The Obligatory Travel Gear Post, SE Asia edition

my travel gear

my travel gear

My plan was to be in SE Asia until the end of March. However, I am prematurely back in Taipei, because I somehow unknowingly had my bank card eaten by an ATM in Thailand, thus cutting off only source of money for travel and quite abruptly ending my trip. This means I have more time to putz around and blog, and I’m sure an account of my travels in SE Asia will show up in a post very soon.

Anyways, I tried to pack as lightly as possible for my one-month SE Asia trip. My final pack weight came out to be 9 kg, which I think is actually heavier than necessary (I aimed for 7 kg). But being a lifelong over-packer who only started shaving down on baggage weight while serving in the Peace Corps, due to the bare-bones lifestyle, I always pack a few things that are considered “just-for emergencies”.

Bags

  • * Osprey Kestral 48
  • A small 13 liter bag that folds up into a tiny size

* To me the pack is a traveler’s most intimate piece of equipment. I looked around for YEARS finding my perfect travel pack. The Kestral 48 comes pretty close as being the favorite pack I’ve ever used. It’s robust, has awesome pockets and features, and very versatile. I’ve used it in the backcountry in New Zealand, weekend trips across Taiwan, and as my main pack through SE Asia. It even comes with a rain cover, but this seems to be the norm for large backpacks these days.

Electronics

  • * Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S2
  • Canon 550D + 18mm-55mm kit lens + polarizing filter
  • BlackRapid RS-7 sling strap
  • One extra camera battery
  • 2 32gb SD cards
  • 1 SD card reader
  • chargers for phone and camera
  • 1 universal voltage converter
  • 1 pair headphones
  • 1 64gb flash drive

* A smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S2 can do everything…Angry Birds, videos, music, internet, Skype, and a backup camera. There’s no reason to bring a computer given the versatility of smartphones.

Clothing

  • 2 pairs of boxer shorts (best thing to sleep in!)
  • 3 pairs of quick-dry underwear
  • 2 pair shorts, one of which converts into pants
  • 2 bras
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 rain coat
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of shitty looking flip flops
  • * 1 pair of Barefoot Merrell trail glove
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 t-shirts

* I am averse to wearing shoes and socks in hot climates. I regretted bringing my Barefoot Merrells. Unless you are absolutely sure that you will be trekking in SE Asia, do not bring any shoes. You can easily buy new footwear if your flip flops fall into an unfortunate demise.

Toiletries

  • 1 small bottle shampoo
  • 1 bar of soap
  • 1 small tube toothpaste and toothbrush
  • 1 clothesline
  • 1 pair nail clippers
  • 1 small bottle sunscreen
  • * 1 small tube roll-on bug dope
  • 1 small bottle hand sanitizer

* Ditch the natural citronella oil bullshit. I’ve tried them all and they don’t work as well as DEET-based repellents. And bug dope is essential. There’s a lot of mosquitoes everywhere in hot, wet, and humid SE Asia.

Med Kit

  • * 1 bottle probiotics
  • bandages
  • ibuprofen
  • hydrocortisone
  • anti-histamines
  • antibacterial ointment
  • 1 thermometer

* With capsules full of healthy gut bacteria, probiotics have been shown to decrease or alleviate travelers diarrhea. Be sure to get the kind that don’t need refrigeration.

I brought a pretty bare-bones med kit because I knew that medicines are cheap and widely available in SE Asia, especially Thailand. For example, I bought a full course of Norfloxacin (antibiotics for bacteria-induced diarrhea) for only 4 dollars. Oral rehydration salts are really cheap as well, priced around 1 dollar for five packets.

Other

  • 1 headlamp + extra batteries
  • small repair kit with Tenacious Tape, duct tape, and superglue
  • earplugs and sleeping eye mask
  • 1 water bottle
  • journal and 2 pens
  • * 1 Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Lonely Planet guidebook
  • 1 extra pair glasses

I have always loved owning Lonely Planets. I do not like traveling with them. With the availability of ubiquitous internet, I found myself looking up travel information more on my smartphone than my guidebook. Next time, I would purchase a guidebook for researching my trip and then scan/copy the relevant pages so I don’t have to haul a brick around. Lonely Planet also conveniently puts PDFs of all their guidebooks on their websites, available for download at a fee.

Documents and Important Things

  • * passport, ATM bank card, credit card, ID
  • photocopies of passport, ID, bank card, credit card
  • extra passport photos
  • copies of all flight itineraries
  • some back-up cash in the form of USD

* I have traveled extensively for years and years without ever misplacing anything. After losing my ATM card in Thailand, I will never travel without two cards anymore. It is such a rookie mistake, but also not. So many people lose their cards on the road, including seasoned road warriors. Momentary complacency and simple human error can cause you to drop your guard and make mistakes. Prepare for this by opening another account and have some emergency cash saved in it. Use that as your backup money source if your primary account becomes inaccessible.

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