What I Packed for Asia.

what to pack for two weeks in Asia! Packing for Asia

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!

Mirth Caftan

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.)

Gold Birkenstocks

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.

Flowy Pants

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.

Minimal Makeup.

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.

Pretty scents.

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.


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. I always seem to overpack when I go travelling too, no matter how far the destination is or how long I’m going! It’s like I need to have extra cute outfits “just in case”. Ugh!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    7.6.18 Reply
  2. Those sandals are so cute and look so comfy! I find packing the first time you go somewhere is so hard, it sounds like you did a lot better than I would have!
    Happy Friday! xAllie

    7.6.18 Reply
  3. Alisande:

    Hi Grace! Good post. I just got back from a trip, too, and did not bring my Madewell tote as it doesn’t have a zip (looks just like your Cuyana). I have to say-I think you need a Longchamps Le Pliage. They’re just the perfect carry-on size to shove under the seat in front of you, but not too big to use as a tote in a pinch. You said no logos- they are definitely recognizable but let’s call them a classic rather than basic? They do make an all leather version if you’re feeling fancy. Mine is actually a fake one I got in Shanghai-I use it for every trip. Happy travels!

    7.6.18 Reply
    • I know they are popular but they’re just not my style! I will have to look into the leather one; the canvas ones are just not for me (probably I think because every single girl in college had one? I just can’t get past that, haha!)

      7.6.18 Reply
      • Taylor:

        I agree that my Longchamp is my absolute go to when traveling. I remember splurging on it when I was a freshman in college because everyone had one, but of course I ended up using my Northface backpack instead (too many books for the longchamp #nerd! ha) I’m now glad that I have my longchamp, I use it for my gym clothes, beach bag, & traveling! It’s held up over 10 years of use. I know they’re not everyone’s style, just thought I’d give my two cents.

        7.6.18 Reply
        • Everyone raves and raves! Not for me but everyone I know who has one has had for years and years which is definitely a testament to the quality.

          7.6.18 Reply
  4. Stuart Fisher:

    MZ Wallace has the perfect travel tote! Lots of pockets, simplistic in black and gold, and a zip top! They have two sizes as well! This is coming from a flight attendant, so I know my travel bags!

    7.6.18 Reply
  5. Maggie:

    I’m not sure why packing posts are so fascinating, but they are! Thanks for keeping up the daily posting even with the “holiday” week, I’m still working as normal (except on the actual 4th) and I appreciate that some others are too.

    7.6.18 Reply
    • Aw thanks Maggie! Yes full work week over here too, but even when I am on vacation I always make sure to schedule a post every day! x

      7.6.18 Reply
  6. It’s not leather but I love my MZ Wallace bags for traveling. The Metro Tote is a great one + very simple and roomy. But I also recently got the Crosby Traveler which I’m obsessed with — it has outside pockets and TBH definitely has a dual purpose as a baby bag despite its name, but OMG it is a great bag. Extra straps to wear it crossbody, tons of pockets and zippers for every little thing you need. And a luggage sleeve so you can put it on the handles of your suitcase. I also think it’s cute, too! I have the gray one. It is the perfect carry-on, and I honestly just don’t think a leather bag could ever match it in terms of functionality. I usually bring another tote — a Longchamp, because I love the zipper, or a leather tote — to carry around during the day while traveling and save my MZ solely as my plane/train bag.

    x Diana // Pearl Girl

    7.6.18 Reply
  7. Jen K:

    Have you checked out Henri Bendel for a travel tote? Take a look at the Beekman Adjustable Strap Tote. Comes in a slate gray color or a pretty sea glass color. I’m considering the gray one myself.

    7.6.18 Reply
  8. I was SO curious to see what you purchased! I’m definitely looking for a new travel bag too! My current big tote doesn’t have a top zip either, but it’s so big!

    The Champagne Edit

    7.6.18 Reply
  9. Olivia:

    Hi Grace! Cuyana makes an “Oversized Carryall Tote” which is bigger than the normal zip tote but still has a zipper! Hope that helps!

    7.6.18 Reply
  10. Lauren:

    Hi Grace, I use the Lo and Sons OMG bag as my personal item. If you don’t over pack it you can fit a regular size purse on top of your stuff and zip it closed so it’s basically 2 personal items in one. It also fits under the seat.

