Asia / Bali / Indonesia / Malaysia / Packing luggages / Personal Finance / Philippines / Saving money / Singapore / Travel

Packing for a month-long trip to Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia)

In my previous post, I mentioned our month-long trip to Asia. This was going to be an epic family tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Bali, Indonesia that had been in the works for a couple of years. At first glance, going on vacation for a month seems like a ridiculously long time; this was why we had to book it over the holiday season – so we could use vacation from 2 calendar years. But once you factored in travel time, the month slipped away so quickly.

If you’re planning on travelling over any peak period, keep the following in mind:

  • You’ll be paying premium prices for flights, attractions, accommodations, etc.
  • You’ll be fighting crowds wherever you go (e.g. attractions) and will spend a lot more time in lines
  • If you’re visiting countries and/or areas at risk for terror activities, your risk will be heightened. Protect yourself and stay away from overly crowded areas on special occasions (e.g. New Year’s Eve)

Although I’d been watching budget airlines for several months prior to our trip and saw many special fares under $50, there were none to be found over the holiday season, so I knew we were in for quite an expensive trip of a lifetime.

The initial airfares can be pretty steep, especially over the holiday season, so try saving up your points or watching fares starting up to a year in advance. We bought our tickets from Toronto Pearson to Singapore Changi for just over $1,200 on China Eastern; my parents and grandparents managed to save up enough Aeroplan points to fly with ~$300 in taxes per person.

Baggage Allowance:

When you’re travelling so far, most airlines will allow you 2 pieces of baggage at 50 lbs each, plus 1 carry on and a personal item. Do double check your limit with your airline prior to travelling.

How to Pack:

I’m a list person, so I usually type out my list with a checkbox beside each item. This time, however, since we were going for so long and with so many luggages, I wanted to be sure I was going to be able to find what I’d packed. My husband thought this was unnecessary and just adding to the work to be done, but when we landed in Singapore 2 calendar days later and couldn’t remember where we’d packed something, I just whipped out my handy list and knew exactly where I’d find it.

Packing list

I used the notes section to specify where an item was packed if it wasn’t in the main luggage compartment (e.g. front pocket, inner pocket, toiletry bag, etc.)

What to Pack:

Assuming you’re not backpacking (which we weren’t) and you have a main “base” where you can leave your main luggage and return to between trips (which we did), you may find this packing list helpful in creating your own.


