What to Pack for an Overseas Trip

Mike and I are currently in the air on our first trip overseas! I thought it would be fun and helpful to put together a post on everything we packed.  We put a lot of thought into what we packed because we’re going to three different destinations and need to prepare for slightly different climates and activities at each location.  So, here’s what we prepared for:

Singapore (~4 days) – normal clothing for 90+ humid weather; we’ll be doing a lot of walking around, but want to dress nicely to fit in this fashionable city

Thailand (~4 days) – active clothing for 80+ humid weather; we’ll be biking, kayaking, and riding elephants, so clothing that can get dirty is a must!

Malaysia (~3 days) – Kevin’s wedding – ’nuff said

And this is what we packed:

Medications/ Vaccinations

The first thing we did to prepare for this trip was get our shots and necessary medications for the locations we were going to.  Singapore is pretty safe and very clean, but Thailand has a ton of mosquitoes and there’s the potential for disease from contaminated water/ food, and many of the same concerns apply to Malaysia.  We got hepatitis A vaccinations before travel and pills for typhoid (taken before the trip) and malaria (taken a few days before going to Thailand and while in the country).  I recommend checking out the CDC’s Travel website and reviewing the vaccination and prevention recommendations for the country to which you’re traveling.  Travel clinics are also great sources for information and obtaining the shots/ medications you’re looking for (normal doctor’s offices may not carry vaccinations for diseases not common in the US).  We also made sure that we had a recent tetanus shot, just in case.

We also brought along enough medications to stock a small pharmacy! We definitely over-packed here, but we felt that we would rather be over-prepared than allow something preventable to ruin our trip.  In addition to basics like ibuprofen and bandaids/antibiotic ointment, we also brought:

Bug bite remedies for those dreaded mosquitoes! We opted for a Benadryl spray and a few roll-on treatments

Motion sickness medication (Mike does not do well on boats, and we plan to ride at least one in Thailand) – we brought Dramamine, a Sea-Band from Amazon, and got a prescription for a Scopolamine patch from the doctor.  Hopefully one of those does the trick

Sleep aids for this insomniac! I find that the VitaMelts melatonin tablets work really well for me

Upset stomach relief – we plan to be very careful in Thailand (eat only cooked foods, no unpeeled fruit), but just in case…we brought along some Pepto-Bismol chewables, anti-diarrheal medication, and we got an antibiotic from the doctor to be used in severe cases of traveler’s diarrhea

Jet Lag remedy – I’ve never tried “No Jet Lag” before, but I have a coworker who swears by it, so we’ll be trying it out on our inter-continental flights!

Here are just a few of medications we packed:

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Weather/ Climate Preparedness

Bug repellant – I like wipes for their portability – I can just toss a few in my purse if we need to re-apply. I bought the kind with Deet and another kind with Picaridin, which are two of the chemicals that repel bugs best. Mike also bought a spray bottle of Permethrin, which is a substance you spray on your clothing and results in a very high level of protection.  It came with some scary-looking warnings all over (it’s highly toxic to cats, for a start), and I plan to dispose of it as soon as possible!

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sunscreen

umbrellas – always a good idea, but we will be traveling close to monsoon season, so these are essential

Clothing and Shoes

We packed as lightly as possible since we plan to do laundry in Thailand.  I brought:

– several t-shirts, two cardigans, and a sweatshirt

– a few shorts, 1 pair of jeans

– a few athletic tops, two running shorts, capris (for biking)

– nice dress for the wedding, two casual dresses

– bathing suits and a cover-up for the beach/ water activities. The left is from Old Navy, the middle is a Badgley Mischka one piece from Nordstrom (like this one here) bought on sale a few years ago, and the right is an Athleta bikini bought on sale this year

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– underwear and socks

– pajamas – I always forget these somehow

– shoes: flip flops, running sneakers, and nice sandals

– bags: I tend to pack too many bags, and this vacation was no exception.  I brought along a large tote for travel, a small Kate Spade cross body for the wedding and nice meals/ events, and a nylon medium-size cross body purse that I don’t mind getting dirty for everything else

Stuff for the Plane Ride

Here’s what we brought to survive 40+ hours in the air (it’s about 20 hours one way from LA to Singapore!):

Entertainment – while we will be able to watch movies on the plane’s entertainment system, we also brought along a few Korean dramas downloaded onto a laptop.  Those along with a pack of cards and Uno should help us pass the time!