    7.6.18 Reply
    • Hi Lauren, Thanks for the suggestion! I actually used to have that one! I loved how functional it was but didn’t like the nylon/the shape!
      Have a good weekend!!!

      7.6.18 Reply
  11. Whitney:

    I travel for work constantly, and I go back and forth between two different Louis Vuitton bags. The logo is a bit more noticeable, but I love both options.

    I have the Neverfull GM with a Samorga organizer (so you have a zipper).
    I also have the Carryall.

    7.6.18 Reply
  12. Cy:

    All for the tried and true! I know what you mean about the brow melt. I just have my brows and lashes freshly tinted before I travel. It makes them look so much thicker. I only use the brow gel when they start to fade. I love the AWAY luggage. I bought the medium for longer trips. My sister has both the medium and the small carry on. I cannot believe how much she can get into that tiny suitcase! They really are the best. I have a great carry on I bought at flight 001, like ten years ago. It’s not leather, it’s a heavier quilted cotton. I paid $100 dollars for it and it has been everywhere and still looks great. I hope you find yours. European suncare is so superior to ours( mostly chemical free) whenever I go or have a friend going on a trip, I asked them to buy it for me. The super goop duo looks handy though. This is all such great advice, although truthfully I hate, hot humid weather and avoid it at all costs. But, I love not wearing much makeup! Love the hobo bag and still longing for the Palmgren. I may yet cave in

    7.6.18 Reply
  13. Alexandra:

    Love the AWAY luggage so much. Points for their customer service – they created a new battery module for older luggage models so now the batteries just pop out to get through security/gate checks. Sent a new one to me for free along with a box to ship back and recycle my old one. If you have the old luggage versions you should look into it!

    7.6.18 Reply
  14. Terry:

    Nice travel totes at: Everlane and Matt and Nat(vegan!)

    7.6.18 Reply
  15. Kristina:

    Love the packing posts! Whipping Post makes some amazing oversized totes, not sure if there’s a zippered one yet but I bet it coming!

    7.6.18 Reply
  16. Erin:

    Thanks for the tips! ABLE has some beautiful leather bags that are worth checking out.

    7.6.18 Reply
  17. Jenni:

    Have you tried the Dagne Dover Legend tote? It might work! So many pretty colors.

    7.6.18 Reply
  18. Erin:

    Have you checked out the cuyana oversized caryall tote? The medium size isn’t out yet and is probably too small, but the oversized looks very roomy

    7.7.18 Reply
  19. Erin:

    Have you tried the Cuyana oversized caryall tote? The medium isn’t out yet, and is probably too small, but the oversized looks super roomy and I like the color options

    7.7.18 Reply
  20. Erin:

    I tried to comment earlier and it didn’t appear to work (sorry if this ends up being multiple comments), but you should check out Cuyana’s Oversized caryall tote! The medium isn’t out yet and probably would be too small for you, but the “oversized” looks quite roomy.

    7.8.18 Reply
    • It was just in moderation as you haven’t commented before 😉 Thanks for the suggestion! xo

      7.8.18 Reply
  21. Great travel tips! I think we need a designer to collaborate with you on designing the perfect carry on tote. Maybe even an entire Grace collection? I’d purchase all color options. Birkenstocks are always a good move.

    Happy Sunday Grace

    7.8.18 Reply
  22. Erin:

    The Madewell zip transport tote sounds like what you’re looking for!

    7.9.18 Reply
  23. Adrienne:

    I love the K.Slade Carry All! I’ve had my eye on one for a while… !

    7.11.18 Reply
  24. Stacey:

    Just stumbled on your blog while looking at fashion tips for packing carry-on only for an eleven-week trip around the world. You were saying you’re looking for a good tote bag and I just found one that meets all of your requirements. It’s pricey, but I took it on a trial trip to Europe this week and it met all of the criteria.

    7.15.18 Reply
    • Thanks Stacey! That one is a little small for what I’m looking for but it’s gorgeous!

      7.15.18 Reply
  25. This is so helpful! I’m travelling to Nepal for the first time this year Love the suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    7.26.18 Reply
  26. Lotuff Totes! Made in America, leather, zip top, no logos, inside pocket, lots of colors, fits under the arm and will last forever.


    8.22.18 Reply