(Back)Packing essentials

Ultimate packing list for one year of traveling in Asia

Traveling around the world for one year (or even six months) requires different packing than a one-week vacation. I have been on several trips for six months or more and have loads of tips about what to bring on a long-term trip. This post shares my ultimate packing list for one year of traveling in Asia. I don’t just tell you what I packed, but also why and how I’ve found it useful, so you can assess if it will also be useful for your trip.

Important notes:

Everyone is different and everyone has their own needs. While this packing list works well for me, you may need to make some adjustments that make sense for you. Consider my packing list advice and compare it to the trip you’re planning around the world.

This packing list is not carry-on friendly. My backpack is 65 liters and usually weighs around 12 kilograms. My daypack with electronics and my glasses usually weighs around 6 kilograms.

I have divided this packing list into different categories: clothes, shoes, toiletries, miscellaneous, electronics and essentials items.

Tip: check out my packing list for one year of traveling at the bottom of this article to get yourself a free PDF checklist to help you prepare for your trip!

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. You still pay the same. Win-win! Thanks for supporting the work I put into Girlswanderlust!

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – Clothes

I decided to pack the following clothes for long-term travel in Asia:

  • 3 T-shirts (I use one as pajama)
  • 2 Blouses
  • 3 Tank tops
  • 1 Long-sleeved thermal shirt
  • 1 Thin vest
  • 1 Thin pants
  • 3 Shorts
  • 6 Underwear
  • 2 Bras and 1 sports bra
  • 2 Bikinis and 1 swimsuit
  • 1 Thin rain jacket
  • 1 Hat
  • 1 Sarong
  • 4 Pairs of hiking socks
  • 1 Buff

T-shirts (3)

I brought along 3 short sleeve t-shirts with 1 of them being cotton (beige), 1 of them being merino wool (red) and 1 of them being polyester (black). The shirts have different colors, but I can combine all of them with my different pants.

I would recommend leaning towards most of your clothing being polyester or merino wool, because cotton soaks up sweat when it gets wet, while polyester is able to wick off the sweat and keep you dry. I use the merino wool shirt for sleeping and the polyester shirt for sports. Merino wool provides good insulation, transports moisture, doesn’t itch, smell or crease much, is lightweight and keeps its shape.

If you are planning on being a lot outdoors, bringing a UPF 50+ shirt is a must-pack. This one protects you from the sun when kayaking, snorkeling or hiking, but also makes you feel cooler.

Blouses (2)

I have 2 blouses with me, both cotton. One blouse has a cheerful floral print and 1 blouse has a tropical palm tree print. The latter I bought in Laos. These blouses I can wear when I need to look fancy.

Tank tops (3)

I brought along three tank tops with 2 of them being cotton (yellow and brown) and 1 of them being merino wool (black) to wear when the weather is too hot. To be honest, I have barely worn these so far, but I expect to wear them more in slightly warmer countries like Indonesia or Malaysia.

Long sleeve thermal shirt

In addition to the short sleeve shirts, I also brought one long sleeve thermal shirt (black). This one is perfect for when I’m doing something active in colder temperatures, such as climbing a volcano in Indonesia at night, but is also perfect to wear when I’m wearing layers.


I brought 1 thin sports vest that I can wear over a t-shirt on colder days (Polyester 83%, Elastane 17%). Because it is a sports vest, it is a super light fit and dries very quickly after washing. Ideal!

Rain jacket

Bringing a packable rain jacket is a must. I invested in a good lightweight, wind- and rainproof jacket from RAB. This one is ideal, because when I’m not using the jacket, I can fold it very tiny.

Zip-off pants

Yes… I’m also one of those travelers who brings zip-off pants. A zip-off pants is ideal to wear on colder days when your other long pants still need to dry from washing. In addition, zip-off pants are nice to wear during long hikes. It has many handy pockets where I can put my camera, phone and other handy things while hiking. When I have to fly, I also like to wear my zip-off pants, because I can easily store my passport, wallet and phone in my pockets. Mine is cotton and the color black, so it can be combined with all my shirts, blouses and tops.

Lightweight long pants

Moving on to the lower body, I brought along one pair of long pants that are ideal for colder days in warmer climates. The color is dark green so it is easy to match with my t-shirts, blouses and tops.

