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Travel Packing Guide for Southeast Asia - Part 1: What to Pack

Have you ever been in this situation? - Arrived at the hotel, get unpacked only to find out that you forgot to bring the camera's charger. And your dear travel partner, she brought virtually every item in her wardrobe and toiletries. I know that there’s a fine line between “over-packing”, “under-packing”, plus, it is hard to be “a packing maestro”, since it depends on what travel for, where you head for and where you stay. But I just want to list out the things that we, generally, should bring but often forget to and the other things we might pack but better leave them at home. To start off your travel packing guide for Southeast Asia, here're 10 things to pack:

1. Chargers

For those who can’t seem to live without their tech gadgets for 24 hours, make sure that all of your smartphone, tablet, eBook reader, laptop and camera are accompanied with their chargers. If some of them share one common charger (for example, an iPhone and an iPad), bring only one. A portable mobile charger may also be your life saver during your whole day trip.

2. A pen and a notebook

guide for southeast asia

They don’t use up too much space but can turn out to be very useful, especially if you’re a travel blogger. In addition, you also can use them to monitor your travel cash balance, create a shopping and/or an eating list. If you’re good at sketching, also bring a pencil so you can create your very own postcard of the Angkor Wat or the majestic skyline of Bangkok.

3. Snacks

I know that snacks are widely available in most parts of Southeast Asia except for the remote areas, but a sufficient amount of light snacks can be very helpful during your inter-continent flight or a Long train journey. Or at night, your empty stomach urges you to grab your own bar of Snickers instead of paying the hotels for a small KitKat bar in their mini-bar at a double price. However, don’t buy and pack too much snacks prior to your trip. Instead, bring just enough for three or four days or for your next long flight/train journey, then reload upon arrival.

4. Flip-flops or sandals

A pair of flip-flops or sandals is essential not only for when you’re in the sandy beach of Bali. They provide hygiene protection for your foot as infection is a major concern while traveling to the humid lands of Southeast Asia. These footwears are also great choices for a typical Asian rainy day.

guide for southeast asia

Life is better with flip flops

5. Hand sanitizer

Fact: A recent French study showed that traveler’s diarrhea is experienced by 20-50 percent of those who travel to developing tropical area, including Asia. It was caused by eating in unsanitary conditions in high-risk locations. The lead researcher wanted to assess if the usage of hand sanitizer could provide any protection. And that turns out to be the case. Those who did not use alcohol-based hand sanitizer had a considerably higher risk of experiencing diarrhea or vomiting than those who did. After all, if you don’t to end up in a local hospital, better include hand sanitizer in your travel packing list for Southeast Asia.

6. First aid kit

Scratches, blisters and bruises happen all the time when you travel. If you don’t want to limp to your hotel or a drugstore nearby for a “tourist” price, make sure to include a small first aid kit in your packing list. It won’t take much space, just a few bandages, some antibiotic ointment. Some aspirins and eye drops will also be very helpful for your trip. It would also good for youto keep your first aid kit with you all the time. Don’t leave it at your hotel because who knows what may happen on the road. Now, you’re safe to go!

guide for southeast asia

7. Sunscreen stick

Southeast Asia promises sunshine. From the beach of Phuket to the mountains of Northern Vietnam, our nearest star seems to be more generous to this tropical region than to our fellow travelers in the west. The desire to get tanned doesn’t mean that you should let your skin exposed all day. This is proven to be truer for children and babies. Anyway, sunscreen is allowed to be carried onto plane since it is not liquid.

8. More than one memory card

Just for your camera. Travelers who love photography have learnt a lesson that when it comes to bringing memory card, one is not enough. Unless you want to be notified about insufficient storage while standing in front of a striking mountainous landscape, extra cards are essential for your long trips.

9. Downloadable offline maps

guide for southeast asia

The presence of Google Maps has gradually outperformed conventional paper maps which are less convenient and far less informative. Google Maps and other digital maps are becoming our comprehensive travel directories nowadays thanks to its huge database of attractions, hotels, restaurants & bars. However, in many destinations in Southeast Asia, it is difficult for your maps to be shown due to scarce free wifi spots. To make matters worse, wifi at cafes are often slow, sometimes unconnectable. You also certainly don’t want to use data roaming for an excessive amount of data usage. In this case, downloading maps of your desired destinations prior to your trip is strongly recommended. Downloadable offline maps have long been available on Google Maps.

10. Enough underwear and socks

Underwear and socks is truly one of the most underrated items in your Southeast Asia's travel packing list. By saying so, I mean that people often don’t bring enough. The majority of Asia has a tropical climate thus it is often humid. Again because they don’t use up too much space compared to your other clothes, you don’t have to be too worry of packing too much underwear and socks. But how much is enough, consider this detailed underwear calculator chart.

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