How to Pack for A Week in an 18L Backpack

So Steve and I did alot of moto trips when we were traveling through Southeast Asia and most of those trips were about a week long. We always left our large packs behind at the guesthouse and then we would take take our small day packs with us. Packing for these week long excursions was always fun, and we definitely had to get creative at times. And honestly we only packed the essentials. People were always amazed by how little we had with us, but it was really liberating. By the end of our 6 months abroad I was ready to completely ditch our big bags and continue with only our little ones.

Bali Waterfall

Rockin’ my pack… Steve and I made a side trip to this little waterfall on our way back toward Canggu.

Next time we go on a long trip I think I’m going to take my 30L Backpack (although it’s not as comfortable as my big pack) and leave my big Gregory Deva 60 Pack at home. My Deva pack is my workhorse, it’s been all over Asia, and on wilderness backpacking trips and it’s always comfortable even when it’s loaded with 18 kilos of stuff (which it’s rarely that full). My little 18L Miwok Backpack is also a Gregory, it’s tiny, I love it because it doesn’t have a frame, so I can roll it up and stuff it into my bigger pack and it doesn’t take up much room. I guess I’m a little partial to Gregory packs….they’re really comfortable and hold up pretty well, even when they are “well loved.”

All of this stuff can fit into the Miwok pack….well, everything except the shoes. So when we were on the bike we always had shoes on, and the flip flops were stuffed in the pack.

Tanah Lot moto trip

Tanah Lot moto trip

1 Week Packing List


1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of hiking shoes/trail runners
1 swimsuit
1 pair of shorts
1 pair of pants
2 tank tops
1 short sleeve
1 long sleeve
1 Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Coat
2 pairs of socks
2 pairs of ExOfficio Low Rise Bikini or other quick drying underwear
1 sarong
1 pair of sunglasses

1 first aid kit
painkiller (ibuprofen or excedrin)
toothbrush and toothpaste
shampoo and conditioner
castille soap (for your body, clothes, water bottles, etc)

camera(s) and their chargers
GoPro and charger
Kindle and charger

mae hong son loop stretching

Steve and I did our first moto trip in Thailand where we did the Mae Hong Son Loop. Riding a moto for multiple days means lots of breaks for stretching, beer, coffee, sightseeing…anything is a good reason for a break!!! But here you can see my backpack…that itty bitty blue thing!!!!

Planning a big trip? I have a comprehensive packing list that I put together for our trip to Southeast Asia here.







A Day Trip From Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Day Trek Elephant Ride

Steve rides on his first elephant.

A mere two weeks into our Thailand trip Steve and I joined a traditional tour with a real tour guide…and honestly I’d probably rate the experience a 5 or 6 on a 1 to 10 scale. We booked our trip with AA Tours in Chiang Rai (it’s on the same road as the clock tower and the BIG electronics store). It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t unique or adventurous. We did ride on an elephant down the river….moderately entertaining, but once you’ve done it once you don’t need to go again.

Our WONDERFUL guide did know alot about the local culture and we happened to be there during their New Years preparations… it’s essentially a giant party, complete with spouse-swapping and binge drinking. From what our guide told us they spend a week preparing and a week recovering.

Chiang Rai village AATour

Here’s the little village we hiked to.

Our guide did get us up to the village before the other groups…awesome… and we had some tea with one of the local women. None of the villagers seemed interested in entertaining any farang (Thai for foreigner), so once we cooled down from our trek up to the village we headed back down the hill through some farmland and a bit of jungle until we reached an extremely cold waterfall. Steve went for a dip, but I preferred to stay dry and warm.

Chiang Rai Day trek waterfall


After the waterfall it was a short hike back to the truck. From there we went to another local village where many of the adults were working on rebuilding someone’s home after a fire nearly burnt it down. But the kids were running amok and I was able to snap a couple of fun shots of them acting like maniacs.

Chiang Rai Day Trek kids

Kids will be kids….I remember pushing my brother around in a wheelbarrow.

And a couple of them looking sweet…

Chiang Rai Day Trek kid2

Cutie pie…

Chiang Rai Day Trek Kid

Big brown eyes

And we still weren’t done. After the third village of the day we headed to a “hot” spring….it was more warm and sulfuric, but we went for a dip anyway. After 20 or so minutes we were ready to go…it had been a LONG day. We were picked up from our hotel super early, so we could meet up with the boat transportation that took us up the river to the elephant village and it was now getting dark and we were ready for a cold beer.

