Because of the often difficult modes of transportation from the city to my hometown in Siquijor, I have always packed my bags light because I need to carry them myself. Our provincial transportation is as rough as you can get that sometimes we sit with chickens and pigs and a hundred other people. From an early age, I have carried my own bags and thus have learned to pack light and pack well that now it does not matter what mode of transportation I take. On our trip to Vietnam in August, I managed to fit 30 days worth of outfits in just one backpack weighing a mere 6 kilos!
What I Wore in Vietnam
Days 1 and 2 (Travel and Hanoi)
Days 3 and 4 (Ha Long Bay)
Days 5 to 11 (Hanoi)
Days 12 to 15 (Hue)
Days 16 to 23 (Hoi An)
Days 24 to 30 (Ho Chi Minh)
What I Packed for Vietnam
I brought with me two bags — one backpack and one carry on bag. For the backpack, I borrowed an old NorthFace bag from my husband because I don’t have a heavy-duty traveling backpack of my own. The carry-on bag is a linen tote bag with zipper closure I bought at The Strand Bookstore in New York.
My backpack weighed only 6 kilos. To give you an idea on how much 6 kilos can pack, I brought 3 T-shirts, 1 polo shirt, 1 silk top, 1 silk skirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of pants, 1 denim jacket, 1 rubber shoes, a foldable ballet flats, 1 simple leather sandals, 1 leather crossbody bag, 1 foldable cotton shopping bag, 1 foldable luggage bag from Bench, 1 hat, 1 pair of sunnies, 1 swimsuit, 1 pair of sleeping wear, 1 pair of leggings, 1 silk scarf, underwear, 1 small pouch of toiletries, 1 small pouch of cosmetics, earrings, and hair accessories, and 1 small pouch of medicines.
I shared a PDF file here of the list of things I brought with me to Vietnam, including the things I placed inside my carry on bag. You can download the PDF file if you want to have a streamlined, minimalist travel. I managed to come up with 30 days worth of outfits that did not really repeat with the 6 kilos worth of clothes + toiletries + footwear I brought with me to Vietnam.
- Choose comfortable and light weight clothes and footwear. Yes, I love to wear stylish clothes but I have learned through the years that I can still be stylish yet remain comfortable. I choose to bring clothes that are made of light-weight fabric such as silk and cotton because not only do they do not weigh as much, they also do not take up as much space and they also dry easily. PRO TIP: Ditch the knits. They’re bulky, warm, and do not dry up fast in the laundry.
- Schedule laundry day(s). While planning our Vietnam trip, we scheduled four laundry days — one day each in each city we would be stopping at. We also scheduled the laundry days two days before we will leave that city to give our clothes enough time to dry because I hate the smell of damp clothes.
- Make space for shopping. If you noticed, I did not pack any dress. That is because I easily fall in love with dresses and tend to shop for dresses more than any other item of clothing. So I did not bother to fight my weakness and, in fact, had 1 kilo of extra carry-on weight for those shopped dresses. I ended up buying three dresses, two of which I wore multiple times during the trip (the third one I bought the day before we left).
- Bring items with multiple uses. My favorite item with multiple use is Human Nature’s Sunflower Beauty Oil. I use it as a make-up remover, hair oil, moisturizer, and lotion. Another favorite item with multiple use is a scarf, which I used to make myself warm, as an accessory, hair tie, etc. I also learned to use lipstick as a blush because I didn’t want to be bothered with taking too much time prepping my face while traveling.
- Edit, edit, edit. I once read a book for Boy Scouts when I was younger and it said to pack a travel bag two weeks before the date of travel. I took the advice to heart and still do this up to this time, Scout’s honor. I edit my bag thrice — the first time two days after packing to add any items I need to bring and are not yet inside the bag, the second time after I make a mental note of the different outfits I would be wearing to take out clothes and footwear I would not need during the travel, and the last time three days before departure to take out accessories, toiletries, and make-up that are not necessary. After the third edit, I don’t open my bag anymore.
Where to Wear the Leggings?
I mentioned I brought leggings with me but I did not show any photo of myself wearing it. Since the Cambodia and Thailand trip last year when I brought with me a pair of yoga pants because above the knee clothes are prohibited in temples. I don’t normally wear leggings except for exercise but I find it very useful. During the Vietnam trip, I used it during the two times we were at the sleeper train.
To Excess Baggage or Not?
To excess baggage. I am Miss Excess Baggage. Even when I do not plan on shopping, I buy excess baggage because I really find it a hassle to me and to the rest of the passengers lifting all of my things to the overhead compartment. I am not a tall person and this may not be a typical problem with Filipino aircraft because Filipino flight attendants are generally very helpful but most aircrafts are designed for tall Western people and I cannot even reach the handle to the door of the overhead compartment. Also, I don’t want to strain my back with too heavy weight. And, of course, I am a lazy traveler like that.
How to Plan Outfits?
Be mindful of three things: activities, modesty, and weather. The clothes and footwear I brought with me were based on the activities we would possibly be doing in Vietnam. I made a rough itinerary of where we are going and what we are doing and packed and dressed in accordance with those activities. I also plan my outfits in accordance with the weather. While Vietnam does not have an official religion, it is a conservative country where most of its citizens practice Buddhism. So, I made a conscious effort to bring some items that did not bare my shoulders and my knees.