Shorts (3)

Next to one pair of long pants, I also brought three pairs of shorts; a pair of lightweight sports shorts useful for surfing or sports (black) and 2 cotton shorts for during the day (1 black and 1 green).

Underwear (6) and bras (3)

I am not gonna lie. I packed six pairs of underwear, half half thongs and half full-butted underwear, two bras (one dark and one light) and one sports bra.

Bikinis (2) and swimsuit

I have 2 bikinis (1 black and 1 green) with me and 1 swimsuit (green). Sometimes I am on an island for weeks and swim or surf every day, sometimes several times a day. This way 1 bikini can dry and I can wear the other.


Having a hat to help protect you against the sun is definitely needed. I carry a black one with me.

Tip: via USPP you can design your own hat. If this sounds like fun to you, you can activate a 10% discount via this link. I designed one with the Girlswanderlust logo haha.


A sarong is very handy to carry along. I use it as a lightweight beach towel, emergency bedsheet, privacy curtain when sleeping in hostels, dress when walking to the pool, sun protection for my face, and many more.

(Hiking) socks (4)

Socks help you avoid the stinky feet syndrome. For my feet, I have 4 pairs of socks with me, 3 pairs of SmartWool hiking socks and 1 pair of regular cotton socks (black). I sometimes do long hikes of 3 days, then it is nice to be able to put on a clean pair of socks every day.

Head buff

A head buff is very useful to bring. It has multiple functional usages like a sarong. A head buff is a neck tube made of lightweight breathable fabric that is so comfy to wear, you hardly notice it. It can keep your hair off your face, act as an eye mask for sleeping on overnight buses/planes, be used against emissions when riding a scooter, and many more things.

Other clothes that you can pack for long-term travel in Asia

I don’t wear many dresses or skirts in the Netherlands, so I didn’t pack any for my long-term travel in Asia. If you do wear these a lot, you can bring a skirt or dress instead of shorts. If you do pack one, keep in mind that it is best to bring one that is over the knee in length, as this is a rule in many temples.

Bringing leggings is also a good idea. You can use one in the colder temperatures as an extra layer under your pants or for active days.

Sport outfit for hiking a viewpoint in laos

Here are a few basic tips to help you pack clothes more efficiently:

– Pack light

Less is more. Pack lightweight and non-bulky items that you can fold easily.

– Pack one nice thing

Bring at least one nice shirt or dress, so you can dress fancy if you visit a special place or event.

– Pack easily washable items

Pack high-quality items that can be washed easily, dry quickly and that don’t need ironing. I mostly pack cotton and linen clothes that are light and breathable.

– Layer up for cold weather

Layering is king when you want to keep the clothes that you bring to a minimum! Bring a thermal shirt, a vest or thin sweater and a windproof raincoat. You can even wear a t-shirt over your thermal shirt. It may not be the sexiest way you’ve ever looked, but it does the job. When I was hiking in Northern Vietnam, I was wearing multiple layers as you can see in the photos below.

If you find yourself in extreme cold climates during your trip, you can always buy or rent some warm clothes like heavy jackets or gloves. There are multiple Facebook groups or Whatsapp groups with advertisements for selling clothes.

– Pack what you’ll wear 

My packing list for one year of traveling is functional and not necessarily very fashionable. I wear everything I have with me and can mix and match most clothes. When packing, it is important that what you pack, you actually wear. If you don’t wear an item at home, don’t bring it on a trip. Bring only comfortable clothes and clothes that make you feel happy.

When you travel, you need to prepare yourself for many different situations. Stylish but functional and long-lasting. Suitable for warm-weather, but layerable so you stay warm in cold weather!

– Pack for only one week

Whether you are traveling for one month or one year, only pack clothes that are enough to wear for one week. Just because you are traveling for longer, does not mean you need more items to carry around. As soon as my clothes are dirty, I wash them immediately.

I always have the 3 rule; for example, I have 3 pairs of shorts with me when I travel, 1 pair of shorts that I wear, 1 pair of shorts that are dirty and need to be washed and 1 pair of shorts that are drying because I washed them. This way you always have enough clothes with you.