Honest opinion: Skip the day tour. You will be much more happy if you book a multiday trip instead of being rushed along from activity to activity. Steve and I did part of our day trip with other people and part of it just the two of us…which was both good and bad. Our final guide when it was just us was really awesome, but there was always some confusion in the transfer of us between the earlier guides and we were often left to “wait” without much direction or even the name of our next guide. So get ALL of the details before you head out and be clear about what you want and expect.


Mae Hong Son Loop: part 2

The road between Mae Sariang heads north to Mae Hong Son for 166 km and it’s just east of the Burma/Thailand border. The Burmese influence is seen throughout this part of the country: in the food, clothing, and architecture.

Somewhere between Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son Steve and I turned off the highway in a little market town in Mae La Noi and followed a winding road approx. 5 km to the entrance of a relatively newly discovered cave. The Kaew Komol Cave doesn’t see much tourism, photography is banned, and the air is short on oxygen, but the cave is covered in beautiful crystal formations. Steve snuck his GoPro in and was able to take some video. Here are some photos from within the cave:

Down down down...but don't take too only have 20 minutes to climb back out.

Down down down…but don’t take too long….you only have 20 minutes to climb back out.

Calcite crystal formations in

Calcite crystal formations in Kaew Komol cave. No touching!!!!

It's so sparkly!!!

It’s so sparkly!!!

We were pretty hungry in Mae La Noi, so we stopped for lunch at one of the road side stalls and had some delicious spicy curry before continuing up to Mae Hong Son.

mae hong son loop paddy

Terraced fields near the cave.

Mae Hong Son is set around a pretty little lake in a valley surrounded by emerald green mountains. Most of the tourist facilities circle the lake and the local market is also nearby if you’re feeling adventurous.

The view from up high on the hill above Mae Hong Son.

The view from up high on the hill above Mae Hong Son.

mae hong son temple

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu on top of the hill west of town.

Not surprisingly there are numerous temples in the area to visit; since we had the moto we rode up to the top of the hill to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu…I think you might be able to reach this one by stairs, but don’t quote me on that. There are a couple of temples near the lake in town and if the fog cooperates you could get some really cool photos.

Zinc metalwork at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.

Zinc metalwork at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.

Mae Hong Son Prince Hotel

The Prince Hotel in Mae Hong Son

Our lakeside budget digs at the Prince Hotel were adequate, if not exactly clean. Our room was 200 or 300 Baht with a private bathroom, high ceilings, and a slightly springy/saggy bed.

After a night or two in Mae Hong Son we began the long haul to Pai. The route is approximately 130 km with many opportunities to stop along the way. Before heading out of the Mae Hong Son region we wanted to check out one of the Karen Long Neck Villages. We had heard the rumors that the towns feel more like exhibits at a human zoo, so we went in with low expectations. The Karen are refugees from Burma, and as refugees in Thailand it is difficult for them to attain land, jobs, etc. so one of the ways the community earns money is by showing off their women and selling their handicrafts. We paid our entrance fee and walked down the boardwalk to the “village” which was really just set up as a handicraft market (I assume many of the families live in the back portion of their shops). Here are a few pictures I took of our visit:

Kayen village creek crossing; mae hong son

CREEK CROSSING!!! One of many on the road out to the village.

We had a lot of fun crossing these streams on the scooter…there were many of them and it was sometimes hard to judge the depth. So much fun! The drive from the highway out to the village was really pretty and there were even a couple of different places that gave elephant rides, so no honking your horn!!!

mae hong son kayen village

The road to the village


Mae Hong Son Long Neck

These women oblige camera wielding tourists by the bus loads, fortunately we were there in the morning, so the tourist hoards weren’t there yet.


Another long necked woman

Another long necked woman…she spoke excellent English and was willing to share some of her history.

As you head east toward Pai there are a couple of caves that you can visit, but we skipped them in lieu of a mud treatment at Phu Klon (Pooklon) Country Club. I think our mud facials and foot soak were about USD $5 each (but I can’t remember). To get to the spa it’s pretty easy…just follow the “Mud Spa” signs and memorize the Thai script…once you’re off the highway keep cruising and eventually the spa will be on the right.

mae hong son loop mud spa

MUD!!! Foot soak and mud facial at Phu Klon.

mae hong son loop vista

Jungle view

We stopped in Soppong for a roadside Kaow Soi lunch. We then beelined to hippie Pai where throngs of backpackers keep themselves entertained by cruising walking street every night, listening to live music, buying funky clothes, sipping wacky tea and generally enjoying its chilled out vibe. Pai is a place that encourages you to linger, find your inner yogi, or head out to the hot springs.

pai waterfall

Pretty waterfall just outside of town.

