How to Pack Like a Ninja: Thai Edition


Gang, I feel like a hypocrite giving advice on packing. I am a notorious overpacker.
That is, until, we started packing in backpacks.
Now I am like a packing ninja. Whatever that means.

My goal is to pack light, but still have room for the things that I need. Here is what I did:

Mix and match clothes

In Thailand, you are pleasing two wardrobe masters: the humidity and modesty in temples. You need light, breathable fabrics. And at least one outfit that covers your shoulders and knees.

1. Maxi skirt. Light weight and modest: a perfect combo for the heat and the need for modesty in Thai temples. I made my skirt using this tutorial using very light jersey.

2. Knee-length dress. Dresses are the ultimate travel outfit: a top and bottom all in one. My only regret is not packing more than one. My mom made this for me, so it fits like a glove. Thanks, mom!

3. Tops. Light-weight cotton or poly blend are easy to pack. Roll the shirts to avoid wrinkling. Similar tops found here.

4. Hat. This was the trip of the hat. It was the only way to wrestle my unruly frizz ball of hair. The downside is that is wouldn’t pack in my suitcase without getting damaged. So I wore it every time we switched locations, which meant I wore it way more than I meant to. Oh well.

5. Bottoms. I wore jeans for the flight, white skirt, shorts. All three mixed and matched with almost every shirt. If it can’t go with at least two more items, it doesn’t make it into my suitcase.

6. Cross-body day bag. This Target bag is everything. Big enough to carry my day-to-day items, but small enough that I can’t overpack.

7. Swimsuits. Take two so you can alternate on your beach days. Mine are from J.Crew (on sale!). Similar found here and here.

8. Shoes. First, your walking shoes need to be easy to slip on and off. You are constantly taking shoes off at temples, so fussing with laces is just… no. Toms are my usual go to, even though they get holes if you look at them too hard. Add a pair of sandals for the beach and you have your footwear covered.

9. Unpictured must haves: travel towels! How have I survived without these absorbent beauties? They fold up tiny and are perfect for showering and the beach. Another must for the beach is a wet sac. You guys! Save your camera from the treacherous waters. Thank me later.

Not pictured: my underpants (who needs to see those) and beach cover up

Use Ziploc bags

Gallon-sized Ziploc bags are my ultimate travel secret. I have honed this method over the past 10 years.** Put in clothes and then suck out all of the air. Suddenly you have twice the space and all of your clothes are protected.

Trick: roll your clothes individually, like little burritos, and then put in bag. This maximizes the space, but isn’t too hard on wrinkles.

Ziploc should really start endorsing my travels. You hear that, Ziploc people? 🙂
But it is my tried and true travel trick. After one spilled shampoo bottle (Hawaii circa 2002), I never pack a suitcase without using plastic bags. I hear there is some black magic called packing pods, Ziploc is cheap and easy to use.

**When I taught English in China I packed absolutely everything I could into two enormous suitcases, each weighing 50 pounds. To squeeze my life in, I vacuumed sealed every.single.item. We’re talking clothes, school supplies, tampons (the latter did not spring back into shape). The Ziploc system works sooooo much better.

Simplify Your Beauty Routine

Keep your beauty routine simple and light. Because…… it’s going to melt off anyway in the Thai humidity.

1. Dry shampoo. Stop washing your hair! Dry shampoo is for everyday, but especially for traveling. My trick: spray it on your hair before you go to bed. Spray your hair nice and white and then sleep on it. The friction from moving in the night will work it in. Might sound gross, but I can easily go 4-5 days without washing. That is precious travel time, people!

2. Brow Tech. The best eyebrow pencil that stays put. I was growing out my brows during our trip, and this was my patch filler.

3. Concealer. Ditch your foundation, because it will just melt off in the humidity. Concealer is enough to hide the blemishes. Just dab and go.

4. “They’re Real” mascara by Benefit. I’m obsessed with this mascara! Looks like falsies, but is better. Doesn’t flake or smudge. It can be a little tricky to remove all of it, which just proves it can withstand the humidity.

Not pictured: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner (Jacob packs it and we share), razor, toothpaste/brush.


We were in the air for about 19 hours, so I had to be strategic about my carry on. My rule is: my entire carry-on has to fit in my suitcase once I get to my location (too many bags at once), so I want to be smart.

1. Flexible cloth bag. A fabric bag is easy to squeeze into any other bag. Plus, since it is a little smaller, I could put it under my seat and not in the overhead bin. This was found here.

2. Electronics. Par it down. Do you really need a laptop? Probably not. You won’t have any time to catch up on work and blog about your adventures. I take an iPod for music and my Kindle for books.

3. Chapstick and earplugs. Hello. I’m Stephanie, and I am a chapstick addict. Even more so on a flight. So… this is only one of the three Chapsticks I brought. You know, just in case. Also, ear plugs are everything when random strangers are snoring.

4. Travel book. I do a big portion of my trip finalizing on the plane (what are going to do exactly in each city). I know travel books are bulky, but I really like having one to hold and highlight.

5. Magazines. The month before a trip, I save all of my magazines so I have plenty of light reading. Once I finish one, I leave it around for someone else (or offer to a flight attendant).

6. Light jacket. Planes are cold. This jacket is warm enough but can squeeze into a tight little ball.

7. Journal. I got to write about my feelings, yo!

That’s it friends. Did I cover it all?
Did I get anything wrong? Any questions?