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – shoes

Moving onto footwear now. You should not scrimp on good footwear since it’s such an important part of long-term travel. Believe me, blisters and ill-fitting shoes can really ruin a trip.

I decided to pack the following shoes for long term travel in Asia:

  • 1 Pair hiking boots
  • 1 Pair sandals
  • 1 Pair flip-flops

One problem with just traveling with hiking boots, sandals and flip flops is that you have nothing to wear in nice situations. If you’re planning on visiting a lot of fancy events or places, I recommend bringing some nice ballet flats or shoes. If you are not planning on just and suddenly find yourself visiting a fancy event, just buy some cheap fancy shoes abroad.

Hiking shoes

Hiking shoes can really take up room in your backpack and weigh you down, but since hiking was going to be a frequent activity, I brought along a comfortable pair of hiking shoes of The Northface. I have already put them on several times and am very happy to have them with me. I mostly wear them when I go hiking or when it rains a lot.

If you don’t have enough space for hiking shoes, I can recommend bringing trail running shoes. These are lightweight, take up less space, and have a very good grip. The downside to trail running shoes is that they do not have ankle support.


Sandals are a must-bring item when traveling long term. They offer good arch support and you can wear them in a wide range of circumstances, from trekking through waterfalls to sightseeing in hot climes. Make sure that the sandals are comfortable as you are probably going to use these as your everyday walking shoes. My sandals are from Teva and I am already using them for 7 years.


Alongside my hiking shoes and sandals I packed a pair of Havana flip-flops (black) to do the trick in ho(s)tel showers, beach life and casual situations.

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – toiletries

Toiletries and healthcare products are really personal and will surely be different person to person. I decided to pack the following toiletries for long term travel in Asia:

  • 5 Hair ties
  • 1 Bamboo toothbrush
  • 1 Toothbrush cover
  • 1 Toothpaste
  • 1 Floss
  • 1 Hanging toiletry bag
  • 1 Refillable liquids container
  • 1 Makeup
  • 1 Shampoo bar and 1 conditioner bar
  • 2 Natural deodorant
  • 1 Menstrual cup
  • 1 Non-liquid portable paper hand soap
  • 1 SPF 50+ Sunscreen
  • 1 SPF 50+ lip balm
  • 1 Deet repellent
  • 1 Pack of bamboo swabs
  • 1 Hand sanitizer
  • 1 Bamboo hairbrush
  • 2 Pairs of earplugs
  • 1 Razor
  • 1 Nail scissor

Bamboo swabs

I simply can’t live without them, so I packed a few with me. You can buy cotton swabs in almost every supermarket in Asia, so don’t worry if you forget them. If you care for the environment, consider bringing bamboo swabs.

Bamboo toothbrush and toothbrush cover

You can bring any toothbrush you like, but I personally like to use bamboo toothbrushes to get away from plastics. Bamboo toothbrushes are good for the mouths and environment because they are antibacterial and 100% compostable, even for backyard composting.

These lightweight toothbrush covers ensure your toothbrush is kept clean wherever it’s stashed.

Tip: if bamboo products are not really your thing, I can recommend bringing this sleek and lightweight rechargeable toothbrush. It fits neatly into a compact travel case.

Bamboo hairbrush

I packed a bamboo brush with me. Did you know that you can buy a 100% plastic free hair brush? Brushes from bamboo and natural rubber are not only a more sustainable option for the environment in terms of them being plastic free, but they also are good for your hair. Bamboo pins will not damage your hair and will instead be much gentler on those tough knots and tangles.

Toothpaste and floss

Of course you also need some toothpaste or tooth tablets. I also packed some dental floss with me, because I am probably not going to see the dentist when I am traveling. 


My makeup kit is very small. I only have one mascara, one foundation and one blush with me. To be honest, I’ve not used my mascara or blush yet in the past five months.

Shampoo- and conditioner bar

Invest in a shampoo and conditioner bar. One bar will last as long as two or three bottles of shampoo or conditioner. The bars are usually made of 100% environmental ingredients and can be stored in a tin box.

I love the lavender bars of HappySoaps (recommended for Dutch readers).

Hanging toiletry bag

One of the handiest things you can take with you when traveling is definitely a hanging toiletry bag. Just open it up and hang it off the towel rack or the door. You sometimes find yourself in rooms with limited space, then hanging your toiletry bag can be a space safer. I have a hanging canister which is large enough to also store my suncream, aftersun and DEET.