Steve and I soon realized that there isn’t much authentic Thai culture in Pai, so we stayed long enough to listen to some acoustic tunes, buy some hippie pants, and indulge at Spa Exotic. A handful of people in the “know” suggested we skip the sulfuric hot springs and head to one of the hot spring resorts. Spa Exotic caught our eye, and for only 80 Baht each we had access to their beautiful soaking pool almost all to ourselves. It was a fantastic way to rejuvenate our sore muscles.

pai exotic spa hot spring

Spa Exotic’s soaking pool

Our final day from Pai to Chiang Mai was brutal. Not only was my back throbbing at every twist, turn or bump, but I was sicker than a dog. We had to stop atleast every 20-30 kilometers so I could relieve myself….roadside mind you. It was not a fun day. I’m pretty sure at one point I actually laid down on the side of the road.

The trip from Pai to Chiang Mai is just as curvy as the route from Mae Hong Son…and all the war wounds in Pai and Chiang Mai are proof. Do not take a moto unless you know what you are doing…please!!!

Stretching will make me feel better right?

Stretching will make me feel better right? The answer is no, not really.

Anyway, we eventually made it to Chiang Mai, where I laid around and popped Cipro like candy.

Next stop Chiang Rai.

Planning Resources

GT Rider Touring Map This little map was invaluable. We found ours at one of the book shops in Chiang Mai.
Lonely Planet Thailand
Kaew Komol Cave info

Mae Hong Son Loop: part 1

After hearing about our friends’ epic Mae Hong Son Loop adventure over a pre-trip dinner, Steve and I knew that we wanted to do the loop. We began and ended our trip in Chiang Mai and decided to skip Doi Inthanon and head straight for Mae Sariang.

We knew it was going to be a good trip when we got a flat tire 50+ km outside of Chiang Mai. And amazingly it was right in front of a moto repair shop.

Route 108 from Chiang Mai to Mae Sariang, at approximately 180 km was a good warmup for the roads ahead; the roads only got steeper and curvier as the week progressed. Two people on one scooter for over 600 km and 3000+ curves is absolutely grueling and this is probably not the route for a novice. I didn’t realize just how hard the loop was going to be until we’d completed the first day’s ride and I stumbled off of the scooter hardly able to walk.

As soon as we arrived in Mae Sariang we ducked into the Riverview Hotel, which was way too posh for us to stay (1000 Baht/night), but the beer was the right price and the view of the river was superb.


View of the Yuam River from the Riverview Hotel in Mae Sariang.

Mae Sariang was our favorite place in Northern Thailand…a small town, a lazy river, and a barely perceptible trickle of tourists.


View from the Good View Guesthouse

To break up the monotony of our loop we arranged a trek with “Mr. Salawin” of Salawin Tours. You can find him at the Good View Guesthouse. Steve and I wanted an “off the beaten path” trek…and that’s exactly what we got…for better and worse. We hiked down steep ravines, scaled waterfalls, swung on vines, crossed streams and encountered leeches. Our homestay was superb; the family was friendly and we were provided with plenty of bedding…although Mr. Salawin’s cooking was a little boring.

mae sariang salawin trek2

Impressive scenery along our trek.

We had plenty of company for lunch and everyone was curious about the “farang” that had spent the morning trekking to their village. The kids were especially curious and after they warmed up it was hard to get them to settle down again.

mae sariang salawin trek collage

Lunch stop at a Karen village

mae sariang salawin kids color

New friends

mae sariang salawin trek collage3

Last day of the trek…couldn’t be happier.

mae sariang salawin grandma

Grandma smokin’ her pipe

If you book with Mr. Salawin don’t expect very much….he’ll probably wing fact I know he’ll wing it and the food won’t be that great, but you’ll have an epic story when you get finished and the villagers along the way will make up for Mr. Salawin’s devil may care attitude.