Sleep aids – we will need to sleep in the air, so we packed eye masks, neck pillows, ear plugs (screaming babies, anyone?), and melatonin.  Hopefully these, along with the Jet Lag remedy, will help us to land somewhat rested and ready to have fun!

Comfort – I find that wearing a long scarf helps immensely with temperature control on flights, and I’ll be wearing comfortable long pants and a sweater.  In addition, I plan to pull on compression socks to prevent swelling from all that sitting, and a small travel foot rest in case my feet don’t touch the floor.  Being 5′ 1″, this sometimes happens and is very uncomfortable for even a short period of time.  On the flip side, I’ve never had a problem with leg room, so there’s that.

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{Scarf from H&M, Kuhi Comfort neck pillow from Amazon, and Pro Compression socks}

Personal Care Items – I’ve done the long plane ride thing to Korea before, and I find that it really helps to have a few items on hand to freshen up and to combat the dry air of the plane.  I’m bringing face wash and a small square towel, toothpaste (and a toothbrush), mouthwash, hand sanitizer and wipes, contact fluid and case, eye drops, evian mist (seems to help my skin in the air), lotion, lip balm, and tissues.  Best of all, it all fits into the 1 quart ziploc bag required by the FAA!

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Snacks and Water – they’ll be feeding us on board the aircraft, but we packed a few granola/nut bars to tide us over between meals.  Friends, if you travel at all, I highly recommend getting a Brita bottle! I just fill it up at a water fountain before we board and we have great-tasting water that didn’t cost an arm and a leg from an airport convenience kiosk.  Word of warning – a Brita bottle or any other normal filtered water bottle is NOT sufficient for purifying contaminated water in third world countries.

Everything Else

– Passports and IDs, printed itinerary with important phone numbers

– Cameras – we’re bringing a single-use underwater camera along with our new camera!

– Toiletries and minimal makeup/ jewelry

Other Things to Consider When Traveling Abroad:

Will you get an international phone, international data plan, or buy a calling card? We were thinking about adding a global data plan to our phones for navigation purposes, but decided it wasn’t really necessary since we have wifi in the hotel room.  We plan to carefully plan out where we’re going in the morning each day and leave 3G/4G off on our phones.  We have the option to make international calls on our Verizon plan, but at over $2 a minute, we’ll be keeping phone calls to an absolute minimum.

How will you get around? Will you/ can you rent a car or use public transportation? Singapore has a great public transportation system, so we’ll be making full use of that, and using taxis in Thailand and Malaysia.  Simple enough, we hope!

Clean out your fridge/trash before you go.  Self-explanatory.

Have the post office hold your mail.  I do this for any trips longer than a week, and it’s very easy to set up a mail hold online.  They can deliver all the mail when you come back, or you can choose to pick it all up at your local post office.

What will you do about money? I found this article about how to travel abroad with money/ credit cards very helpful.  We called our banks and credit card companies to let them know that we’d be traveling abroad, and to ask about transaction fees for using debit cards/ credit cards internationally.  We’ll be using credit cards as much as possible, and withdrawing cash from ATMs as necessary.

Okay, this was a beast of a post! I hope you found some of the tips useful.  What are some of the things you do to prepare for a long trip? Any tips on what to pack?

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One thought on “What to Pack for an Overseas Trip

  1. Sister J

    You didn’t include anything about fasting/not drinking before a plane ride….I thought everyone did that. :). But have a safe flight and a wonderful time!! x

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