Our main bags are Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag and they are amazing. These bags were a recommendation from my sister and her husband, both avid campers. The bags fit a lot of gear and can be carried like a duffel or a backpack. They are easy to carry, durable and distinguishable. We’ve been to a number of airports and no one has a bag like it. Most people we’ve encountered have large hardshell suitcases or the typical backpackers pack. I recommend purchasing at Sports Basement or REI to get the store discounts.
If you aren’t sure whether you should pack a duffle or a backpack, I think of what my sister told me about luggage: are you more of a horizontal packer or a vertical packer? Backpacking packs can be easier to lug around but unpacking and packing them can be a pain. Pick a bag that you can carry and walk with easily because you won’t always get door-to-door service.
My backpack is an Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack and it’s great. I’m small and this pack fits me perfectly. It’s very comfortable and holds a lot of gear, including my laptop. The front of the pack has a nice adjustable pouch that’s perfect for extra clothes, water or snacks. Asian airlines will often weigh your carry-on luggage and if it overweight they will make you check it. This backpack is always underweight even when it’s packed to the brim.
I mainly carry this pack to and from the airport because I have a smaller purse for daily use. It’s RFID protected, slash-proof and locks. I bought it at Target but you can also find them at REI, Sports Basement, PacSafe, or Travelon.
If you haven’t converted to packing cubes, you’re missing out. I never used them until this trip because I consider myself to be a good packer. But these are amazing! There are a ton of brands out there that vary in price and size so you’ll have to do some research, but they are worth it. Cubes keep us organized and allow us to pack quickly and efficiently. I tend to keep a tidier room with cubes and I’m not overflowing out of my suitcase. Smaller cubes are used for cords, toiletries, and our medications.
I packed two shoes with me, Sanuks and Keens. I have small, narrow feet with low arches and both shoes are very comfortable. Sanuks are my favorite shoes in the world, I wear them constantly when I’m home. They are great for traveling because they are comfortable and easily slip on and off, perfect for temples and airport security. For extended walking, I wear Keens. I personally prefer close-toed sandals like Keens, but flip-flops are good too. Whatever style you choose, make sure the shoe is comfortable and that you can walk long distances in them. Mark and I enjoy exploring as much as we can on foot, and depending on where you travel, public transportation or Grab might not be readily available. Other brands I’ve heard good things about are Tevas and Merrells.
Mark wears flip-flops and New Balance tennis shoes. He loves them because they slip on and off easily and are breathable. Many Asian establishments require you to remove your shoes so the NB shoes are great because they have the comfort of tennis shoes but the laces aren’t cumbersome so he can take them off easily and quickly.
Well before this trip, I ordered a ROAD iD bracelet because I spent a lot of time running and cycling alone. Essentially, a ROAD iD is a small bracelet with important information like your name, any allergies or illnesses, and contact information. My band is small and rubber, I can hardly tell it’s present when I wear it.
Another item we’re so happy we brought with us is our Kindles. I’m sure you have a Kindle but if you don’t, go buy one right now. I have Amazon Prime, so I have access to free books, and I also rent e-books from my local library. Kindles hold a ton of books, are easy to pack and have great battery life.
If you are a woman and you camp, hike, or travel, go buy a GoGirl. My mother recommended this to me because she used it when she lived in Thailand. Long story short, you don’t always know the toilet situation when you travel and you won’t always be able to squat for whatever reason. GoGirl allows you to pee standing up! It’s malleable so it packs well, comes with a convenient bag to hold it, and is easy to clean. I’ve also heard of another product, the pstyle, from a badass biker woman, Nam Arya (Good Ole Nam).
My parents lent us their Nancy Chandler maps and they are the greatest items in the world. We used one for Chiang Mai and one for Hanoi and we carried them around with us every day. Chandler’s maps are detailed. very easy to read, beautiful, and list places that guidebooks miss. She lists great street food joints, excellent shops, and wonderful walking tours. Highly, highly recommend.