What to pack
What and how much to pack is very much a personal decision; whilst some of us are happy to take little more than a spare pair of shorts and a smart shirt for the evening, others like to take an outfit for every day. And why not? It's your holiday!
The following ideas and suggestions are just that, so please don't take them as any sort of hard and fast rule about what goes in your bag.
Bag v. suitcase
We tend to recommend a soft kit bag or holdall, but this really is a matter of personal preference, and if you prefer a hard-sided suitcase then you will have no significant problems travelling with this. There are sometimes a few small drawbacks with travelling with a hard suitcase, such as on trains in a shared compartment where luggage is usually stored beneath the seats. For road journeys, we always ensure that you are travelling in a vehicle with a realistic amount of luggage space for the size of your party.
What will I need during the day?
We would suggest using a day-pack or small rucksack, both for carrying personal items and valuables on your flights, and you will also find it very useful for day-to-day purposes whilst on holiday.
Belt and braces
Before you depart, you should make duplicate copies of your passports, travel insurance documents and 24-hour banking contact numbers, as well as any optical and medical prescriptions. It is also a good idea to email yourself a copy of these details and ask another member of your party to carry a copy, as it may prove extremely useful in an emergency.
Handy extrasNo matter what time of year you are travelling, you should always consider including the following items:
- Repelling mosquitos – it is recommended to buy your repellent in the UK and use a brand with a high DEET content.
- Sun cream
- Beach/swim wear
A warm fleece for cool evenings, and on flights or overnight boats and trains
- A light waterproof or small umbrella to protect you from a sudden tropical downpour
- Sandals or flip flops to keep your feet cool, and also to make access to temples and private homes much easier.
- Torch and spare batteries
How much will I need?
Your guides, drivers and hotel staff will usually ensure that you do not often carry your own luggage during your holiday. However, we still advise you not to worry about packing 28 changes of clothes. The laundry services are cheap and extremely efficient in Asia, and there is something comforting about finding a neat pile of freshly laundered and ironed clothes at the foot of your bed.
Furthermore, you will be surprised what you will find on sale in Asia at a fraction of the prices we pay at home. There is certainly no need to go shopping for armfuls of t-shirts, shorts or flip-flops before a holiday in Asia - you will quite possibly find your high street brands were manufactured in your destination!
Medication & toiletries
If you need to take any form of medication, it is wise to ask a travel partner to carry a few doses for you; in the event of any loss it will mean you have a few days to allow you to find replacement medication. You may wish to obtain a basic medical kit available from most good chemists, or prepare your own supply of plasters, bandages, paracetamol, antiseptic wipes, treatment for mild stomach upsets, and other items. Pack items such as suntan lotions and moisturisers into individual plastic bags, just in case the packaging gets broken or the contents leak.
Being culturally aware
You may wish to take your favourite shirts and skirts for evening use, but during the day your main considerations regarding your attire should be comfort, practicality and your responsibility towards local sensibilities. Carefully choose the clothes you’re packing, as Asian countries generally have a more modest dress code than we do in the west. High cut shorts, sleeveless tops, plunging necklines and revealing bathers for both women and men can be offensive to people in certain countries, especially in more remote regions.
Light, long sleeved shirts, and long trousers or skirts will tick the boxes above and also help in providing valuable protection against both strong sunlight and also mosquitoes.
Jungle dwellers - leech socks or not?!
When trekking, particularly in Borneo, or elsewhere in Asia during the wet season, you may wish to consider wearing leech socks to prevent any unwanted guests tagging along for a free ride. You can purchase the socks in most good camping and outdoor pursuit shops. If you're visiting the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, they're a lot cheaper there than in the UK.