Also, on the last day, when he was falling far behind us and we were having to wait for him to catch up he informed us that he is diabetic….luckily we had a couple extra snacks with us….oddly enough he couldn’t survive on coffee and cigarettes.

The drive from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son was stunning…super green rice paddies, a fun cave and winding mountain roads.

mae hong son loop collage

Scenery on the road to Mae Hong Son

Getting Off The Beaten Path in Chiang Mai

Just beyond the tourist trap of Doi Suthep is another tourist trap catering to busloads of tourists…a Hmong village (Ban Doi Pui)….selling more of the same tourist crap. Okay, that’s not nice….it is beautiful and I regret not buying some of their beautiful embroidery, but they sell it everywhere in northern Thailand, so it loses some of it’s originality.

I was starving and my blood sugar was plummeting so we stopped for a chance to stretch our legs, use the loo and grab a bite to eat. One of the women was serving up some piping hot Khao Soi (one of our favorite foods) with all of the goodies, so we stuffed ourselves silly and hopped back on the bike.

Delicious Khao Soi

Delicious Khao Soi…probably should have taken a pic before I devoured the chicken…I was just so hungry!!!

YUM!!! Super strong black coffee!!!

Me at the little cafe in the jungle enjoying a cup of super strong black coffee!!!

With a map in hand we headed out through the Doi Pui National Park and to the Chiang Mai University Coffee Farm. The farm and cafe are run by CMU students and local villagers  and it overlooks a beautiful valley where it’s possible to enjoy a cup of coffee while you wander the grounds.

doi_suthep_coffee_break_cherry blossoms

Looks like spring!!! There were beautiful blossoming trees everywhere. Apparently the trees blossom annually in December and January during the Thai winter.


Cute little bungalows, unfortunately I think they are for students and not guests.

If I remember correctly there was another village (Baan Khun Chang Kian) not much further than the coffee farm. The “road” beyond the village deteriorated quickly and I don’t recommend it unless you have experience on rough, rocky roads. There were multiple times where I had to get off of the scooter while Steve half-rode half-walked the bike through rough patches. We did run into a couple of guys that were on big dirt bikes who said the route was popular among dirt bike “enthusiasts.” Unfortunately I had my camera put away for most of the crazy part and I only dug it out to take a picture of the view once.

Steve on the little scooter that could.

Steve on the little scooter that could.

The road winds down the hill through groves of lychee (I think), but there wasn’t fruit on any of the trees to confirm.

The view.

The view.

After a fun day of motoring around the countryside, that left my behind and back throbbing, we returned to our favorite Chiang Mai dive (Griffin Bar) for mojitos….



Buddha Disneyland

After the long bus journey from Ayuthaya to Chiang Mai Steve was itching to rent a scooter, so I obliged and we decided on a route up to Doi Suthep and beyond. We were surprised by the presence of so many hawkers selling trinkets, scarves, snacks and drinks and children demanding baht for photos. Lines, lines and more lines….it’s slow going and you’re constantly being bumped and jostled. Tourists pay a fee (I don’t remember how much) and if you’d like you can buy an offering from one of the vendors.

Doi Suthep...just a few kilometers outside is sheer madness...yes, it's a holy place, but it's a profitable racket too....Hurry up and line up!!!

Doi Suthep…just a few kilometers outside is sheer madness…yes, it’s a holy place, but it’s a profitable racket too….Hurry up and line up!!!

Even though the hawkers tainted our first impression of the temple the architecture was beautiful and it was interesting to see people practicing their religion, but it was also disturbing to see all of the camera wielding tourists taking their pictures.

Just as guilty as the others I also snapped a few pictures.



Architectural detail at Doi Suthep.


Just a few of the many Buddha statues at Doi Suthep.


Remember that reference to Buddha Disneyland I made earlier….you better get in line to say your prayers and make offerings…and don’t forget to walk in the correct direction!!!


I was trying to get a picture of the interior of the temple, but it’s quite difficult to take pictures when a monk is blessing you with holy water by flinging it in your general direction and this monk (out of the picture) must have thought I needed a lot of blessing because it kept coming my direction.

You can only take my picture if you give me candy....or Baht...naughty little girl!!!

You can only take my picture if you give me candy or Baht…naughty little girl!!!

After spending the morning at Chiang Mai’s equivalent of a Buddhist Disneyland, complete with child hawkers and the occasional hustler, we were tired of the tourist trap and decided to make for the hills.

