Packing for SE Asia Part 1: What I'm planning to take

There are literally a million packing lists on the internet for SE Asia, but only a few of them follow up with the realities of living out of a 38L carry-on sized bag.

All these lists have one thing in common - pack as little as possible. I set myself the one carry-on bag challenge and… I failed. Mainly because I had a couple of items that I could not take carry-on so I had to use a very small checked bag. But everything could fit into my carry-on bag ;)

This is going to be a multi-part series. This first part covers what I think I’ll need. Later we’ll follow up with what worked, what didn’t, what I ended up throwing out, what’s easy to obtain, and what definitely needs bringing along.

I’ve just started my SE Asia adventure, with the first stop been in the Philippines where I’m doing a two and a half month stint at the Manila office of the New Zealand based company that I currently work for, Provoke Solutions.


I’m traveling with as little clothes as possible that will cover the widest range of situations. If I don’t think a piece will be useful in many situations then I won’t pack it. For example: Even though I’m traveling in the rainy season I haven’t taken a raincoat or anything as if it pours down it’s pretty likely I’ll get wet regardless. However, I have packed a lightweight dry-bag that I can use to keep everything in my bag dry.

Plus, if it’s raining, someone will be selling an umbrella.


I’ve gone super lightweight here with just a compact point-and-shoot camera, a Nokia Lumia 800 for my phone, and a Surface RT for my computer. I ended up going for the Surface as it’s got a massive 8hrs battery life and comes with MS Office which makes it the perfect ultra-lightweight computing device to get some writing done while on the road.


Other than my gadgets and my clothes I’ve got a couple of extra items like a travel lock, and a razor, and what not that may or may not be useful.

The List

I really want to track what items are useful and what aren’t, so I’ve created a list in Excel that includes everything that I’m taking along. It’ll be a living list that will get updated as I travel around the region. I’m tracking the actual items, how useful they were, where in my travels I picked it up, and if I ended up throwing it away.

You can download the list here.