50 Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

50 Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

We’ve gone through many rounds of trial and error while traveling, especially during the time we spent in SE Asia. If you’re headed to this part of the world, check out our top 50 take aways from five months in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

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Love It or Leave It

Well, we’re not quite sure if we figured it out, but here’s what we’ve got:

Solving the Climate Crisis

What does New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, India, the Mediterranean, and Northern Europe all have in common? Not their climates. 

To solve this problem, we have set up a very particular solution - with the help of our loved ones back home (thanks moms!). Aside from what we brought on flight NZ 5 (pictured below), we additionally packed three more boxes of clothes/gear to be shipped to locations along our path. First, a box of tropical wear will be shipped to us for muggy Southeast Asia. Second, a box of dresses and sandals will be shipped to us for the sunny Mediterranean. Lastly, a box of sweaters and socks will be shipped to us for wintry northern Europe. With each box, we will swap out what will no longer be needed for the next leg of the trip — i.e. that Patagonia nano puff will not be needed in Southeast Asia. 

But until those swaps happen, enjoy a peak into our 70L packs:

Kim’s magenta Gregory Amber 70L (left) & MJ’s Egyptian blue Gregory Deva 70L (right).

Kim’s magenta Gregory Amber 70L (left) & MJ’s Egyptian blue Gregory Deva 70L (right).

 

The Overflow Part

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Kim:

  • Lo & Sons camera bag

  • Lewis N Clark day pack - compacts down into teeny pouch

  • Generic black purse

  • Nat Geo baseball cap

MJ:

  • Osprey Talon 33L day pack

  • Generic grey purse

  • New York Yankees baseball cap - to rep the home state

 

The Gear Part

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Kim:

  • First Aid Kit - ace bandages, neosporin, band-aids, aquaphor, various meds, dramamine so as MJ does not puke on boats, etc.

  • Outdoor Master ground tarp

  • Screen cleaner rag

  • Camping utensils

  • Luggage scale - we’re looking at you, budget flights

  • Black Diamond headlamp

  • Build & Fitness pack towel

  • Collapsable coffee mug

  • Collapsable water bottle

  • Sea to Summit UltraLight sleeping mat

  • Bandanas x2

  • Sleeping bag in a Sea to Summit stuff sac

  • Cocoon Mummy Liner (silk)

  • Eno double hammock and straps

  • MAPS!

MJ:

 

The Please-Don't-Steal-These Part

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Kim:

  • BUBM electronics organizer - assorted cords and accessories

  • Nintendo DS - Pokemon is a religion for me (see toiletries below)

  • Bose bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones - f*ck you airplane turbines

  • GoPro Hero 4 with underwater housing unit and float accessory

  • iPhone camera attachment

  • Canon EOS Rebel T2i

  • Canon EFS 18-55mm lens

  • Canon EFS 18-200mm lens

  • Apple earbuds x2

  • MPOW rugged portable speaker

  • Divoom portable speaker - yes, we need two

  • Skyroam - useful portable wifi and service generator (look it up if you’re interested)

  • RAV Power iSmart battery pack

  • Matador camera case

  • Assorted chargers and car charger

  • Universal outlet converter

  • Flexible tripod

  • Apple MacBook Pro

  • iPhone 6S

MJ:

  • Bose noise-cancelling headphones - thank you Mama Walker

  • POWERADD solar battery pack

  • MatadorUp camera case

  • Altura padded camera lens case

  • Canon EFS 55-250mm lens

  • Canon EFS 24mm "pancake" lens

  • Canon EOS 80D - represented by the empty space

  • Commander hand strap for camera

  • TIMEX Expedition analog watch

  • NZ outlet converter

  • Apple earbuds

  • Extra camera battery and charger

  • A/V camera battery car charger - we are road tripping after all

  • FitBit Flex 2 - ask me about it, I will rave for hours

  • Port converter - honestly Apple, you’re getting on my nerves

  • ZOOP dive computer

  • GoPro Hero 4 with underwater housing unit

  • Phone charger - sticker on it to distinguish my own from the 50 other ones in a hostel

  • Micro SD card reader

  • Extra SD card

  • SD card reader

  • iPhone 6S

  • Seagate external hard drive - I’m taking A LOT of photos

  • Apple MacBook 12” in gold - I know, it’s super cute :)

 

The Bulky Part

Fun fact: Kim & MJ are the same size shoe… HOW CONVENIENT.

Fun fact: Kim & MJ are the same size shoe… HOW CONVENIENT.

Kim:

  • Mime et Moi black leather sandals with two pairs of heel attachments - because I couldn’t bring just one pair of heels..

  • Columbia lightweight rain jacket

  • Timberland boots

  • Pink Tevas - we don’t have to talk about how cute they are, but we can

  • Croc sandals (they’re cool, okay)

  • Patagonia fleece - SUCH a classic

MJ:

 

The Hard Part

Socks, underwear, and bras not pictured. Obviously we brought them. And yes, they’re sexy. Sometimes they match. We’re on the road, but we’re still single.

Socks, underwear, and bras not pictured. Obviously we brought them. And yes, they’re sexy. Sometimes they match. We’re on the road, but we’re still single.

