, south east asia

Clothes

  1. Pants (4x) – For this trip I have Icebreaker Crush Pants, prAna Brenna Pants, and a pair of Nike Training Pants.
  2. Shorts (2x) – Nike Tempo Running Shorts and Lululemon Run Speed Shorts
  3. Tops (5x) – Since moving to New Zealand I’ve become a huge fan of merino wool products. For Asia I have merino tops varying from t-shirts to tanks from Icebreakers.
  4. Underwear (3x)– Underwear by ExOfficio is ideal for traveling. They’re comfortable, lightweight, antimicrobial, odor resistant, and quick-drying.
  5. Women Necessities – Because Mother Nature will also invite herself to go along my travels: 3 pairs of period panties from THINX and a menstrual cup.
  6. Swimwear – Bringing a bikini so I can swim with the fishes!
  7. Warming Layers – I highly doubt I’m going to need to take any of these items out while in humid Southeast Asia, but my Icebreaker Helix Hoodie, Icebreaker Sphere Hoodie, and Marmot Precip Raincoat will definitely come in handy hiking up mountains top such as Mt. Fuji. I also have a merino wool scarf,  Everlane Merino Wool Beanie (aka my all time favorite slouchy beanie,) and Running Gloves. If I get into colder conditions I’ll pick up more gear then.
  8. Sun Protection – The sun is evil, shield yourself from it. I’m sporting a pair of Raybans Clubrounds Polarized, a $3 baseball cap, and lots of sunblock.

Footwear

  1. Socks (4x) – I’m bringing four pairs of my favorite Darn Tough Merino Socks. These are comfy, knitted to withstand the outdoors, and antimicrobial –so they won’t smell!
  2. Shoes – Considering I’ll be wandering around during the summer I’ll be wearing a pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus on the daily and Chaco Athletic Sandals for days when my toes need to breathe.

 

Toiletries

I separate my toiletries into two bags: 1 small bag for my carry-on and 1 larger bag to be stowed away with my check-in. The smaller bag carries essentials that I’d find myself reaching for while in transit between flights. The larger contains items that I’d use when I have the time and space (restroom) to properly bathe.

Smaller Bag

packing list, south east asia

  1. Face – Cleansers, moisturizers, and acne creams.
  2. Eyes – Contact lens, contact lens case, contact lens solution, and
  3. Makeup – My makeup routine for travel has come down to: Kat Von D EyelinerBenefit Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil, and a small sample sized lip gloss. I’ve given up on wearing anything else since the high humidity will melt everything off your face.
  4. Teeth – Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Floss.
  5. Misc. Personal Hygiene – Deodorant, menstrual cup, and hand sanitizer.

 

Larger Bag

  1. Sun Protection – Living in New Zealand has taught me one very important thing: Ozone hole = Death Star Sun. Thus, heaps of zinc sunscreen are now in my pack.
  2. Face – Cleansers, lotions, creams, toners, essential oils etc. all in tiny travel sized bottles. Because I’ve developed an overwhelming fear of the sun,  I now have way too many skin care products to combat the evils of sun exposure.
  3. Hair – Hair ties, Elite Destangle Brush, and Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo are standards in my toiletry bag. For this trip I’m experimenting with using both shampoo and conditioner bars by Lush instead of their tradition liquid versions.
  4. Travel Towel – I currently using a hand towel and XL set from Zerogrid. They’re microfiber towels, which quickly dry and comparatively take up less space than a traditional towel.
  5. Misc. Personal Hygiene – Deodorant, tweezers, epilator, travel mirror and nail clippers.

 

First Aid Kit

packing list, first aid kit

Once upon a time I crawled around a lava tube in Lava Beds National Monument and then somehow slipped and punctured my knee on an angry-looking rock. I didn’t have any first aid at that time and therefore climbing out of the tube painfully sucked. Since then I keep a small first aid on standby in my pack.

Electronics

This is where all the weight I’ve saved with minimalist packing habits gets squandered. As a digital nomad, my office travels with me.

packing list, southeast asia

  1. What Cameras I’m Using  – Sony A7r II  + Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 GM + Sony 90mm F/2.8 Macro Lens + Sony RX100 V
  2. Extra BatteriesNP-FW50 + Dual USB ChargerNP-BX1 +  Dual USB Charger
  3. Storage – SD Memory cards in a Pelican Case, 1 TB external harddrive (3x), Lexar USB 3.0 Card Reader
  4. How I Wear My Camera – Peak Design Slide Strap or Peak Design Camera Cuff, I love both of these camera straps. They’re versatile, comfortable to wear, and fit Arca-Swiss tripod heads.
  5. How I Tripod My Camera – Instead of bringing along a full-sized tripod, I used the world as my tripod in combination with a Joby Gorrillapod. I’m bound to find a random rock or tree I could set the camera up on. 
  6. How I Clean My Camera – With An air blower and lens brush.
  7. How I Carry My Camera Tenba BYOB 10 + Packlite Travel Bag
  8. How I Record Audio – In addition to photography I’ve also been interviewing interesting people and telling their stories. I use the Zoom H2n Handy Recorder and a wind muff.
  9. Workstation – For the first time in 10 years I’m back on a Windows machine. While on the road I’m on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
  10. More Power – An International Travel Adaptor Charger, with built-in USB inputs, is an absolute must for any traveler. For extra power I picked up a ChargeTech Portable AC Battery, which will allow my to charge anything via USB and AC plug.
  11. How I Ignore People  – Headphones and Kindle Paperwhite.
  12. How I Tell Time – Apple Watch (Yes, I caved in and got an Apple Watch since both the Jawbone UP band, Nike Fuel Band, and Fitbit have all perished from being worn while washing dishes.)
  13. How I Communicate – Before leaving the States I unlocked my old iPhone 5s and can now pop in any SIM card for cell service.

Traveling with a lot of electronics would naturally mean traveling with a lot cables and wires. I keep all my cables organized in water-resistant pouches To avoid the nightmare of untangling cables upon cables.

 

Misc.

packing list, southeast asia

  1. Tools – Gerber MultitoolEmergency Hiking WhistleCarabiners
  2. Water Storage – Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle and 1L Nalgene Bottle
  3. Lighting – Headlamp
  4. Sleeping –  Since I’d prefer to have a clean and comfortable night’s rest, I’ve equipped myself with Nemo Fillo and  Cocoon Sleeping Bag Liner. When jumping from hostel to hostel you never quite know when the sheets were last changed or what went down on that mattress/cot/bunk before you.
  5. Laundry Bags – I have one blue bag for dirty clothes and a couple of mesh bags to keep all my merino wool clothes in good shape when they’re being pummeled by the washing machine.
  6. Rain Shells – Since I’ll be in Asia during monsoon season, rain is expected. I have a rain shell for both the large pack, small day pack, and camera.

 

Final Thoughts

Living and traveling to new places makes you to recognize the things that are essential. What’s cardinal for you may not be to another traveler, and what’s necessary for you now may also change with correspondence to ever-changing variables. The items that I’ve decided to throw into my pack are all things that I foresee will be practical, however depending on future circumstances I’m also prepared to pick up more things and toss away the unnecessary. That’s the fun part of packing, it’s always forcing you to adapt and change.

 


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