Travel

What I Packed for Six Months Abroad as a Solo Female Traveler

One of the most commonly asked questions I get from my viewers: What did you pack for your long-term travel?

Last year I embarked on a six-month journey in Asia, starting from South Korea and zig-zagging between Singapore, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. I stayed a month or more in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Korea. While there are many other Asian countries to see,  the ones I visited were due to a wedding, reuniting with family, resolving unfinished business and so forth. The duration in each country depended largely on my budget. The dollar stretches in Thailand while Singapore does just the opposite.


STRATEGY FOR PACKING LIGHT

Depending on the country and season you visit, your needs will differ. I chose to begin my trip in Northeast Asia during August to avoid the chilly winter. From Seoul, I flew to Bangkok. Southeast Asia is generally warmer and more humid year-round, so it was easy to pack light. Summer clothes take up less space and also weigh less than winter attire.

If I had traveled to Seoul during the winter, I would have worn a thick coat and boots onto the plane to avoid buying a bigger bag. In January, I visited Taiwan to attend my friends’ wedding. It was chilly. On my first full day in Taipei, I went shopping for a jacket at the Xinmending Shopping District. Don’t be afraid of packing minimal. You can pick up clothes and other essentials as you go. Besides, how cool is it to come back home with clothes from around the world? I still wear my harem pants from Bali on the hot summer days of California and think of the places I went with them, like the temple below 🙂

A post shared by Miss Mina Oh (@missminaoh) on

WHICH IS BETTER: CARRY-ON OR CHECK-IN?

I brought with me two main bags: one for tech, and the other for my clothes and toiletry. The third bag was small for daily outings. In the beginning of my trip, I was able to take all my belongings as carry-on. Size and weight limitations vary by airline, so be sure to check for updates. While Asiana allows 22 pounds for carry-on, other airlines may limit passengers to 11 pounds. That’s 50% less!

As my trip progressed, I noticed my shoulders would develop red marks from carrying my main bag, especially when walking around the airport. I started to check my main bag in. I personally don’t mind waiting to pick up my baggage from the carousel. It’s an opportunity to people-watch and get in conversation with other travelers 🙂


CHOOSE YOUR CLOTHES WISELY

I packed my older clothes, particularly ones that were acceptable to be stained or stolen. I also suggest packing clothes that are easy to clean by hand. Depending on your accommodation, you may or may not have access to a washer/dryer. In Vietnam and Bali, laundry services are affordable (more pricey in touristy areas), but they won’t always separate your colors from whites. Keep in mind that your clothes have a risk of getting stained and they may get mixed with another customer’s load. Both situations happened to me. A stranger’s sock got into my washed and dried load in Saigon. Packing only colored clothing is advised. I took a risk and packed white tanks nonetheless. If you are a messy eater, they become a canvas! The longer your trip, it is inevitable you’ll retire a couple pieces.


DO THIS AND YOU’LL THANK YOURSELF

Even if you decide to check your bags in, packing light will make travel easier. There have been times I booked an Airbnb with five flights of stairs–once in Taiwan, one in South Korea. The buildings did not have an elevator. This was not mentioned in the description. I had to carry all my bags up. Imagine if I had brought two huge suitcases weighing 50 pounds each! And what are you going to do if they don’t fit in your room or take up too much space?


REMEMBER: YOUR BAG WEIGHS, TOO!

What is the weight difference between these two?

The hard-case luggage on the left weighs 17.2 pounds while the bag on the right weighs 0.35 pounds. That’s over 16 pounds in difference! Of course, each bag comes with its pros and cons. In terms of carry-on friendliness, the bag on the right wins. The hard-case luggage allows for smooth transportation without adding additional burden on your body. Depending on the quality of materials used, the case may crack, rip or endure. In the end, the better bag is the one that fulfills your needs. Some travelers opt for minimal packing, sacrificing fashion. Others must wear the trendiest clothes and pack their shoe collection. Depending on the mission of your trip, pack accordingly.


WHAT EXACTLY DID I PACK?

The following list is what I packed for six months of traveling in Asia. The items in italic were bought during the trip and/or purchased to replace another item. I compiled this list midway my trip. At this point, I had visited South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Main Bag: The structure is light and flexible, making it carry-on friendly. I used the two zippered side pockets for storing liquids and socks. There’s another zipper pocket on the back. The front pocket became non-usable as it flapped opened easily. My toiletry bag fit inside perfectly.



