Anyone who knows us, know that we like to overpack. If we are packing for the weekend, we pack for 2 weeks. It’s just what we do. So how did we survive a whole month in SE Asia with only one backpack EACH?! Actually, just fine! When it came time to start packing for Laos and Thailand, we knew we had to be a little more resourceful than we usually are. While we weren’t quite sure if we could do it at first, we knew it had to be done. We would be in 8 different towns, and knew we had a lot of different modes of transportation (plane, bus, taxi, long tail boat, ferry…) to be doing, so we had to be efficient. Luckily for us we went in April, which means we didn’t need any coats! We each took one (big) backpack, and another small purse/backpack. Here is what to pack for one month in Southeast Asia.
Backpacks and Bags
Osprey Porter 46 Travel Bag I researched backpacks HEAVILY before I actually bought one.I found a couple I liked on amazon, went to REI to try a couple on, and finally decided on the Osprey Porter 46. It is a front loaded pack, with a hip belt, and padded shoulder straps that can be zipped up and carried like a duffel bag. There are plenty of pockets and is made of durable fabric, great for lots of travel! This backpack was able to be used as a carryon even on all the domestic flights we took throughout Laos and Thailand, which made it so easy. I was pleasantly surprised at how much stuff I could fit in here!
TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack– this backpack came with a bladder for water, so we could easily fill up before we left for the day and take it with us. We also ended up using this backpack for all our electronics.
Packing cubes – Ebags 3 piece packing cubes. We bought these just before we left, and I don’t think we would have been able to fit everything in our backpacks if we didn’t have them. Plus they keep everything nice and neat, which I really enjoy! 🙂 Also, roll everything, as it really compacts everything tighter.
- 2 iphones
- 1 pad
- sony camera
- waterproof case for iPhone
- GoPro Hero 4 Silver
- GoPro accessories and extra batteries
- 2 power banks for charging all electronics on the go
- Portable External Hard-drive for all your pictures
- chargers for all
**While you are there, here are some great day trips from Bangkok
- 2 swimsuits
- 3 pair shorts
- 1 pair capris
- 1 pair leggings
- 1 linen pants
- 1 long-sleeve shirt
- 3 short-sleeve shirt
- 4 tank tops
- 1 light-weight jacket SCOTTeVEST Tropiformer Jacket – 22 Pockets – Convertible, Travel Clothing PWT M
- 1 pair flip flops
- 1 pair tennis shoes
- 1 pair toms
- 7 underwear/bras
- 4 pair socks
In SE Asia, it is respectful to cover your shoulders and legs when visiting temples, so we had to be mindful of that. Although we would be wearing tanks and shorts most of the time, because it was forecasted for 100+ degrees, we had to bring some things to cover up! A scarf, long sleeve shirt, and capris/pants are great to pack if you plan to visit temples while there. If you forget these while visiting a temple, we found you can “rent” out clothes or scarves to cover up for a small fee.
Light, loose clothing is best, especially if you are going during the hottest times like we did. And although we were able to fit a lot in our backpacks, laundry is around 30 baht (or $1) per kilogram, so you don’t need to worry about running out of things. Or you can wash it in the Mekong River, like we did once 🙂
Clothes are also really cheap in Southeast Asia, so if you forget anything you can just buy it there. Tanks are super cheap, so we came home with an abundance! Also, knee-length skirts/dresses were actually a better idea than longer, because of how hot it was. There are plenty to buy there. A sarong is good to buy once you’re there, as it is perfect to use as a cover-up at the temple, or at the beach.
We suggest you use travel size containers of all toiletries so you can pack it in your carry-on
- bug spray- and lots of it!
- motion sickness pills
- anti-diarrhea pills
- tissues (you will need these at public toilets)
- hand sanitizer
- anti-itch cream
- aloe vera
- deodorant (we learned that this is very expensive there, and actually has skin whitening ingredients added)
- baby powder (they use this frequently to soak up sweat, so you could probably just buy it there as it is easily accessible)
- Combination lock- especially if you are staying in a hostel
- Microfiber towels– these were great for when we were stuck in the heat for hours! We wish we would have brought a bigger one, as these are the size of hand towels
- Travel pillow– this pillow inflates super quick, and the extra hood is very nice for long flights
- Ziplock baggies for dirty clothes
Don’t forget copies of important papers, like your passport, just in case you lose them! We scanned copies of our passport and bank cards and emailed them to ourselves, just in case. And don’t forget to let your bank know you are traveling overseas!
While we took more than we NEEDED, we were very proud of ourselves for fitting everything in our backpack. We fit all of this in our backpack, and it only weighed 22 pounds! Although we didn’t have to do too much walking with our full packs on, we did have to cross the Laos-Thai border with all of our belongings, and had I known what a pain that would have been (blog post to come on that adventure), I would have brought even less! We can now say that we are professional minimalist packers!
What are your essentials for a backpacking trip?
If you enjoyed this packing list, check out our other packing lists: