I’m known for over packing. On my first trip backpacking South East Asia I took 4 times more than what I needed too and packed things I didn’t need thanks to all those blog that give you massive lists. Trust me, you don’t need to pack your own washing line. My biggest mistake though was the things I didn’t pack. So I’ve put together the below list from my extensive experience of what are the real five essentials when backpacking South East Asia as a lady.
A Large Scarf
A light large scarf is a lifesaver in South East Asia. It can be used to wrap around you when the air con is blasting on planes and buses, cover your head and shoulders when entering temples, as a sarong over your bikini, a towel at the beach. The list goes on really. Don’t stress if you forget to pack one before you leave as you will be able to pick one up at most local markets in SE Asia.
Why you ask? Well the toilets are different in Asia. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have gone to the bathroom to find that there isn’t any toilet paper – its not their style. Picture a squat toilet and a bucket of water on the side. While I may have mastered the squat, I’m still not ‘cultured’ enough to try the water. Cue tissues. I keep a small pack in my day bag at all times. A God send.
Following on from the above, you can’t assume that there will be soap or even a tap around to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer comes in handy for bathroom stops as well as when travelling on public transport and before eating food. You never know what germs you could pick up out and about that our bodies aren’t immune to. Better to be safe than sorry.
These are my secret weapon. I use packing cells to separate and pack my clothes, toiletries, gadgets and everything else in my pack. It makes it super easy to find things, especially late at night in a dark dorm room. It also makes it quicker to pack your bag up in a hurry when your hungover running late for your flight. I use a pack of three from Kathmandu that come in different sizes and fit in my pack super easy. I also use a compression sack for those bulkier things in my back like my rain jacket and travel towel.
Nail File & Tweezers
Ok this one might sound a bit girly. I don’t wear makeup often when I’m travelling (especially somewhere as hot at SE Asia) and I never bring an assortment of lotions and hair products. But after being on the road for 6 weeks on my first trip around SE Asia the thing I missed the most was my nail file and tweezers. Contrary to what I thought, my nails did break and my eyebrows kept growing. Nail files and tweezers also had some other uses including getting glass out the bottom of my foot. Don’t write these off they are super handy to have around – just make sure you pack them in your checked luggage.
There are plenty of other things that you need to pack – suitable clothes, toiletries, first aid kits, documents and insurances. But I have found the above to be the essential things as a woman that you need that no one tells you about.
Can you think of anything else that’s not on this list? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Planning your trip to South East Asia? Check out our 6 Week Epic South East Asia Itinerary