Backpacking Southeast Asia – Couples Carry-On Only Packing List 2023

-What we Packed for 12 Months-

Packing is by far the most stressful part of backpacking, it may not seem like it and you may be worried about a lot of other aspects but we can assure you, when you are out in Asia, stress disappears. After watching hours upon hours of packing videos and reading hundreds of packing lists, we still couldn’t work out what to take, so we mashed tips from that content and packed what we thought would be needed for our year long trip and more importantly fit in our quite small 35L bags (can be expanded to 45L but then is not carry-on). After over 3 months of travelling with just our carry on, we can comfortably say that we are more than happy with the packing list you will see below. So give it a read, take some tips and even do what we did, mix and match this packing list with other lists you can find to create your perfect packing list.

If you dont like reading, and want a quick form rundown of the clothing we both packed and fit into carry on, then check out the two videos below from our tiktok page ACoupleAbroad. If you prefer a more indepth list of everything we took and why, then scroll down!


Pack with me for a year long backpacking trip around Japan, South East Asia and Australia- CARRY ON ONLY 🫣😬 Little tip: Most of my clothes I got from @vinted, they are great quality and a fraction of the price when buying from a retailer! I also sold so much on there too which funded my bikini purchases from @na-kd #fyp #packwithme #packing #packmybackpackwithme #backpacking #backpack #peakdesign #travelwithme #travelcouple #backpackingcouple #femalepacking #clothes #packingtips #traveltips #backpackingtips #southeastasia #backpackingsoutheastasia

♬ Feel This Moment – Pitbull,Christina Aguilera

Pack with me for a year long backpacking trip around Japan, South East Asia and Australia CARRY ON ONLY 🫣😬 Main Tip that I have seen while researching recommendations and what to take for men is “travel boxers”. A form of underwear that will quick dry, not smell and fold up really small! After trying some @reebok ‘performance’ and @uniqloeurope ‘airism, I can say they are amazing! Also, the trackies and jumper are purely for transport days, from what we’ve seen, the local buses are freezing due to aircon so I am taking those to keep warm during those long 24 hour buses 😂 Check out the previous video for the female packing list with Kay! #fyp #packwithme #packing #packmybackpackwithme #backpacking #backpack #peakdesign #travelwithme #travelcouple #backpackingcouple #malepacking #malebackpacking #carryon #packingfortravel #clothes #packingtips #traveltips #backpackingtips #southeastasia #backpackingsoutheastasia

♬ As It Was – Harry Styles

The Travel Bags we Chose!

So, lets start of with arguably the most important object.. the bags themselves… below is a list of every bag or bag-related item we have taken.

  • Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L 
  • Peak Design Rainfly
  • Peak Design Shoe Pouch
  • Peak Design Wash Pouch
  • Peak Design Tech Pouch
  • Peak Design Packing Cube 1 x Small Each 1 x Medium Each
  • Peak Design Field Pouch V2
  • Peak Design Packable Tote Bag
  • Tropic Feel Cruiser Day Bag 20L

The only item in this list that we honestly wouldn’t recommend, is the Tropic Feel Cruiser, we had such high hopes for it after seeing other backpackers using it on their travels, but unfortunately it is the one item we have that has already broken. Less than 2 months of use and a significant tear happened on one of the straps, meaning it couldnt even be worn without risk that the whole strap would rip off making it borderline useless now. We contacted Tropic Feel and explained our situation and sent pictures of the bag, they agreed that the bag shouldnt have torn like that and gave us an exchange code for a new bag… however not only is the Cruiser not in stock for atleast another 2 months, but they also do not deliver to Southeast Asia, meaning we won’t be able to get a replacement on our travels. So a bag we specifically only brought for our backpackikng trip, broke within 2 months, and we cant get a replacement until we get back home after our travels are complete… We wouldnt feel comfortable recommending the bag to other travellers knowing what we have dealt with.

However it’s another story with Peak Design, the Travel Bags are thick and sturdy and we have had no issues so far even though they’ve been thrown around, grabbed, yanked and who knows what else during transport. 😂 The packing cubes are probably the only weak link, there’s not as many sizes as other brands, plus the dirty clothing section, although a good idea is kind off useless, you can barely fit 3 items of clothing in it. Everything else has been amazing though, and with the life time warranty they offer, we aren’t worried if something does happen as they just send out replacements to basically anywhere you are.

If you end up getting anything from Peak Design (we highly recommend it) then using this affiliate link would help us out a lot.

Kay’s Clothing (Female Packing List)

Here is the list of everything Kay took:

  • 8 x Underwear – Primark
  • 5 x Socks – Nike Dri-Fit 
  • 2 x Comfy Bras
  • 1 x Dress
  • 1 x Playsuit 
  • 1 x Linen Shirt
  • 4 x Sports Tops
  • 1 x Sports Bra
  • 1 x Thin Zip Up Hoodie
  • 1 x Leggings
  • 2 x Shorts
  • 1 x Skort
  • 1 x Sports Shorts
  • 1 x Linen Trousers
  • 1 x PJs
  • 8 x Tops / Crop Tops
  • 2 x Oversize T-Shirts
  • 5 x Bikinis – Na-kd
  • 1 x Swim Suit – Adanola 
  • 1 x Crocs (Her RIDE OR DIES 😂 ) 
  • 1 x Trail Running Shoes – Saucony Peregrines 12
  • 1 x Nice Sandals for Evenings
  • 1 x Cap – Nike
  • 1 x Down Jacket – Rab Women’s Microlight Down Jacket

