What I packed: 3 Months in Southeast Asia

Why I’m going to Borneo
April 4, 2011
My First Day in Bangkok (and where to get travel shots)
April 12, 2011

What I packed: 3 Months in Southeast Asia

By Stephen Bugno

Packing light is a refined art—I’ve been trying to perfect it for years. I’m almost there. The good news is the longer my trip , the less stuff I bring. On short trips I tend to over pack. I think I’ve done a good job this time for Southeast Asia.

It takes a lot of discipline and sometimes another person, like an editor cutting unnecessary words out of a lengthy story, to pack light. I first learned about truly packing light from Rick Steves. Although he’s a Euro-only travel guru—minimalistic packing is a travel skill that crosses continental boundaries. Reading his Europe Through the Back Door, as a seventeen year old, introduced me to these concepts.

The inside of my backpack for my southeast Asia trip


For a three-month trip to Southeast Asia, this what am I packing:


1 lightweight jacket

1 lightweight long sleeve shirt

3 short sleeve shirts

1 pair lightweight long pants

1 pair light zip-off pants

2 pairs socks

4 pair underwear

Sleep wear (long sleeve silk shirt, shorts)

Trail running shoes

Choco Sandals


One netbook computer

Philips Digital Voice Tracer

1- 250 GB external Hard drive

Camera Canon Power Shot SD1400IS with extra battery and 24 GB of memory

I-POD Touch

4 blank DVDs


sleeping bag

Money belt


Yellow book of immunization history

$100 US cash

2 credit cards, 2 ATM cards


Doctor Bronner’s soap

Grandfather’s rosary from WWII


I tend to over do it on the guidebooks, but because I’m writing from the road, it’s useful to have the added information. I always take the most up-to-date guidebooks that are available.

Moon Thailand (Moon Handbooks)

The Rough Guide to Laos (Rough Guide Laos)

Vietnam Handbook, 6th: Travel Guide to Vietnam (Footprint – Handbooks)

Lonely Planet Malaysia Singapore & Brunei (Country Guide)

Into the Heart of Borneo (not a guidebook)

My backpack and two smaller hand bags


Where are my jeans?

This is the never ending debate for long-term travelers. I usually take jeans, but for this trip I’ll be in the tropics the whole time and don’t plan to be in the higher elevations for any extended period. So I’m only bringing light weight non-cotton pants. (Most of my shirts are non-cotton too.)

If I weren’t blogging from the road, I might consider leaving the netbook at home, but it’s so small and compact, that really it’s not bad to carry.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. uner says:

    nice sharing there! i always travel light too, been using the same blue bag for many years. i normally bring only max of 5 short sleeve t-shirt, 2 shorts, 4 boxers, 1 jean and toiletries. the rest will be passport, little cash and a debit card. not to forget 1 phone and a charger.

  2. This looks like some very useful information to share…do let us know at the end of the trip if you missed out on something…or wished you had packed!

  3. Davis says:

    Great post. I’m about to leave on a similar trip myself. Question: What’s the electrical outlet situation in SE Asia? I haven’t found a straight answer so far. Do I need to bring some power adapters (coming from the US)?

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