Packing List for Six Months in SE Asia

Emma - 14 November 2016

When putting together a packing list for six months in SE Asia, it’s important to remember you can buy things out there. You do NOT have to bring a six month supply of anything. Also, you probably don’t want to bring your favorite pair of jeans and nice pair of fancy trainers. They’ll get trashed. Or stolen. Or they’ll end up being thrown in the bin halfway round the trip because they’re too heavy and you haven’t been wearing them!

Saying that, I’ve been struggling to put together this packing list. On our trip we’ll be roasting our butts off most of the time, but there’s the odd place here and there that will be chilly. Hanoi in mid-winter, for example. Climbing Mt Kinabalu (or a variety of other mountains). And just the arctic temperature of all air-conditioned transport in Asia. I figure we need to pack for heat, and work with layers when the cold sets in!

So I’ve been scribbling down a list, and thought I’d share it with you all! Any advice is extremely welcome! Obviously this packing list for six months in SE Asia is very specific to me and our trip, so take it as an example rather than a packing bible!

You may live in denim at home, but including jeans on your packing list for six months SE Asia just isn't worth itYou may live in denim at home, but including jeans on your packing list for six months in SE Asia just isn’t worth it

Packing list for six months in SE Asia:

  • Microfleece hoodie
  • Down jacket or gilet (this can be bundled up incredibly small)
  • Waterproof jacket (pac-a-mac style)
  • Loose light shirt (for covering up)
  • Travel adapter (unless all my chargers are USB)
  • Strappy tops (can sleep in strappy tops and pair of pants if staying in dorms)
  • Light cloth, zip up shoulder bag for days out
  • Durable ‘sport’ flip flops
  • Sandals (ones that you can walk in for hours)
  • Trainers
  • Thin trousers
  • Shorts
  • Leggings / thermals
  • Light dresses (things that can be made to look smart in places like Singapore!)
  • Sarong
  • Light, thin cardigan
  • Swim suit (sporty one and bikini one)
  • Sunhat (is it just me, or is there no backpack-stuffable hat that doesn’t look dorky??)
  • Underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses
  • Asthma inhaler
  • Camera
    • & charger
  • Phone with a camera, stocked up with music
    • & charger
  • Kindle
    • & charger
  • Headphones
  • Travel towel
  • Combo lock
  • Passport
  • Credit cards
  • US Dollars (if you have one currency on you, make it this one!)
  • Vaccination certificate
  • Several passport pictures
  • Earplugs & eyemask (yes it makes you look like a diva, but at least you will get some sleep)
  • Inflatable neck pillow (takes up no room, saves you on long journeys)
  • Waterproof backpack cover (in SE Asia, it never rains but it pours)
  • Mozzie repellent and a bite soother to stop you scratching your skin off
  • Playing cards for the eternities you spend in transit
  • Notebook and pen
  • Laundry soap (small amount, can buy locally)
  • Washing line / string
  • Perhaps a tiny calculator (so not always taking out smartphone)
  • Headtorch (because no one wants to carry a torch when they go to the loo on an island without electricity)
  • Toiletries
    • Travel toothbrush and paste
    • Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Razor
    • Face wash
    • Moisturiser
    • Medication for upset stomach, pain, etc
    • Deodorant
    • Minimal make up
    • UV lipsalve
    • Plasters
    • Perhaps consider a mooncup *scared expression*
    • Sun cream (M and I love P20, but it’s quite hard to buy abroad)
    • Drawstring bag for hanging everything up in a shower room
  • Dry bag (we’ll be going to a LOT of islands)
  • Laundry bag
  • Loo roll / pack of tissues

Packing List for Six Months in SE Asia - Playing cards have the best entertainment to weight ratio of anything you'll find in your backpackPacking List for Six Months in SE Asia – Playing cards have the best entertainment to weight ratio of anything you’ll find in your backpack

Ideas I’ve picked up from other people’s advice about packing:

  • Share everything you can, so you’re not doubling up
  • Fill up the backpack, and go for a walk around the block. If it’s too heavy, you need to take some stuff out!
  • You probably want a smart outfit, just in case there’s an opportunity for a smarter evening (e.g. in Singapore)
  • If you take chinos and a skinny belt, you’ll be able to look chic in any city in the world. While looking like a ratty backpacker 99% of the time is fine, sometimes you want to look like you fit in
  • Use packing cubes! They’ll save you dragging everything out when you have to find a pair of socks.
  • Do you really need a phone, and ipad, AND a laptop? Really?
  • If you do bring gadgets, you don’t want them to be state of the art. I’m bringing an old iPhone with a cracked screen, an aging iPad mini with a keyboard to double up as a laptop, and a five year old Kindle. I could leave the iPad behind, but it will be useful when we’re blogging on the road.
  • Try to make sure all of your chargers are USB, and have one multi-USB plug. This means you can charge everything at once (albeit slowly…)
  • Instead of carrying round skin moisturiser AND hair conditioner, perhaps use something like coconut oil for both
  • Superglue, string and gaffa tape are often useful
  • Consider investing in a silk sleeping sack, depending on how squeamish you are about unwashed sheets
  • Keep all your electronics in a Tupperware, and use twist ties to organise/tame the wires
  • Work out how you’re going to upload pictures from your camera as you go. Perhaps bring a laptop, or perhaps just bring a cable so you can upload them to a Dropbox account. Or just put them on Facebook. Don’t end up losing six months of pictures!
  • Bring a headphone splitter if you want to be semi-sociable with your travel buddy on long journeys. Or for when one of you is out of phone battery.
  • Denim takes forever to dry, plus it’s heavy. Leave the jeans at home.

I hope this packing list for six months in SE Asia is helpful to you! Let me know any advice you have in the comments below – we always love hearing from readers 🙂

Packing List for Six Months in SE Asia – Dollars are essential. You can get them as you travel, but always make sure you have some!Packing List for Six Months in SE Asia – Dollars are essential. You can get them as you travel, but always make sure you have some!

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