Packing and Gear

Unfortunately, we all end up learning a few lessons the hard way when it comes to packing light. But other blogs helped me avoid at least some back-breakingly terrible gear decisions. So for any dreamers out there getting started on their own long-term journeys, here is just a small slice of wisdom I can pass on for how I kept my pack light.


Winter wear
For upper wear, I was able to skip the heavy overcoat by combining these three layers: a waterproof/windproof top layer, a super warm sweater layer, and a thermal shirt that could still looked stylish worn alone. Put together, they were thin enough to save on luggage space while still keeping me warm in below freezing temps. Links below are to the women's versions but they come in men's sizes as well.

This is essential gear! You put your clothes into these bags and roll the air out, thereby flattening your clothes into half the space. That's all there is to it.

Dries quickly. Perfect for when you're checking out of your hostel right after taking a morning shower. You don't want to be carrying a soggy towel around in your backpack.

LED headlamp
Perfect for those late nights when you walk into a fully packed hostel dorm after the lights are turned out and you need to find your way to bed. Also essential in any parts where access to electricity is not a guarantee.

Combination padlock

Lewis N. Clark Latex Clothesline
Beware, some clotheslines are a total waste of money. If you go for this product, make sure to get a line with Velcro straps at the end like the one linked above. You can tie them to just about any protruding object in a typical room (chair legs, doorknobs, etc.). You don't need a line with suction cups. They're weak and you won't come across too many surfaces that give you the chance to even use them.

A very necessary accessory if you'll be washing clothes in the sink.

Earplugs
Get more than one pair. They can be hard to find in the less developed parts of Asia and you'll meet many unprepared travelers in desperate need of them.

Ziploc bags

A great way to kill the odor that inevitably develops in your overused shoes.

White Tiger Balm
I never knew what this was before coming to Asia but now I can't recommend it enough! To name just a few of its myriad uses: 
  • Rub it on your skin to repel mosquitoes and bedbugs.
  • Rub it on bug bites to help them heal faster.
  • Rub it on sore joints to reduce inflammation.
  • Rub it on the inside of your luggage or your luggage locker to prevent bedbugs from crawling in.
  • Rub it around your nose to clear nasal congestion. The ingredients in this thing are essentially the same as Vicks Vapor Rub.

Foldable ballet slippers (just for the girls)
Get these if you want something nice but don't have room for heels. They were the only "dress up" shoes I needed. As a bonus, the pouch can double as a ghetto clutch purse.
Do take note that the soles are paper thin. If you plan to wear them for long periods of time - which I did but for which they were not made to do - put insoles into them to avoid feeling every pebble under your foot as you walk. Store the insoles in your sneakers when you're not using them.


Electronics

Figuring out the right electronics to pack is obviously a more personal decision requiring much comparative research. I won't say too much here but I will share some of the electronics I travel with:

More powerful than a point-and-shoot, smaller than a DSLR. Most photos on this site were taken using this camera.

Camera Lens: Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Pancake Lens
Just like it's name implies, it's tiny and cute (as cute as a camera lens can be anyway). And for all the camera nerds out there: it's got a 1.7 max aperture! With this, you'll find yourself winning all the photographer cock measuring contests...or...maybe not. But it's still impressive.

Computer: Samsung Chromebook
Cheap, durable, gets the basics done. It gives me peace of mind not to carry a more expensive laptop.
But there is one major downside here: many small businesses all over Asia have not optimized their websites for the Chrome browser. Many a time I had to walk over to the internet cafe to use their Windows machines running Internet Explorer as my little Chromebook waited for me at home.

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