Wat Do You Want Me To Do?

Buddha sculptures at Ayuthaya

Buddha sculptures at one of Ayuthaya’s many ruins.

You want me to do Wat? Oh yes, here’s a good idea lets cycle to EVERY one of Ayuthaya’s Wats… I’m sure it will only take a couple of hours. NOT!!! It’ll take more like 9 very hot and very sore hours of riding in the tropical sun….mind you, we did take a few detours and got a little lost (as in…on the road to Bangkok..oops!). I’m a white girl and the Southeast Asian sun made me feel like I was being fried in a vat of vegetable oil. In hind sight it was still pretty fun….but it’s now three weeks later and today was the first day that I’d even considered putting a bike between my legs.

Ayuthaya ruins

Lovely ruins in Ayuthaya

Wat Ayuthaya

One of the many wats scattered around Ayuthaya.

I liked sweaty Ayuthaya….which when pronounced correctly sounds more like “UTI” but more lilting and not quite as painful (barely). Ayuthaya lacked the throngs of creepy old men, coked out 20 somethings, and the painfully stereotypical tourists that plague Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Royal Palace.

We saw tons of ancient ruins,beautiful wats, and even human remains. And we ate the best Pad Thai we’ve ever had. Our guesthouse was decent enough….our bed was huge, the sheets were pretty clean, the shower was cool and the price was right. And Grandma gave me hug when I wished her a “good morning.”

ayuthaya ruin detail

Details, details, details.

Ruins in Ayuthaya

Ruins in Ayuthaya

Ayuthaya Ruins

More ruins in Ayuthaya


The details and architecture of the wats was truly impressive and seemed to defy gravity, but obviously time and the asian sun had taken their toll. With well over a hundred pics of wats and ruins it was hard to get the motivation to sift through the pics to pick out the best.

Cycling around turned out to be a great way to see the wats, the Portuguese settlement, and the countryside….We even saw a rice farmer hack up a snake that was slithering across the road….we tried to figure out why, but he didn’t speak any English and we don’t exactly speak Thai.

Didn't I mention human remains earlier??? Here they are...loads of remains buried at the Portuguese settlement in Ayuthaya.

Didn’t I mention human remains earlier??? Here they are…loads of remains buried at the Portuguese settlement in Ayuthaya.

country road ayuthaya

Off of the island you can find these beautiful (and flat) roads that will take you through rice paddy after rice paddy.

After too many close calls on our kamakazi bike ride  I was ready to toss the bike into the back of a Tuk Tuk and say “F%&k it!!” but I didn’t….and I survived.

The light at the end of the tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Quick Stats

BJ’s Guesthouse (200 Baht) was right off of Soi 2 on the island. Upstairs rooms were more atmospheric, but we took the downstairs room for the gigantic bed and the cooler temps.

The train to Ayuthaya from Bangkok was probably 80 Baht, more or less, for second class seats, but it’s even cheaper if you go with the locals.

Bike rentals were 30-40 Baht for the day.

We were given a printed map (free) from one of the TAT offices that showed where all the wats and other sights were located.

Southeast Asia Packing List

Steve and I are finally thinking about what to pack for our upcoming trip. Both of us have done extensive traveling abroad and have keyed in to what we want/need while traveling. While packing hiking gear won’t be appropriate for every trip, nor will scuba gear…this is the list that is most appropriate for our upcoming trip. Since we will be spending lots of time in the mountains and in the ocean our list has a little bit of everything…and since our packs are only so big we will probably have to hone our list a bit more. This a comprehensive list for the female traveler, but with a few changes could be easily adapted for the male traveler.

As with any backpacking trip it’s important to fine tune your pack and make sure that you aren’t wasting ounces since you’ll be lugging your pack around town and on and off buses, boats, planes and trains. Also, for the inexperienced traveler…you can pick up almost anything you’ll need on the road…so even if you’re thinking it’s a must, but you’ll only need it for a small part of your trip, it might be wiser and cheaper to pick it up abroad. I hope this list helps you as you pack for your next adventure. I think that this packing list would be helpful for anyone going on a RTW trip or an extended trip in South America, Africa, Asia, and even Europe depending on the activities.


