Southeast Asia Packing List: Everything I’m Bringing

Skip down to the bottom if you just want the Southeast Asia Packing List! Editors note as of 5/21/15: I did a fabulous job packing if I do say so myself. I used nearly everything I brought. Coming soon: A list of my absolute essentials!

When I traveled abroad to Argentina, I brought two suitcases so massively overloaded that both had special neon tags flagging their weight for the airline staff so they wouldn’t hurt their backs. Now, I wouldn’t say that I’ve truly recovered from being a chronic overpacker, but I have definitely learned to say no and to limit my outfit options while on the road. What used to take me hours upon hours of dreaded folding and refolding, now can be completed, in a carry on, in under an hour (given that laundry is done). For five months traveling solo, I didn’t really know where to start with my Southeast Asia packing list, but I definitely knew I didn’t want to be hauling 70 pounds of luggage around with me.

Here began my backpack dilemma. The backpack I own is a 90L Eagle Creek. It takes up about 3/4 of my body and is definitely wider than the widest part of me. These are the negatives. You might be wondering, why did you buy this bag in the first place? The million dollar answer: I don’t know. I basically just used it as another suitcase when I moved to Argentina. In it’s defense, the bag itself is front-loading instead of top-loading, which is a positive – a huge positive. The way I saw it, I had two options: 1) pack in it, but don’t fill it 2) buy a new backpack.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling very keen on shelling out for a new pack. But, I went to REI anyways to check out my options. After a few minutes of wandering around the store myself, a smiley mountain man directed me to the section where a different backpack man would help me find the perfect fit. First things first, he pointed me to a large yellow and red plastic sizing system.

After a few minutes of awkwardly helping me find my own hip bone and taking my spinal measurement, I was prompty told, “WOW, you have huge hips and no spine!”. Instead of chopping off his balls, I decided to go ahead and make a joke about child-birthing hips. Off to a great start.

A few minutes later, the real expert came by: the smiley mountain man from before. The best part? His name tag read Tim “Moose”, but he later told me that Moose is his actual last name and he wasn’t sure why it was in parenthesis.

Moose is is the kind of outdoorsy pro you want to be stuck on a deserted island with. He just seemed to know everything about survival, killing things, and oh, backpacks. So when he started making faces at my straps, poked my hip bone and shared, “I swear I’m not looking at your boobs, I just think that sternum strap isn’t fitting you properly”, I nodded gleefully, agreeing.

While I didn’t end up purchasing a backpack from Moose that day, first because he had shared that the entire store would be 20% off later that week, but second because I just wasn’t in love with any of them. I knew what I was looking for and they weren’t it. I’m not sure if it was the Moose or the scent of outdoors gear, but I did leave the store an official REI member.

The next day, I went to my mom’s to say goodbye and to run through all my new purchases that landed on my Southeast Asia packing list. Paulo Coehlo’s words are the only way to describe what happened next.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

As I retold the huge hips story, my mom ran downstairs to pull up her boyfriend’s daughter’s bag from when she did a big backpacking trip years ago. The best part? It was almost exactly my bag BUT SMALLER. A front-loading, Eagle Creek backpack. I’m not sure how big it is, but my guess would be about 45-50 liters. Inspired by a favorite blogger of mine whose six month Southeast Asia packing list fit into a carry on, I wanted to try to carry on also – and this bag could pass! Aside from the fact that it was exactly what I had been looking for, a smaller, front-loading 45-50L backpack, I adored that it had been used and loved. It had a story and character, and came without a pricetag.

The bag and I lived happily ever after…and now on to the Southeast Asia packing list.

My 5-Month Southeast Asia Packing List

Southeast Asia Packing List - Clothes & Shoes

Southeast Asia Packing Photo (3 of 16)

Clothes

  • Dresses – 4 (1 short, 1 midi, 3 maxi)
  • Bathing Suits – 3 (2 bikini, 1 one-piece)
  • 3 long cotton tanks (1 black, 1 white 1 gray)
  • 3 lightweight cotton tee/tanks
  • 3 long sleeve (1 lightweight, 1 active, 1 cardigan)
  • 2 cotton skirts
  • 4 athletic tanks
  • 2 athletic leggings (2 crop)
  • 2 athletic shorts
  • 1 lightweight athletic zip up
  • 1 Scottevest
  • 1 pair linen pants
  • 12 undies
  • 2 bras
  • 4 sports bras
  • 1 bandeau
  • 7 pair socks (6 cotton, 1 hiking)
  • 1 Chicago sleep tee

Shoes

Southeast Asia Packing Photo - Toiletries

Toiletries

  • Shower supplies (soap, shampoo, conditioner)
  • Toothbrush
  • 1 Steripod toothbrush sanitizer
  • Toothpaste (4 minis of Sensodyne)
  • Floss/Floss picks
  • Face wash (4 minis of St. Ives)
  • Olay face moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • Hair ties
  • Bobby pins
  • Comb
  • Deoderant
  • Sunland microfiber towel

Southeast Asia Packing Photo - Makeup Bag

Make Up/Accessories

Southeast Asia Packing List - Medicine Bag

Medicine/Extras Bag

  • Ibuprofen
  • Ciproflaxcin (antibiotic)
  • Tampons
  • Bandaids
  • Pepto bismal tablets
  • Personal meds
  • Airborne
  • Immune Supplement
  • Neosporin
  • Extra Make Up
  • Extra Toothpaste
  • Extra Facewash

Southeast Asia Packing List - Hiking Gear

Hiking Gear

Southeast Asia Packing List - Safety Gear

Safety

Southeast Asia Packing List - Carry On Essentials

Carry On Essentials & Miscellaneous 

Southeast Asia Packing List - Electronics

Electronics

Southeast Asia Packing List - Bags

Bags

And that’s it!

Any suggestions? Tell me in the comments!

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Want to buy something? By clicking through the links to purchase these items, I will earn a small commission that will help me while I’m on the road at NO additional cost to you 🙂

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I'm Emily - a twenty-something female travel-enthusiast - here to serve and inspire you. Need help planning your next trip? Email me at emily [at] letsroamwild [dot] com and tag your own travel pics to share with the world @letsroamwild.

25 Responses to Southeast Asia Packing List: Everything I’m Bringing

  1. Rachel of Hippie in Heels November 21, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    OMG we are packing TWINS, it’s shocking. first off all, your makeup and mine are identical & the fossil bag.. I don’t travel without one.. I could go on and on. Only thing is my medical kit is basically empty!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…This is India! 25My Profile

    • Emily Moyer November 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

      Somehow that doesn’t surprise me…:) I went on a HUNT for a good travel purse that would also fit my camera and an extra lens. While I haven’t traveled with it yet, it’s been my main purse for the past few months or so and I’m obsessed with it. After reading your medical kit post, I knew you’d say it’d be silly to travel with so many meds, but honestly, I’ve spent so much time searching for pharmacies in foreign countries and just don’t event want to worry about it since I’ll be on the move so much! If I were staying in one place for months, I would likely not have brought as much. Who knows though, maybe I’ll end up ditching everything two days in 🙂

  2. Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide November 22, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Ok, so I have to ask, what is the doorstop for?

    • Emily Moyer November 22, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Good question! I imagine at some point along my trip I’ll get sick of dorm rooms and will book cheap privates. In those cases, I’d use the doorstop as an extra measure to keep the door closed (from the inside). I’ve just read about some stories of women in private rooms getting their rooms invaded at night. While I’m sure I’ll rarely use it, it’s sort of a nice to have that’ll make me feel better that one time I’m feeling freaked out.

  3. Dan Perry November 25, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    That was a great story. So much better than saying, “I bought a brand new backpack.”

    PS – Instead of “smiley mountain man,” you can just say “REI employee.” Just kidding.
    Dan Perry recently posted…Manzhouli’s Cabbage BazaarMy Profile

    • Emily Moyer November 25, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Haha. I’ll go for REI employee next time. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words – working on making the site more narrative based, so I appreciate the feedback!

  4. Kristin Addis February 18, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Love the story about the backpack. Glad you found my packing list helpful!

