I’ve always been a fairly light packer, so as my SouthEast Asia trip started coming together, I knew I wanted to get by with carryon luggage only. My first flight involved a 20 hour, overnight layover and a hotel stay – what would happen to my checked baggage? Not to mention, with 7 flights over 2 weeks, I didn’t want to waste time at baggage claim each time or worse, risk losing my belongings! I knew I would have to do laundry at some point in the trip, but that’s pretty typical on my longer trips. I had a few pool days planned where sending my laundry out wouldn’t be an inconvenience. With that in mind, here is my Asia Packing List.
This was not an easy trip to pack for. Heat and humidity, combined with modesty guidelines for visiting temples meant no tank tops and shorts for the most part.
The carry-on I took for this trip is the TravelPro MaxLite 3 International Carry-On Spinner. It looks and feels tiny, but you can cram a whole lot into this bag! My “personal item” was my trusty Timbuk2 messenger bag. I love this bag – I’m wary of backpacks when traveling as I feel like someone could easily get into the back without me knowing and they just scream “tourist!” Plus, this bag has crazy loud velcro (not so great on a flight!) and buckles so I feel like it would be hard for a thief to sneak into.
Here’s the packing list of what I took along:
- 1 pair white linen pants (Athleta)
- 1 pair black linen capri pants (J.Jill)
- 1 black skort (LLBean)
- 1 pair gray shorts (Prana)
- Pajamas – old workout clothes I planned to leave behind
- 1 swim-suit (Boden)
- 1 maxi dress (JCrew)
- 1 t-shirt dress (Garnet Hill)
- 2 lightweight sweaters (Eileen Fisher and Athleta)
- 7 Tops – 3 t-shirts, 1 nicer top, 3 tanks
- Yoga Capri pants and denim tunic I wore on the plane
- 1 Panama Hat
- 1 Sarong
- Pashmina wrap for the plane
- Extra tote bag for shopping/return carry-on
- Compression Socks (for the flight)
- Sunglasses, prescription sunglasses and prescription glasses (ah, life at 40!)
- DSLR – Nikon D3000
- 3 lenses, battery pack, charger, etc
- iPhone 4S w/ waterproof case
- iPhone 5S for photos, podcasts and Instagram updates
I got off to a bad start when they weighed my luggage at the O’Hare Cathay Pacific ticketing desk. I hadn’t anticipated this, and of course, my roller-bag was overweight. So I was that person at the desk, shuffling items from one bag to the other (not sure why, as they were both being carried on!) and was eventually given the green light despite the fact that I was carrying several loose items that I stuffed right back in the roller-bag as soon as I was out of sight of the ticketing agent. And while I’m confessing my sins, I’ll also admit to bringing 2 1-liter bags full of 3 oz toiletries! I had strategically packed one of necessities and a 2nd I could live without if I got busted, which thankfully, I did not!
I feel like I brought a lot of items that were more suited to a backpackers trip. I mostly took planes and stayed in nice hotels, so I didn’t need as many wipes or cleaning items as I thought. I barely used the Lifestraw Water bottle as every hotel provided bottled water on a daily basis, although looking back, I should have used my bottle to reduce waste as recycling wasn’t widespread.
On final reflection, I could have actually gotten by with much less – maybe 1 more swimsuit, more underwear and fewer shoes and sweaters. In total, I spent about $40 to send out my laundry twice, both times using the hotel service. (Granted, I could have taken it down the street for $3, but better safe than sorry!)
I never felt like I was missing anything by not bringing a larger suitcase, and it was so nice to bypass the baggage claim area every time I landed. I did eventually check the roller-bag towards the end of my trip after buying some souvenirs and expanding into a 2nd tote bag, but for the most part was quite happy with my packing strategy! I’ll never be one of those people who always tries to go smaller and smaller, as there are some trips where I want lots of shoes and clothing options, but this time carry-on only worked perfectly for me!
And, despite what my sister might think, I did not wear the exact same outfit every day for 16 days 😉
Are you a light packer, or do you bring everything but the kitchen sink on your travels?