Packing List for a 6 Month Trip to Asia & Australia

Australian Koala

Take the flip flops, leave the koala?

Packing for my first long-term trip is overwhelming. How am I supposed to reduce the contents of a two-bedroom apartment into a suitcase and backpack?

My normal packing M.O. is to wait until 11 p.m. the night before I leave to start thinking about packing and, wait a minute, do I need to do a load of laundry? I can always squeeze a few extra outfits in my luggage, because my “carry on” suitcase isn’t really carry on. Measuring in at 12 inches x 16 inches x 22 inches, my suitcase hasn’t been considered carry on in a hundred years, if ever.

Yes, my poor little suitcase (well, actually not so little) is nowhere near the carry on size requirement of 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, but I’ve had pretty good success bringing it onto US flights. I’ve only gotten a snide remark once when a guy from TSA called me *ahem* my bag a “wide load.” But on a trip to France, they were less than impressed and forced me to check it. I’m expecting Asia to be strict as well, so I’m going to need a new suitcase AND a new packing style.

Since we’ll be staying in hostels, some people recommend a massive backpacker’s backpack. I just can’t bring myself to go that far. Instead, I’m going to make the attempt with a standard sized carry on suitcase and a regular backpack.

But once I find the right suitcase, how do I pack for a trip like this? What do I take, and what do I leave? There’s a lot of advice out there, and as a Type A Traveler, I reviewed (only) a couple dozen blogs for their recommendations and how-tos. The general consensus seems to be: Less is more, but bring bug spray.

Here’s what I’m planning to pack. (Emphasis on planning. Eek fingers crossed!)


  • 7 tops (5 t-shirts & 2 tank tops; 1 should be “dressy”)
  • 1 long-sleeve sun shirt
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 dress & 1 skirt
  • 1 scarf
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras (1 sports bra)
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair of long underwear
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of shoes: sneakers, flats, flip flops (for the shared showers. Livin’ it college style)
  • Sun hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Pajamas
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Contacts (dailies) and solution
  • Spare glasses
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Hair brush and hair ties
  • Razor
  • Feminine products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Nail clippers and nail file
  • Meds (Malaria pills, etc.)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Small packs of tissue (sometimes for sneezing, sometimes for toilet paper)
  • Makeup (mascara, eyeliner, foundation, blush, lip balm)
  • Tweezers
  • Compact mirror
  • Sunglasses
  • Passport, copies of passport, extra passport photos (for visas)
  • Purse with wallet
  • List of immunizations
  • Prescription for glasses and contacts
  • Adapter
  • iPhone and charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Headphones and earbuds
  • Kindle and charger
  • 3 books, because honestly? They’re my security blanket. Don’t judge, it could’ve easily been triple that. When I’m done, I’ll leave them behind at a hostel for others to enjoy.
  • Deck of cards, so we can make friends
  • Headlamp. Apparently this is a thing, and I will not look like a weirdo. (This may be an elaborate prank by my husband.)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plastic bags for dirty laundry
  • Laundry soap sheets
  • TSA approved lock
Whew, I feel like I just solved a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that’s all flowers and seems impossible, but my Grandma could dominate like it was her Olympic sport. Packing for a 6-month trip should definitely be an Olympic sport.

2 thoughts on “Packing List for a 6 Month Trip to Asia & Australia

  1. As someone who lives overseas and has done several six month or longer stints I can assure you that headlamps are actually a thing. 🙂 I’d also recommend a travel towel, one of the quick drying ones–it can double as a blanket in desperate times (like sleeping in random places or when it is unexpectedly damn cold somewhere it’s supposed to be hot!!). Yes to the Ziplock bags–I buy some every time I come back to the US. I’d also recommend a small power bank to charge phones/kindles/cameras on the go. And bananagrams the game– you can use it to play scrabble, boggle or bananagrams itself (or any other word game you can come up with!). If you don’t already have a way to organize addresses for those who’ll want postcards, is super helpful. And finally I’d take a hand fan that folds up small that you can carry with you anywhere. It’s saved me maaaaaany times on long hot car/airplane/helicopter rides.

    • This is such great advice, Laura! I’m putting a travel towel and hand fan on my list now (as long as I can find space in my suitcase hahah). I packed a deck of cards, but bananagrams looks way more fun! Thanks for all the ideas 🙂

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