  1. 3 copies of your passports, driver’s licenses and airline tickets – or scan these and store them somewhere you can access remotely, like Dropbox.
  1. Aloe – for sunburns
  2. Backpack – an absolute must for day trips! If you can’t fit this in your luggage, you can usually use this as a personal item in addition to your carry on.
  3. Baseball hats – because that sun is just so intense…
  4. Bathrobe – If you’re travelling in a bigger group and will have to share a bathroom, this may come in handy.
  5. Beach bag – may not be necessary if you’re packing a backpack.
  6. Beach hats – may be better to purchase a cheap one on the beach since they aren’t the easiest to pack and keep intact.
  7. Beach towels – be sure to pack at least 1 per person unless you’re staying in hotels and you’re certain they will be providing them.
  8. Belts
  9. Big ziplock bags – pack all your liquids in them to prevent any messes during transit! Pack any particularly prone items in separate baggies.
  10. Blankies – If you’re prone to feeling cold and/or have long layovers, make sure you pack one. Airlines will usually provide them to you (although you may have to request a blanket), but you won’t be able to take them off the plane with you.
  11. Blotting sheets – if your skin is oily at all, you’ll need this. These are quite a bit cheaper in Asia than in North America, so don’t worry about stocking up before going if you don’t already have some. Any moisturizer with SPF or facial sunscreen is likely going to make your face super shiny, so I’d apply it, blot, then finish with powder if necessary.
  12. Boarding passes; e-Tickets – I prefer to have these printed so you’re not scrambling on your phone to increase your brightness, switch screens, fish it out of the security scanning bins, etc. Keep a folder for all your printed information.
  13. Body wash – unless you prefer body soap, which I do.
  14. Books – is there anything more relaxing than reading on a beach? 🙂 They also do help with loooong flights and layovers – I finished my first book on our first flight of 14 hours and 45 minutes.
  15. Bras – pack based on your wardrobe. Make sure you bring strapless/stick on bras if your outfits necessitate, but don’t bother bringing too many. In beachy/touristy destinations, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear bikini tops instead, and can be more comfortable, easier to wash and dry and will help you keep under your luggage allowance for when you take domestic flights that only allow 15-20 lbs of carry on luggage.
  16. Bug spray – bring a smaller bottle (less than 100 ml) so you can keep these in your carry on.
  17. Camera, charger, cords – unless you don’t take a lot of photos or have a huge memory card, you’re probably going to need to transfer your photos onto a laptop. Even if you don’t, it’s probably a good idea that you do in the unfortunate event that your camera gets lost or stolen.
  18. Cards – Playing cards, Monopoly Deal, etc. all help pass the long flight times.
  19. Cash – You may want to travel with your native currency and only exchange as needed so you don’t get stuck with excess foreign currency. Don’t forget to keep enough for any departure taxes!
  20. Cell phones, chargers
  21. Chapstick – I found this a lot less necessary than here in Canada since it’s so humid, but still nice to have regardless.
  22. Cologne
  23. Conditioner – If you’re particular about your brand of shampoo and conditioner, I would advise packing enough for your entire trip. My mom thought I was silly for packing such large bottles… until we saw how expensive shampoo and conditioner were in Singapore! Having enough on hand ensures you don’t overpay and that you don’t waste time on your vacation looking for something that may be harder to find abroad.
  24. Cotton pads – used for toner and nail polish remover.
  25. Credit cards and debit cards – don’t forget to advise your credit card companies that you’re travelling. Bring at least 2 just in case one stops working or is lost/stolen, and check with your bank about withdrawing cash overseas. Most places in Singapore take credit card, but most places in Malaysia, Philippines and Bali took cash only.
  26. Deodorant
  27. Dresses – if you are planning to get out at night or have any special occasions, don’t forget to pack accordingly. Sun dresses are great everyday attire, especially flowy cotton ones, as they keep you a lot cooler.
  28. Dry shampoo – I didn’t bring this because I just didn’t feel clean without a full shower after the mucky humid weather, but some people don’t like washing their hair everyday.
  29. Ear plugs – if you’re travelling with someone who snores and/or are a light sleeper, these may save your trip and be the difference between no and great sleep!
