When we began this trip my most pressing concern wasn’t how to brave 14-hour buses or face a series of ever-worsening shitters. No, my most pressing concern was what the hell am I going to wear.
I didn’t want to look like a dirty traveling hobo but I certainly didn’t want to carry a lot of crap that I didn’t need on our one-year trip. I quickly discovered that no matter what you pack, you’re going to get dirty, you’re going to smell and you will never look as good as when you have a hot shower. But that’s what makes backpacking so much fun!
So here’s my advice on what to pack when you’re traveling from winter time in China to monsoon season in India to sticky, sweaty summer in South East Asia.
What to know before you shop
Only pack one backpack. You do not want to carry one front pack and one backpack. It’s heavy, it’s cumbersome and you look like a fool.
Separate your clothes in mesh stuff sacks – this is the best way to keep your pack organized
Books are heavy – buy a kindle before you go (they’re a pain to buy outside of the US)
It’s nearly impossible to find a beard trimmer in Asia, head to a pet store if you are in Asia and need to trim down that matted terrorist beart.
Buy quick-dry everything – it works!
White is a bad, bad color for travelers
Jeans dry very slowly and are heavy to carry
If you have size 8 feet or bigger, you will have a really hard time finding shoes in Asia
If you are American size 6/8 or bigger, you will have an interesting time finding clothes in Asia
What to pack
Tampons – a lot of them. Generally speaking there are NO TAMPONS in Asia.
Bandanna – the most important, vital, article of clothing. I shit you not.
One black dress – something that can go from day to evening.
A pair of long black pants – you can wear these on the trail but get away with them in the evening. Cut them into shorts when you’re done with the cold or ditch them. Or lose them like I did.
Two pairs of light weight capri pants or shorts
A few tanktops
One longsleeve shirt
One shirt that covers your shoulders – some countries are conservative but too hot for a long sleeve shirt.
8 pairs of quick dry underwear (I have come to love my ex-afficio even if they aren’t cute) Why 8 pairs? Because panties are easy too lose and you want at least 5.
Merrell Hiking Boots – they’re the least ugly ones available
Three pairs of double layer traveling socks
Light weight rain jacket
Tiny Swiss army knife
Extra’s that weren’t needed:
Water purification Steri pen
Some people pack sleep sacks – we didn’t and haven’t needed them yet.
Yoga skirt that covers my knees (for conservative countries, haven’t used it)
Additional Black dress
One nice party dress – used only on New Years. SO UNNECESSARY!
Don’t bother – Readily available and cheap!
Guidebook – buy it in the country for the same price.
Winter Jacket (unless your climbing Everest just buy one when it gets cold – you don’t want to carry your nice winter jacket around with you)
Gloves, hats – Any extra winter apparel
Sunglasses/ baseball hat/visor
Additional tank tops (hard to find in Indonesia, easy to find elsewhere)