Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

When you’re packing a small bag for a long trip, it can feel like the hardest level on Tetris! You want to make sure you have everything you’ll need, but without over-packing and ending up having to pay, either in extra charges from the airline or in back pain!

We’ve given you a sneak peek into our packing lists before, but here are some of our top tips on packing your own things efficiently.

Pre-plan

It’s so easy to pack too much, too little, or in some cases, just things you’ll never end up wearing. Make sure you check the weather forecast so you know what sort of things you should be packing, and also consider your itinerary.

If you’re planning lots of hikes, make sure you have the correct equipment, but if you’re also planning a fancy dinner or two, you’ll need dressier clothes as well. Make a list and tick off as you go so you can be sure you’ve got everything you need.

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Go mini

Travel-sized versions of your toiletries will save a lot of space in your suitcase and will ensure you can take them in hand luggage. For those that can’t be bought in those sizes, you can invest in some reusable travel bottles and decant your larger bottles into them. Make sure you put them in zip-top bags to avoid the devastating shampoo explosion! You should also be able to buy things such as a mini hair dryer or flat iron if you need to take those along with you.

Double up

If space is tight you don’t want to be packing one full outfit (or more!) per day. Think about things that can be re-worn and styled differently. For example, you could layer things for a different look, or dress something up or down depending on the shoes and accessories. This is even better if you have washing facilities where you’re staying as you can make a few items last a lot longer.  

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Cover your gadgets!

Good travel insurance will cover your gadgets, so if you’re planning on taking your tablets, cameras or laptops with you, it’s a good idea to look into what cover you can get. A trip will cost you a whole lot more if you end up losing your expensive bits of technology on the first day!

It’s best to limit the number of gadgets you take with you; consider what tech can be utilised in different ways, such as using your phone as a camera. Make sure you wrap up anything fragile in your clothes when packing, too.

Roll, don’t fold!

It has been proven that you can fit more in your case or bag if you go for a tightly rolled method, rather than folding your clothes. The other benefit to this is that your clothes won’t get those deep fold lines that often come from sitting in a case for a while.

So these are just some of our top tips on how to pack efficiently! Whether you are backpacking around the world or just going on a business trip, you can apply these and make the most of your space. We’ve certainly found that it’s a skill we get better at each time we do it! If you’ve got any tips for packing, please leave them in the comments.

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Backpacking Malaysia: A Guide for Easy Asia Travel

Backpacking Malaysia is great for easy Asia travel.  Easier than South America, easier than Thailand.  We traveled the length of the Malaysian peninsula from Malacca to Penang, Kuala Lumpur (KL) to the Perhentian Islands through the Cameron Highlands.  The people are friendly, welcoming, and excited to have you in their country.  The buses are clean with organized stations and the roads are smooth with minimal traffic, especially in the countryside.  The highlight of backpacking Malaysia was the food.  From Malay to Chinese to Indian, the cuisine is an amazing fusion of different cultures, living together in relative harmony.  Low food costs are easy for every budget traveler and in Malaysia you can get a full meal starting at $1.50 for a vegetarian banana leaf lunch.  Even though the government just added a tourist tax to all hotel rooms, Malaysia still has good deals for travelers on a budget.  We stayed in some of the nicest and most fun hostels of our lives, and our 15 days in the peninsula didn’t scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.

Pick a Route:backpacking malaysia easy asia travel

Picking a backpacking route though Malaysia is easy.  For a two week trip we would recommend starting in Singapore and working your way north from Malacca to KL, Cameron Highlands, Perhentian Islands, then back across to Georgetown, Penang.  If you have three weeks we would suggest adding Taman Negara National Park and Langkawi Island.  These are both trips along the standard backpacker trail, great for your first time in Malaysia.  Since Malaysia has much fewer tourists than Thailand, you will run into the same friendly faces as you go.  There was one lady on our trip that we ran into in at three different places on our adventure.  Of course there are many other parts of Malaysia worth exploring, mainly the jungles of Borneo where things are more wild.  On a four week trip we would suggest spending a week there getting off the tourist path.

Enjoy the Food:

backpacking malaysia easy asia travel

The food in Malaysia is easy and good for any backpacker’s budget. The most we “cooked” for ourselves in Malaysia was to peel a banana, maybe once.  The local markets are great places to pig out economically.  Check out the laksa, poh piah, mee koring, and nasi kandar.  Western style restaurants are there, but they are the most expensive and generally not as exciting as the local flavors.  Every city has a Chinese neighborhood and an Indian neighborhood.  Little India was always our favorite spot to eat, great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike!  For one meal I had seven different curries and spent a total of less than $3. For these reasons, Malaysia was my all time favorite country to eat in!

