Many people will be surprised to know that it’s possible to travel with just a carry-on to Southeast Asia. With a little organisation, you’ll be breezing through customs and heading straight to the taxi stand, without needing to stop and wait at the baggage carousel.

Traveling carry-on means less stress, less chance of losing your belongings, and you’ll also be packed and ready to go so much faster when you sleep in, and realise you suddenly need to check out of your hostel or hotel.

Here are some tips for packing carry-on for a trip to Southeast Asia:

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Use a sturdy carry-on

If you’re going to be traveling with just a carry-on, it’s crucial that it’s not flimsy and breakable. Bags will be chucked into storage at the bottom of buses, and strapped to the top of boats, so you want something that will hold up under pressure.

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Pack toiletries, jewellery and makeup

Remember to use clear bottles under 100ml for liquids, and keep in mind that shampoo, bodywash, deodorant, and toothpaste can all be purchased overseas. Just pack things that you can’t live without, and know will be expensive to replace overseas, like foundation and concealer if you wear makeup.

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Take one little black dress

Sure, Southeast Asia is where casual clothes reign, but you may find yourself staying somewhere nice, or invited to an exclusive club. So take one trusty little black dress which you can dress up or down with jewellery or nice shoes.

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Dress your clothes up with scarves

When you have a limited wardrobe, you’ll need to accessorise. Take a few colourful scarves and you’ll feel like you’re wearing something completely different, even when you’re wearing the same outfit you wore three days ago.

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Take a couple of sweaters, just in case

A leather jacket is perfect if it gets cooler at night, and will go with a range of outfits, while a coverup is great for the beach or if your’e in a more conservative country.

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Don’t forget plenty of summer dresses

Each dress is a whole outfit, and these will be lightweight, easy to wash and dry, and won’t take up much space. Roll your clothes instead of folding them so you can fit more in the bag, and they won’t get as wrinkled.

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Just a few pairs of shoes

Take one pair of flats, and some flip-flops, and if you think you’ll be doing a lot of walking or hiking, take some sneakers or hiking shoes.

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Mix and Match

Another way to get a range of outfits is to pack a pair of shorts or a skirt, and some tank tops or t-shirts. These can be mixed and matched to create a bunch of different looks.

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Add the smalls

Once you’ve got all of your big stuff packed, add your smaller stuff in the space you have left. Don’t forget a swimsuit, pyjamas, and underwear.

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Zip it up

If you have a suitcase that extends, make sure it’s not extended for your trip to Asia, so you can extend it over there and bring back some souvenirs.

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Weigh it

If you have some scales, now is the time to weigh your bag. Most airlines won’t weigh your carry-on, but you’ll want to be underweight just in case. It’s also important to record how much it weighs, in case anyone takes something out, or puts something in your bag while you’re traveling.

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