  30. Earphones – some airlines still do provide these, but they are not going to be as great quality as the ones you can bring from home.
  31. Electric converter – check out your destinations prior to travelling to determine if this is necessary.
  32. Eye drops
  33. Eye mask – These weren’t provided in the seat back pockets in any of the 12 flights we took, so make sure you bring your own! I don’t know if they’re provided upon request, so better to be safe.
  34. Face wash
  35. Face wipes – In the heat, it was really nice to be able to use a face wipe! Just be sure to pack your sunscreen with you so you can reapply as needed. I got two packs of St. Ives Blemish Fighting Cleansing Clothes before we left, and although my mom didn’t like the feeling of “residue” after using one, I much preferred it over the sweat it cleaned away, and the pimples that might have surfaced instead!st-ives-naturally-clear-blemish-fighting-cleansing-cloths-with-witch-hazel-32-cloths-600x600
  36. Febreeze – This was on my list but I couldn’t find a suitable travel container, but I sure regretted not bringing this! This would have been great to freshen up clothes between washings.
  37. First aid kit – Hopefully you won’t need this but it’s always prudent to have on hand, especially if you’re travelling to a country where you’re not sure these items will be readily available.
    1. Bandages
    2. Pain medication (Advil, Tylenol, etc.)
    3. Cold/Flu medication – all 8 of us travelling ended up getting sick at one point or another, so be sure to have this on hand!
    4. Dressings
    5. Disinfectant
    6. Elastic bandage (sprains)
    7. Antiseptic products
    8. Antibiotic ointments
    9. Burn dressing
    10. Hand sanitizer
    11. Gloves
    12. Scissors
    13. Tweezers
    14. Thermometer
    15. Flashlight
  38. Flip flops, sandals – I ended up finding a great pair of Beverly Hills Polo Club sandals in Singapore for ~$40. Similar to Birkenstock, I was nervous that these were just a cheap pair of knock offs, but after many long days of walking in them and zero back and foot pain, I can tell you that these are the most comfortable sandals bp sandalsI’ve ever owned! Do be sure, however, to also pack actual flip flops. I ran out of space and really regretted not packing them as it wasn’t fun washing leather sandals after beach days.
  39. Floss picks
  40. Goggles
  41. Gravol – if you experience motion sickness, make sure you pack plenty of these as you may need them for plane rides, boat rides, winding and bumpy car rides…
  42. Gum – is banned from being sold in Singapore, although tourists are allowed to bring small amounts in for consumption. Just be sure not to spit it out anywhere unless you want to be slapped with a big fine! no gum sing
  43. Hair clips, hair ties
  44. Hair dryer – you probably won’t need this given the heat if you’re fine air drying your hair.
  45. Hair serum, wax
  46. Hand sanitizer – be sure to bring lots as many public bathrooms do not have soap (and some don’t even have a sink!)
  47. Heels – if you have any occasions requiring formal attire, don’t forget your heels!
  48. Hiking shoes – we hiked up Mount Batur in Indonesia, an active volcano. It was exhausting, it was worth it, but it is definitely advisable that you do the trek in hiking boots! My brother had no room to pack anything other than water shoes, and he felt every single pebble the two hours up and two hours down…
  49. House keys – don’t forget these; you’ll need to get back into your house after your one month vacation 😉
  50. Immodium – you’re travelling to foreign destinations where food handling and sanitation standards may not be the same as what we’re used to in Canada. Don’t be surprised if you have several bouts of diarrhea (sorry!) but keep lots of immodium close by to help manage it.
  51. Inflatable water rafts – this is on my packing list for every beach destination. Of course, we didn’t have room for them, but I sure wish we had them in Boracay, Philippines!
  52. Insurance certificates – have copies of your insurance certificates handy: your credit cards, travel insurance, trip insurance, medical insurance, etc.
  53. iPad and charger
  54. Jacket – it does get chilly indoors, so make sure you pack at least one jacket.
  55. Jewelry – ladies, don’t forget your earrings, bracelets, necklaces, whatever, but I’d caution against travelling with the real stuff to avoid being made an easy target. Costume jewelry is fine though.
  56. Laptop and charger – especially if you’re going to want to transfer photos/videos off your camera! Just be sure you have the appropriate wall adapters and electricity converters.
