Updated: Oct 15, 2020
We compiled a list after months of traveling through Southeast Asia. Some items we were glad we brought, other items we wished we had, and some we even found and purchased abroad. The items on this list we highly recommend you purchase them before traveling! Merchandise is definitely cheaper in the United States, especially electronics! Not to mention the quality of the items purchased in southeast Asia can be very questionable!
1. Travel power adapter (all in 1)
This is a mandatory must buy! The voltages will vary around southeast Asia, and you never know when you will need an adapter. We often used the U.K. and EU adapters and it worked, it just depends on the country. In Vietnam it was a toss up, some places had the U.S. socket type and other places didn't. We used this adapter everywhere and our electronics were always ready to go.
United States - 120 volts
Andaman and Nicobar islands - 220 volts
Brunei - 240 volts. Electric appliances in Brunei can be used if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 volts (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa.)
Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore - 230 volts. Electric appliances in Myanmar can be used if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 volts (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa.)
Philippines - 220 volts socket type A, B, C
Thailand - standard 220 volts. Electric appliances in Thailand can be used if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 volts (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa.)
Timor-lest - 220 volts sockets types are C, E, F and I. You will also need a voltage converter.
Vietnam - 110/220 volts Socket type A, C, and D
Universal Travel Adapter, Iron-M All-in-one International Power Adapter with 2.4A Dual USB, European Adapter Travel Power Adapter Wall Charger for UK, EU, AU, Asia Covers 150+Countries
2. Power bank/Charge Packs
Having a power bank saved us so many times! Using google maps and looking up translations can eat up a lot of your mobile device's battery. It especially came in handy when the transportation we were using didn't have outlets, for instance, our overnight bus trips.
We were also able to attach our action camera directly to the power pack, while in use, which came in handy.
Anker 20100mAh Portable Charger PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad & Samsung Galaxy & More
3. Light weight laptop- ASUS Zenbook UX330A
The perfect laptop for the traveling digital nomad!
As traveling bloggers/vloggers, we opted to bring a computer with us. So, we invested in a lightweight, yet powerful computer. Weighing in at 1.2kg/2.4lbs and 13.5mm/0.53in, this quite beast can create videos and edit photos with little hassle with its i5 7th generation core processor. It is a sexy machine.
ASUS ZenBook Ultra-Slim Laptop, 13.3-inch Full HD, 8th gen Intel i5-8250U Processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Backlit keyboard, Fingerprint Reader, Anti-Glare, Windows 10, Grey, UX330UA-AH55
4. External hard drives (recommend 4TB or more)
Backing up your digital media is something we highly recommend. What would be sadder than realizing something happened to your digital photos from your trip and now they are lost forever. We made sure to back up all of our pictures from the digital camera and smart phone. It is recommended to have at least two of these (in case one gets damaged or just fails) if you are a digital nomad, or traveling photographer.
Some may say to "just use cloud" and store all of your photos and videos on the internet, however, a few snags might occur that makes the cloud method in southeast Asia not very viable nor convenient. Internet in these countries are still developing, and piping gigabytes of data is practically unfeasible. Not just the bandwidth and speed, but the overall reliability means your media may not successfully transfer. On top of that, internet may not be available overall. The time between capture and backup may entail data loss if your sd-card fails, or something over-writes your data, ... a plethora of SNAFUs can occur while traveling with data. A few external storage devices with large capacity (over 4 terabytes), in our opinion, is the safest and most viable option. Don't forget your zip-loc bags and padding (tissues, towel, etc.) for further protection!!!
Seagate Expansion 4TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEA4000400)
5. Flash drives (64G)
You never know when you will need more storage. Tip, it is way cheaper to buy these flash drives in the United States than in Southeast Asia. The SanDisk Cruzer Fit low profile is small and doesn't take up much space.
6. O-T-G (on the go) cable for cell phones
Quick access to the flash drives via phone, or to backup photos and videos we take on our mobile devices has proven handy in many occasions. You can hook up your flash devices or practically any USB device for data transfer.
HDMI cord (optional for TV displays)
Our Olympus Pen E-PL5 micro4/3 camera has been with us for years now and hasn't disappointed yet. This Camera coupled with the Panasonic Lumix prime lens (H-X025) further enhanced the quality of our images with its buttery color, great amount of light capture, and sweet bokeh.
Sony also has a Pen E-PL9 and Pen E-PL10 out. If you're able to snag the Pen E-PL5 model, then we'd recommend it. However, the newer models do include a few bells and whistles quality of life features, e.g. WiFi transfer, GPS, etc.
We recommend micro 4/3 cameras due to their small frame, light weight, and amazing performance. These types of cameras are DSLRs without the mirror box inside. You won't regret the performance-to-weight ratio these cameras offer.
