Review: Packing for Southeast Asia.

Back home after the big trip! Farewell at the airport in Bangkok.
Back home after the big trip! Farewell at the airport in Bangkok.

This is it. The big trip is over. Just as I said on Instagram, it is a goodbye to island life, endless summer nights, heat and sandy toes. Just as I am always intensely melancholic when a trip is over, I am also filled with new experiences, good vibes and an infinite energy taking me through everyday life.

After this trip, I am also smarter. You think I’m bragging? Well, this was my first backpacking trip so I feel I learnt a lot. There are numerous things that your travel guide will never tell you but you’ll experience anyway. I will definitely cover these experiences in one of the upcoming blogposts! And you are most likely to have overpacked even though you solemnly pledged to only take the bare necessities with you. As promised, this is a review of how I packed and what I really needed from it.

First and foremost – I packed too much. Too many clothes. Even though I thought I’d selected every item carefully, it was still too much. Take fewer shirts and rely on cotton as it really is more comfortable in the heat. Make sure the clothes wash easily and stains get off quickly (Asian countries often wash their clothes in cold water!). One thing that I did not wear once was the long sleeved shirt, which I took additionally to my black cardigan. I thought it’d be handy as mosquito bite protector but that’s unnecessary. If you have one long sleeved item and a good mosquito repellent, you’re good to go.

In terms of the toiletries I packed, there’s nothing to complain. I did not use nail polish or other luxury beauty items as much but I still would take them with me again next time.

Medication – the bacteria to prevent traveler’s diarrhoea came in super handy, we didn’t have any problems during the whole trip. Make sure to take something like a first aid kit with you that has bandages. I had a tiny accident with a scooter by the end of the trip and it’s easier when you have these things with you. It can be a bit adventurous trying to explain to the pharmacy sales personnel what you need. Also, do not take too much mosquito repellent with you – one bottle suffices. Buy the rest over there, they have much cheaper and better formulas then us over here.

Travel/Miscellaneous – everything came in super handy. I would recommend every single item on that list. I was especially happy to have brought a microfibre towel (so good at the beach, the sand doesn’t get stuck in the fabric!), the inflatable neck pillow, the sleeping bag inlay, the flight cover for my backpack and the flashlight (the Gili Islands don’t have street lights so if you have to find your way home in the middle of the night a good torch is essential!).

Also, I was super happy with my Gregory J53 backpack. It had the perfect size, wasn’t too heavy and packed easily. It is the perfect companion for a backpacking trip where you stay in hotels and hostels. I am not sure whether I would recommend it for trekking. It is not sturdy enough to carry a tent and other equipment you might need for such a trip.

Even though we just came back from our trip a week ago, I can’t wait to plan the next one! Since I just finished my master’s degree, I am now on the search for a job. Maybe my next trip will take me to a new home and a new life?! Who knows!


Packing for Southeast Asia.

It’s now been two weeks since I left for my backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. By now I will most likely have realised how well I packed – did I take too much? Are there some essential items missing that I wouldn’t have ever thought of?

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It is my first backpacking trip so I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I decided to go for the J53 backpack from Gregory, it holds around 50-55l. It is super lightweight and easy to handle and fits my body well. What I really love about it is that it has a “CrossFlo Suspension” along the back, a mesh area that keeps your body cool. I feel like this will come in handy when I walk through the hot and humid weather in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Here’s what’s inside my backpack for my 4.5 week trip:

Nike Free runners
Black Roxy flip flops
Black Birkenstocks
2 jeans shorts
2 lightweight and loose cotton pants
1 pair of leggings
1 black cardigan
1 blouse (long sleeves to protect against mosquitos at night)
1 dress (can be worn during the day or at dinner)
1 long skirt
7-8 tops and shirts (mixture between cotton and synthetic fabrics, mainly in white, navy, black or beige colours to be combined easily)
2 regular bras
1 sports bra
7 undies
2 bikinis
1 pyjama (basically a hotpants and a shirt that can also be worn elsewhere)
1 lightweight scarf

Sunscreen (SPF 30)
After Sun
Shampoo and conditioner
1 Nail polish + remover
Cotton balls
Make Up
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Nail file
Small scissors
Lip chap
1 Lipstick
Hair ties and bobby pins
Contact lenses + solution
Disinfectant (spray, gel and wipes)
Microfibre towel

