Don’t let this be you on your back packing adventure! This was how much luggage my friend Danielle Ito and I had after our four months on Semester at Sea

Packing is always the hardest part. You want to take everything in the chance of ‘what if’. If you are anything like me then you would need a rather detailed list to make sure you have all the essentials, and nothing more. They say the most general rule is to lay everything out that you think you will need and then get rid of half of it. I would be terrified to do that. All I could think about is two months into my trip I reminisce about the thing’s I didn’t pack and wish I did. So why not just only lay out the things you KNOW you will need.


Always the hardest topic because as a girl we can’t just pull off the jeans a t-shirt look everyday. We need options, thing’s that match and look new. Many travelers have told me to just take 4-5 shirts because you can wash them every week. Personally, I’d rather take ten shirts and only do laundry every two weeks. You never know where you will be, how long it will take you to get there, or even if you will have a clean sink. I would rather have a clean shirt than waging on the chance of being able to do laundry. So here is my advice:

Bring only plain t-shirts in neutral colours to ward of dirt and sweat stains. I usually pack a bunch of v-neck’s from American Apparel. To give it that new look, from a shirt you wore hiking, to one you will wear for a night out, you can add a vest. Vuola!

Undergarments: They say to bring enough for the week, I disagree. Underwear are small, and light weight so bring as many as you think you will need to last you a full two weeks. As for Bra’s, just one will suffice. If you are hitting up the beaches in South East Asia, then bathing suits will be your main mode of support.

Sarong: I cannot stress this enough. Leave the towel at home and bring two sarongs. One for showering and for the beach that can double up as a cover up. Sarong’s are so versatile! They are quick dry, provide protection from the sun, allow you to be more conservative when entering temples, you can lay on them for the beach, and dry off after a shower. Normal towels do not dry nearly as quick and start to smell after a while of being wet. That doesn’t even mention how heavy they are in your pack!

Everything else on the clothes list is very self explanatory, and is based on personal opinion. This may not apply to men, and you may find thing’s that are not as important to you like a jumper, but it is a good start pointing.


This is a very personal topic for many people. What is too much, what is too little. Start with a carrying case for all your toiletries. I have a rather small purple case with one outside pocket, and lot’s of mesh pocket’s on the inside for organization. The point is, that if your toiletries do not fit in this case, then you need something smaller, or it cannot come.

– Start with two or three bottles of travel sized shampoo, and buy as you go.

– Get a business card or tag and put all of your bobby pins and clips on it to maximize efficiency

Face cloth: A Small towel or bandanna. Keep one clean just for drying your face and hands, the other should be kept in your day pack where you can soak it in cold water and put it on your neck to cool off. South East Asia is HOT.

Hairbrush: But one of those small compact kinds where there it folds in half with a mirror on the inside.

Tampons: Bring as many as you need for the whole trip. Do not be stupid about this! You will probably not find any over there.

Attempting to pack for Japan on Semester at Sea: Learned a lot since then.


The fun stuff. Thing’s that you need to keep you emotionally and mentally stabilized and free of homesickness. There is also the responsible stuff here… Just in case you were getting carried away :)

Journal: The most fundamental and important asset of your trip. This will become your souvenir and your most prized possession. I recommend buying a new journal a few week’s before the trip. Glue in your itinerary, map, contact info, and write down your friend’s addresses so you can send them post cards. Your journal should be more than just your feelings, it should be a record of your travels! Have a page designed for Budget and expenses, another for important flight information (this helps instead of constantly pulling our flight itineraries), glue in a photocopy of your passport and drivers license in case you cannot access the copies you emailed yourself.

Always carry a glue stick and scissors around with you, and turn your journal into a work and progress of the scrap book you were planning on making when you get home… you know, that famous scrap book that you never have time to make. Well you already have one with cut outs of maps, brochures, business cards and restaurant napkins.