Olympus Pen E-PL5
Here our some pictures taken with our Pen E-PL5.
Check out our stock photography for more camera pictures!
8. Sony Action Camera
If you are planning on taking some videos this is the portable action camera to purchase. The newest Sony FDRX3000 has an internal stabilizer that makes the shots smooth.
This year we decided to up our videos from the Sony Action Camera AS15 to the FDR-x3000 with Balanced Optical Steady Shot stabilization. Yes, you read that right, Optical stabilization meaning not mere digital stabilization which high end smartphones and mediocre action cams, like the GoPro utilizes, but an actual physical gimbal within the camera that provides exceptional stability. This action camera also provides 4K 30p recording, but we are sticking with 1080p HD 60p for the majority of our videos.
9. Stabilizer (optional for cinematography)
Want stable footage? An external stabilizer will go a long way. However, consider it's weight and if it is practical for your type of travel (e.g. backpacking vs a quick visit).
10. Endless hours of entertainment
There will be times where there is nothing to do, or just killing time at a bus station. There will also be times of mobile data, WiFi, and internet connection are unavailable, meaning no connection to the first world. Having the kindle on this trip was great, endless hours of reading about the gunslinger chasing the man in black. Many times the TV in the hotel would have nothing on, the internet was non existent, so we would spend hours reading out loud, it was superb.
Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Newest Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, now waterproof with 2x the storage.
Audio books are also good ways to pass the time. Check out this deal for Audible and get two audio books free!
11. Headphone splitter
For those times when you want to share a song or movie with someone.
Daily Travel Items
1. Space Saver Bags Travel Storage Bags
*must have* space saver bags for your clothes! These air tight bags will save you precious space in your backpack.
2. Day Pack
*We highly, highly recommend using a day pack for carrying around your belongings. A day pack can fit everything you need, it's comfortable, it's portable, and it's durable. If you are concerned about safety I would keep the most important documents closer to your person. For example, Russ kept his wallet in a zippered pants pocket and Sam carried a small travel purse that held her wallet and both passports.
Matador day pack Sam used and loved!
Matador Packable Backpack Daypack, Daylite16L, Outdoor, Fishing, Bike Riding, Hiking, Camping
Russ's day pack from Tortuga that withstood it all!
Tortuga Travel Day Pack -20 L (discontinued)
We would also recommend the Osprey Ultralight Stuffpack, great brand that is durable and sleek.
3. Water proof bags for storage (ziplocs, dry bags)
Perfect for bringing your personal belongings with you and protecting them from the elements. These came in handy when kayaking and visiting beaches.
4. Mosquito net
Southeast Asia has mosquitoes and sometimes they will accompany you at the place you're staying at. Sleep worry free with this mosquito net keeping the mosquitoes, as well as other insects away.
5. Microfiber quick dry towel
Heads up, some hotels/hostels/guesthouses may not provide towels. Or if they do, the cleanliness of the towel may be questionable. These microfiber towels didn't take up a lot of room in our backpacks. They were easy to wash, dried fast and were soft.
Microfiber Towel - 2 Pack Travel& Sports Towel, Quick Drying, Lightweight, Ultra Absorbent, Compact for Fitness, Camping, Backpacking, Beach, Yoga, Pilates, Gym, Bath, Shower
6. Tent Hammock
Optional, but also very handy! There were multiple times we laid back in a hammock and just relaxed. Sometimes you may want to go camping, other times just lounge at a beach or in the mountains.
Lost Valley Premium Camping Hammock with Rain Fly, Mosquito Net, Tree Straps - Hammock Bundle - Protection from Bugs in Jungle - Lightweight, Tear Resistant Parachute Nylon - Made for Hammock Camping
7. Darn Tough Socks
The best socks! Our feet were kept cool, comfortable, and dry with these Darn Tough socks. They are durable, we hiked and walked all the time, and they lasted. The socks are made of wool, and it actually keeps your feet cool and padded. Not to mention, it takes a while for these socks to really stink, meaning your feet smell and feel better for longer walks in practically any weather.
8. Something to do the laundry with (for the very budget backpacker)
We decided to do our laundry to save money. We brought a 3oz bottle with us to do our laundry and for any other times we may need a cleanser. It washed our laundry well, and came in handy if we needed soap and there was none.
An alternative to liquid soap concentrate would be a bar. Sometimes the accommodation we were at lacked a plug for the sink, so having a bar was necessary. We only found laundry bars in Malaysia and Taiwan.
See our other blog about packing for more suggestions on useful items to take on your adventure!
And for the woman traveler, check out Sam's blog post about The Female Traveler!
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