I have been getting a lot of questions on how to pack for Asia so I thought I’d write a little post about it. To be honest, I did a lot of things wrong (read on for that) but there were some pieces that were clear winners (and are just favorites in general), and those are worth talking about!
Packing For Asia
My Main Luggage //
I used my medium AWAY suitcase, which needs to be checked. You can read my AWAY luggage review here; I love this brand! You can see that mine is a bit scuffed up which I don’t mind (I see the scratches as a badge of honor) but if they bother you, you can easily descuff yours with a magic eraser.
My Carry On… and a Dilemma //
You can read more about what I packed in my carry on bag (I take this very seriously!) but guys I really do want your help as I’m still searching for that perfect personal item. I brought my Mansur Gavriel tote but I have to be honest, it’s frustrating to travel with as it doesn’t have a top zip. Honestly, I chose it because it’s larger than my Cuyana zip top tote. A lot of people take backpacks but I’m just not a backpack girl.
I don’t find them (even the designer ones) to be particularly stylish, and I would definitely be that person who would hurt someone with it – I have no spatial awareness! I’m currently on the market for a leather tote that is bigger than the Cuyana one but still has a top zip. Frankly, I don’t mind spending a bit of money as I know I would get a lot of use out of it but I just can’t find the bag I’m looking for!
Here are my requirements:
No logos, no designs, patterns or outside pockets, a sturdy top zip, bigger in size than the Cuyana zip tote, real leather (there are so many great nylon bags out there but I’m just not into them), an interior pocket or two, a tote that can still slide under my arm and under the seat (NOT a duffel shape)… something chic with a minimalist design along the lines 0f Mansur Gavriel/Cuyana/Everlane. And in a pretty pastel or neutral cognac – not black. LOL, this bag does not seem to exist. Basically, I guess I am looking for a larger version of the Cuyana zip tote which should be simple to find but is anything but. Oy. (The other bag pictured above is my Palmgrens rattan bag – a favorite!)
Mistakes Made //
First of all, I overpacked – big time. Furthermore, I brought a lot of dresses for dinner which would have been more appropriate if Becca had been there but it felt silly dressing up so much for dinner when I was by myself. I did wear my favorite little leopard slip dress one night. Also, I brought waaayy too much workout stuff. Most hotels in Asia have laundry and it’s CHEAP. In Cambodia, I sent out two workout outfits, some tees, underwear and pajamas, a coverup, and my palm tree pants (those got dry cleaned) and it was $10. If I had known this I would have opted to carry-on and just rely on laundry at my hotels.
The winners/ Packing MVPS //
The olddd, amazing sheer J.Crew Shirt.
So this sheer white workshirt was (unbeknownst to me at the time, several years ago) one of my all time greatest purchases. It’s the best. You can wear it long like a coverup or knot it with cut-offs/shorts for a day of site-seeing. I wore it both ways this trip and had it washed at my hotel so that I could wear it again. Seriously serious MVP. Of course J.Crew doesn’t make it anymore (they always discontinue the good stuff!) but they have a leopard version (which I’m seriously debating though I can’t decide if it’s too extra) and this is pretty much a dead ringer (also available here though it does cost more than I paid for the J.Crew version).
Get it a little big. I am wearing a medium (and we all know J.Crew vanity sizes so it would be a large anywhere else) and like how the extra room gives it more versatility. There’s also a plus size version here, which would probably work even if you wear a straight size – you want this to be loose and flowy and easy to knot. And then there is this $20 version which honestly looks pretty good. Given that whites stain pretty easily especially w/sunless tanner, sunscreen, etc, you could buy a few and not worry about ruining them!
The hobo bag.
This is a funny one and another absolute MVP. My friend Heidi sent me a new lightweight cashmere scarf (her cashmere is THE BEST) before I left and she was like, “let me just include this easy hobo bag for you, you can pack it and you’ll love it” and I didn’t think I needed it but I LOVED it. It barely takes up any room in your suitcase but I ended up using it every single day to carry around my essentials (it’s big enough to also hold my camera + video camera) and the hobo shape lays close to your body so you feel like everything is super safe. It was nice having another bag that wasn’t my carry on for schlepping around the city and to the beach.
Hanes x Karla Tee
OMG we have not discussed these t-shirts yet but they are the absolute best. Seriously, the best t-shirt of all time and I’m completely obsessed with the fit! They run a little small, I have both the M and the L and prefer the L as it’s a little bit longer, but the M works too!
This is one of my all time favorite beach coverups but I like it because it’s chic enough to wear to dinner after the beach or shopping around town. It’s just the perfect little caftan (and the girls who run Mirth are SO nice… Gladly, I like supporting nice people and smaller businesses!). Also, I love the stripes, I love the tassel detail, it’s just great. (I wear a size S/M.)
I’m never without my gold birkenstocks… they are my go-to’s. I am never without my birks whether I am in the city or on the go. They’re comfortable, supportive, and cute and perfect for roaming.
I bought a pair of sheer palm leaf patterned pants from H&M a few years ago and despite never wearing them, held onto them for whatever reason. I definitely got great use out of these on my trip – they are perfect for the temples (you have to cover your shoulders + knees) but you won’t be too hot! This pair of palm leaf pants is so chic if you want something similar, and for a solid I looove these from Michael Stars.
Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo
I don’t trust the water when I travel and highlights are expensive to maintain! I loooove this shampoo and think it makes such a difference in maintaining your blonde hair color.
I didn’t really wear much makeup while in Asia. It was too humid for face makeup so I just stuck to a bit of Glossier Lash Slick + my Sisley Brow Mascara. (I picked the Sisley brow mascara over my beloved Covergirl as I have experienced melting issues with the Covergirl which is just never a good look). Read my Lash Slick review here!
The Leopard Slip Dress.
I get so, so much wear out of this little dress. The cut is ultra flattering and it was especially perfect for hot nights in Asia. And it takes up literally no room in your suitcase. An MVP for sure and I am hoping that they eventually make it in a solid color – I’m dying for it in black or a pretty jewel tone.
Loeffler Randall Puffy Slides
These have become my go-to travel sandals I guess? They are really comfortable, don’t take up much space in my suitcase, and are good when I want something that is not my Birkenstocks but can still walk places in. I don’t really bring high heels when I travel as I like to walk a lot.
Aqua di Parma’s Mandorlo di Sicilia Fragrance has been one of my go-to summer scents but I also brought this amazing Rodin body oil with me. I love bringing a new scent along on vacation as fragrance is so wonderful at evoking memories. Now whenever I smell the Rodin jasmine fragrance I will think of Southeast Asia!
All of the Sunscreen
Another reason for checking a bag was to bring my own sunscreen. Skincare in Asia is pretty top of the line but I like to have my tried + true favorites. I LOVE this Kiehl’s spray on sunscreen (v. good if you are traveling on your own!) and this cute little Supergoop duo has everything you need (face sunscreen + lip balm) in one cute tube.