  57. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets – you may find yourself running out of clothes and laundry detergent may not be easily accessible depending on where you’re staying. Pack some with you to wash undergarments, bathing suits, socks, etc. between laundry loads. Also be aware that in some places (e.g. Indonesia), they may not wash women’s underwear, or certain types of women’s underwear (e.g. I’ve heard of some women in the Philippines having their laundry rejected because there were thongs present!)
  58. Loofah
  59. Lotion
  60. Make up
  61. Medication, Vitamins – bring enough for your entire trip, and then some. Also bring prescriptions just in case you need to refill them abroad.
  62. Mousse – if you have wavy/curly hair and manage your hair using mousse, make sure you bring enough for your entire trip! I didn’t see any comparable products in any of the shops I browsed. Just be aware that you will need to check your luggage in to bring this with you.
  63. Mouthwash – my mom scoffed at my 1L bottle, but when we saw how much mouthwash cost in Singapore, she laughed no more! Get it on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for $1.99, pack smaller travel bottles under 100 ml and you’ll thank yourself multiple times.
  64. Music – if you want to drown out the airplane sounds and don’t like the music provided on board, I’d suggest uploading a few (or a lot) of albums on your phone prior to departure. We ran out of time, and I regretted it.
  65. Nail clipper
  66. Nail file
  67. Nail polish
  68. Nail polish remover
  69. Neck pillows
  70. Notebook and pen – keep this handy in your purse or backpack to quickly jot down important details.
  71. OHIP cards – or whatever your provincial health cards are. Don’t forget your medical benefits cards also if you have any.
  72. Pants – loose flowy cotton ones are comfortable, airy and also sold almost everywhere we went in Asia.
  73. Passports – and any Visas you may require for the countries you’re visiting.
  74. Pens/pencils
  75. Pepto Bismol
  76. Perfume
  77. Pimple cream – if you have sensitive skin, you may find yourself breaking out more with the additional sun exposure and sweat.
  78. PJs
  79. Plastic bags – great for packing dirty items like laundry, wet bathing suits, shoes, etc.
  80. Ponchos
  81. Portable battery charger – these were lifesavers! Charge them overnight in your hotel and bring them with you to ensure you have enough battery life in your phones/cameras to last all day.
  82. Portable speakers – on my list but didn’t bring, but would have been nice at our villa in Bali!
  83. Q-tips
  84. Retainers – if you were unfortunate enough to have had to wear braces/aligners.
  85. Running shoes
  86. Sanitary supplies
    1. Panty liners
    2. Pads
    3. Tampons – they may not sell these everywhere, so if you’re expecting a period, make sure you pack plenty! I know these are extremely difficult, if not impossible to find in the Philippines, but I’m not sure about Indonesia and Malaysia.
  87. Sewing Kit
  88. Shampoo
  89. Shavers
  90. Shaving cream
  91. Shirts
  92. Shorts
  93. Shower cap
  94. Snacks
  95. Snore guard
  96. Snorkels
  97. Soap bar
  98. Socks
  99. SPF moisturizer
  100. Sunglasses
  101. Sunscreen – pack big bottles of sunscreen, and empty travel bottles to pack them in for smaller trips.
  102. Sweatshirts – I only brought 2 but wished I had more! Some of the airports were freezing and since they aren’t easy to wash by hand, I sometimes either had to wear a dirty sweatshirt or none at all.
  103. Swimming suits – I would pack plenty of these, since bikini tops can be worn instead of bras, especially in beachy destinations. Pack enough so that if you wear 2 a day (one in the morning, then one for the evening), you’ll have enough so that even if you wash them by hand, they’ll be dry by the time you’ll need to wear them next.
  104. Tissue packs – most eating establishments did not provide napkins, so bring your own tissues.
  105. Toilet paper – most public toilets did not provide TP! Some are squatting toilets and some don’t have a sink to wash your hands in after, so be well prepared!
  106. Toiletry bag
  107. Toner
  108. Toothbrushes
  109. Toothpaste – pack 2 smaller tubes (less than 100 ml) and you should have enough for 2 for the entire month.
  110. Towels
  111. Trip itinerary
  112. Tweezers – if you have unruly eyebrows like mine 😦
  113. Umbrella – may not be necessary if you pack ponchos also.
  114. Underwear – make sure you pack enough of these so you have enough to rotate if there are no laundry facilities available and you have to wash them by hand!
  115. USB
  116. Watch – preferably a waterproof one
  117. Water bottles – fill these up before day trips; you’ll need lots of water in that scorching heat!
  118. Water shoes – great for rocky beaches, boat trips, snorkeling trips, etc.
  119. Wet wipes – Since most bathrooms don’t have toilet paper, keep plenty of wet wipes on you! It’ll help you feel cleaner between showers too.

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