Maybe you are travelling for the first time or maybe you are a veteran of the travelling gig, in either case, your travel essentials will probably be largely the same. Although if it is your first time you’ll probably take the essentials and then another bag’s worth of stuff you don’t actually need.
Remember as much as you want to mix in you will stand out significantly and to avoid obvious tourist scams try to wear muted plain clothes with minimal logos. You don’t want to advertise your wealth to others.
For three months of travelling Asia you will need the following:
One pair of trainers – unless you love them you won’t wear them all the time but good for random waterfall treks, Angkor wat and when it randomly gets cold or rains.
Four pairs of socks (one cosy, three trainers) – one pair that make you feel homely is all you need to make you feel better when homesick.
One bra, two bikinis and six pairs of pants – wear your bikini tops as bras on wash days and hand wash your pants daily to keep you going.
One pair of flip-flops/sandals – you’ll probably wear these the most so make sure they are good quality.
Two pairs of leggings or trousers – one thick and one thin – sometimes it gets cold or aircon can be cold so thick ones are great, the thin ones are best to pop in a day bag and wear at temples.
Four plain tank tops (three black, one muted in colour) – simple, easy to wash and great for day or sleep. Muted is important to not stand out too much.
A loose-fitting t-shirt or over-the-top that can be worn with everything – you might buy a local top with print on it, but the plainer the better to not look too touristy.
Two pairs of shorts – again one day and one for sleep or both for exploring. Just useful and versatile particularly on laundry days.
Two dresses, one beach, and one variable day/night dress. These can be plain or maybe patterned with ethnic print – you might want to go out but it’s generally very causal when partying in Asia. Both can be pretty casual.
One large scarf and one smaller scarf – the large scarf is great as a sun protector, a temple shoulder cover, a sarong, a makeshift blanket in cold airports or a scarf! The small one is good to cover your chest a little more especially when out in rough areas, also good as a head scarf, bandana etc.
One long-sleeved cardigan or dress – you won’t always be allowed to wear a scarf as a shoulder covering in temples so a cardigan or long-sleeved top is essential.
One zip-up front hoodie – warm, great travel wear especially if you want to sleep.
Plain tote bag – to put your temple clothes in. Don’t use it for valuables.
Plain small over-body bag – so useful to keep things close to your body. But you can also use your bra for credit cards and cash in rough places.
One 40-litre backpack – you need no bigger than this and it fits as hand luggage which saves you money!
One make-up bag (blush, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, lip-gloss) – sometimes you will want to look fancy!
One wash bag (mini shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton ear buds, small perfume, tweezers, mini mirror, mini hairbrush, sanitary supplies for one month, anti-mosquito spray or Tiger Balm) – you can pick up products easily in Asia so just buy as you go especially of going overland.
Safety pins – you think you won’t need to but you will.
Duck tape – random but useful.
First aid kit – a must!
Medicines – check with your doctor.
Fold away rain mac – sometimes it rains and when it rains it rains hard!
Waterproof phone envelope – so useful especially if you want to kayak and get great photos.
Passport photos (for random visas) – you’ll look like a smarty pants at border control when no one else has them! 😉
Playing cards – is the most amazing way to meet people and learn other languages.
Chargers and adapters – (obviously), a world charger is more expensive but worth it.
Wet wipes – take four packs and keep one on your person at all times. The most useful thing you’ll ever have ever.
Ear plugs – hostels can be noisy as can planes.
This is literally all you need. Please note the list does not include hair straighteners, hairdryers etc. You will not need these. There is nothing worse than lugging around stuff you don’t need for months on end, remember less is more.