Kim:

  • Sun hat

  • Black v-neck wool sweater

  • Patagonia hat - it’s MJ’s. She loves Patagonia. Ask her about it.

  • Gloves

  • Long-sleeve base layers x2

  • Short sleeve purple dress

  • Romper

  • T-shirts x6

  • Tank tops x3

  • Encircled multi-way infinity scarf

  • Black leggings x2

  • Blue jeans

  • Bikinis x2 - BEACH PICS

  • Rash guard - for diving

  • Shorts x5

MJ:

  • Black Patagonia mid-layer

  • Black cardigan

  • I <3 Pizza hat - shoutout to Picasso in Stowe, VT

  • Gloves

  • Grey infinity scarf - RIP American Apparel

  • Belts x3

  • Rash guard

  • Long-sleeve base layers x2 - one of them is Patagonia…

  • Tank tops x3

  • Lace bodysuit

  • T-shits x10

  • Dresses x3

  • Romper

  • Bikinis x2

  • Patagonia shorts x4 - I honestly didn’t mean to do that

  • Jean shorts x2

  • Blue jeans

  • Joggers

 

The Fun Part

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Kim:

  • Toiletries - just what you’d expect

  • Pokemon face masks - I told you it was a religion

  • Inflatable neck pillow and eye mask

  • Mini plastic bags - I have a sand collection, it’s really cool

  • Mystical Fire color packs x2 - keepin’ it colorful

  • Waterproof phone bag thing

  • iPhone powered fan - #selfie game strong

  • Mini spray bottle with peppermint oil - spiders hate it, and that’s what matters here.

  • Twist ties and locks

  • Sunnies

  • Sunblock and tattoo guard

  • Journal - thanks Sarah

  • Harry Potter playing cards - I’m a Slytherin. My patronus is a hummingbird, since you asked

  • Kindle

  • Flask - thanks Dave

  • Pencils n pens

  • Business cards - gotta work bitch

  • Snazzy hair clips x2

  • Mase & a taser - fuck with me.

MJ:

  • Sunglasses with croakies

  • Gold switchblade with roses on it - definition of a badass babe

  • Inflatable neck pillow that I forgot to use on the 12hr flight

  • Extra Ziploc bags

  • Journal

  • Doorstop

  • Purell

  • Waterproof phone bag thing

  • Leatherman Juice CS4 - literally the best thing I’ve ever owned

  • Aquatabs

  • DIY travel candle and matches

  • Pen

  • Sudoku book - I’m not a grandma, I just like to stay sharp

  • Polaroids from home <3

  • BANANAGRAMS

  • Kindle

  • Makeup bag with 50 shades of lipstick

  • Toiletries - just what you’d expect

  • Mase & a taser - fuck with me.

 

Oh, and paracord. The blue thing running down the middle.

 

The Thoughts Part

We’re guessing here. This is not a science. We had limited space, and this is how we filled it. Yeah, it’s pretty heavy - around 42.5 lbs each to be exact. But right now, we can’t imagine getting rid of any of it. Maybe we’ll change our minds after carrying them up a few mountains. We’ll keep you posted.

*           *          *

“What is the weirdest thing you brought with you?”

Kim: Pokemon face masks and Mystical Fire color packs.

MJ: BANAGRAMS.

 

 

Fun fact: between the two backpacks, we brought a whopping 17 Patagonia items. SPONSOR US PLEASE. #girlswhoexplore

Welcome to the Badass Babes Club

Hello friends, family, fellow explorers, and badass people - welcome to Kim and MJ’s travel blog that we’ll be running as we circumnavigate the globe over the next 16 months.

This trip was born from a mutual, desperate itch to travel the world. Only the bare minimum would come with us, and we would put ourselves out there in a way that neither of us had done before - at least not on this scale. So, on December 27th of 2014 (wow…), the both of us sat down on a couch in upstate New York and made a commitment: we would work, plan, and prioritize this amazing adventure to begin in 2017, when we both graduated college.

MJ went off to finish an Environmental Sciences degree at the University of Vermont, and become a ski instructor at Stowe Mountain Resort. Kim went south to wrap up a PR degree at the University of Miami, and work as a freelance writer. Throughout these years, we planned a 16-month trip that would take us from the northern tip of New Zealand to the depths of winter in Finland.

And now we’re off.

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Planning, packing, working, and mentally preparing for this trip has been a JOURNEY in it of itself. Many have commended us on our bravery, some have said we’re a little crazy, and many have wondered what we’re going to do about “our careers.” But this trip was never something we were willing to compromise. This trip is for us to make ourselves vulnerable in hopes to change the world, as it changes us even more.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to have amazing friends and family who have supported us through the planning process, some who have promised to meet us along the way, and even some who have already booked their flights. THANK YOU to each and every one of you. We can never express how much your support has meant - and will continue to mean to us as we trek up mountains and dive into oceans. We can’t wait to meet people and places we would never have known through a book or documentary. This is our reality now.

We’ll be outlining how we packed, booked, saved, and sketched out our plans (even though, generally, “the plan is to have no plan”). We’ll also be using this blog to highlight other badass women who are exploring the world alongside us. Women fucking rock.

SO - sit back, subscribe, and we’ll bring you the adventure live

xx Kim & MJ (a.k.a. The Badass Babes Club)