TOMS Canvas Slip-Ons or Ballasox Foldable Ballet Flats
Vasque Waterproof Hiking Boot(already broken in)
Havaianas flip flops (they’ll last TEN times longer than the cheapies you buy at Old Navy)

Ah shoes….I hate packing them. And really don’t like the idea of packing heavy hiking boots, but with doing multiple treks in Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia I’ve decided to pack them even though I’d rather pack my super comfy and light weight ASICS Trail Runners.

Unders and Extras
5 pairs of ExOfficio underwear (moisture wicking and quick drying) and 2 pairs of cotton
3 bathing suits that can be mix and matched (PacSun and Victoria’s Secret are great resources for out of season swimwear)
1 sports bra
1 bra with convertible straps(neutral colored) (I love Calvin Klein bras for their durability, comfortability and their amazing fit)
3 pairs of socks (medium weight hiking socks (2), expedition weight (1))
1 pair of liner socks
hat (either a beanie or light weight running cap)

Invest in some super comfy moisture wicking, quick drying underwear. They may not be the sexiest, but ExOfficio, Terramar, and Patagonia all make some great underwear. Sometimes you can find them on sale at Sierra Trading Post or Patagonia which will save you some money….at $18+ a pop these might be the most expensive panties you’ll ever buy. I found a couple styles for slightly cheaper on amazon.

1 pair of Roxy Boardshorts
1 pair of cotton shorts
2 skirts- knee length or longer
1 pair of REI trekking pants (light weight, quick drying)
1 skinny jeans (stretchy and thin material…think jeggings, but classier)
1 pair of leggings or yoga pants (can fit under trekking pants, wear under a dress or on their own)
1 Sarong…for many reasons, skirt, dress, blanket, towel, privacy…it will be your best friend. If you don’t have one already you can easily pick one up on the road for dirt cheap!

I’m totally impartial to my Roxy Boardshorts and I’ve been known to wear them for days on end. When I was searching for them on amazon to post a link I found that they have them in more colors too, so I’m tempted to buy another pair…or two. While you can get away with short shorts in most of Thailand…you’ll need to cover up if you plan on visiting any temples or spending time in Muslim Malaysia or Indonesia; I always pack a skirt or two that hit below the knee, for this purpose exactly. Also, I like to pack my Mavi skinny jeans, they’re super stretchy and pack down really small. Steve and I hike a TON so I always pack my REI trekking pants, they’re super light weight and roll up into capris. They are similar to this pair here. Leggings are crucial too…you can sleep in them if you need to, layer them under trekking pants for an extra layer of warmth, or wear them on their own with a tunic or dress. A fold-over jersey maxi skirt is one of my new favorites. With a slightly busy pattern or stripes it can hide stains and match different tops…and it can be pulled up and worn as a dress. I couldn’t find mine online, but I really like this Ethnic Stripe Fold Over Maxi Skirt on amazon.

3 tanks (light weight cotton (2) moisture wicking (1))
3 tees (light weight cotton (1) moisture wicking (2))
2 long sleeve (moisture wicking, quick drying)
2 dresses (light weight cotton (1), wrinkle resistant (1))
1 cardigan or button-up (to throw on in a pinch to visit temples, etc.)
1 vest (extra layer of warmth for trekking in mountains)
1 Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
1 fleece hoody

Target was a godsend for finding light weight cotton tanks and tees for super cheap. They have a great feminine fit and they’re easy to care for. For moisture wicking tops Patagonia Capilene 2 (for layering) and Capilene 3 (for cooler activities) are awesome because they don’t get as stinky as some of the other brands. I hate that so many of the hiking tops are cut boxy….just because I’m hiking and traveling doesn’t mean I want to look like a slob, so I really like Lole for their perfectly fit feminine tops. I wear them at work, running errands and on the trail. I try to make sure everything I pack atleast kinda matches/coordinates so it can be easily layered. I always pack a cardigan or button up that I can throw on over a tank when we visit temples, churches, etc.

Toiletry Kit

hand sanitizer
body wash
conditioning mask
prAna headbands(3) and hair ties (10)
chapstick/lip balm with sunscreen
shaving cream
nail clippers
Lunette Menstrual Cup or tampons
travel towel
small sewing kit (as in 1 needle and one tiny spool of threa

Arnica muscle cream

Wound care
athletic tape


ear plugs
eye mask
inflatable neck pillow

Canon EOS Rebel DSLR camera
DSLR charger
Sony Cyber-shot
camera charger
Kindle 3G
Kindle charger
Old School Apple iPod nano
Ipod charger
Netbook charger
GoPro HD HERO2(Steve has lost two so I’ll be in charge of lucky number 3)
GoPro charger
Unlocked Smartphone
smartphone chargerPen
Notepad/Journal (soft back)

Obviously you don’t need all of these electronics, but since we’ll both be blogging on our trip (and possibly working) and using different mediums to record our adventures. We’ll split up the electronics between the two of us.