Puma Backpack: Contains a lot of pockets inside and is carry-on friendly. It housed my laptop and other electronics. The more expensive the tech, be sure to take it with you on the plane. Warning: Many passengers get their gadgets stolen when checking them in!



Daily Outing Bag: A dark-colored bag helps camouflage any stains, especially those made from slurping noodles. This particular style has many pockets inside, ideal for storing a camera, batteries and other accessories. I recommend refraining from carrying brand name purses as they may attract unwanted attention (ie: thieves).


  

TOILETRY BAG (click here)
+ second pair of glasses
+ tweezers for eyebrow and armpit
+ electronic toothbrush
+ tongue scraper
+ floss
+ nail cutter
+ earplugs
+ hair ties
+ headband
+ hairbrush
+ feminine products (ie: pads, tampons, pantyliners)
+ Q-tips (from hotel)
+ extra floss sticks for day bag (bought in Korea)
+ razor with soap (bought in Thailand)
+ nail polish (bought in Korea)
+ facial masks (bought in Korea)
+ acne patch (bought in Korea)
+ bandages (bought in Bali)
+ two small bars of soap (from previous hotels)
+ one-time use shampoo/conditioner (some Airbnbs I stayed at did not provided essentials)

MAKEUP:
+ bareMinerals matte foundation
+ bareMinerals warmth
+ foundation brush
+ blush brush
+ eyebrow pencil (bought in Korea)
+ liquid eyeliner (bought in Korea)

 

CARRY-ON LIQUIDS BAG (click here)

+ primer
+ BB cream
+ Stila concealer
+ toothpaste
+ mini toothpaste for day bag
+ makeup remover by Face Shop
+ insect repellent
+ sunscreen (bought in Korea)
+ toner (bought in Korea)
+ lotion (bought in Korea)
+ clay mask (bought in Korea and Bali)

CLOTHES:
+ three jeans
+ four casual button-down shirts
+ two bras
+ two pajama shorts
+ one pajama shirt
+ eight undies
+ Uniqlo ultra light down jacket
+ six tanks (my white tanks got destroyed from stains, so replaced them with colorful ones)
+ harem pants (bought in Bali)
+ one slightly fancy shorts (bought in Chiang Mai)
+ one skirt for special occasions (bought in Korea)
+ one blouse for special occasions (bought in Korea)

ACCESSORIES:
+ one pair of flip flops
+ one pair of sneakers (I wore them on flights to save space in my bags)
+ short-term use indoor slippers (from hotel in Indonesia)
+ nine pairs of socks (bought some from Korea and Vietnam)
+ one thin scarf (bought in Vietnam)
+ one pashmina scarf (bought in Thailand)
+ one pair of earrings (gift from friend in Bali)
+ one pair of high heels (from Bali)
+ two foldable bags (from Bali and Thailand)

TECH (as a vlogger, the following items were essential to me):
+ laptop
+ laptop charger
+ vlogging camera
+ vlog camera charger
+ extra camera battery
+ extra memory card for camera
+ earphones
+ selfie stick
+ convertor
+ USB cords & charger
+ two external hard-drives (I brought a third one, but mailed it home to secure a portion of my footage)
+ anti-static bags (bought in Korea and used to securely send my third external hard-drive by mail)
+ mouse (my first one broke, so I bought a replacement in Thailand)

OTHER:
+ copy of passport in each bag
+ copy of traveler’s insurance
+ microfiber towel
+ anti-diarrheal pills
+ Pepto-Bismol
+ Motrin
+ measuring tape
+ my vision board
+ book
+ flask (gift from my gift in Indonesia)
+ postcards & postcard envelope (bought from various countries)

Last but most definitely not least: REMEMBER TO PACK YOUR PASSPORT!

Feel free to pack with me in my newest video:

If you have any questions, let me know in the comment section below! I’ll do my best to answer and add more detailed information to this post. Safe travels!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Nidhi
    November 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Perfect !
    You’ve made such a precise list of things !
    I love love love your vlogs on YouTube ! You make me fall in love with Seoul everytime I watch your video 😍😘
    Thank you Mona 😄

  • Reply
    Carrie Veatch
    April 13, 2018 at 2:46 am

    This is fantastic! I just found you and this is hugely helpful! I live in Korea currently but am taking off for full time travel from here next month, so your list is extremely helpful. Thank you!

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