Stay in a Hostel:

Frame Guesthouse backpacking malaysia easy asia travel
The Frame lobby — a minimalist hostel in an old framemaker’s shop. Frame is a very zen/minimalist place with cedar ceilings and antique stairways. We really liked our private room here and stayed for three nights enjoying the AC and waterfall showers.

Backpackers will love Malaysia for the hostels which are cheap and easy to book online.  Sometimes they do fill up, especially in the busy season, so we suggest booking in advance.  They range in price and quality and there is a new 10 Ringgit tourist tax for every room.  Our favorites were the Lemongrass on Long Beach in the Perhentians, and Frame Guesthouse in Georgetown, Penang.  Prices range from $10 per night for a dorm bed, $15 for a beach bungalow, or $18 for private room with A/C.

Speak With the Locals:

Backpacking Malaysia is easier than other parts of Asia because most people can speak or at least understand English.  A majority of the signs are also in English and Malay, so you will never have a hard time finding your way around.  Malay also using the English characters so it’s easy to pick up a little bit along the way which always makes the locals appreciate you more.   Knowing few words like terima kasih (thank you) can get you a lot of respect points and make you look a little better than the average traveler.

 

When looking for easier Asia travel, backpacking Malaysia should be at the top of your list.  With top notch people, food, nature and adventure, and hostels, never ending aventuras await you in this tropical paradise!

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Like this post about backpacking Malaysia for easy Asia travel?  Check out our archives for never ending travel advice, reviews, and many stories of adventure in Malaysia!

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5 Things All Great Hostels Have In Common

oceanbeachhostel
USA Hostels Ocean Beach

While spending years traveling the world, we’ve stayed in a LOT of great hostels.  Sometimes we check out the trendy new ones, sometimes we try to save money and go bottom budget.  Besides the obvious necessities like cleanliness and safety, here are some things that make for great hostels:

1) Activities:

Hostel activities are the best way to make friends while traveling.  It is also usually the cheapest way to do the things that you want to do anyways.  These actives could be free yoga, beach bonfires, beer pong tournaments, surf lessons, language exchanges, exploring the market, or hiking adventures.  Some hostels go as far as to focus their whole marketing strategy around their actives, like Volcano Boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua

2) Free Breakfast

Not paying for that first meal is important to long term travel.  Some breakfasts are better than others but it’s nice to at least get some coffee, bread, and fruit.  The best breakfasts ever were at the Casas Particulares in Cuba where we one time were served 8 different types of fruit, in addition to bread, eggs, and cheese.

3) A Bar and Restaurant

Sometimes you just want to stay in and hang out with travelers.  Hostel bars are the best place to do that.  They provide an international vibe that some towns lack.  Sometimes the bar is the attraction itself, like Loki Hostels in South America or the Tipsy Tiger in Penang, Malaysia.

4) Chilling Areas

Comfortable places to meet new friends, use your laptop to advance your digital nomad dreams, and share stories of your adventures are a must.  These areas range from bean bag chairs, to hammocks, to comfy couches or soft green grass.  For places with dorms this is the area that most people will spend their time.  The swimming pool at Equity Point in Marrakech wins our vote for best chillin’ area.

5) Fast WiFi

Some countries just have terrible internet all over.  But sometimes the hostel gets cheap and goes for the internet package that wouldn’t load AIM in the 90’s.  You. must. have. fast. Wifi.  It’s so nice to be able to upload photos to Facebook or Skype your family back home in Ulakalakalakastan or wherever you’re from. Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok wins for fastest hostel WiFi ever.

6) Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff

You want tours, you want advice, you want someone who will laugh with you at your stupid mistake of waking up early to spend all of your money on taxis to the airport one day too early (oops). The staff should make you feel at home and help you have the best time possible.  By far the best staff we’ve met were at USA Hostels Ocean Beach, San Diego, California.

We know we said 5, but wasn’t 6 better?

Other things that make your stay better:

– Privacy curtains on dorm beds.

– Water refill station.

– No bed bugs.  Sometimes if places look grimy it’s better to just pay the extra $1 for no bed bugs.  Check out our post on how to remove bed bugs from your stuff.

– Free maps.

– Free earplugs (for the party hostels).

– Instagramable decor – you know you want to brag to your friends back home.

Sometimes in the end everything is not perfect, but sometimes those imperfections are what makes great hostels an experience.  I mean, you could have stayed in a hotel and gotten a good nights sleep. But after you go out with your new hostel best friends and dance on the bar until 6am, you never think “man, I wish I would have gotten a hotel and some sleep!”  Well sometimes you do, but that doesn’t make a very good story now, does it?

If you’re interested in finding some good places to stay, check out our HOSTEL REVIEWS page and get out there on your own aventura!  What important in great hostels to you?  We’d love your feedback!

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