This detailed packing list will break down everything you need to bring on an extended trip to Southeast Asia. My experience was a month in Bali, but this list can apply to any longer-term tropical trip.
A disclaimer: I spent most of my month in one villa in Ubud, spending most of my time in yoga clothes, and then less than a week in a homestay on the eastern side of the island. I didn’t roam around too much, and it hardly rained while I there. I traveled with:
A Small Backpack as my carry-on bag. I stuffed extra clothes, and important items in here, just in case of lost luggage.
A Purse which I only used for the airport since it fit my boarding pass, passport and money comfortably. I kept my important documents and extra money in here for the rest of my trip, and didn’t actually take it out much.
A Fannypack (or bumbag, whatever you want to call it) This was my best purchase and I want a bunch more. I used this whenever I went out, to carry my daily essentials, like sunglasses, sunscreen, money for that day, etc.I got mine here in Hamilton from Out of the Past on King Street, and I might need to go buy more.
A Big ol’ Suitcase for my checked luggage. It was 17″x8″x25″ and I kept it underweight the whole time, so less than 50lbs. Leave space in here to bring all your goodies back home!
This was my first time traveling here, and I definitely overpacked a little, but still ended up forgetting things. Like a power adapter. And a hairbrush. And tops, besides the tank top I wore on the plane.
Also, I’m a lady, and this list will reflect that. If you’re a man traveling to Bali, don’t bother with the bras or dresses.
You have to bring these along with you, no question. Even if you bring one little backpack, put these in there.
- Visa- You may not need to get a Visa beforehand, or even on arrival, depending on your length of stay. I was staying 28 days, so I did not require one, saving me $25USD.
- Travel Insurance
- Boarding Passes and other Tickets
Make sure to bring copies of all of these important documents, or better yet, take a picture of them and save copies in your email, so you can access them wherever you have internet.
- Indonesian Rupiah- You will need some money on arrival for taxis or any other purchases, so I would get some money exchanged at home (at a lower exchange rate) before you leave. I would suggest bringing $1-$2 million Rupiah with you. That’s only $100-$200 Canadian dollars. Bali – where you’re a millionaire. An easy exchange for shopping: CAD$1 = R$10,000
- US Money- Bring the US money for your Visa-on-Arrival, if required, but if you plan on bringing more to exchange in Bali, make sure those bills are crisp and brand new – money changes won’t take them otherwise, and it’s an annoyance to have useless money.
- Debit and Credit Cards- There are lots of ATMs around. They usually charge about $5 each time you use them, so take the max out when you do (usually $1-$2.5 million Rupiah)
Best tip for packing – roll your clothes up, it’s much more compact. And, less is always more. In this case, the less you bring with you, the more you can bring home. Remember to look at the weather, and consider what activities you’ll be doing on your travels. For me, it was 30°C (86°F) and sunny, and I did a lot of yoga, wandered around Ubud and went to the beach. If you’re going hiking up mountains in the monsoon season then maybe add a few items.
- 5 Tank tops or crop tops- it’s really hot, all the time, so bring your summer clothes. Bali is a less restrictive, so don’t worry about the spaghetti straps.
- 2 T-shirts- the sun is pretty relentless here, so avoid the shoulder burn with a loose, cotton t-shirt.
- 1 Long-sleeved top- if you want to go to any temples or religious ceremonies, be prepared to dress respectfully.
- 4-5 Shorts- I brought a combination of denim, loose cotton, and active-wear shorts.
- 2-3 Skirts- Maxi skirts are great for the heat, but if skirts aren’t your thing, just pack more shorts.
- 3 Dresses or Rompers- Again, this is up to you, but I liked just throwing on a lightweight dress in the heat, and they double as bikini cover-ups. Bring one ‘fancy’ dress, if you’re going to head out on the town.
- 1 Pair of Leggings- For chillier evenings, underneath your dresses, or visiting the temples. I wore mine under my pants on the plane, so they didn’t take up any extra space. If you’re doing more athletic activities, maybe bring more, or just more athletic shorts.
**Gentlemen, bring lots of breathable button-down tops, or tank tops. Lots of shorts are a must, but lots of men in Bali tend to wear a sarong .
Remember; all these items of clothing can be bought for about $5 in the markets, once you arrive in Bali. Bring only one of each item on the list and save room for lots of new clothes.
- 8 Pairs of Underwear- You should only have to do laundry once a week, this way. Don’t overpack on underwear, it takes up more space than you think. If you are a really light packer, only 2-3 pairs might do for the wash-and-wear traveler.
- 5 Bras- Bring some sports bras and regular ones. Sports bras look good under your loose fitting tops, and are great for the occasional yoga class.
- 3 Pairs of Socks- You won’t be wearing running shoes that often, so 1-2 pairs of ankle socks and 1 emergency pair of big warm socks for a trip up a mountain will be more than enough.
- A Hat– keep the sun off your face with a wide-brimmed hat. You can buy lots of cute ones in Bali though!
- Rainshell Jacket- ultra-light, and easy to pack, for the occasional tropical downpour
- Light sweater- bring something like a cotton hoodie, a flannel top, or a denim button-up for any chilly evenings.
- 3 Bathing Suits- These are a must. Bring your own, as I didn’t see many in Bali that I would have purchased.
- 1 Sarong- Bring one if you must, but you can get them for like 7$ in Bali, and they’re beautiful batik fabric.
- Hair Accessories and Jewellery- You’ll need something to tie up long hair, and you might want to dress up some of your outfits with favourite jewellery pieces! There’s tons of neat stuff to buy in Bali, though.
- Closed-toe shoes- Bring a pair of runners if you want to hike up a mountain to watch the sunrise.
- Sandles- I brought a pair of closed-toe flats, instead, since I’d be walking on hot dusty roads. Flip flops or any type of comfortable, casual sandal will do.
- Dress Shoes- For your night out, sipping Bintang on cozy patios.
All these toiletries can be bought in Bali, exceptions noted.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Shampoo and Conditioner-I would only advise bringing shampoo if you need “After-Swim”, to get rid of chlorine form your hair. As most people here have dark hair, this isn’t an issue, so I couldn’t find the stuff anywhere, and had green hair for a week.
- Feminine Hygiene products- Diva Cups are great for travel!
- Razor + Shaving Cream- Waxing treatments are super cheap in Bali, so you may not need to use these as often.
- Prescriptions- Get your prescriptions filled before you travel, they usually cannot do it once you get there.
- Sunscreen 60SPF+
- Bug Spray- There’s lots of mosquitos with lots of diseases over here, so protect yourself. I didn’t get one bug bite, mind you…
- Waterbottle- You’ll need a good one for wandering around outside in the heat for hours.
- Earplugs- For the plane, for noisy roommates, for loud apartments, anything!
- Beach Towel + Beach bag- Bring an empty tote and a lightweight beach towel for seaside trips.
- Travel Journal- I always bring one of these, just to document my day.
- Travel Guide Books and Maps
- Cell Phone- There is WIFI almost everywhere, but if you want reliable service, pick up a SIM card, you won’t need more than 1GB of data per week, which costs about $15 Canadian.
- Adapters- You’ll need the correct power adapters for all your electronics to charge up.
- Camera, Video Camera, GoPro- Document your travels! Cellphone cameras are great, but GoPros are everyone’s new favourite thing.
- Laptop or Tablet- Bring something besides your cellphone, if you’re doing any more screen work, there’s lots of places to lounge and get some work done, or upload pictures.
- Headphones- They might not give you any on the plane.