Packing Tips: How to pack for an 8 month backpacking trip through Australia and Southeast Asia

This is a list of all the gear, equipment, clothes and whatever else that I consider necessary, recommended, or just nice to have if you’re going to be backpacking for several months through Australia and Southeast Asia.

Why would I recommend the items on this list? Because this is almost an exact snap-shot of what I took for my trip. Now I wont say I am an expert traveler by any means, but I’ve been around a bit now and I’ve picked up some great tips and tricks. I want to share some of those as designed for travel in these areas of the world.

Keep in mind that this advice is for backpacking, not vacationing, and the many of these choices are made with the goal of saving weight, saving space, or allowing gear to stay dry or dry quickly. Also, be attentive to what season you will be there for. Clearly this list is not designed for the wet season.

So let’s get started…

The Must Haves…

These are items that I believe, no matter what, every traveler should have with them on their journey. Many these are obvious, but at the very least, this can serve as a check-list for anyone who is getting their gear together.

[spoiler title=”Travel Pack”]This is an obvious item, but I have to include it. If you need a solid pack for cheap, Amazon usually has great deals. Check out the Teton Sports Explorer 4000 or the High Sierra Titan 55. I bought the Teton because it was a good price and I have been using it since. It gets the job done. Als[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Passport”]Yes, another obvious item, but still, make sure you don’t forget it.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”About 4 days worth of clothes”]Long sleeve button up shirt (good for a light layer to keep warm or protect from the sun), tank tops (x2) t-shirt (x2), zipper pants (yes, they are kind of nerdy, but they are a great way to get 2 for 1), swimmer trunks, 100% polyester boxer briefs (x4) (if you want to go high-tech, you can get some travel boxers, but the main point for these is that they dry fast – makes it easy to wash them, and avoiding moisture means avoiding a lot of discomfort), athletic socks (x4 pairs), athletic top and shorts, sandals, crosstrainers (most of the time I will wear sandals, but having a good pair of shoes for any occasion is a great idea, and they are also very light), sunglasses, hat.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Travel towel”]This is one of the few occasions where I would highly recommend going with legit travel gear. A normal towel just will not do in terms of saving space, keeping you dry, and drying quickly. Do yourself a favor and get a large travel towel. You can thank me later.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Debit Card”]A debit card is the best way to access cash around the globe. Just pop over to the ATM and take out what you need. However, after doing a lot of research I have found that the absolute BEST travel debit card for travel is through Charles Schwab because they will reimburse you for those nasty ATM fees that can be quite expensive in other countries.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Toiletries”]Here’s a list of what I like to take: toothbrush, toothbrush holder, toothpaste, floss, soap, soap box, nail clippers.

Another highly recommended product from me here is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile soap. This really is magic as you only need to use very little and it can be used for everything. I use it for body wash, as well as washing clothes and it got my old, stained swimming trunks cleaner than when they were new.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Flashlight”]For treks or any time you find yourself in a place that may not have electricity.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Condoms”]Just sayin…[/spoiler]


The Recommended…

Here is where some people may agree or disagree with me. But you know what they say, “A horse for every course.” I think that the items on this list are very valuable as travel gear, but because different people like to travel in different ways, I couldnt put them as Must Have. By no means will you be in trouble if you are missing these, but you might find some things that you forgot about, or get a good idea from this list.

[spoiler title=”Extra passport sized selfies (x8)”]You will sometimes be asked for these at border crossings for your visas. I’m not sure if it’s a true ‘Must have” because many border crossings take your photo or create copies for you at ridiculous mark up, but I always take some when I travel just in case. You could, if you feel up to it, save some money by taking your own pics.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”A smartphone”]These things just do way too much for you not to have one. It replaces numbers of different things which means saving space and weight. A couple of the things it replaces: books, camera, compass, native language dictionary/translator, notebook, internet connection, and that’s just some. With the right apps, a smartphone can be your best travel tool.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Topical ointments”]That sounds like a weird term, but I needed something that basically covers the following: sunscreen, anti-itch lotion (like Benadryl), and insect repellant.

I highly recommend using All Terrain Herbal Armor insect repellant. It is the GREATEST insect repellant I have come by, and it’s also all natural and does not use Deet so its more eco-friendly.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”1 large tupperware”]I know you probably just read that and thought, “What the f*** good is a tupperware going to do me?” Well, I picked up this tip a while back and have been using it ever since. You can use one of these to compartmentalize your bag and store all your somewhat important papers or small items that you only need on few occasions. Just toss them in then put the tupperware at the bottom of your bag. While the rest of your pack slowly turns to chaos, your items will be protected and will always be in the same place.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Day pack”]This is a bag that is used just for day trips to go about, or even treks. It should be easily storeable when not in use, and not too heavy. Also can be used in your pack to compartmentalize. Personally, I prefer using one of the drawstring bags that came with a pair of soccer boots.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”International power adapter (with surge protection)”]I probably dont have to explain this one, but different countries use different plugs. Some, however, also output different voltage. I burnt out a razor once due to this, so even in countries that use the same plug as back home, try to make a habit of using one of these. You can get an adapter for very cheap, and it could save you a lot of money and heartache if you lose some of your electronics.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Dry sack”]This almost made my Must Have, but Im putting it here because although I love having one, it’s not a necessity. These are great to keep important things dry, or if you know you’ll be spending the day around water and would like to take things to keep dry like a towel, papers, or electronics. I was able to find a rather large dry sack recently for like $15, but I have not yet tested it, and depending on what is going in it, it’s probably a good idea to go with quality over value on this one.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Travel wallet/fanny pack”]That’s right, I said fanny pack. Actually I prefer it over a travel wallet because it’s a bit easier to manage your things without having to dig under your shirt. Just get one with double zippers then you can lock it (also, I kind of like the fashion statement. I’m bringing back the fanny pack).[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Copies of important papers”]Things like plane tickets, visas, or pre-paid itineraries. Many of these are stored digitally so you dont need a physical copy, but it’s a good idea to have a plane ticket reference number ready at hand just in case.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Extra zip-lock bags”]Firstly, any liquids you are bringing should immediately go into these before any flight. It sucks opening your pack to find all your gear covered in exploded sunscreen. But take some extras too just in case. They take no space at all and can be very handy.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Extra toilet paper”]Some countries do not use toilet paper. The bidet is your bud-ay (see what I did there?). Anyway, you get used to squatty-pottys and squirt downs pretty quick, but I can tell you that emergencies will occur and a good handful of TP comes in clutch.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Small first aid kit”]This is a precautionary thing, but mine includes anti-bacterial lotion, gauze, band-aids, cotton balls, some lotions, and some Emergen-c just in case.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Locks”]This would include 1 padlock and a selection of small locks. The padlock is great for security if your hostel provides lockers, and the small locks are good to keep idle hands out of any pockets with double-zippers.[/spoiler]


