As I see it, this thread requires very little intro. While we were planning for our backpacking trip there were a lot of things to do or topics to read up on we shared as a couple. However there were also a couple of top items on my list that I knew I had to figure out myself. So let’s get straight to the point shall we?
There’s at least a handful of blogs out there that give you an itemized list of the individual bloggers pack list. I’m going to skip that part. Instead here’s my lessons learnt.
1. Pack for who you are. Not for the vision of what a backpacker should look like. I’m not saying bring your slilletos along but be practical and not lose your identity. I like to wear dresses and so I packed a simple cotton one. Turns out, I use it a least once a week.
2. Pack for the weather. If you are traveling to South East Asia expect hot, humid and sweaty. Lightweight, breathable tunics work best. Think tank tops, cotton tshirts, a pair of shorts.
3. Be cognizant and mindful of the culture and social norms of the place you are traveling to. I’ve seen some crazy fashion here that tourists sport which make even me do a double take. Don’t want people staring, well then don’t draw attention intentionally.
4. My favorites, a full hand cotton shirt, my trusty pair of ‘backpacker’ pants (you know the ones that have detachable zippers that convert them to shorts), my floppy, foldable hat and a cheap pair of sunnies.
5. It’s unavoidable. You are going to shop here. Let’s face it, we all want those harem pants and tanks sporting Thai scripts. Why not save some room?
6. Towels and stuff. Don’t bother. Buy a sarong on one of your shopping forays. I put them in the category of Swiss Army knives. They can do anything.
7. I’m yet to find use for my sneakers since arriving in Bangkok. I keep lugging them around thinking I might find use for them. I’ve convinced myself to hold on to them. For now. It’s just too hot!
8. For packing all your stuff, I recommend packing cubes. Look for ones that provide compression option. Dry sack, great for dirty laundry, damp swimmers. And a couple of zip locks.
Pack a supply of razors. Of course you can get them here, probably get 2 uses out of these before they wear out. It adds up and can get expensive.
Contact lens solution and rewetting drops. This is something I take very seriously and an absolute must have on my list. I’m yet to find a store that sells Opti free or any kind of contact lens solution outside of Bangkok.
Sunscreen. Another absolute must. Yes you are going to use it everyday and yes you are going to run out. However, this is one of those times that although available at every store falls under the expensive category. You may as well save on the initial cost by packing 2 bottles and skipping on the shampoo instead.
Itch cream. My small tube of coritozone cream has become an essential and now been promoted to my daypack. Mozzies are in plenty and these become your trusted companion unless of course you don’t mind the big bumpy bites, the temptation to itch and the ugly scars they leave behind. The locals here recommend Tiger Balm or for a much cheaper (Thai) option look for the ‘monkey with a peach’ on the label if you don’t mind scented ointments. I’m yet to find out what it’s called.
Deo. Another must on my list. You can also find it here.
Hygiene products, vitamins, pills. Pack ’em. Also Advil, tums and bandages.
Side note; Hospitals are often found in big cities and may be a big island. Clinics in most town centers and islands. Pharmacies in almost all of them. I’ve observed that in towns with clinics, the pharmacies are better stocked with actual medical supplies, pills and stuff vs others that carry only sunscreen and bug spray.
Body wash, shampoo – you’ll find these at pretty much every mini mart or 7/11 you come across. They are cheap and popular brands like Dove and Pantene are readily available. Although soap is more common than body wash. Also, when you are on the road, I’ve found the lighter your backpack is the easier it is to travel.
Bug/ Mozzie spray – you’ll probably breeze through these in less than a week. No point in lugging them around. They are available at every store and in high demand.
Things I have accrued on the road:
Mozzie coil – spiral incense stick like things that come as coil shaped. These are by far the most effective way I’ve found to get rid of mozzie. Light’em up, leave’em in a corner, close all the windows and doors and et voila! you have given your self an (almost) mozzie free night. I’ve also read that mozzies are strongest at dusk and dawn. From my experience, I no longer stand by that theory.
The aforementioned bug spray (with DEET)
A weekly supply of paper napkins. Another must have in my day pack. Street food is common here. Don’t expect any napkins though. Same with restaurants. You can find these at 7/11.
A bottle of red. I’m not sure where else to put it and since its in my backpack I’m going to mention this here. Wine is not common on the menu and glass of red ‘if available’ can start at 150Bht. A good bottle of red wraps up a perfect day.
Remember : pack light, practical. If you forget something, you might have to look for it but rest assured you’ll find it.