I traveled for 44 days visiting, over 13 cities, and 8 countries with just a backpack, which fluctuated between 10-13 kg (22-28lbs). Throughout this journey, I picked up quite a few travel tips that I thought would be helpful for anyone traveling esp with summer travel.
1. Pack appropriately!!
You know this, you really do, but you don't realize it until you don't have the right clothes. I would say to always bring:With this all said, I did bring my favorite outfits although I had to wear them over and over... try to find things you can mix and match easily since space is precious on a trip like this, but with all the photo shoots you're going to do, you of course wanna look good ;) Just don't forget the essentials! & remember, the less you bring, the more you can bring home!
- Tennis shoes (you never know what kind of outdoor hike, waterfall trek, bumpy bike ride you can encounter)
- Comfortable sandals (will do a future post on sanuk vs. teva sandals) for all the walking you're gonna be doing, can also be used if you need them for a filthy shower or walking around your bunker
- A jacket even if its a hot and humid summer (great when you find yourself on a 2AM trek on top of a volcano - yes its COLD up there! or it'll help when you find yourself sleeping in the airport or even a super air-conditioned ferry ride) .. something lightweight, but trust me, you'll be happy you brought it when you need it
- A hat to shield yourself from the sun whether its basking in the sun all day or out tomb raiding temples
- Bring a daypack to hold all your things as you sight see throughout the day. I used a cross body bag while traveling, but I would say my cousin's daypack was definitely better than my bag. Last but not least, definitely bring a money pouch that you can place underneath your clothes... very helpful for storing extra money, passports & plus you never want to put all your money and valuables in one place, you gotta spread it out!
2. To suit case or not?
I wasn't sold on using a backpack initially since I really didn't want to carry a big backpack on my shoulders, but it turned out to be really helpful and I think it helped me build some muscle lugging that heavy thing around... ha! I used a 35L Northface backpack, which was good enough for the trip, you may want to consider something larger if you want to pack more stuff... my cousin carried a 60L backpack. The great thing is when you have to move really quickly and go up stairs, having a backpack is much easier.
Also, don't forget to bring combination locks to lock up your bag when you are traveling, definitely a necessity and if you don't buy those TSA approved locks (but I'm not sure if they work in Asia), make sure you unlock your stuff before you check in your bag or they WILL break your locks (yup, I totally forgot one time :( I would definitely recommend using combination locks over keys...just in case you lose the key and it is ONE more than to carry!
In addition to my backpack, I also brought a large soft travel bag that was helpful for me when we had to check in our backpacks and to keep anything important or valuable. I would also recommend putting in one pair of clothes, contacts/makeup/toothbrush into your carry on, JUST IN CASE your luggage is delayed or lost, which happened to us! We slept in the airport that night so luckily I brought some extra stuff with me, but was definitely extremely relieved when I had a few things while our luggage was on its way
3. MUST USE travel websites
The following travel websites were EXTREMELY helpful on our trip. Considering we did no planning beforehand, we needed good online resources to let us know what the best accommodation for our budget was, places to see, things to do, and how to get from here to there. These are my favorite resources:
- Tripadvisor - BEST resource for reviews on accommodations, restaurant and attractions
- Airbnb - You can find the best deals on airbnb and hopefully a lovely host like the ones we found that can give you great information, use my link for $25 off your first stay! This is great when you're traveling with more than one person... they're usually very cozy! People either rent our rooms in their own apartments or they rent out their entire apt/home. Otherwise I would use hostelworld.com if you'd rather go that route
- Couchsurfing - stay on a free couch and meet some cool people (will do another post my own personal experience) if you're brave enough! I would definitely recommend it, but obviously use common sense and chat with your host for a bit ahead of time before you stay there and if you don't feel comfortable, don't stay there
- Flights: We used skyscanner to get an idea of where the cheapest places to fly were. It has a great option where you can select 'everywhere' with flexible dates and it'll list the cheapest places to fly from your current location. I would use it in addition to using sites like kayak.com, farecast.com or hipmunk.com (we found that our flight from NYC to HKG was cheapest on hipmunk so worth a try!) since it isn't all inclusive
- We used jetstar.com, airasia.com or tigerairways.com for low cost air carriers, no frills but gets you to where you need to be!
- Be sure to always pay for checked luggage as if you don't and they force you to check your luggage, it will be a hefty expense!
- Don't be afraid to check our buses and trains in Asia as well, they're very cheap and if you have the time, another experience to tell!