What I Always Pack For A South East Asia Trip

Ten Items I Insist On Bringing

After over twenty trips to Thailand and beyond, I have (regrettably) packed it all and still find better ways to organize and better gadgets to bring along each and every time. I’m just about to head over for the second time this year, and my bags (one 25” check in and one Cotapaxi backpack to carry on) are lighter than ever. Over the years, since my first trip to Asia (Thailand, Singapore, and Japan) in 1998, I’ve gone from a backpack that turned into a duffel to an expedition North Face duffel that turned into a backpack to my current favorite, an eBag 25”  Mother Load rolling duffel that has dividers in one half allowing for optimal organization while performing my job as a tour guide where we move every two or three nights. (I made the transition from backpack style to luggage style in 2016 when I first traveled with a spinner, and while it is a very easy way to transport luggage on ones’ own, I’ll take the shelf-like compartments of the Mother Load over the ease of using the spinner-style when traveling on a journey with many stops.)

Whatever bag I take, here are TEN items I’ve discovered that make my travels so much easier:

1. Combo Adaptor/Convertor/Power Strip/Surge Protector

This is probably best Travel Hack and has saved me an incredible amount of time and frustration (and money). Trust me and get one. Why? First, most South East Asian hotels have one or two outlets only and one of these in the bathroom). Unless you are traveling alone, this can create a problem when needing to charge all of your cameras, power banks, phones, iPads, laptops, and whatever else you need to have electrically powered. Add on top, you need of power conversion (110V to 220V) to run some items (dryers, flat irons, and some camera chargers), and, thus, these electronics become a worrisome luxury. Make your life so much easier, and purchase one of these units that becomes your one-stop power source. No additional adaptors are needed for most South East Asian countries (check for Singapore and Indonesia) and no converters are needed at all. You don’t even need a USB port. It’s all included within this unit AND it comes with a long cord because the one outlet in your hotel room is usually very far from where you actually want it. I plug mine in the room’s outlet and dry my hair there while charging my power bank and/or phone for my day’s activities.

2. Two Power Banks. This just makes your life easier. You will very likely never have ample time to get everything charged at night, even with the above mentioned Charging Station,and nothing frustrates more than have it to leave your room for the day with a half charged phone. My solution is to bring two external chargers (aka power banks), one hearty type which can charge your devices multiple times and one smaller, lighter one for quick charges along the way (this becomes your day charger).
Power Bank with 20800 mAh and Quick Charge
Day Use, Small Charger

3. Metal Straws. Plastic is everywhere on the planet and no where on earth will you see as much plastic waste as in Asia. Help lower your carbon imprint by traveling with one or two metal or bamboo straws and be part of the solution, not the problem.

4. Bamboo Cutlery. Just like with metal straws, you can help reduce plastic waste by bringing your own eating utensils for munching on street food and take away.

5.  Another way to save the planet from the countless plastic bags that are used in Asia is to bring your own shopping bag and my favorite is a Packable Day Pack because it can also be used to carry your camera and water bottle while visiting temples or hiking at a waterfall.

6. A RFID/Theft Resistant Crossbody Bag

Like the many Citysafe and Metrosafe bags made by Pacsafe this bag will put you at ease when walking about in a crowded market at night or anytime. My current favorite is this Citysafe bag with multiple pockets to stash my phone, credit cards, cash, sunscreen, and portable charger.


7. Comfortable Slides. These Birkenstock slides replace flip flops for me and I can easily walk around all day in these. They are convenient for temples and can be rinsed off each night in your hotel room sink. I’m on my second pair because I absolutely love them (and I love the orange color they come in)!

8. Ginger Candy. Aside from Cipro and Ibuprofen (which are easy to get in South East Asia over the counter) I don’t travel far without my ginger candy for motion sickness. If you don’t live in a city that has a Trader Joe’s, you can get these on Amazon or at any pharmacy (but the prices on Amazon are very good). I can’t sit in the back of a car without getting a bit queasy, so I carry these to get past the nausea I can get from motion sickness. Even if I plan to ride in the front, I carry them for others and they’re always appreciated.

9. Foot Rest/Hammock. Unless you are traveling in Business Class, this is the best $12 you can spend. This gadget really works to keep my legs comfortable during a long haul flight and to prevent excess swelling (I wear compression socks as well on any flight over 8 hours). Seriously. You’ll thank me later.

10. Electrolytes. It’s hot in Asia. I can’t drink enough water and sometimes when I’m not feeling 100%, I’ll add an electrolyte tablet or two to my water in the morning. They work wonders to add a boost you can only get from having your fluids completely replenished. I like Nuun Brand They come in a four pack on Amazon and I usually bring two along and carry one with me in my day bag. While these are available in pharmacies in South East Asia, I like to have them for when I need them, and often that’s already on the flight over.

I hope these tips help you have a more stress free and enjoyable trip without adding too many pounds (actually, ounces) to your baggage allowance. When packing it’s all about pluses and minuses, literally. Enjoy your trip!

#getoutthere #livethislife
Laura Stegeman

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