As some of you may know, I began my travel journey from the states to Europe. However, in November, I packed my bags for a trip around Southeast Asia. Perfect timing to avoid the cold winter, right?! Since then, I have traveled to Thailand, Bali and Malaysia. The year-round summer weather left me tossing a few belongings here and there… okay, I actually ditched an entire suitcase full of clothing. They say you shouldn’t pack things unless you’re okay with losing them, and it’s so true. Shoutout to my favorite knee-high boots, I miss you. Learn from my mistakes and use this southeast Asia packing list to ensure you have all the essentials and not a single kilo more!
Versatile and Lightweight Clothing
The one thing I want to stress the most in this southeast Asia packing list is to only consider clothing that can be worn in multiple outfits. There is absolutely no need to bring a shirt that only pairs well with one skirt. Each piece of clothing that you choose to bring should have more thought behind it rather than just being cute. Ideally, you should be able to mix and match all your pieces to minimize space and weight.
Speaking of weight, you definitely do not need any clothing made of heavy material. Trust me when I say, it is extremely hot here. Temperatures can average between 30 to 35 celsius. There are some days I walk outside and immediately want to run back inside to my air conditioned bedroom because the scorching sun is unbearable. Flowy and breathable clothing will be your best friend. Anything tight will spotlight how much you’re sweating; if you’re anything like me, then you are usually dripping and it is not as sexy as advertisements make it seem to be.
Daily Clothing Checklist:
- 4 loose-fit or breathable tank tops
- 1 t-shirt (or something that covers your shoulders for temple visits)
- 1 dress
- 1 skirt
- 1 pair of yoga pants (again, temple visits and other occasions requiring coverage)
- 3 pairs of shorts (1 high-waisted, 1 regular-fit, 1 athletic)
- 1 set of pajamas (I use yoga shorts and a large t-shirt)
Swimwear and Intimates
What’s a southeast Asia packing list without talking about swimwear?! If you’re not planning to be at the beach or pool every day, then one swimsuit will suffice. Otherwise, bring two! As far as bras, I honestly try not to wear them if I don’t have to. Opting for a bikini top, bralette, or bandeau bra is seriously the way to go! Underwear is small, whether you bring 8 or 15 won’t make a difference. They are also the easiest to clean, so don’t worry about ever running low between laundry loads.
- 1-2 swimsuits
- 2 bralettes (or use bikini tops/bandeau bras) – another option: free the nipple!
- 10 panties
Comfortable and Durable Shoes
Bringing flip-flops or sandals are an absolute must. No need to worry about them breaking because the cost to replace them in Asia is ridiculously cheap. I bought my newest pair for $0.50! (Sidenote: Everything is cheaper here, check out my cost of livings here for proof!) However, packing a long-lasting pair of sneakers is advised. I left a pair of Nike tennis shoes back at home and chose to bring along my cute Converse instead. If I could go back in time, I would have chose my ugly Nikes! If you’re planning on hiking or walking around all day (which is inevitable with traveling), you will definitely want comfort over style.
- 1 pair of flip-flops/sandals
- 1 pair durable sneakers
- 5 pairs of socks
The Bare Minimum
This amount of clothing is more than a minimalists approach to traveling, yet less than the average vacationer’s. Feel free to remove or add more pieces from this southeast Asia packing list. It all comes down to what you are comfortable with bringing and go from there. Just keep in mind that less is always more. You can always buy more clothing on the road, but you can’t send them back home as easily when you want to downsize some weight from your luggage. I’ve minimized my load 4 times, losing maybe 30 outfits total. It’s simply not needed.
Additional Clothing Checklist:
- 1 jacket (perfect for rainy days or cold airports)
- 1 baseball hat (I’m American, this is my culture, okay?)
When it comes to packing shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, I suggest only packing enough to last you a couple days. After that, find a store and restock. Large bottles can add so much weight, it’s best to save that for your must-have products. Mine consists of my favorite body mist, face wash, and face mask. I also have a makeup bag that contains a small eyeshadow palette, tweezers, nail clippers, hair ties, bobby pins, nail polish, and a mini sewing kit.
Toiletries and Beauty Checklist:
- Hair brush/comb (I have both because my natural hair is a damn mess)
- Small bag that contains hair ties, bobby pins, tweezers and nail clippers
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
- Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
- Travel-sized body wash
- Face wash, moisturizer, face mask
- Sunscreen (SPF 30)
- Feminine hygiene products
In addition to this checklist, I also have packed a flat iron and curling iron. Be aware that your hair styling tools may not work while traveling overseas! This is because they may need a travel converter. This is not a travel adapter. A converter actually adjusts the wattage. For example, US appliances for made for 120 volt outlets, many sockets around the world are double that. This often results in dead hair dryers and such.
This section of the southeast Asia packing list may be irrelevant to some, but as a digital nomad, you may not be able to spend a single day away from these items. Ensure that you have researched which travel adapters you will need for each country you visit! You can read my guides to every destination I’ve visited here to gain insight about what you will need. Learn from my mistakes! It seems each place I travel to, I end up at the store on the first day desperately seeking an adapter to be able to charge my laptop.
- Phone and charger
- Laptop and charger
- Power bank
- Travel adapters (a universal one works great)
With being overseas, it’s best to prepare yourself with any papers you may need. I have a folder that encases what I like to call ‘my life’. If you ever lose your passport, you will need a copy of your birth certificate and passport to provide to an embassy.
Your Identity Checklist:
- Birth certificate
- Driver’s license
- Social security card (or the equivalent for your country)
I have multiple copies of the above that I carry with me in the event that I lose my real documents.
Additional Items to Bring
There are many small items that you might have forgotten about. Don’t worry, I made sure to cover all the bases in this southeast Asia packing list. Figuring out what to bring for a long journey can be overwhelming, don’t forget to share this with your travel buddy!
- Travel umbrella
- Wallet and cash
- Tote bag (perfect for beach days and grocery shopping)
Choose Your Luggage Carefully
I saved this for last because now seeing how many items you are packing will help determine what you need to put everything in. This comes down to whether you will travel with a suitcase or a backpack. Personally, I have a suitcase. If I could part with my 3kg, 11-inch bluetooth speaker (which is unlikely to happen) then I would absolutely choose to sport a backpack instead! If you’re a little extra, like myself, then going with a suitcase will be the best option. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only travel blogger who stills checks a luggage into flights, but it’s what works for me.
Pin this Southeast Asia Packing List for Later
Or save it to your bookmarks! There’s a fine line between packing for the unexpected and overpacking for the ‘just in case’. Hopefully this helps to avoid bringing too many unnecessary items. Now I want to know, what’s a travel must-have for you? Mine is clearly my bluetooth speaker, it makes everywhere I visit feel like a home.
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