Learning to pack your bag efficiently is very important. It’s my 6th big trip and I finally know what I really need to bring. Since many women asked for a list of what to bring in a backpack to travel a bit lighter, Kevin and Andrew asked me to share my own list.
Let’s start by introducing myself: I’m Laurie, Kevin’s girlfriend (one of the 2 Flytrippers co-founders). I made the big move last September and left my government job for the next year to become a digital nomad & travel full-time with him! So here’s what I brought for this trip that was supposed to be a month and a half in Thailand… and ended up being a 6 month trip without returning home.
If you want to take advantage of a good price on Flytrippers’ cheap flight deals page, 95% of the time you don’t have to travel ultra light, but it’s way more convenient to skip the checked bags at least (the first time is the hardest, you get used to it!)
We’ll soon share an article telling you why it’s worth it, including a reminder that saving just $100 is enough to pay all expenses for more than 3 entire days in Thailand (or even for 4 flights in Europe) and it will contain an ultra low-cost version of a packing list. But we’re starting with the feminine (and a bit less extreme) perspective.
Let’s see what I will have to live with during those 6 next months!
*Note: We don’t plan on going camping or trekking, so we are not equipped for that kind of trip.
The backpack I use is an older version of this one:
I’m smaller, so this junior-sized (30L + 4L) deuter bag was the best option for me. It is adjustable at the hips and shoulders, and it costs less simply because it’s in the Junior section. Honestly, it has all the same features an adult backpack would have. So, I recommend it for those who are small (up to 5’3″) and who want to save money! Otherwise, for your children, it’s also perfect because it can be adjusted as they grow up.
Alternatively, last fall I took this Amazon Basics backpack on our Europe/Africa trip and it was bigger (40L) and very good to replace a suitcase:
Here’s why I liked it:
- cheap ($67)
- opens like a suitcase (from the top, zipper all around)
- has several storage pockets
- has a strap to spread the weight on the hips
- good dimensions for standard carry-on: 5.5 X 13 X 21.5 inches (Length x Width x Height)
- has a 2nd zipper that adds space or compresses your stuff
I have nothing bad to say about the bag’s features, but since it was bigger, I obviously filled it up more. It weighed around 30-35 pounds, which was far too heavy for me to walk around. Last fall, we traveled through France, Croatia, Bulgaria, Spain, and South Africa, so I was eager to remove some stuff from my backpack once we returned to Canada, before heading back to Thailand.
I carried too many unnecessary things with me last fall. This time, I brought exactly what I needed. Kevin and I plan to do some laundry approximately every 10 days if possible. Given that we are literally LIVING abroad, I prioritized the clothes I used in my everyday life back home.
Here’s exactly what I brought:
- 4 pairs of shorts
- 2 swimsuits (+ 1 I bought in Thailand, so leave room in your bag to bring back more than you brought!)
- 1 black skirt and 2 matching tank tops (for a classier look or for lounges with a mandatory dress code)
- 3 short sleeve sweaters
- 3 tank tops
- 3 pairs of long leggings (one of which looks like jeans)
- 2 three-quarter sleeve sweaters
- 1 rain coat/windbreaker
- 2 jumpsuits
- 2 dresses
- underwear for 12 days
- 10 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 2 pairs of sandals
Cosmetics (100ml each bottle max, for a total of one liter):
- 1 facial cleanser (drugstores’ samples are perfect!)
- 2 facial moisturizer
- 1 hand cream
- 1 face mask
- 1 bottle of hair oil
- make-up (mascara, face powder, etc)
- 1 hairbrush
- 1 mini flat iron
- 1 lip balm
- 1 toothbrush + 1 tube of toothpaste (soap kit and toothbrush here)
- 1 bar of soap (won’t leak!)
- 1 deodorant
- 2 razors
- 1 tweezers + 1 nail clipper
- 2 sunscreen tubes
- 2 elastics + 1 hair clip
- 1 kit to sleep (mask and inflatable pillow)
- 1 package of wet wipes for the plane
- Important: 1 prescription of antibiotics Ciprofloxacin in case you get sick (I have 2X1o days treatments)
- 1 box of probiotics
- Advils, tylenols, etc.
- Jewelry (I put them in a ziploc bag, but it’s really not the best idea, if you have a better way, put it in the comments section!)
- Feminine hygiene products
Tip: Put your bottles in a ziploc bag in case they leak! They’ll give you plastic bags before security at the airport.
- 1 computer (if you want one to make quality videos and for good photo editing, my laptop is perfect for beginners, it’s really light and is a good value for your money!)
- 1 cellphone + the foreign country’s sim card (My Huawei P10 makes great pictures!)
- 1 USB wire
- 1 selfie stick
- 1 tripod (Kevin carries the camera and other accessories)
- 1 international adapter
- 1 portable charger
- 1 pair of earphones
- We brought a Lifestraw water filtration kit that is compatible with many water bottle. There is also the steripen that seems to be popular, but we have not tried it.
- small handbag (convenient at airports to have all your papers accessible quickly)
- foldable daypack
- 1 microfiber towel
- international driving license
- credit card
- a little cash (we left with $ 40 CAD in baht, the local currency here), otherwise we pay by credit or we withdraw money with the Tangerine card in ATM with no fees
- travel insurance card which contains the necessary information in case you need it
- driver’s license and health insurance card
- a picture of your passport and important cards as backup
And finally, I pack all of this in my packing cubes (after trying it, I will never travel without them again). There are several cubes and a bag for your laundry included. The fabric is quite resistant; I used them for a month now and they’re still like new.
I left 2 cubes back home because they were too big for my bag, so I decided to put only my pants at the bottom and the rest of my stuff in the cubes. There are also other packing cubes models available on Amazon, depending on the needs you have. Here’s a video of me packing to see how everything fits in.
My backpack weighs about 16 pounds. I still have some room if I want to buy things while traveling, which is always a good idea.
I can bring it with me as a carry-on on the plane without any problem and it fits easily underneath the seat. We were able to carry it even on ULCCs in Asia, but they are less strict than the ones we have in North America (on whom this would be too large for a free personal item).
So here it is, what to pack as a woman when you go on an 6 month trip to Southeast Asia with only a small carry-on bag! It is always possible to travel light if you really want to.
What do you usually pack? Tell us about it in the comments!
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