The Rab down jacket may seem like a weird choice for an area of the world as hot as Southeast Asia, but after some research we found that people suggest hoodies/warm jackets for transport. In Asia basically all forms of transport blast the air-con, so it can get freezing, we found out pretty quickly on our overnight bus from Bangkok to Khao Sok that it gets really really cold. The down jackets were so nice to chuck on and stay warm during the 16 hours of transport, and we have used them basically every time we have been on long buses/ferries/vans. We recommend getting a micro type of jacket though, something that can be squished into a ball so it doesnt take up space in your bag. One regret Kay has is that she wishes she brought less tops and more sports bras, you get so sweaty out here with any activity that you want to wash the sports kit before reusing, so if you are an active person, bring a few different sports kits to rotate throughout the week.

Gage’s Clothing (Mens Packing List)

Here is a list of everything Gage took:

  • 8 x Quick Dry / Airism Boxers – Uniqlo + Columbia 
  • 4 x Trainer Socks – Primark
  • 3 x Socks – Nike Dri-Fit  
  • 4 x Tank Tops – Primark
  • 3 x Quick Dry Gym T-Shirts 
  • 5 x Thin Shirts – Primark
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Active Top
  • 1 x Thin Trackies – GymShark
  • 3 x Shorts – GymShark
  • 4 x Swimming Trunks 
  • 1 x Crocs 
  • 1 x Trail Running Shoes – Saucony Peregrines 12
  • 1 x Oofos Recovery Sandals
  • 1 x Cap – Patagonia Trucker
  • 1 x Down Jacket – Patagonia Down Jacket 

For guys, it sounds silly but ‘travel’ boxers are so beneficial. Gage got 8 pairs of boxers that are advertised as quick dry or travel, basically it just means they dry fast and are a material that can roll/fold up really small. 8 pairs took up the same space in the packing cube as 3 ‘normal’ pairs of boxers, so although they can be expensive, they are very recommended. If packing again Gage would also leave out the thin trackies, he packed them for temples as you need to cover knees and shoulders, but although cliche, the thai ‘elephant’ trousers are so much comfier and thinner. So save the space in your bag and just get trackies/trousers out here.


Here are all the accessories we brought with us:

We knew we would be snorkeling and diving a lot, so although a mask and snorkel can take up a lot of space, we knew we wanted to bring out own. We are so glad we did as most places rent them for around £3 a day… which obviously will add up very quickly and although you can buy them out here, we have found the quality to be very basic considering the cost. We also brought carabiners and these are a MUST, you will have stuff you can fit in your backpack and having the ability to just attach them to the outside is so useful. We got two dry bags for when we are swimming at the beach or on a boat trip and we have honestly used them both so many times, you can buy them out here, but they are much thicker and don’t fold away tiny like the SeatoSummit ones we have. The things we’ve used the most on this list are for sure the Dock & Bay towels, they somehow repel sand on the beach so we never have the hassle of cleaning sand out of our bags, and they fold up so small considering their size. If you like to lay at the beach or even just want a microfibre towel to dry off at hostels (they usually charge around £2 to rent a towel) then definitely grab a Dock & Bay towel.


Here is all the tech we brought:

  • iPad Pro
  • MacBook Pro 
  • Canon G7X II
  • GoPro 11 
  • Olympus OM10 35mm Film Camera
  • 14 Rolls of 35mm Film at Various ASAs 

This may seem a bit overkill to some people, but to us this is actually quite restricted 😂 . We left all of Gage’s professional camera gear at home and decided to just bring his 35mm film camera instead. This was not only to save weight and space in the backpack, but also to push the living in the moment feel, we didn’t want to always be trying to get the best shot and wanted to just experience each moment ourselves. We are so glad we did as not only have we got to fully take everything in without looking at an LCD screen, but we also love when we get the film developed and can look back at the old-school photos. The GoPro 11 was mainly for snorkelling and scuba diving and again we are so happy we brought it, not only does it give us the opportunity to look back at all the awesome marine life we see but it also takes up next to no space in our bag.


If you want a quick video seeing all the toiletries we packed and how then check out the TikTok below where Kay describes and shows everything!

A list of all items with some links of where we got them are below.

A little tip, if you are planning on getting travel vaccines, then head to Boots, pay for you vaccines and scan your reward card and accumulate a bunch of points. Nearly of of the toiletries we got were from Boots using points.

  • Bug Spray 
  • Roll on Deodorants
  • Perfume
  • Toothbrush with Holder
  • Toothpaste
  • Suncream
  • Face Suncream
  • Aftersun
  • White Tiger Balm (highly recommended)
  • Travel Buddy Soap Holder
  • Shampoo Bars
  • Soap Bar
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail File
  • Menstrual Cup
  • First Aid Kit
  • Antiseptic Cream
  • Ibuprofen Tablets
  • Anti-Diarrhea Tablets
  • Constipation Tablets
  • Travel Sickness Tablets

If you have any questions about what we packed, why we packed, how we feel now 3 months later then comment below or message us on one of our socials.

Please note that this page contains affiliate links. While we only recommend products that we believe in, we may benefit financially from any purchases you make.

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