Menstrual cup

I also brought a menstrual cup with me. This means changing less often, saving money and taking the environment into account. A menstrual cup is made from comfortable silicone (which doesn’t release harmful toxins like plastic) and is reusable for up to 10 years. You can leave it in for around 12 hours. I highly recommend you go this route. Truly. You’ll thank me.

Natural deodorant (2)

For me the environment is very important, so I also brought environmentally friendly deodorant with me. Solid deodorants or dusting powders are the perfect replacement to travel plastic-free. The solid deodorant is like a soap block made from natural ingredients that you simply rub under your arms and lasts much longer than the aerosol deodorant.

I use the lavendel deodorant of HappyEarth. This one is 100% natural and 100% plastic free (recommended for Dutch readers).

Hair ties (5)

If you have long hair these are a must! They can be really handy when the weather gets hot or humid and you want to get your hair up.

Refillable liquids container

Bring an empty refillable bottle, preferably not plastic, so you can fill it with shampoo or shower gel from hotels. This way you don’t have to buy new bottles every time.

Non-liquid portable paper hand soap

There are millions of soap bars and half-used shampoo bottles which are discarded in the millions of hotel shower trays across the world. I packed a little box with 50 sheets of non-liquid portable paper hand soap with me. In case I run out of the hotel mini toiletries, I can use these papers instead. And yes… they really work well!

Hand sanitizer

Can’t live without anymore! I use hand sanitizer daily when I pet cute puppies, eat street food or find myself in a not-so-hygienic space, for example.

Biodegradable SPF 50+ sunscreen

Buying sunscreen in Asia is expensive and next to this, the sunscreen in Asia often contains whitening elements. Therefore, I packed a biodegradable SPF 50+ sunscreen with me, so I know that I am protected well for a while.

SPF 50+ lip balm

It’s very handy and wise to bring a SPF 50+ lip balm with you, so you don’t burn your lips and you keep your lips smooth and healthy.

Earplugs (2)

Also a must-pack item. Handy for when flying, when trying to sleep in your ho(s)tel room or when trying to work in a crowded coffee shop.


Don’t bother trying to buy disposable ones overseas. Not only will you end up carrying large bulk packs of razors, but they just don’t do the job right. Bring your favorite razor! There are plenty of shops in Asia where you can buy new knives for your razor.

Nail scissors

Ideal to bring! Obviously handing to use for your nails, but also for cutting other things.

Deet repellent

Pack some deet repellent to prevent lots of mosquito bites.

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – Miscellaneous

I decided to pack the following miscellaneous for long term travel in Asia:

  • 4 Compression packing cubes
  • 1 Laundry bag
  • 1 Clothesline
  • 1 Eye mask
  • 1 Microfiber travel towel
  • 1 Fanny pack
  • 1 Washable face mask
  • 1 Thin gloves
  • 1 Sleep sheet
  • 1 Notebook and pen
  • 1 Reading book
  • 1 Pack of cards
  • 1 Collapsible container
  • 1 Set of foldable cutlery
  • 1 Lifestraw water bottle
  • 1 Collapsible water bottle
  • 1 Mini sewing kit
  • 1 Carabiner clip
  • 1 TSA approved bag lock
  • 1 2-in-1 Flight bag and raincover
  • 1 Duct tape
  • 1 Headlamp
  • 2 Glasses
  • 1 Sunglasses
  • 1 Emergency first aid kit

Compression packing cubes (4)

Having compression packing cubes to organize my clothing is super helpful to have during my long term travel in Asia. Instead of just having a pile of clothing in my backpack, I have four packing cubes that each store a different type of clothing; one for my pants, one for my shirts, one for my underwear and bras and one for my bikinis and bathing suit.

Laundry bag

I have a small lightweight laundry bag with me where I can put my dirty clothes in.


A clothesline comes in handy if you decide to do your own laundry. I carry one with me from SeatToSummit. It’s 3.5 meters long and can easily be attached to things. I use it almost everyday! Definitely add one to your packing list for one year of traveling!