Whenever I travel, people are always in AWE of my journal, and an insane amount of the people I meet have started scrap booking their journal. Always a page of history for the country, their population, biggest resources and record down who their president is. Make travel an educational experience as well as a personal development.

BOOKLIGHT: Hostels, bunk beds, long train rides or on the bus, people will always be around you. Having a little book light, or headlamp will give you the freedom to do your own thing without disturbing anyone.

SOUVENIRS FOR KIDS: South East Asia is filled with street children who are constantly begging, you might even visit a school or orphanage on your travels and it’s always nice to not show up empty handed. A sheet of stickers, pins with your countries flag or even a bunch of post cards of where your from are always nice and exciting.

FORK: Odd item on the list, but many times you will find yourself in a situation with out one. Some people can just adapt and eat with their hands, which I encourage, but other times a fork will really help sway away any homesickness (Well, it did for me at least in India).


& gizmos, and tech stuff to bring all the memories home, and live through the hardships of travel. My list has three camera’s on there, but you can just as easily do this with one!I personally like the quality of pictures with my DSLR, but because of it’s size I will be taking a smaller point and shoot for quick pictures, and an underwater camera to bask in the snorkeling and waterfall photo shoots! [A post on cameras will follow].

SLEEPING LINER: Instead of bringing a sleeping bag, just bring sheets. It will provide you with the security of clean sheets, and the versatility of sleeping indoors or out doors with a light weight sheet that doesn’t take up too much room in your pack.

You can BUY ONE or MAKE ONE.

CALCULATOR: A small pocket sized one is amazing for conversions and negotiations in the market place. Instead of constantly asking for you and giving your o poser the upper hand, you are able to make calculations while they are turned around.

SWISS ARMY KNIFE: After the movie 127 Hours, I would never leave home with out it.

LOCKS: Every type, and multiples. It’s best to lock up your pack, and then be able to secure your pack to a sturdy fixture so your pack wont get stolen. This will give you some peace of mind when your off venturing.


Last but certainly not least…. Medical. Staying healthy on the road is more than a mixture of eating right, only drinking bottled water and exercising for endorphins. Thing’s happen, people get sick, and it’s never a bad thing to be prepared. This is possibly the only category in which I recommend individuals to over pack. Medicine is not the same in South East Asia, or anywhere really… So bring your own.

FIRST: Book an appointment with your travel clinic and make sure you have all the required and necessary shots and boosters before you go. The basics include Hep A and Hep B (which you can conveniently get both at once with Twinrex) and Typhoid. Depending on what season you go, Malaria pills are also a very big point of discussion.

SECOND: Be Smart. Bring the Midol and Advil for period cramps, that wont be an easy battle to win alone in the heat of South East Asia.

ADVICE: Put all of your pills in one bottle so you can economize the space. The rest should be organized in zip lock baggies, such as Allergy pills or anti-nausseants. Use a sharpie to write the name and required amount on the zip lock bag. This will help to get rid of all those little boxes, and keeps everything organized in one larger zip lock bag.

No matter where you’re travels lead you just be open for interpretation, mistakes and confusions. Because you will always find the right way.

Photo taken in a boxed internet cafe in Kobe, Japan- February 2010

If you would like a document file on the packing list sent to you, please email: elenafavaroviana@hotmail.com

& Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter

Also check out: In the Bag


  1. Pingback: IS IT DASHING OR IS IT DARING? « Where Did She Go Now?·

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  3. Thanks for this post! I’m heading on a very long trip and this has been the most relatable packing list I’ve found. I’ve been grappling with what clothes to bring (ie. looking nice vs being practical). Now I don’t feel as bad for bringing a lot of clothes. I hated doing laundry every 2-3 days my last trip, not making the same mistake again. Great blog & happy travels!

  4. Thanks for the post! It was really helpful. I’m going to be travelling south east asian from sept to jan and was debating on bringing a 60L backpack or a suitcase.
    Just a few questions. How was big was your backpack and did you feel like you brought too much or not enough of certain items? And also how many pairs of shoes/sandals did you bring?

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