We are now almost three months into our SE Asia backpacking journey, can you believe it?! We have very limited space in our packs, and need our items to be as organized and multi-purpose as possible. We've gotten in the groove of our on-the-go lifestyle, and have figured out what items are must-haves to make our travels easier. See more below!
We did a LOT of research before embarking on this trip regarding the packs we'd be bringing for 4+ months of travel. Between the three of us, we've got our traveling + packing system down and have learned the pros and cons of our packs.
We all have around 3-4 packing cubes along with miscellaneous bags and items shoved in our packs. We definitely recommend 55 liters and under for any long-term travel (that doesn't require packing camping-like gear, etc.). We can't imagine carrying much bigger than what we have now, and personally think anything bigger would be unnecessary (you need less than you think!). All of our packs have fit in the overhead bins of all airlines. Big ol' tip: Many airlines require your overhead bin items to be under 7 kg (we were unaware of this and in for a big shock boarding our first flight). We put all of our heavy items in our daypacks while our larger packs get weighed, and adjust items as needed after security ;)
We often leave our big packs in our hostel lockers or Airbnb's during our exploring and take just day packs with our essentials. We really recommend this strategy, rather than just relying on your larger backpack. We often have laptops and working gear, so having a larger daypack can be helpful, but you may be able to get away with a larger fanny or smaller backpack.
Em + Connor's Packs: Em and Connor here! We tried on roughly 20 different packs before deciding on this one. Comfort was a huge factor in our decision and all straps (especially the hip strap) as well as back panel are so comfortable and breathable. We've even had TSA workers squeeze the straps as we come through security because they look so plush. ;) This pack gets a 10/10 for comfort, hands down.
While we thought our "perfect" pack would open more like a duffel (see B's pack features below), we have been thrilled with the ease of packing and accessibility of items with this pack. The bulk of the bag is one open space (fits 3-4 travel cubes plus extra miscellaneous items). The bottom compartment can remain a separate space (shoes, toiletries, cords, etc) allowing access to the larger section above it, or can be unzipped to create one huge space from top to bottom.
There are internal and external pockets in the top "flap," a front sleeve pocket and zip pouches in the hip straps. The hip strap pockets have been essential on airport days when passports, wallets, and phones need to be handy but we want to be hands-free.
A bonus feature is that these packs have the ability to go from 45L (how we fly with them) to 55L (when we don't to have a separate daypack on and cram everything we have in it). It makes the pack taller but not any harder to carry.
We have thoroughly loved these packs and have zero complaints!
Em + Connor's Daypacks: When planning the trip, we knew we needed smaller daypacks but did not want bulky ones that always had to be carried outside of our larger packs. We loved the idea of these smaller-than-your-fist packs that could be thrown in our big packs when unused. This pack is small but mighty, folks. You would not believe how much we can cram into them! They fit so much and are also smaller than a traditional backpack, which is ideal when sightseeing.
Keep in mind, the straps are not padded and can begin to dig in to your shoulders, but only when you have LOTS of heavy things inside. Truly, the only time we are bothered by this is on flight days when our packs are loaded in a specific way for weight regulations. :P Also, these packs do not hold our 17" monster laptop, but could absolutely hold a tablet or even smaller laptop (13"). Bless Beth for carrying both laptops in her larger pack on working days!
B's Pack and Daypack, Osprey Fairview 55: B reporting here! I have been super happy with this pack for a lot of reasons! I was first drawn to it because it comes with a larger backpack, a super sturdy daypack, fits in overhead bins, and opens like a duffel. So far, it's worked like a champ!
The duffel-opening feature is super handy, and not very common in backpacking packs. It makes accessing items and organizing everything super easy. Traditional backpacks (opening from the top) may be able to shove a bit more in them because of the way you load them, but if you plan on being in and out of your pack often, or just prefer the duffel-open style, this one is a winner. It fits a lot (three cubes, a pair of workout shoes, and a ton of miscellaneous items).
The daypack is super sturdy and comes with a laptop sleeve and padded inner zip pocket. It has been crucial for longer days where we need more support for our shoulders + backs, and has also been a life-saver when we need to carry our laptops. When this pack and daypack are both full, it's a bit too heavy to attach the daypack to the pack without falling over ;) I often wear the daypack in the front and backpack on my back during travel days. This can be slightly annoying but means we can all cram more stuff.
Overall it's really comfy, very roomy, and has been a great pack and daypack combo for this trip.
In Our Packs
Small packs, big dreams ;) To say we were overwhelmed when packing for this trip is an understatement. We needed to take great videos, keep our bods in tip-top shape, keep ourselves entertained with no phone service, have our day-to-day toiletries, and somehow stay organized?! Phew! See our winners below.
Amazon Packing Cubes: These packing cubes are affordable, durable, and we have been able to shove way more than expected in them ;) We highly recommend them!
Stasher Bags: We use Stasher bags for everything! They are waterproof, durable, reusable bags and have been so handy on this trip. We use them for things like organizing our shower essentials, storing our cords, storing random pack items, and much more. We mostly use the sandwich and snack size bags!