    If I may give some unsolicited advice: you can still cut that down by half. It’s fun to buy clothes on the road too. I still cherish some of my silly tank tops from my first days in Bangkok
    Kristin Addis recently posted…The Guide to Trekking in South Africa When You’re Short on TimeMy Profile

    • Emily Moyer March 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      SO true. Except that I actually ended up getting stuck (read: choosing to stay because it’s amazing) in Koh Tao and have worn and reworn everything and have run out of shit. Buying clothes on the road has turned into not such a great option since I apparently do not fit into Koh Tao sized shorts…the only thing I’m dying for more of!

  5. Lola June 4, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    Wow, I wish I was THAT organized when I packed before flying. This post is a true motivation for me, seriously!

    • Emily Moyer June 14, 2015 at 10:04 am #

      I actually refer to this list when I’ve packed for other international trips! I’m glad I was organized about it once, because now it’s even a great resource for myself!

  6. Kayla June 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi Emily! I randomly found your blog through friends and have been using it to plan my 2.5 month trip to SE Asia! It’s been really helpful! I have a question – did you use the Pacsafe protector much? It seems great, but I’m scared I would lose the key… Is there anything else on your list that you didn’t end up using? The silk liner seems like a good call. Thanks!!

    • Emily Moyer June 14, 2015 at 10:03 am #

      Hi Kayla! I’m so glad it’s been helpful! I used it a few times, but I would actually suggest the pacsafe portable safe instead, if you don’t have too many electronics. It was a huge pain to put the one I had around my entire bag. A combination lock is way easier too, but you can always swap out the pacsafe lock for a combination lock if you’re worried about losing the key. The silk liner was a life saver – I thought I wouldn’t ever use it, but ended up using it all the time. I never used the tupperware, the door stop, or the water purifer. Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Annie June 22, 2015 at 4:51 am #

    Hi Emily, my husband and I are going to SEAsia in October, I was wondering if you brought anything on this list that you could not find while you were over there as far as toiletries, makeup, meds, etc. I’d like to pack as light as possible and would rather buy things there if I can.

    Thanks!

    Annie

    • Emily Moyer July 16, 2015 at 9:10 am #

      Bring your make up, Annie, but other than that – you can get nearly everything there. The only thing that can be hard to find is deoderant and facewash without whitening in it. Bring that with you too! Shampoo, conditioner, etc. you can all get there! Have fun!

  8. Marci Hohner July 29, 2015 at 1:14 am #

    Hi Emily!

    I was wondering where you got those awesome clothing bag organizer pieces (pictured in second photo of clothing pack list). Traveling to South East Asia in the next few weeks and those look so handy!

    Thanks!

    Marci

  9. Jillian September 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I’m about to leave for trip to Southeast Asia and will definitely be following your packing advice! I love that you laid out all the items to make it easy for the reader to identify!
    Jillian recently posted…India 2014My Profile

  10. Julie October 21, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    did you call your doc for the cipro? I’m traveling to India in 3 weeks and was suggested to request that but I don’t have a GP where I live now so I’m kind of at a loss.

  11. Kai Huang November 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    Do you have a link for those semi-transparent bags to keep your stuff organised in the first photo?

  12. Jessica February 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    Hi Emily!

    Your post totally saved me. My boyfriend and I are taking off in September for a trip around the world, starting in Australia and heading to Indo and SEA after that. I was just wondering if you had any absolutely had to see places and also what the laundry situation was while you were traveling?
    Again thank you! Love following your posts!

  13. Laura April 28, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    Wow thank you! I am going through the same dilemma at the moment trying to buy a bag for my next trip.

    I once backpacked for just 40 days with a 75lt bag practically bringing a change of clothes for each day (just in case) worst idea of my life! It was huge, bulky and so heavy since I over packed…amazing bag it has now been to 7 festivals with me carrying all the camping gear..just way to big for a traveling in comfort.

    Now I will be traveling Asia for 6 months I want to have the exact right amount of things, the only issue being how big does my bag need to be to fit the bare essentials into. If its too small I will have nothing..but I don’t want one too big either. Its so much easier seeing just how much you fit into you bag – LOADS so it makes me really confident going out and purchasing a 40lt bag now.

    🙂

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