Before we left for our world trip, I was planning a post titled: "Ik ga op reis en neem mee" (Dutch for "You go on a trip and you take, a well known cargame). Of course that never finished due to us actually leaving for Asia. However, here we go with much more meaningful information. If you ever find yourself travelling in Asia for a long time, I hope you will (not) bring the following items...
Travelling without a bag is like drinking without a cup. Difficult. That's why Jacqueline and I planned a packing strategy.
Most of you know that I've had some back troubles. That's why Jacqueline and I both bought a rolling bag that can be transformed into a backpack. We both bought an Osprey Sojourn bag. The 60 L version gives you is spacious, very sturdy and utterly practical. However, in Asia, there is one superfluous function. The backpack system. I have not used it once in our 24 weeks of travel. Jacqueline used it once... Mind you, I'm not saying you can use any old rolling suitcase. Ours have more ground clearance and big sturdy wheels. They're like Range Rovers without engines! Now I can hear you asking: "I don't see any rolling suitcases on all those hiking pictures you've shown me!" Well, it turns out that you don't bring your big bags on those hikes. Your operator will arrange for them to make the trip on your own. Instead you use your...
Another place where our packing strategy came in handy is the daypack situation. We brought a small one (10L) to use for small trips or for me on the hikes and a North Face Casimir 32L (Thanks Charly!) for full days together or for Jacqueline to carry during the hikes. Lastly you should put your stuff in small bags and not buy these at Xenos, because those will disintegrate in front of your face... We also brought two Camelbaks. They're water bladders you put in your daypack. A great way to keep hydrated during the day without the sloshing of a bottle.
Clothes are quite easy, if you're a dude. Just pack for a week and don't bring a lot of t-shirts. You can buy those cheap everywhere. If you're a girl, it gets complicated quickly.;-) Ask Jacqueline. Washing clothes is so cheap I'd travel again just to not have to do it myself!
We bought so called 'trailrunning shoes'. These are lightweight, quick-drying and have some support and a very grippy outsole. Not for real backpacking, but they turned out to be perfect for the hikes we made. Jacqueline says she has never had shoes that were this comfortable. As for flipflops/sandals, she brought Birkenstocks and I brought sandals. The Birkenstocks lasted three times as long as my Teva / Merrell sandals did (I broke two pairs before we even got to Africa). YMMV.
We both have a prescription, so we brought lenses, glasses and sunglasses.
Bring daily lenses if you use them. No cleaning, no problem when (not if) they get irritated after snorkling, and no fluid to take with you. I know it's not the most environmentally friendly option. :(
For the days when you can't get out of bed, or are in a city that is really to dusty for living (I'm looking at you, Mandalay). We both have glasses that darken in the sun. This saves you bringing an extra pair.
Buy some cheap ones for your hikes/swimming!
A.K.A. How to fill the rest of your bag. :)
When we were doing our shopping at the Bever store in Houten, we asked the sales girl whether we had missed anything. She told us to abolutely bring some hooks with a suction cup. We're glad we did. No matter how dirty the bathroom, we could always hang our toiletry bags.
Of course you need a multitool (unless you're going to travel without checking any bags, then you would have to buy a new one after every flight). We got a Leatherman Sidekick. It's a cheaper model and has pliers with a spring action. It was very useful when we came across a Myanmar family with scooter trouble. I handed the father my tool and after a minute the family of four (!) was on the move on their bike. Of course, the most important tool is on the accessory they give you...
No, you don't need a traditional sleeping bag in Asia. However, a sheet that's sewn into a bag is perfect for nights in 'not pristine' hotels.
First aid kit
Bring one. Also bring the spray on plaster. Very useful in the dusty surroundings.
What we missed
Looking back we're quite happy with what we did and did not bring. The one thing we would bring next time: a UV based water cleaner like the Steripen. We bought a lot of water bottles, which is a shame considering this option. We had just never heard of it before.
That's part one of our gear post. Can you guess what the next one will focus on? Read it here!