How to Survive Three Weeks in Southeast Asia With Only a Carry-On

How to Survive Three Weeks in Southeast Asia With Only a Carry-On

This past October, Taylor and I travelled to Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore for almost three weeks with only a carry-on each. We had the time of our lives exploring my culture as well as others and eating our way through all three countries. We’re pretty easy travellers, not very big on itineraries, although we do have places on our food bucket lists that we just had to hit. When it comes to packing, I wouldn’t say we travel particularly light, however we do only allow ourselves one carry-on luggage each. I guess you could call that packing light, but if you actually lifted my suitcase, you’d be proven otherwise, haha.

Travelling with a carry-on suitcase can definitely be challenging but makes travelling to multiple countries a lot more manageable. This means you have to pack smart, only bring the essentials and your favourite pieces! Depending on what time of year you’re travelling to SE Asia, there are dry seasons and rainy seasons but rest assured, it is always hot and humid! I hope you find my essential packing list helpful especially when space is limited. The number one advice I would give is to pack versatile pieces that can be interchanged and worn to create new outfits.

How to Survive Three Weeks in SouthEast Asia with a Carry-On

When it comes to essential accessories and sun protection, I made sure to pack my favourite pair of Maui Jim sunglasses I recently picked up at IRIS Visual Group. They’re definitely my new go-to sunnies for many reasons. The polarized lens make colours more vibrant, increase clarity, eliminated harsh glares, UV rays and reduce eye fatigue. That’s a lot of from one pair of sunglasses AND they come in plenty of different frames, colours and finishes.

The IRIS Visual Group is a Canadian brand with the most helpful and knowledgable team who are so warm and welcoming. They were able to answer all the questions I had about choosing the right frames, the different eye exams and help me with my new prescription. They have multiple locations across Ontario and Quebec and carry beautiful brands like Maui Jims, Tom Ford, Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Versace, Ray-ban and more. I can’t wait to share the other beautiful pairs of glasses I picked up! Stay tuned.

How to Survive Three Weeks in SouthEast Asia with a Carry-On

Without further ado, here is my survival guide to a three week trip to Southeast Asia with only a carry-on.

Packing List


When packing, I like to roll my clothes and use packing cubes to make sure I fit as much in as possible 😉

    • 1 backpack I used as my personal item
    • 3-4 light and flow dresses (mini, midi or maxi)
    • 4-5 tops/ t-shirts
    • 2-3 tank tops
    • 1 lightweight jumpsuit
    • 2 pairs of shorts
    • 1 pair of leggings
    • 1 sweater
    • 1 pair of your favourite sunglasses, I brought my Maui Jims
    • 1 wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap
    • 1 pair of flip flops
    • 1 pair of nice sandals
    • 1 pair of sneakers or walking shoes
    • 1 bathing suit
    • Underwear & Socks


    • Phone charger
    • Universal adaptor (while most luxury hotels will have the correct plug, others do not)
    • Portable battery charger
    • Headphones
    • Laptop (if you need to work while away)
    • Camera, memory cards, adaptors and battery charger

Personal Care

    • Sunscreen
    • Toiletries
    • Tissue paper/Wet wipes/Hand sanitizer
    • First Aid Kit
    • Painkillers, Gravol, Pepto Bismol, Gastrointestinal medication for emergencies etc.


    • When travelling to Vietnam, you need to apply for a Visa prior to departure with passport photos taken and $25USD per person upon entry.
    • Travel insurance
    • Copy of passport, travel insurance and important documents

Other Tips

    • You can exchange currency at the different airports, the rates are similar to what you would get here. You can exchange with Canadian currency.
    • Phone usage: In Vietnam and Thailand, purchase a SIM card at the airport for about $10-15.
    • Download the Grab app, it’s the UBER or Lyft equivalent that’s available all over Southeast Asia! It’s very convenient and safe to use. Taxis are known for scamming tourists.
    • Along with photocopying your passport, take a photo of it just in case.
    • In Vietnam, don’t walk around with your phone in your hand, there are thousands and thousands of scooters on the road and sidewalk and may get your phone snatched. It’s safer in Thailand and completely safe in Singapore.
    • Crossing the road in Vietnam can be terrifying, there are thousands and thousands of scooters on the road with no traffic lights. Just start walking slowly, don’t run, make eye contact with the scooters and they will drive around you. You can do it!
    • When dining in a restaurant with no prices or shopping in a store with no prices, make sure to ask how much everything is, otherwise you may get charged more.
    • Have fun! These countries have so much to offer in culture, delicious food and beautiful landscapes.

Head over to to check out their brands, location and more information about the amazing work that they do.

Do you guys think you could do a trip to Asia with just a carry-on? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you IRIS Visual Group for sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% my own.


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