I saw this article on Buzzfeed Australia and thought I’d write about my experience, too. I remember Aly telling me the same thing after our Palawan trip – to share my tips on how to pack light.
I’ve always traveled light. Usually for a 5-day trip (whether domestic or overseas), I would bring my floral backpack and it would usually weigh 4kg. My friends say it’s because my clothes are usually short so they don’t really occupy much space. Which is true, I admit that. I usually wear dresses and skirts during travels, it’s very rare that you’ll see me wearing pants. Because it’s pointless to bring pants as they’re really bulky. Also, I’ve never really travelled to somewhere super cold (first time would be in Feb 2017, to Japan) so there’s really no need for me to wear something long or thick. But this time, it’s a 10-day trip to Malaysia and Laos. That’s 3 days in Malaysia and 7 days in Laos, which are both tropical places so I chose my thinnest and least bulky clothes for this trip. My friends and I also agreed that we’d do laundry service on our 6th day so it’s fine to not bring clothes that will last you the entire 10 days. But still, it was a challenge for me. I take packing my luggage seriously so I always make it a point that I make a list before packing. I also used a different bag this time. I used my green backpack so I can put a padlock on it. (My floral backpack cannot be locked.)
So here’s a list of what I brought with me:
– 2 dresses
– 1 soft pants (since we’re visiting temples)
– 1 long black skirt
– 2 shorts (1 for sleeping and 1 for swimming)
– 1 denim skirt
– 1 pair of shorts (for going out)
– 5 tops (4 sleeveless, 1 short-sleeves)
– 2 shirts (for sleeping)
– a pair of white sneakers
– a pair of flipflops
– a pair of aqua shoes (for swimming obviously)
– 1 green parka
– 1 blue light jacket
– a small laundry bag that holds my undies and swimwear (3 pairs of swimwear, 6 panties, 3 bras, 3 pairs of footsocks, 1 pair of socks
– a kit filled with my toiletries (alcohol, liquid soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, mosquito repellent, lipstick, mirror, blush on, powder, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, medicines, flat cotton, baby oil)
– neck pillow
– a cap and a hat
– shades (they broke inside my bag’s pocket so I had to buy a new one in Vientiane for only 15,000 kip. I lost them in Chinatown KL though. LOL)
– scarf (which would have doubled as a blanket if they didn’t have one on the sleeper bus.)
– a pair of cycling shorts (for dresses haha)
– palengke bag
– drawstring bag
– plastic zipper bag
– phone charger
– selfie stick (which I didn’t get to use)
I also had a small brown sling bag with me where I put my passport, money, cellphone and powerbank. What I wore to the airport is a short-sleeved romper and black sandals. Oh, and my green parka because it was raining when I left the house. I had to put that inside my backpack though while in the cab on the way to the airport because it got super wet. It still fit inside and it actually added to the 6kg weight when I weighed it at the airport. So my backpack could have actually weighed less if that was dry.
1) Ok, rolling your clothes before packing them inside your bag definitely works. That’s how I’ve always done it and once I’m done with all my clothes, they only take up like half of my backpack. Then I put my shoes and toiletries on top.
2) Place liquid stuff in small containers. Actually for me, whenever I buy cologne or deodorant or the likes, I always buy small ones. I have this Hello Kitty pouch that’s always in my bag and it has everything I need. It’s the same one I brought with me to this trip and every other trip I’ve had. I only add some other stuff and if they don’t fit anymore, I just place them in another laundry bag. Also, I didn’t bring any cologne or lotion during this trip. No reason actually, I just ran out. I bummed cologne from either Mine or Celine.
3) Bring a thin towel. I think the one that I always bring was purchased in Daiso. It’s a towel that’s big enough to wrap around your body but thin that it gets wet really easily. It’s just for emergency purposes though cause your hotel’s going to have towels anyway. Some hostels don’t though – like the one we stayed in at Vientiane. That’s why you should still bring one – even a towelette will do. (Not for me though cause I’ve got long, thick hair.)
4) Mix and match your outfits. I’m really OC when it comes to what I wear during trips and yes, I definitely plan ahead and try them on and see how they look like in front of the mirror. I listed what I can wear from Day 1 to 10, while considering what activities we have for that day. I don’t follow it strictly though cause sometimes, those plans fall through and sometimes, you just don’t feel like wearing what you initially planned. Also, the weather just doesn’t cooperate sometimes. I didn’t have a hard time mixing and matching though luckily.
5) Wash your undies after using them and just let it dry inside the room or out if you have a balcony. If you don’t have one, make use of the exhaust in the bathroom. It’s also good for letting your swimsuits dry before packing them up. It was funny cause one of my travel buddies, Det, actually brought a bar of laundry soap with her. If we’d known this earlier, we should’ve just washed our own clothes instead of paying for laundry service. We had a lot of time in Vang Vieng anyway.
6) Bring shoes made from soft fabric. My white sneakers and aqua shoes are great for travelling because they don’t fill up too much space in my bag. My flipflops were actually thicker. If you’re planning to bring rubber shoes then just wear them at the airport (or every time you travel) so you don’t have to put them inside your bag. That’s what my friend, Celine, did. Some backpackers just tie them around their bags. That’s what I do with my neck pillow.
7) If you really need to wear pants (like I did since we had to go to temples), just bring one that’s made of soft fabric. It can get hot during the day so this one’s really comfortable.
8) If you have water activities planned, invest on a good aqua shoes and dry bag. Dry bag is definitely more advisable, than that waterproof bag for your cellphone and money. Not all them work! I’ve already lost a dear cellphone in Bohol a few months back so Celine and I bought dry bags on Lazada. Ours is a 5l one, it costs PHp499. I definitely recommend it. Super helpful during our 3-hr kayaking adventure! It’s what I used the entire trip – even when we’re not swimming. Aqua shoes – definitely better than wearing flipflops to the beach. During our water activities in Vang Vieng, we had to do some trekking and I would have had difficulty keeping up if I was wearing flipflops. My aqua shoes were super dependable and I didn’t even slip once.
9) If you can bring a blanket, bring one. I usually bring one cause I get cold really easily but not this time. I’d probably bring my mom’s malong next time.
10) Always bring extra bags. For me, aside from a small sling bag for my passport and other stuff, I always bring a drawstring bag (usually for city tours), a palengke bag (for pasalubongs) and a plastic zipper bag (for wet clothes). I like to be prepared.
I guess that’s it. I’ve always considered packing as rocket science cause I really take it seriously. When we went to Palawan last September, it took me 4 ½ hours to finish packing but for this trip, I only packed for 2 hours. That’s a new record for me.
My next trip will be in February next year and my friends and I are bound to Japan. It’s still going to be winter then so obviously, I’m not going to be able to pack light. I’m really excited though on what I can bring. It’s my first winter trip and I really look forward to it. 🙂