Pack for Southeast Asia: The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

So I have made it. I survived three overnight flights in a row. Now I have had two amazing weeks in Bali. While it has been a short time here I have learned a lot already. Mostly about how little I did to prepare for this trip. Through all my excitement, I forgot about a few basic to dos that would have been really beneficial to my trip.

What I really wish I brought: 

  • ATM card with no fees. Wow did I mess up with this one. I have never traveled for more than  few weeks at a time. So usually I just eat the little amount of fees. Now I am on a trip for an indefinite amount of time and paid no thought to how I would get money out. I brought $200 with me and thought “I will just exchange this”. Clearly was not thinking about the time when that money ran out.
  • Credit Card with no foreign transaction fees. I have this. I just forgot it. Also, Indonesian addresses are really difficult and the mail is a nightmare to receive here. Cue having to go pick it up in person and pay out of pocket transport costs.
  • Paper copies of items. Not as important because I have pictures of everything on my phone and email but it is always a good idea to have a paper copy of your passport and international health insurance.
  • Mascara. So probably the least important but I have brand I really like and I know I won’t find it out here. Plus it’s so hot this is usually the only make up I wear. Not the end of the world but wish I had stocked up on these.

Things I am so happy I brought:
So to give myself credit I remembered more good things than bad. There are basic travel items I brought like a fanny pack, electricity converter, rain jacket, and travel pillow. Then there are the not so basic items that I am so glad I invested in. Items like:

  • Packing Cubes. They are three mesh cubes in varying sizes that hold my clothes. It’s amazing the difference they make. It’s so easy to pack up everything and know where everything I need is. Living in a backpack would be a lot more difficult without these.
  • Portable chargers. I have been charging these at night and then using them to charge my phone. This way I don’t have to worry about where my phone is at in the hostel. It’s always next to me, even when its charging. I brought two, a small one that I take out with me in case I have low battery when I need to capture a gorgeous sunset and a large one for charging around the hostels.
  • Grayl Water Bottle. This was a bit of an investment but has been paying off tenfold for me. It is a water bottle with a built in filter. I drink a lot of water. In a country where the tap water isn’t safe this would mean I would need to constantly be buying large bottled water. Since I am in inexpensive countries the cost isn’t that great but over the course of multiple months it can really add up! Plus not all countries have recycling systems. I feel better knowing how much plastic I am saving.
  • Quick Dry Towel. I splurged and got a nice one from REI (and by splurge it was only $22). It seriously has been the best for hostel living. It dries you and itself so quickly. It also folds up really small so it doesn’t take up much of the coveted space in my bag. It can also double as a blanket when need be.

Things I am happy I waited to buy: 

  • Beach Towel. If you do not already have a sarong seriously wait until you are on the beach to buy a beach towel. You can buy a beautiful one from a lady on the beach for cheap. Be sure to bargain them down in price! (She wanted 150,000 idr but I got her down to 70,000 idr which about $5). Now I have a beach towel, cover up, tapestry, etc. It has many uses!
  • Extra Toiletries. They have everything you need out here and it’s so much less expensive. I bought deodorant, bug spray, tiger balm, and alcohol wipes for $4! Unless you have a specific brand you have to use do not worry about loading up you pack with extras.

Things I didn’t need to bring:

  • Eye mask. I took three overnight flights to get here. Each flight provided me with an eye mask and ear plugs. Qatar airways even gives you socks!
  • Ear Plugs. Same as above. Unless you need some fancy ear plugs just save your money and use what’s provided.
  • Jeans. why why why did I bring these! I do not even wear jeans in real life what made me think I would use them in one of the most hot and humid places in the world?! Donating them as soon as I buy some cool pants here.

Overall I think I have fared pretty well. As long as nothing else gets stolen (my pashmina scarf and headphones have fallen victim already) then I think I will fair well for the rest of the trip!