Fanny pack

I am very happy with my fanny pack and wear it every day, especially when having lunch or dinner and I don’t want to carry my daypack with me. It’s nice to keep your phone, wallet and hand sanitizer in.

Eye mask

Whether it is on a flight or in a hostel dorm room, sometimes it can just be hard to sleep with the noise and the light. Bring along an eye mask and a set of ear plugs to help you catch up on some sleep. I have one with a soft eye shade cover.

Microfiber towel

Another piece of gear that needs to be on your packing list for 1 year of traveling is a quick dry microfiber towel. I carry a super small and thin microfiber towel with me and only use it when a hotel doesn’t offer towels or when I for example go kayaking. For visiting the beach or a waterfall, I bring my sarong as a towel.

Washable face mask

Reusable face masks are better for the environment, don’t litter streets, and won’t end up in the sea. I have a washable face mask with me and use it everyday in Asia. For me, it’s more comfortable and will save me money in the long run.

Thin gloves

I brought thin gloves because I plan to climb some volcanoes in Indonesia. The temperature can be very low at night and then the gloves are nice to have with me. In addition, I also wore them during the winter in Vietnam. Here in the north the temperatures can drop to freezing and then thin gloves are also nice to wear. If such a thing is not on your to-do list, I would leave these at home.

Sleep sack sheet

I also packed a sleep sack sheet. This one comes in handy for sleeping in disgusting hostels or trains. I was very happy to lie down in this bag on a train in Vietnam. There where cockroaches running across my bed at that time. I liked the idea of being “safe” in my sleep sack sheet. I have only used the bag 2 times in six months so far, but was very happy with it at those times.

Notebook and pen

As you know, I love to write about my travels. In addition to the blog, I always keep a notebook of my adventures and expenses. I can then use this for my blog posts at a later moment. I also stick entrance tickets, boarding passes and brochures of places we visited in my notebook. This way it is also a nice book to look back at later.

Reading book

I always carry a book with me. Love reading travel books!

Pack of cards

Card games are awesome for passing the time and breaking the ice in social situations. I have a pack of playing cards with me. Other great options are Uno (take the waterproof cards version) or Monopoly deal card game.

Collapsible container

I carry a collapsible container from Sea to Summit. It’s a washable, (plastic) collapsible container that could be packed flat. Ideal!

Foldable cutlery

Another lifesaver for long term backpacking is to bring foldable utensils. You can easily buy a reusable stainless steel straw or foldable cutlery. I carry a foldable cutlery set of the Decathlon.

Collapsible water bottle

I always have a reusable water bottle on hand and this collapsible version is lightweight and rolls up when empty.

(Lifestraw) Water bottle

Instead of buying plastic water bottles in the supermarket, I bought a LifeStraw water purifying bottle. An original LifeStraw water filter has an unlimited shelf life! Once used, the filter lasts up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) – enough to last an individual for over 5 years. This is a great addition to your packing list for one year of traveling.

If you are not sure about using a Lifestraw bottle, I recommend to bring a vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle with you. A bottle like this keeps you water hot for up to 12 hours and ice-cold for up to 24 hours. It’s great for traveling!

Tip: via USPP you can personalize your own (stainless steel) water bottles. If this sounds like fun to you, you can activate a 10% discount via this link.

Travel sewing kit

Another must-bring for long-term travel; a travel sewing kit! It can help you fix your clothes or backpack and you can use it to sew flags on your backpack.

Carabiner clip

There are several reasons why a carabiner clip is handy to pack for one year of traveling in Asia. They are great for attaching water bottles to your backpack, so they don’t tip over. And if you’re packing food like snacks, clipping them together with a carabiner will keep them from opening or getting lost in your bag. You can also use a carabiner to clip your backpack and other items to a hook or hanger. This keeps them off the floor and out of the way so you don’t step on them or they don’t get dirty and you can clip a flashlight to your bag, so that you are safe during the dark.

TSA approved bag locks (2)

Keeping my belongings safe is important for me. That is one reason why I always carry two TSA approved bag locks with me. I put it around the zippers of my flight bag when traveling or to secure my backpack when staying in dorm rooms.

2-in-1 Flight bag and raincover

A 2-in-1 flight bag and raincover is a flight bag and rain cover in one. The backpack transport cover can be zipped up completely so it’s the perfect flight bag. You can also use the flight bag as a regular rain cover for your backpack.

