If you’ve never been to Southeast Asia, you may be wondering what to pack. You’ll find yourself entering a completely different climate with all sorts of exotic new challenges, as well as different cultural norms for dress and fashion… So it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit apprehensive.
Fortunately, once you know a few key things about the region, packing is the easy part. You’ll find that you don’t really need to bring much. Here is some advice about what to pack when you're traveling to Southeast Asia, with a possible side-trip across Australia.
Let’s start with the stuff you most likely will not need. If you’ve got stacks of clothes next to your suitcase that are entering the vacation lottery, stop right now. Chances are most of your clothes are not suitable for a tropical climate, so bring a few outfits made of 100% cotton for maximum comfort.
Since there are plenty of cheap laundry facilities in Southeast Asia, you can get things washed easily, and then at the end of your stay you can buy a few things to keep you warm if you make it to Melbourne. Buy these things before you leave Asia. They will be cheaper. You can also find cheap cosmetics and toiletries in Asia, so just buy them when you get there instead of dragging them across the world.
What clothing is culturally acceptable? Luckily, Southeast Asia and Australia have fairly laid-back fashion standards for travelers. You can get away with jeans and a t-shirt in most places, with either sneakers or flip-flops. You’ll also need a swimsuit, a cover-up for the beach, and a raincoat if you make it to the jungle. When you’re in Bangkok take a look at the many clothing stores around Khaosan Road for some more dressy options to prepare you for Sydney’s club scene. Other than that, pack some underwear and you’ll be set.
Because you’ll be visiting a tropical climate, a full bottle of good sunscreen is essential. You’ll need it in both Southeast Asia and in most places in Australia. Make sure that you take a higher SPF than you would normally use at home. The sun can be stronger in different hemispheres.
You should also take insect repellant and even consider a mosquito net to cover your bed at night. If you are on any prescription medications, bring enough for your entire trip, as well as a copy of your prescription in case you need more, or to provide concrete proof if you are questioned about it. Keep your pills in their original bottles.
If you're taking your favorite jewelry and accessories with you, make sure that you keep them safe and organized. You don't want everything to end up in a tangled mess. With the right jewelry box, you'll have everything you want and save space and time. Also make sure that you pack your toiletries properly. Don't use any bottles over 3.4 oz. and put all of them into a sealable plastic bag.
Past you immediate airport needs, you will find most things you might are not only available, but a lot cheaper in Asia. Their over the counter drugs outnumber ours, and you will soon realize what you are actually going to use.
The only expensive part of a trip to Southeast Asia and Australia is the flight. But don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to raise the funds. You can pick up some extra shifts at work, get a part-time job, or sell your stuff on MusicMagpie.com. Once you can buy your ticket, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime seeing jungles, beaches, and mysterious ancient ruins.