Category Archives: Packing List

What’s in pack and on my back – Dave’s Packing List

When you start planning a trip like ours, you also start obsessively scouring the internet for blogs of other people have made similar trips. I’d spend hours obsessing over things like “Should I get the underpants that are ‘moisture wicking’ or ‘odor control’ AND WHY DON’T THEY MAKE ANY THAT ARE BOTH?” On this (and many other topics) I would be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to fantastic rtw bloggers Jillian and Danny over at I should Log Off. I found their advice to be invaluable, particularly in my packing decisions.

I want to not look like a gap-year backpacker on this trip, but some of that will be unavoidable. Really, I just wanted to pack the bare essentials. There are two pieces of advice that is uniform across the internet on this topic:

1) If your pack is too heavy, it WILL make you miserable

2) You’re going to Asia — not Mars. If you forgot to pack something, you can buy it on the road.

With that in mind, here is everything that is going into my 44 liter pack:

Tops and bottoms

5 pairs of underwear from Ex Officio. These guys are amazing. Moisture wicking, don’t appear to smell. Extremely quick drying. This is critical gear for SE Asia.

Two pairs of shorts, two bathing suits, one pair of extremely light quick dry pants from Salomon (are actually very well cut and quite slim in the leg)

One long sleeve thin fleece (for over air-conditioned trains, buses and planes), my beloved DC United soccer jersey which is a very light long-sleeve moisture wicking deal. 2 cotton t-shirt for beaches and sleeping in. 5 short sleeve quick dry moisture wicking shirts in a variety of styles and colors (one polo, two half-zip, 2 t-shirts)

In the blue compression sack is my rain jacket and the rain cover for my backpack. I’ve got extra space in it to use it also as a laundry bag.



One pair of Toms for being able to walk around fashionable areas of a city and not look like a backpacker. One pair of crap flip-flops for grungy bathrooms and beaches. One pair of Keen Newport H2’s, which are frighteningly ugly, but extremely comfortable, light, and let my feet breathe.



Live without the internet? If I can’t see videos of turtles farting in bathtubs or pictures of babies in monocles, then that is not a life worth living sir. We’ve got a kindle, ipad, laptop (Acer Aspire One – weights about 3 lbs), my old crap jailbroken and unlocked iPhone 3G, an ipod, a international plug adapter, a monster outlet extender that can turn one outlet into a charging station for 3 standard plugs and two USB devices, In the black bag is where we keep all the related cords and chargers for these devices.



Miscellaneous Stuff

Ahhh, now the fun begins. Here we’ve got: an inflatable travel pillow (a komfort kollar. Amazing so far), a deck of cards, earplugs, a small repair kit for my glasses, an athletic glasses strap, a combination lock, a caribiner that also has a compass and a thermometer in it, a DC United patch that I SWEAR I will eventually sew onto my bag, a headlamp, a one liter nalgene bottle, a pacsafe cable lock so we can secure our bags, a travel towel, a leatherman tool, my Rx sunglasses and a spare pair of regular glasses, a Steripen for sterilizing water on the go, a travel blanket.



Just your standard bunch of travel-size toiletries in the clear bag. In the mesh bag is some fabreze and some liquid soap to use to wash our clothes out in sinks. There’s also an electric beard trimmer there. As a bearded man (most of the time), this is the one luxury item I’ve allowed myself. It’s not heavy but every ounce and inch counts when I’ll be carrying everything on my back for the foreseeable future. On the left is my REI Flash 22 backpack. This is what I use most days to just walk around after we’ve stashed our big bags at the hostel. It folds up into itself into a little pouch about 5 inches by 3 inches for easy storage.


Packed up

Here’s what it looks like when it’s all packed up. The big bag weighs about 22 lbs, the smaller one I’m guessing is about 5 lbs.


All You REALLY Need

Of course, this is all just STUFF. It’s replaceable. Something, or likely, SEVERAL THINGS will get lost or stolen or broken on this trip. Before I left, my former boss who had taken a trip like this himself gave me some great and freeing advice. He said, “You can have all the stuff you want, but all you really need is money and a passport. With that you can do whatever you want.” Of course, I’d make an addendum to that — all I need is money, my passport and OF COURSE Mrs. Banh Mi by my side!


