2 Months in SE Asia: A Complete Packing List for the Guest House Traveler
A squish, a tug, and a quick prayer. Packing for a long trip is no easy task. I would know, I just got done living out of a backpack for two months during our trip around Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. I did a LOT of research on what to pack and found that the majority of the packing guides on Pinterest and around the web catered towards hostel-jumping backpackers, which is not the type of traveling that my husband and I did.
Instead of ultra-low cost bunking (definitely appealing for some!) we moved from guesthouse to guesthouse and typically paid $20-40/night with the cushy perks of a 3 or 4 star hotel. Of course we ate amazing street food and trekked in the rainforest but we also dined in beautiful restaurants, so I wanted to be to dress accordingly. Here’s everything I brought, excluding some items that I didn’t use:
4 sleeveless tanks (gray, pink, black & white)
1 ultra-soft tee to wear with leggings and skirts (gray)
1 sweat-wiking tee
1 dri-fit knit long-sleeve
1 sleeveless button down
1 3/4 sleeve cardigan (cream)
1 pair of jean shorts (bleached)
1 knee-length skirt (black)
1 long skirt for dressing up (black)
2 pairs of athletic shorts (black & multi)
1 pair loose cotton shorts (floral)
1 pair leggings (black)
1 pair of loose cotton pants (blue/black)
1 knee-length cotton dress (dark)
1 knee-length dress for going out
enough undergarments for 10 days
4 pairs of socks
1 high-quality rain jacket (teal)
3 mix-and-match bikinis
1 sheer swimsuit cover up
1 sun hat (like this cute one from JCrew)
2 pairs of studs (teal & cubic zirconia)
1 long statement necklace
1 pair of polarized sunglasses
1 pair of flats for dressing up (nude)
1 pair of high-quality, waterproof sandals
1 pair comfortable flip-flops
1 pair tennis shoes
Laundry: Laundry service is quick and reasonably priced throughout SE Asia. I typically had half my clothes washed once a week for $3-5/load.
Outfit Choices: I choose black as my base color so therefore I didn’t pack anything that couldn’t be mixed and matched. This required much less and much easier daily decision-making.
Mosquitos: Bugs go for dark clothing which is why I purchased a bright long-sleeved top and similarly bright rain jacket. For the record, we had zero issues with bites throughout our two month journey (mosquitos are far worse in our hometown of Washington DC!).
Packing: Rolling is always the name of the game. If something an item can’t be rolled, it shouldn’t be brought.
reduced makeup kit (30 SPF foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, eye liner, mascara, 1 neutral eyeshadow)
1 hair brush
10 hair ties & a bunch of bobby pins
1 set nail clippers
1 bottle SPF 30
1 bottle facial cleanser
1 jar of face lotion (SPF 15)
an assortment of hotel-sized body lotions (2), body washes (3), shampoos (3), and conditioners (2)
1 sleep mask
1 set of ear plugs
Jewelry: I did not bring my wedding or engagement ring. While I wasn’t concerned about theft I’m happy with my decision and it was one less thing to worry about.
Hair: I did not bring a hair dryer, curling iron or straightener. At times I wasn’t able to find hair dryers at the guest house so I just dealt letting it air dry. With the various electrical outlets and weight of these items it would have been more effort than it was worth.
Nails: Getting a manicure in SE Asia is very reasonable (I paid $1 in Vietnam) and a nice little reprieve on hot days. Treat yourself!
Shower Products: I disposed the hotel-sized lotions, washes, shampoos and conditioners as I finished them and picked up new ones along the way. Not having to lug standard sized bottles was helpful for airport security and eliminated unneeded weight.
Personal Products: Deodorant, lady supplies, I’ll leave that to you to decide since we’re all different.
iPhone & Charger
Laptop & Charger
Kindle & Charger
GoPro & Charger
DSLR Camera (Canon 60D)
Wide Angle Lens (Canon L 17-40mm)
Pancake Lens (Canon 24mm)
Voltage: Outlets vary by country but we got by alternating between US and European 2 prong plugs. We did not purchase any special adaptors or voltage converters.
1 cross body purse (doubled as a camera bag)
1 makeup/toiletry bag
1 travel wallet
Osprey Farpoint Backpack **
1 set of Packing Cubes
**Backpack: Two bags in one, the Osprey Farpoint 55 backpack was my absolute best trip investment. The second bag unzips from the exterior and is perfect day pack to take while exploring a city, hiking or to the beach. The larger backpack is a convenient size and unzips fully (not top-loading) to allow to easy loading and unloading. On travel days, I’d clip the smaller bag to the front of the pack (like a turtle) and put all our valuables inside, using the top exterior pocket to store passports and cell phones.
Packing Cubes: My second best trip investment, smaller zip bags eliminates fully unloading and constant re-rolling. Luggage: Although it’s appealing, rolling luggage just will not work with the bumpy streets, muddy villages and sandy guesthouses. For long trips, a traditional backpack is a must… or a muscle-y travel companion. Extra Space: Towards the end of our trip we bought quite a few larger souvenirs (like a tea set!) and bought a knock-off rolling Samsonite bag for $16 (seen on the bottom left) to haul to our final stops.