Duct tape

No ultimate packing list for long-term travel is complete without duct tape. It can be handy for fixing all kinds of things like your backpack, raincoat, shoes, tent, scooter, anything!


Another great item to add to your packing list for one year of traveling is a headlamp. It’s not only great for camping or hiking at night, but it’s also great for finding your way to the bathroom in a new place or providing light when there’s no power. I packed one that is USB-rechargeable.

Glasses (2)

If you have prescriptions, either carry a year’s supply or research where you can top-up on the road. In Europe it’s pretty easy to get an eye exam or to order new contacts, but in Asia this can be way harder. Carry paper copies of your prescription, scan them and email them to yourself. This comes handy in case you get robbed or in case something else happens.

I carry two pairs of glasses and two cases with me. If one breaks, I can still wear the other ones.


Sunglasses are a super important piece of gear to bring with you. Don’t forget them!

Emergency first-aid kit

Everyone is different and you know your own body best. Put careful thought into what you need to include in your first aid kit. This is what I packed:

  • 1 x Bandage scissors
  • 1 x Tweezers
  • 1x Tick forceps
  • 1 x Pair of vinyl gloves
  • 1 x Bandage assortment 3 sizes of 15 pcs.
  • 1 x Quick bandage rounded 6 cm x 8 cm
  • 1 x sling
  • 1 x Elastic bandage 8 cm x 4 m
  • 2 x Alcohol swab
  • 2 x Gauze compress sterile 5 cm x 5 cm
  • 1 x roll of adhesive plaster 1.25 cm x 5 m
  • 1x Emergency cream for skin problems
  • 1x ORS spoon to make your own ors
  • 1x Thermometer
  • Different types of bandages (regular, knee, waterproof, blister etc.)
  • ORS tablets
  • Nausea tablets
  • Aspirins for general complaints
  • Emergency malaria tablets

Miscellaneous that I didn’t pack, but might be useful for you:

Collapsible travel mug

If you like to travel consciously and to save plastic, bringing a collapsible travel mug is a good idea. They are usually lightweight and easy to carry.

Anti-theft belted wallet

I don’t like wearing anything on my skin like this, but if you find this convenient, you can of course take it with you. Strap it up in the morning, tuck your shirt over it, and enjoy a hands-free day safe in the knowledge that your valuables are out of sight (these are only good if you wear loose clothes). If you bring one, make sure it’s RFID protected.

Door stop and safety whistle

Though I didn’t take these on my world trip, many solo female travelers swear by both these items. The door stop is a basic precaution in hotel rooms where the door might not latch correctly and a safety whistle can help get quick attention from bystanders in an emergency situation.

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – Electronics

Your choice of electronics depends on what you do on the road. Since I work on the road, I have a more sophisticated technology requirement. I decided to include the following items in my packing list for one year of traveling:

  • 1 Laptop + 1 charger
  • 1 Laptop sleeve
  • 1 Wireless mouse
  • 1 Smartphone + 1 charger
  • 1 External backup hard drive
  • 1 Powerbank
  • 1 VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • 1 Wireless Airpods Pro + 1 protective case
  • 1 GoPro + backup battery + attachments
  • 1 DJI Mini 2 Drone + 2 backup batteries
  • 1 Travel adaptor
  • Waterproof phone bag (1)
  • Electronics travel case (1)
  • E-sim

Laptop + charger

My laptop is one of my most important things I have with me when traveling. After all, it allows me to work on my blog and stay location independent. I work on a MacBook Air which is light, small, has a long battery life, and solid-state storage. It comes with a charger.

Laptop sleeve

I store my laptop in a laptop sleeve with a super soft fluffy lining which is gentle to my laptop. If you’re planning on bringing your laptop, you should definitely bring a sleeve with you.

Wireless mouse

Another must bring item for my location independent workspace is a wireless mouse. It helps me to work and design things better.

Smartphone + charger

I have an unlocked iPhone with me, so I can either buy cheap SIM cards or Esims. My iphone has a fantastic camera and can take high-resolution photos, so I don’t have a professional camera with me.

External backup hard drive

I packed a lightweight SSD with me where I stored soft copies of my passport and important documents, administration of Girlswanderlust and some drone footage.