Lacrosse Balls: These have been life savers! We walk a ton, sleep in weird positions, carry heavy packs, and put our bods through a lot of wear and tear. We use lacrosse balls and our Body Reset program to help alleviate our aches and pains.
Waterproof Playing Cards: Playing Euchre has been our go-to during dinners, train rides, and chill nights. These waterproof cards are durable and allow us to play wherever (beaches included!).
lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag: This has been our fav fanny for day adventuring and nights out when we don't need our daypacks. It has a ton of compartments, is adjustable, and fits a lot of miscellaneous items.
Clothing + Shoes
Pairing down our clothing and shoe options was difficult. We were somewhat aware of the climate, but with much of our trip being planned as we go, we wanted to be prepared for multiple weather scenarios. We also needed somewhat durable clothing that could handle a lot of wears, washes, and tons of sweating.
Teva Terra Float 2 (Universal): Comfiest. Sandals. Ever. We were all previously on the Chaco train, and while we love them, they are heavy and sometimes the straps aren't super comfortable to wear 24/7. These Teva Terra Float's are our every day shoe and are amazing. Super comfy, very lightweight, easy to slide on and off, waterproof, and durable. 10/10 in our books!
Lems Trailhead Shoe: Bringing only two pairs of shoes meant we needed very versatile shoes. The Trailheads are great for city trekking, hiking, and workouts. They are comfy, cute, have good grip, and are lighter weight compared to traditional hiking boots. They are somewhat bulky, so if you are looking for a lighter backpacking sneaker, we recommend the extremely lightweight and packable Lems Primal 2.
lululemon On the Fly Pant: These pants are super versatile and comfy! They are great for days when you're craving sweatpants ;) or for chillier climates. These are also our go-to when hiking for bug protection because they are slightly thicker. lululemon gear is durable and made to sweat in, which is exactly why you'll see a lot of it in this section!
lululemon On the Fly Short: We. Are. Obsessed. These shorts have so many components we love and we get asked about them constantly! They actually cover our bums (they say they are 2.5 inches long but we find they are longer than most of their other shorts in that length), have a higher (and adjustable) waist, are sweat-wicking, and have mesh pockets inside for money/card/key holding.
lululemon Align Short: These are so comfy and have gotten a lot more use than we thought they would! We wear them under dresses, to bed, and to work out in. The high-waist is a huge bonus for us as well (can you tell we love everything high-waisted?!).
lululemon All Tied Up Tank: Again, a super versatile piece made for sweating in. This can be dressed up or down, is super comfy, and has been a durable staple on this trip.
lululemon Vinyasa Scarf: We have been fans of the Vinyasa Scarf for years, and it's continued to be so handy during this trip. This scarf can be converted to multiple scarf styles, a wrap, or cardigan. It's also great as a mini blanket for freezing bus rides and airports!
We spend a lot of our time outside in the very hot and sunny countries of SE Asia. Protecting our skin and eyes from sun damage (and staying cool) is a top priority for us!
FRE's Tinted Moisturizer, Glow Me: We wear this daily for light coverage + sun protection! It's not greasy, soaks in (a rarity for a lot of tinted moisturizers!), is easy on sensitive skin, fits most skin tones, and has SPF 15. Use code "BOOPBOD" for 20% off!
FRE's Daily Sunscreen, Protect Me: We wear this every day, at the beach, and on long trekking days. It's made for sweaty skin (aka won't clog your pores), has SPF 30, and is made with their Argania Complex (skin food!). Use code "BOOPBOD" for 20% off!
Adidas Superlite Cap: It's hot out here, folks! You can often find this on B's noggin' during hot days. This hat is adjustable, dries quickly, is easy to wash, and helps keep the sun out of your eyes (and off your face!).
Packable Sun Visor: We have gotten so many compliments on these slightly goony hats! They roll up so they can be easily packed, are adjustable, and are big enough that they cover our faces + neck/shoulder area.
lululemon Baller Hat Run: This is Em + Connor's staple hat! Similarly to the Adidas hat, it dries quickly, is lightweight, adjustable, and easy to wash.
Humps Sunnies: These are our other staple sunnies on our trip! They are an affordable option, are polarized, durable, and have a ton of styles. We love the Agent, Venice Mirrored, and NYC styles. Use code "BOOPBOD20" for 20% off!
Chums Sunglasses Strap: We got these because we have an eye for fashion, obvi. ;) Okay, so they may not be the most fashionable but we can't imagine our travels without them. This specific strap linked stays tight around every pair of sunnies and glasses we have (thick plastic and thin metal stems). We can remain worry free about losing them because when they are not positioned on our face, they are hanging on our necks. A must!
With little room, months of travel, and a lot of different activities, we had to carefully plan + pack items that would fit our busy traveling plans. All of the items above have been well-loved and must-haves on this trip! We hope they can help guide your trip packing list or maybe just be added to the summer shopping list ;) If you have any questions on what we packed or have used on this trip, never hesitate to reach out.
E + B