My winter vacation is fast approaching which means its time to pack! This time we’re off to Thailand and Malaysia, with a quick stop in Hong Kong on the way. Thanks to an extra week of vacation this year and the Seollal holiday, we were able to organize a whopping twenty-five consecutive days off.
It’s my first time to all three destinations, so there’s a lot to see. We’ll be hopping all over the place with 5 flights total. We’re saving cash by choosing budget airlines with strict carry-on policies and check baggage at extra cost. To maximize those savings and make our trip smoother, we’re sticking with carry-on for this almost month long trip.
Before packing for any trip, the first thing to consider is the bag. While suitcases definitely have their place (such as moving abroad for 1 year+), backpacks tend to be more convenient for a trip like this. A comfortable backpack with plenty of support is key.
I can easily pack everything I need for this trip in my regular day pack (and have space for anything I pick up along the way), but my larger backpack is a lot more comfortable with padded straps and structure, so I’ll be opting for it on this trip.
I purchased this 60L bag on Gmarket (Korean ebay) for about $45 CAD. It’s not a high quality bag, but it does the job well and hasn’t shown any wear yet. It’s very comfortable, light, has good pockets, and includes a rain cover.
Pairing a packing list down for almost a month of travel seems daunting. But the truth is, once you hit the two-week mark, you don’t need to bring much more. Here’s my master list of everything I’m bringing on this trip. Looking at it on paper, and even laid out on the floor it seems like quite a lot. I have plenty of outfit combinations available and I’ll be equipped for lots of different weather and situations. The key here is packing clothes that coordinate so you can mix and match, and bringing plenty of layers.
2 sleeveless blouses
2 sleeved blouses
1 knit sweater
1 pair linen pants
1 long skirt
1 short skirt
2 bras (1 sports,1 regular)
1 bathing suit
1 pair spandex shorts
1 rain jacket
Toiletries (travel size)
All-purpose soap (for hair, body, laundry, etc.)
Toothbrush, paste, floss
Hair oil, comb
Face wash, toner, moisturizer
Citronella essential oil (bug spray alternative)
Make-up (eyeliner, mascara, tinted chapstick, eyebrow brush)
Elastics and bobby pins
Eye drops (still recovering from LASEK)
Miscellaneous (packed in fanny pack)
Important docs (itineraries, reservations, insurance, etc.)
Electronics (phone & charger, kindle)
Notebook & pen
Blow-up neck pillow
How I pack
The best method of packing I’ve found is using packing cubes. While it’s not the absolute most efficient use of space, its the best way of keeping everything organized and easy to access. For this trip, I’m packing my clothes into a medium size one, and my toiletries and undergarments and bathing suit into another. Check out how packed down everything gets in these two cubes:
Everything that goes inside the backpack!
I also bring along a fanny pack/purse. I picked it up at Goodwill in Seoul for a couple bucks and I love that it functions as either and doesn’t look too “dad on vacation.” It fits a ton of stuff and can be worn safely around my hips to prevent pick-pocketing, or more casually swung over one shoulder across my back or front. It fits easily in the larger pack as well if I want to stash it.
Korea: -18C. Thailand & Malaysia: 35C. Enough said.
Who wants to lug a parka around Thailand for a month just to get to the airport comfortably? But then again, who wants to walk around in freezing temperatures wearing summer clothes?
The easiest way to tackle this challenge is to layer. Despite Thailand’s high temperatures, its likely that I’ll be reaching for a light sweater at some point on the trip. So, I’ve combined a long-sleeve, light knit sweater, and my rain jacket, which, combined will keep me fairly warm while individually being appropriate for the hotter temperatures in Thailand.
Another option I’m considering is bringing an old sweater that I’ve been planning to get rid of anyway, and tossing is once we get to the airport. I’d prefer to donate or recycle it, but its in such awful condition it really deserves the trash.
The travel outfit.
All packed up and ready to go!
Packing light and smart is the first step to a great vacation. There’s nothing worse than lugging around a heavy suitcase with a bunch of stuff you barely use. And if you find yourself wondering if you’ll need something, use the “20” rule. If you can buy it for under 20 dollars and within 20 minutes, don’t worry about packing it!
Cheers to a great vacation!