A powerbank is a must-pack item for your packing list for one year of traveling in Asia. If  you buy a good one, you can usually charge your phone three or four times. I carry a Power Bank 10,000 Core with me. This one has 2 USB C outputs and can charge my smartphone up to 4 times. It’s perfect for traveling long distances!

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

This is essential for long-term travelers and digital nomads. If you use public access WiFi while traveling (like an airport, restaurant or hotel) then you’re potentially putting your online security at risk by hackers. A VPN can save your ass. It protects your sensitive data on all your devices with just one click. You can also switch between countries, so you are always able to access any program or page you like.

I use a VPN of NordVPN and am really happy with this service. If you sign up via this link and you will register for a monthly plan purchase then you get an additional month added for free. If you register for a 1-year or a 2-year plan purchase you will receive 3 months for free.

Wireless Airpods Pro + protective case

When I traveled I had simple earphones with me to listen to music. However, there were many times while traveling when my simple earphones were not strong enough to hear the music or to give myself a break in crowded environments. Therefore, I decided to buy AirPods Pro (2nd edition) in Thailand. These have active noise cancellation and adaptive transparency, are sweat and water resistant and you can listen to them for 6 hours with just a single charge.

GoPro + backup battery + attachments

I packed my GoPro to take underwater photos and videos when snorkeling or diving. It’s also a perfect action camera for when riding a scooter, hiking, swimming, zip lining, and much more! I carry one backup battery with me and some accessories that allow me to attach the go pro to a helmet, a selfie stick or to a clip.

DJI Mini 2 Drone Fly More Combo

This is not an essential item, but I am very happy that I’ve brought my drone with me. This drone is small, lightweight and features 4K videos, 4x zoom, and stunning panoramas, that allow me to explore a whole new perspective. I carry the DJI Mini 2 Drone fly more combo package with me, including two backup batteries with me.

Travel adapter

I also carry a travel adapter with me, but so far I have not had to use this in Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam). My European plug just worked in these countries. I carry a bigger adapter with me with a USB-C charging spot for my Mac, as well as three quick-charging USB ports.

Waterproof phone bag (2)

A waterproof phone bag provides waterproof protection for your phone while maintaining full touch screen functionality. I have one that has a transparent window that allows me to shoot pictures and manage my phone underwater.

Electronics travel case

I have an electronics travel case from Thule with me. This case helps me to organize and transport all my chargers, cords and accessories.


Most phones accept e-sims these days and that’s great! An eSIM allowed me to keep my Dutch physical sim at home and to use local numbers for roaming. This way I could keep my Dutch WhatsApp number and can call and message all my contacts on WhatsApp, like if I’m in the Netherlands. The fact that I don’t need to buy a local sim which is made of plastic, also makes eSIM an eco-friendly replacement.

Here is a link with a special discount for Girlswanderlust followers: click here (coupon code GIRLSWANDERLUST).

Electronics that I didn’t bring, but that might be useful for you

Camera tripod

There are loads of lightweight tripods that are amazing to bring with you. You can wrap some around three branches, use it as a stand for watching travel movies in planes or attach it to your phone. Since my bag is already full of electronics, I didn’t bring one.

The ultimate packing list for 1 year of traveling in Asia – Essential items

Below is just a quick list of items that you need to have on you no matter where you are traveling:

  • 1 Backpack or suitcase
  • 1 Daypack
  • 2 Wallets
  • 2 Credit card + 1 debit card + cash
  • 1 Passport + passport wallet + 3 hard copies
  • 1 Expired ID card
  • 1 (International) Driving license
  • 1 Vaccination certificate
  • 8 Passport photos
  • Travel printouts
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa


Of course, all of this fits in a backpack! There are thousands of backpacks you can use. Do some good research before buying one. Bring a backpack that can be opened from the top as well as the side, one that you can easily lock and one that has multiple compartments that makes organizing your bag easier. A backpack is easier to transport than a suitcase.

I carry an Osprey 65 Liter Backpack with me. Actually, this backpack is too big for me and I want to take a 40 liter backpack for my next trip. The advantage is that a 40 liter backpack can often be taken on the plane as hand luggage.