Different products to support the digestion (i.e. a type of bacteria you take daily to prevent traveler’s diaorrhea or electrolytes)
Band aids (also for blisters)
Steroid cream for itchy rashes
Healing ointment
DEET-based mosquito spray
Malaria antibiotics

Passport + several copies of it
Vaccination record + several copies of it
iPhone + charger
Portable iPhone charger
Camera + charger
3 memory cards (between 2-16 GB)
Additional battery for camera
Lonely Planet “Southeast Asia on a shoestring”
US dollar for the visa at the Indonesian border
Book “A House in the Sky”
Big black purse (hand luggage and for the day)
Mosquito net
Sleeping bag inlay
Notebook and pen
Flight cover for backpack
Inflatable neck pillow
Several compression bags (1l, 9l and 20l)
Pocket knife

I’m super curious how this packing list will prove its worth. I will definitely write a review once I’m back. It’s always interesting to see what people decided to pack but it’s even better to know what they really used or what they were missing during their trip!

The 5 ultimate tips for air travel.

As I just embarked another international long-haul flight (my trip to Southeast Asia started last week!!), I thought I’d collect my best tips for air travel.


1. Fly overnight
It might be a personal preference but I’d definitely rather fly overnight when I’m boarding an international flight. It is much easier to sleep when it’s actually dark outside. Also, you arrive at your destination early in the morning which gives you all the time to freshen up and enjoy a full first day at your destination.

2. No stopover in the US
If you can, try to not have a stopover in the US. If it’s inevitable, try to schedule at least 4-5hours for your layover. 3 hours as a layover often isn’t enough as the lines at immigration are super long and airports like Atlanta, Miami or Chicago are just massive.

3. Always check in online
It might not save you a lot of time at the airport since most of the people tend to check in online now but I still do it for one simple reason – I can choose my seat. On long flights I prefer to select an aisle seat. This way I don’t have to disturb my seat neighbours whenever I want to get up to walk around or go to the bathroom.

4. Pack your carry-on smartly
It is always worth to pack some underwear, a toothbrush and some moisturizer into your carry on. Also take your valuables with you! If your suitcase gets lost you don’t have to worry about feeling like yourself during your first days.

5. Get comfortable
This simply means – wear sweatpants, take a big scarf, socks and drinks lots and lots of water. You will thank yourself later when you actually manage to get some sleep during the flight and wake up rejuvenated.

carry-on essentials.

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Hand Luggage. Always my number one issue when travelling on a plane. Why? Because I tend to be an overpacker who tries to pack every extra kilo into her handbag so that the suitcase won’t be overweight. That’s how I sometimes end up having an 10-12kg hand luggage. So whenever there’s only 8kg allowed on a flight I try to appear nonchalant at the security check and hide how much my shoulder hurts and how freakin’ heavy my big bag is. Another issue is that I always seem to travel with bags that don’t zip properly so there’s always the chance of me having to collect all my things from the baggage claim after the bag has gone through security check. So what’s so important that I have to carry it around with me?

Lip balm and moisturizer: Eeek, I hate the air in planes. Especially on long-term flights I like to keep my face moisturized for it to feel a little less disgusting when spending hours and hours on a plane.

Book: Although I like to spend my time sleeping on planes, there’s always some little extra time where I like to read.

Water: Recently I started carrying around a Camelbak bottle with me everywhere I go. This way I can always fill it up whenever I feel thirsty.

Scarf, socks and extra sweater: For me, planes always feel too cold. So a little extra clothing helps. Especially when you like to bundle up during your sleep!

Toothbrush, deodorant and hairbrush: Simply makes me feel less nasty.

Travel guide: Of course. That’s a must. Always checking if I am as prepared as I would like to be!

Small perfume sample: Especially when you’re going on a short trip, simply take the small samples that you get as a gift in a perfumery. They last a few days!

Jewelry and my valuables: If my suitcase gets lost during the journey, I don’t have to worry too much about the things I care about most.

Glasses and case for contact lenses: During a long flight, I like to remove my contacts and wear my glasses instead.

Sunglasses and umbrella: I like to be prepared for whatever weather awaits me at my destination!

Well, let’s pack this hand luggage then. Luckily Santa brought me a backpack for Christmas so I at least don’t have to keep up a straight face at the airport tomorrow when my bag ends up being super heavy again. Athens, here I come!