You’re going to Southeast Asia but don’t know what to pack? No matter what your travel itinerary might be, 4 weeks or 6 months, we’ve got a list of travel essentials you cannot forget on your trip.
Packing for a long trip might be pretty confusing, especially when the said trip will last for weeks or months. But fear not, we have all tips and tricks here for you so there is nothing standing in the way of your trip through Southeast Asia.
First things first: What to pack when traveling during a pandemic
Traveling is supposed to be fun and exciting. During a pandemic however it can get stressful. To not let travel anxiety take over, you should be prepared which is why we have a thorough checklist for you.
- Check the current travel restrictions and entry requirements for your destination
- Make sure you have valid vaccine and COVID–19 test certificates
- Pack enough masks and hand sanitizer to get you through the first few days of your trip
- Pack a few home COVID-19 test kits
- Stock up on a COVID-19 travel insurance
- Make sure all your vaccines are up to date (not just the COVID-19 one)
What other documents to pack when traveling through Southeast Asia and where to keep them
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Unless you have an extra pair of eyes on the back of your head, make sure you don’t put all your money and important documents in one place inside your backpack. It’s best to have your valuables distributed among various places on you.
If an option, order an extra bank card that is either attached to your existing account or get a new account with a new card altogether. Having two accounts, each with own bank card, came to my rescue when I lived in Southeast Asia and my wallet was stolen from my backpack.
The same goes for all of your important documents. Make copies or scans of them and save them in the cloud. Be it your passport, driver’s license, travel insurance, or marriage certificate — you don’t want to lose them.
What to pack for Southeast Asia before it hits the fan…
They say that if you don’t get food poisoning while in Southeast Asia it’s like you’ve never even been there. Fair enough, I guess I’ve never been there then.
What probably saved my butt — literally — back then was a daily dosage of probiotics. I didn’t encounter a single day of please-kill-me-now moments in the four months I lived there, even though there was some highly sketchy food and poor hygiene involved.
Just in case though, you should bring a pack of activated charcoal tablets or special medicine that’s suitable for the more resistant strains of bad gut bacteria and viruses that could cause discomfort.
Going hand-in-hand with avoiding unnecessary medical conditions is hand sanitizer. I also fell in love with soap sheets, which are super easy to carry around. Just make sure you have dry hands before you try to take a sheet, otherwise, they all get wet and stick together.
And the last thing you need — depending on if you’re planning to visit areas with abundant numbers of mosquitoes or the other rather unpleasant and potentially disease-carrying insects — is a good mosquitoes repellent. It’s best to ask your local pharmacist and get one that’s intended for use in Southeast Asia.
If you’re a light sleeper, just like me, bring a pair of earplugs (or keep those they give you on the airplane). Peaceful blue lagoons only become a reality once you arrive at them, otherwise, Southeast Asia can be a noisy mess.
I cannot speak for all countries and all cities in Southeast Asia, but Asians tend to get up early. Very early. Too early for my taste. And in their homes, they keep animals that are noisy, like roosters.
What to pack for Southeast Asia so you don’t run out of juice…
Most places in Southeast Asia are fairly developed, however, chances are you’ll find yourself struggling to power up your devices. Remote areas and smaller islands can be especially affected by power outages or natural occurrences. Make sure to carry a portable charging device with you.
Another reason to bring one is that power outlets vary from country to country so it’s better to be on the safe side.
Clothes to pack for Southeast Asia so you don’t run into trouble
Clothing conventions are hard to figure out — especially when trying to figure out which ones to pack when backpacking — but it’s more than advisable to get them right. Even within one country in Southeast Asia, there can be differences in what you’re expected to wear. Usually, women have to mind their clothes more than men.
Religious sites in particular apply stricter rules with regard to clothing. While at a beach in Bali it might be okay to wear bikinis, but a few kilometers away it might be totally inappropriate. Avoid looks and remarks by wearing a sarong or some more proper clothes that will cover you from your shoulders to at least your knees.
Even if you’re the more minimalist packer, it’s sometimes better to pack a little more than less. If you really run out of space, you can always buy a sarong once you get to Southeast Asia.
Costs to consider when backpacking through Southeast Asia so you don’t run out of money
How much money you should budget for your trip will depend on your timeframe and way of life. You also need to consider where you are going, touristy destinations will eat through your money much quicker than deserted islands.
If you want to travel on a budget, consider how much you spend in your daily life at home and compare that with local prices.
On top of spending money, you will need to count in costs for accommodation, transportation, and meals.
My advice is to research every country individually, get a broad itinerary, such as how to get to each destination and the cost of local transportation, as well as cheap flights.
Kiwi.com‘s Nomad search tool helps you save time and money when planning trips to multiple destinations. Nomad scouts every possible travel combination on a multi-city trip to find the lowest possible prices.
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