Packing for Backpacking: Traveling With Kids in Southeast Asia

Well, if you know me well enough, you would know that over the last six months we have been planning this once in a lifetime backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. It sure has been a lot of planning and thinking and scheming….

Today is the day we take off for Southeast Asia. And yes, we are going to be backpacking…..with kids…..and the kids are carrying their own gear……so how on earth do you plan for this type of trip? How can kids carry their own stuff? How am I going to carry my own stuff? Well, let’s start probably by packing ultralight.

Speaking of ultralight, it’s mega-hot in Southeast Asia so we have to pack ultra-cool, too….

Probably TMI, but I would like to share what we are bringing along. I am doing this in part because a lot of people have asked me how this is going to work. So, without any further adui, let’s check this out.


This is my gear….passport, lightweight cap (gotta protect my bald spot from sunburn), camera, toiletries (yeah, I am simple), two pairs of shoes, neck pillow, “eye bra”, sunglasses, antibiotics to treat diarrhea from food borne sources, antimalaria pills, head bands, charging cable, bungee cords (to strap our gear on a motorcycle lol), headlamp (cuz I have heard the streets are dark in places like Cambodia), power pack, ear buds, water bottle, pouch to hang around my neck, spork (in case someone tries to make me use dirty chopsticks), memory cards for all my photos-to-be, waterproof camera, bucket of pills, power adaptor plug, waterproof phone case and last but not least, a Steripen! I am not going to get diarrhea from water, anyway!

Now wait til you see this……

My clothes…..from left to right…..

Blue/white long skirt for temples (it’s old and I can throw it out if I don’t want to carry it anymore), black shorts by Ex-Officio, black calf length Columbia hiking pants (ankles bare for mosquitoes to feast upon my delicate ankles), my favorite blue jean shorts that I can’t leave out (not short shorts), black stretch shorts, blue/green lightweight dress, REI hiking pants that are treated with permethrin to ward off mosquitoes, and my favorite running shorts. Mind you, I’m not too sure if I will be running in Southeast Asia’s oppressive heat, but it’s the thought that counts. I am tempted to leave out the running shorts…..

And shirts……

A green bag with undergarments and socks (the bag is waterproof to protect my precious undergarments)

A black down packable jacket that I can use on cold buses as a blanket or pillow

5 tshirts that are wicking/fast drying/cool/lightweight… favorite running shirt…..

Blue swim suit top and black shorts (p.s. The top looks better in the picture than it does on me)

White long sleeve shirt treated with permethrin….ain’t no mosquitoes givin’ me dengue fever….

Blue dressier shirt….

Pink pj shirt

Wow! That’s a lot of stuff! But check this out!!!

My friend from work, Melissa, lent me some gear, like this awesome packing cube. So I pile up all my clothes, fold up the four sides…..and….voilà……

That’s how small I can pack all those clothes!  Please ignore the wrinkles on my hand….

My bag weighs in at 19 pounds!

Bjorn & Kristoff

Now what about the kids, you ask. Boys aren’t so kind to their clothes all the time…boys get sweaty and dirty and smelly….

This is it for clothes that we are taking along for each boy…..from left to right…each boy has a pile about the same like this.

Long sleeve Columbia shirt for fending off mozzies

Super Kuhl hiking pants…most expensive kids pants I have ever bought….but I love them….I only bought one pair thoughcuz $60 about makes me go into atrial fibrillation. The other pair (not seen here) is from Saver’s for $3.99….much more in line with my budget!

Sports shorts for pajama use

Swimsuit and four pairs of shorts

Too many tshirts which are all lightweight, sweat wicking, unsmelling…super cool….

….socks and undies (also the most expensive kids underwear I ever bought made by Under Armour – truly must be magic underwear for $12.50 a pair)

Now check out this packing cube… up the zipper on one side and in goes the shorts..

….then flip it around……

…..on the other side I put in all the shirts… it up

And how nifty is that? Here’s Kristoff’s clothes all packed up in a nice neat case.

As for gear for the boys we are pretty light….

Two pairs of shoes

Laundry bag for the smelly boys

Down jacket that stuffs into a neck pillow pouch

Headlamp for dark and sinister streets

Glasses for baby Bjorn

Kindle reader to keep their minds active

And a toothbrush to freshen up their foul mouths…..hey, maybe that’s what I need….


Well, a true princess needs lots of Princess clothes, right? But a princess can’t carry loads of stuff……

Here is chickadee’s clothes. I did pull out two shirts and one pair of shorts since I took this picture. She has a pj, long sleeve violet Columbia hiking shirt, long dress, Columbia hiking pants and various shirts and shorts. The bright orange shirts I took along for the kids to wear when we want high visibility… when we are driving scooters in Hanoi, Vietnam….just kidding….

And two pairs of shoes, toiletries, down jacket in a neck pillow stuff, laundry bag…..I forgot to take a picture of her Kindle and spork….

You might be wondering about the laundry bag. This is a big nylon bag that we decided to take along for good reason.  We will be doing some bus travel, and it makes sense that maybe inside the bus there is not that much storage, so if we end up putting a backpack in the storage hold then we can put the backpack inside this laundry bag to protect it.

The kids bags each weigh in at 12 pounds.

MR Handsome

Well, when you shop at Mr. Big & Tall you might need a bigger backpack than everyone else….let’s take a look what Mr Handsome has packed….(by the way he doesn’t shop at Big&Tall).

 Well, Mr. Handsome’s gear looks like a walking Fry’s Electronics store, although no surprise given he is an electronics engineer….many cords and cables and gidgets and gadgets….oh, and he is sporty….got some electrolyte replacement here and Sport Beans….and maybe he is made of sugar and worried he is gonna dissolve in the rain, and that’s why he has an umbrella (smart man cuz it’s rainy season out there)….oh! And a silk liner sheet (in case we come across dirty sleeping quarters)….and a little towel….and a cover bag that we can throw two backpacks into to check our stuff as luggage if need be.  

Mr. Handsome is taking along Nike running shoes, a pair of Toms, a pair of flip flops in case of dirty showers, and a pair of Keen’s…..excuse me? Four pairs of shoes! Hmmmm. That ought to fill up his backpack right there…..those are some man shoes! Size 13 shoes take up a lot of room!

Look at that! He makes up for the shoes by cutting down on the amount of clothes! Not bad! You’ll notice he has a nice Kuhl long sleeve shirt, and two pairs of pants. I guess in that region only tourists wear shorts….wouldn’t want anyone to guess that we are tourists…..actually our research indicates it’s very necessary to have pants and long sleeves to keep the mosquitoes from eating you up….munch munch munch….which brings me to another point. The mosquitoes in that region of the world can cause some pretty bad problems, so we ended up treating our long sleeve shirts and hiking pants and hiking socks with permethrin to help fend off the critters. I did the spraying, so if I come down with a nasty illness later in life we will all know what caused it! Remember, I am a DNR…..

Mr Handsome’s bag weighs in at 23 lbs….ouch!

So that’s it? I know you may ask well, what about the wedding? You’re going to Singapore for Jasmine and Tristan’s wedding ceremony so where are the wedding clothes…..? Super casual wedding?

I packed up our wedding attire and Jasmine is going to bring it to Singapore for us. So there you have it! In a few hours we will be off on an adventure of a lifetime!

Am I nervous? Yeah. Excited? Yeah. This is going to be one crazy cray cray trip!!!!!

Wanna come along for the ride?

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