Activity Items
Dive fins
Trekking Poles
Water bottle or bladder
Pepper’s Polarized Sunglasses(buy an extra pair in Kathmandu)
Daypack with waist belt and padded shoulder straps
Camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag (Koolertron)

heavy duty ziplock bags
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: Pack-It Half Tube Cube, Black (1) and Pack-It Half Cube, Black(1)
neoprene netbook case
compression sacks (2) (Sea to Summitand REI make decent ones that are light weight)
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack(1)

Save your sanity and stay organized on the road. Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find something and having to dig through an entire pack to find it. Invest in a couple compression stuff sacks and separate the contents. I’ll usually have one for pants, one for tops, and one for bathing suits, underwear, socks, etc. I used to separate everything into ziplock bags, but a couple of packing cubes will help you keep your toiletries and electronics organized as well. The Sea to Summit compression bags usually hold up better than the REI bags (which have a tendency to tear at the seams when overstuffed) and the Eagle Creek packing cubes are super light weight just a couple ounces verses a half pound like some of the others.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Combination Lock
Pack cover or trash bag to line pack
SteriPENor purification tablets
Waterproof watch with alarm clock, either Timex Expedition or Garmin Forerunner GPS

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good headlamp while you’re travelling. It will come in handy when you’re rushing to the bathroom in the middle of the night, during the many power outages and during night hikes. You will want to bring your own lock if you’re staying in hostels….some provide a lock, but a fair number don’t and you don’t want to leave your valuables unlocked. Carabiners are one of those items that I always take with me and they are always invaluable: you can hook clothes up to dry with carabiners or hook nasty items to the outside of your pack.

Throughout your trip you will see plastic water bottles littering roads, trails, and alleys. Although bottled water is cheap, most of the countries don’t have a proper recycling system set up, so do your part by packing a Steripen or purification tablets and drink the tap water.

I love my cheap Timex watch…not exactly the prettiest watch, but it’s not going to get stolen. It has a decent alarm clock and is waterproof to 100m, so I can take it diving too. I would love to experiment with a Garmin Forerunner, but I can’t fathom spending a couple hundred dollars on a watch (even though it has GPS) when I could spend that money on another week of travel.

extra passport photos
copies of passport
drivers license, debit card, credit card, back-up credit card
travel wallet
folder with insurance, itinerary and reservation confirmations

Before you leave home have a few passport photos made. You’ll be surprised by how often you need them (for visas, permits, scuba certification). Also, keep an extra color copy or two of your passport and don’t store them with your passport. I’ll usually keep one copy in my toiletry bag and another in my daypack, backpack, or purse….or I’ll give a copy to a travel mate, if we’re going to be traveling together for the entirety of the trip. And make sure to leave a copy with a family member or roommate, just in case you find yourself in a bind.


Steve and I went on our AMAZING Southeast Asia trip. And to be completely honest, I lugged 95% of this list around for 6 months. We did however send stuff home at a couple of times during our trip. In Vietnam, after about 2 months of traveling in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, we sent a box home from HCMC with all of the stuff we hadn’t touched over the previous months: skinny jeans, TOMS, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 camera bag. Also, I ended up not taking my trekking poles with me….they didn’t fit in my bag very well, and I didn’t want to have the strapped to the outside of my pack. I was fine, my knees didn’t bother me on any of our treks, so I’m happy I didn’t pack them.

After climbing the Pinnacles in Malaysia we sent another round of stuff home: fleece jacket,    all but one pair of socks, 1 wicking long sleeve shirt, 2 t-shirts, the SteriPen and all of the crap we bought in Nepal (and there was alot). My trekking pants were toast!!! I ripped them the first week of our trip in Thailand, stitched them up, and then I ripped them again in Cambodia and stitched them up again. I kept them through all of the hikes. After the Pinnacles they were fairly threadbare, and with the rips, and the horrible smell of sweating in the jungle, they promptly ended up in the trash.