HERE’S HOW TO PACK SMART FOR LONG TRAVELLING

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“How the heck are you going to fit all stuff in one bag for that upcoming 2-month long Indonesia trip of yours? I just can’t see it from here dude.”

That was my question to my friend when I was hanging out at his place last weekend. His name is Mike Lee, a very successful 40-year-old, still single and available media professional. His graphic designing pieces are among the best in the game that I’ve ever seen. Too bad he is crazy. Crazy about travelling. When that craziness version of him appears, the rest can wait. No matter how emergency or urgent those matters are, too bad. He doesn’t seem to be bothered with anything else. I wonder what will turn out if one day he somehow found himself a nice girlfriend and face his I-don’t-care-and-I-want-to-go-travel-next-weekend version of him. Damn.

“Bro, a rule of thumb to pack light for travelling is to pack smart. “

There you go, another brilliant reply from Mr Lee right there. Sounds a bit cocky but really make a lot of sense to me. He said that when it comes to packing for extended travel like this one, and the place involves just a standard climate throughout the year like Indonesia and various activities, it’s essential you pack versatile and adaptable travel gear that’s easy to care for, durable, lightweight and compact.

Here’s Mike’s packing list for his 2-month travel, including all the essentials and every single item that he brings along is very important:

A good quality travel pack. Mike says, the mother of all packing stuff is the bag. For an avid traveller, it’s essential to have a quality pack that’s specifically designed to enhance your travel experience. The best travel packs will feature a comfy, adjustable harness, including a belt, for optimal load carrying, plenty of compartment pockets to organize our belongings and be made from durable and water resistant material as there could be a good chance you will be walking in some rain and get soaked.

Waterproof jacket. Speaking of weather protection, a wind and waterproof jacket won’t take up much space in the backpack and will keep you dry and comfy should you find yourself in especially when it comes to Indonesia. You just never know.

T-shirts. Mike is packing no less than 6 t-shirts for this trip. He’s packing a mixture of short and long-sleeve tops, of varying thickness for hot and cold climates especially at night. The long-sleeve lightweight t-shirts are an excellent choice, as he can rolls up the sleeves when it’s hot or cover up if it gets cool, to avoid insect bites and sunburn, or to be respectfully dressed. Reversible tops will give you more colour options, without adding more items to your luggage. It will be part of the sleepwear wardrobe too.

Shirt. He also packs a couple of semi-formal looked shirts just in case he’s invited by local friends to attend a formal event or function. He told me he needed to buy one for a wedding ceremony when he was in Hanoi, Vietnam. Somehow his local friend invited him along to his sister’s wedding so that he could experience how the local celebrate the special event like this.

“He also packs a couple of semi-formal looked shirts just in case he’s invited by local friends to attend a formal event or function.”

Short and long pants. Opt for lightweight, wrinkle-free bottoms, keeping in mind darker colours will stay fresh-looking for longer. Again, eversible pants (or skirts if you’re a girl), will give you more colour options without adding extra weight to your luggage. Similarly, pants that zip off to shorts are another option that save you space but offer more versatility. Shorts can double as swimwear in the ocean and rivers, or even as a sleepwear too.

Underwear. Mike doesn’t wear one, never does so he didn’t bring any. But I want to highlight this here so that you don’t be like Mike. Underwear is crucial for normal people like us thus find those with material that’s quick-drying, breathable and antimicrobial are the best for travelling.

Shoes and socks. He brings a pair of comfy street cum running shoes will keep his feet happy on all-day walking adventures and light hiking trips. You may want to remember to pack appropriate socks as well, such as those that are moisture-wicking, breathable, cushioned in key-areas and even insect repellent. His second pair of shoes is a sandals. This is useful just in case you need to shower in dorms. Hey, you can also use sandals to the beach or walk around town.

(Image From: Tina)
(Image From: Tina)

Packing cells. According to Mike, packing cells are his best friend. It saves him spaces and time as he organizes his belongings. All are done efficiently and fast. You can put all your shirts in one packing cell, your dirty clothes in another and you’ll be able to find the exact item you’re looking for hassle-free in just under 5 seconds.

(Image From: jamesclear)
(Image From: jamesclear)

“Packing cells saves him spaces and time as he organises his belongings. All are done efficiently and fast.”

Toiletries. Only pack the bare toiletry essentials, so make sure you downsize the bottles and that toothpaste tube too. You’ll be able to re-stock along the way.

(Image from: urbanetraveller)
(Image from: urbanetraveller)

Travel towel. Microfibre travel towels are ideal for backpacking, as they are lightweight, compact, ultra-absorbent and quick-drying. Use yours as a towel, picnic blanket or face wash; its multiple uses is another reason why it’s a travel must.

(Image From: Meily(TM))
(Image From: Meily(TM))

First aid kit. Is that a first aid kit? I asked. Mike said, yeah man. It is. He told me while he was about to park his rented scooter at his dorm after enjoying Pattaya a few years ago, he saw there’s a beautiful local girl was smiling at him nearby. He said she was the daughter of the hostel’s owner where he stayed. Too focus on that attention, he then somehow misstepped and sprained his left ankle badly. Adding up to the insult, the scooter fell on that same leg a few seconds later. He had quite a small scratch on his left upper thigh but the ankle was bad. Luckily his hostel has a first aid kit. Then from there he always brings a  good first aid kit everywhere. I asked, “Dude, did you manage to bring that girl out?”  Mike just kept quiet, but I noticed he was smiling. Yuck!

(Image From: cotswoldoutdoor)
(Image From: cotswoldoutdoor)

Travel adaptor. You’ll need a travel adaptor to charge electronic devices like laptop, mobile phone and hair dryer. Research your destination first to make sure you purchase an adaptor that meets the electronic standards and works in your destination.

(Image From: Jeremy Cai |)
(Image From: Jeremy Cai |)

Power bank. One of the must-have item if you’re an a crazy traveller like Mike is the power bank. During critical times when you badly need your mobile phone for an emergency maybe, somehow the battery is too low for it and you couldn’t find any power source, a power bank will be handy. All you have to prepare is the cable charger for your mobile phone.

“One of the must-have item if you’re an a crazy traveller like Mike is the power bank.“

Water Bottle/Container. Mike said that as a responsible traveller, it’s better to refill a reusable BPA-free water bottle than to purchase two litres of plastic throw-away water bottles each day. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as the plastic water bottles. He told me, if you’re concerned about the safety then you got to ditch reusing those plastic water bottles and use a better and safer reusable container instead.

(Image From: bikroykendro)
(Image From: bikroykendro)

Locks. Mike keeps his belongings safe with TSA-approved locks for his backpack zips and hostel locker. A combination lock means you won’t have to worry about misplacing the lock key.

These are critical items that Mike prepared and somehow he manages to put all of them into a single pack. There are also several other small little things such as laundry powder which you can leave it out as you can always pick it up along the way. Mike also bring another hand carry bag for his laptop and important documents like passports, visa and stuff like that, which he keeps this one close to him.