It’s my bag, baby. What Kat’s bringing

So, we leave tomorrow and our heads are exploding. We both woke up before 7am without alarms and have one final day to take care of odds and ends before departure tomorrow morning.
Before we get carried away (LITERALLY!) I wanted to do a run down of what I am bringing.  Dave and I both were really into packing lists. As a control freak, what I bring is really the only thing I can control. And as someone who used to wear high heels every day (and hope to when I get back! Never forget!) I wanted to look cute. I wanted to look like ME, not an REI version of me.  I am not that kind of girl, though I tried to be for a while. I’m a failed REI shopping. It’s ok. That’s why I brought $48 moisturizer on the trip. I will indubitably learn a valuable lesson about that one later.

Needless to say, we obsessively read packing lists. Especially like, in February, when this trip was just a twinkle on my visa card. Ones that I found most helpful for me (DK may have a different story) were from Legal Nomads, Answering Oliver, Traveling 9 to 5, and GQ Trippin‘.
So, what am I schlepping around for the next 3/6/9/? months?

1 pair of North Face Manzanita Sandals (i.e. the anti-Chaco)

1 pair of running shoes

1 pair of Toms

1 pair of flip flops. I bought these at Nordstrom. Havianas cost what a daily budget in Laos can be. #priorities

1 maxi dress

1 midi dress

1 pair running shorts

1 pair chambray shorts

1 pair of purple chinos because, god damnit, I grew up on the Main Line and needed to take SOME preppy with me (note: I am not preppy).

1 knee length pencil skirt for going out mostly. It was less than $7. If I wear it 3x and then toss it that’s ok. Thank you Forever 21. Skirt — you are on your way back to your ancestral homeland.

1 pair god-awful wide leg yoga capri pants which I will wear incessantly once I give up on being fashionable somewhere after Laos when I realize I haven’t worn lipstick in three months, high heels for four, and have been freed from American (read: my own) standards of attractiveness.

1 pair hippie super light pants. yes that is a wee bit of a dropped crotch. Oppa Bieber Style

1 pair leggings

1 spaghetti strap tank

4 wider strap tanks because I have an editing problem. For real. Who needs four tank tops in a 50 L bag? I do.

3 t shirts

2 elbow covering shirts. i.e. my India shirts

1 fleece. Most likely for bus rides as air con will be the coldest temp we’ll feel

1 lightweight rain jacket

2 bathing suits. You will never see pictures of me in them, so don’t worry. Unclench your jaw. Release those shoulders.

Along similar lines: not pictured are 7 pairs of underoos, 2 bras, and 3 pairs of socks.

1 resistance band

1 jump rope

(everyone train with Anthony in DC! Email me for his contact info — awesome trainer!)

Traveling Pharmacy. I am carrying our medical supplies and DK is carrying cords/laptop.

SPF 50 & 30 sunscreen

eczema medicine for me 😦

advair for me and my asthma 😦

aloe vera for DK’s inevitable sunburn 😦


Opposite of Imodium….

Melatonin & Ambien

100% DEET bugspray

Metric shit ton of advil




Band aids

Here’s where i begin to become an idiot

travel journal


alarm clock

tiny playing cards


prescription glasses


Our mascot for the trip: tiny gay purple bear (thanks HRC friends!) we’ve affectionately named JT.

worlds’ greatest showing of accessory restraint

Toiletries in varying level of needs.

amazing makeup restraint IMHO

vaguely named “lady supplies” and make up packed up.


6 packets of tissues

1 packet baby wipes


inflatable travel pillow

travel blanket

silk sleep sheet

water bottle

This is how I’m packing it all

16L compression sack for bulky items

1 small packing cube: holds all my shirts

1 medium packing cube holds: shorts, pants, dresses

black purse for the dolla dolla billz. also for when i need to feel like a lady and carry a purse instead of a backpack.

black case with my unmentionables

This is it. everything going in my large pack.

These are odds and ends for my carry on.

this is it. Probs weighs like, 30 pounds all but I am hoping to shed things as we go. I’m sure by the time I’ve done enough yoga to be more zen about material possessions I’m sure I’ll be ok not carrying around 4 ounces of argan oil like an idiot.
So, lessons from packing this all up?

  • Packing cubes are like tiny zippered gifts from the baby Jesus
  • I am irrationally hoarding toiletries
  • I am irrationally hoarding tissues as part of my coping mechanism when dealing with Asian toilets
  • I tried to keep my capsule wardrobe all in the same family. I went with mostly black and white but pops of color (a lot of purple. it’s an issue). Everything I am bringing can more or less be worn with everything else.
  • I went nuts with gear research and am bringing like none of it. I think it’s fine. I’d rather look cute than be dry. It’s going to be 9,000 degrees with 400% humidity so why not at least look cool.
  • I’m sure I’m going to shed some of this on the road. I’d better. I’m ridiculous.
  • Also, sunscreen is heavy.