A daypack is a must-bring item too. On travel days, I use my daypack to carry all my electronics and my important documents like my passport and vaccination certificates. When I am not traveling I use this bag for day trips. I carry a Northface daypack with laptop sleeve with me.

Wallets (2)

I included 2 wallets in this packing list for one year of traveling. Why two? It is convenient to always have 2 wallets in your pocket, one with some small money and one with your other money. In Asia you can sometimes be stopped by the police and have to pay money without reason, then it is good to show your wallet with small money so you have to pay less. I have an RFID protected wallet with me for my big money and a simple wallet for my small money.

Credit cards (2) + debit card + cash

Choose an optimal banking solution for your trip around the world to avoid paying unnecessary withdrawal fees. We ordered a Revolut Maestro card, Wise Visa card and Flying Blue – American Express Silver Card. I always travel with at least 2 cards: an international debit card supported by Visa and a travel card. It’s good to have a backup in case one of the cards gets lost or stolen. Never store your cards together. If you decide to order a new card, you can click on one of the above links and you will receive a little bonus. By opening a Wise account, you will receive a fee-free transfer of up to 500 EUR and by opening an AMEX card, you will receive 5000 free miles.

I have a debit card with me in case my credit cards get stolen. I save this debit card in a secret pocket in my backpack.

It is helpful to bring some cash from the country you will be visiting. That way, when you arrive after a long flight, you can at least take a cab to your hotel or buy a SIM card at the airport.

Passport + passport wallet + hard copies (3)

Check the validity of your passport and the number of pages available. Please note that in most countries you visit your passport must be valid for at least six more months after entry. I keep my passport in a passport wallet that is RFID protected. I also save my credit cards, debit card, driving licenses and vaccination certificate in this holder.

Tip for Dutch readers: if you are going to order a new passport for your trip, you can order a business passport for free. This type of passport has more pages and is ideal if you’re planning for a long time.

Spare passport photos (8)

Some countries require a passport photo on arrival, so always carry some spare passport photos with you.

Expired ID card

It’s a good idea to bring an old ID with you. Often when you rent a scooter or snorkel gear, you have to put down a form of identification. Since these places don’t really look at the expiry date of your passport or ID, you can try giving an old expired ID first. This way it wouldn’t matter that much if it happens to get lost or if they ask you for more money so you can get your ID back.

International driver’s license (2)

If you’re planning on renting a scooter or car in Asia, it’s a good idea to bring an international driving license. These are easy to get and just cost a small fee.

Vaccination certificate

Different countries require different types of vaccines for entry. I recommend making an appointment with a doctor 9 months before the start of your trip. It is important to start this step as early as possible because some vaccines cannot be given at the same time. Collect all your vaccinations in a vaccination passport or certificate and bring this with you. 

Travel printouts

Make copies of important documents like your passport, vaccination record, driving license and insurances. Keep a copy on you and upload one online.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must-have thing that you should arrange in advance. When arranging a travel insurance, pay close attention to the terms and conditions. It is important to be insured internationally and you may also want to insure for extreme sports. Make sure you to save a soft copy of your travel insurance policy on your phone, so you can always access it.


Visit the website of the government of the country you want to visit to check if you need a visa. Make sure you apply for it on time and that you have all your documents in order.

Checklist of my ultimate packing list for one year of traveling in Asia

Here you can find a PDF checklist of my packing list for one year of traveling, so you can see everything in one spot together. Just save it, print it and start checking things off.

Conclusion ultimate packing list for one year of traveling in Asia

Well, there you have it! My ultimate packing list for one year of traveling in Asia. Like I said at the start, everyone is different and everyone has their own needs. While this packing list works well for me, you may need to make some adjustments that make sense for you. Consider my packing list advice and compare it to the trip you’re planning around the world.

Know someone who always forgets things when they pack? Share this list with them!

If you have any questions or comments about the list, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Safe travels!

Author: Daphne

Pin this ultimate packing list for your next trip!

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    • Patty

      Wow!!!!! Love your blog on Southeast Asia. So much great info, especially the expired ID – never thought of that.
      Gonna look for the shampoo and conditioner bars on return to US.
      We were able to find biodegradable laundry soap sheets that we have used with good success.
      Thanks for the great info-


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