 The Nice to Haves…

Ok, these are the luxury items. Personally, I am a digital nomad so many of these items I take just to make my travels easier. Many of them revolve around the work I do online so to me they are more than just Nice to Have, but still, I have to concede that these are by no means necessary or even recommended to everyone.

[spoiler title=”Laptop/notebook/tablet”]I recommended taking a smartphone already, but after doing a 6 month trip with just that, and knowing how much work I do online, its nice to just have my laptop with me. It just makes a lot of tasks so much easier; typing, watching a movie, music. Plus the ones these days are much lighter and smaller.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”DSLR”]I like to work with my Canon EOS 60D because it is one of the most affordable options that doesn’t compromise in quality. And if you want to do some serious photo work, rather than just capture memories, a nice DSLR will prove its value over and over again. [/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”External hard-drive”]I recommend these if you are going to be taking a nice camera, if you want to store movies for teh chill nights, or if you want somewhere to backup your digital life just in case. Personally, I use the WD My Passport 1TB external hard drive that I am stoked about, but there are a lot other good options designed for the digital nomad’s life. Things to consider when looking for one of these is shock, dust, and water protection. Mine came with a case that has got all that sorted. [/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Camera and laptop bag”]Obviously this is only if you bring these items, but I do and I love how easy they are to carry around with this. I use the Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW and I’m glad I chose it. It doubles as my daypack, and offers good storage space for all my valuable gear and quick side access to my camera in case I need it right away. It also has a tripod holder and a rain cover. Actually, if Im honest, I love this bag.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Electric razor”]Sure you could use a conventional razor, or just go bushman status and not shave, but conventional razors tremble when they see my facial hair, and I prefer to stay at least decently groomed.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Portable music player and speakers”]This is great for the long bus or plane rides. Great to use for audio-books. And the speakers are nice if you are hanging in a dorm with your new mates and you want to share some music.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Elastic work-out bands”]Ok, this is one that I don’t think many people will need, but I like to stay in shape and 8 months is not a short vacation where you can ditch the routine for a while. These make it very easy to get a solid workout for the whole body, and they cost little space, weight, and money. You can probably find a decent set of like $20.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Mini tripod”]Again, good only if you bring a camera, but tripods are great for long exposure shots, timelapses, or if you just need a level shot and there are no flat surfaces.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Games”]I thinks it’s a good idea to bring dice or cards. They’re nice to have socially or for drinking games. If you don’t want to take any though, most likely someone will have some or you can buy some almost anywhere.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Misc.”]Carabiners, knife, straps/tie-downs.[/spoiler]


 The Better left at Homes…

Finally, this list consists of items which I have either brought along in my own travels, or have heard people ask about and really, none of them would likely make my trip better to have, or ruin my trip is I was missing.

[spoiler title=”Multi-tool”]From experience, these things always seem very useful because I mean, c’mon, look at it. It’s 500 things in 1. And takes up almost no space. Well, the reality is that most of the time, even if it has 500 uses, you probably won’t need it. And if you do for some reason need a fish scaler, most multi-tools are not the best tool for any of the uses that they offer.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Camping gear”]Some people have the idea that they might like to go camping while abroad. The reality is that most likely you will spend most of your time in hostels. And even if you did want to go camping, just find a trek that provides equipment or find a place that will rent it. If you are gone for several months and most of the time is spent NOT camping, then that’s a lot of stuff to lug about pointlessly.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Rope”]There was only one time I could ever have used rope and that was if I had rented a motorbike, just to hold my stuff down. I did take rope on a trip once and it never once got unwound.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Soccer ball”]Ok, so you probably weren’t considering this one, but I actually did take a soccer ball and pump on a trip. It was lovely for meeting people in hostels and getting some awesome games together, but it really just takes up a lot of space.[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=”Above all else…”]The most important things to leave at home are egos, preconceived ideas, and fear of new things. Life is about experience, and the we grow the most when we are challenged. Allow yourself to experience new things and meet new people. Deal with them respectfully and with excitement.


Well, that’s all I have for now. I hope you found this post useful, and if you did, let me know or help me out by sharing it. If you have any other questions about any products or advice, feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to find the best answer for you.

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