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I’m a fashion editor and this is what I’m glad I packed (and wish I didn’t) for a month of travelling | CN Traveller

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As a summer person, I often try to escape UK winters by heading to warmer climates to chase the sun. So back in September 2016, when my friend messaged me the six words “let’s go to Bali in January?”, I jumped at the chance to embark on my first backpacking trip. 27-year-old me booked a six-week sabbatical from my fashion editor job at a magazine to explore Bali, Thailand and Cambodia in 2017. Having never been travelling to Southeast Asia before, I ended up being the girl dragging my (exceptionally large) suitcase through the sand on the islands of Koh Rong and Gili T. Loaded with heels, hair straighteners, my favourite going out dresses and a full make-up bag, it was only a matter of days before I was in Bangkok posting the belongings I knew I wouldn’t need back to my London home address. After realising I would mainly be wearing the iconic elephant-print trousers, denim shorts and a few crochet tops I had bought from local markets along the way, of course.

Now 34 years old, I decided my itch to head back to this side of the world needed to be scratched, so I cleared my diary for a month (I’m now freelance, so no bosses who needed persuading this time) and booked flights to the Philippines with my boyfriend. After staying in the cheapest hostels available in my 20s, this time round, I wanted to stay in hotels instead – especially as they’re still reasonably priced.

But when it came to packing, I knew the struggles of having a suitcase in these areas – including how they get thrown on and off different transport – so a backpack was essential. I found a hybrid version with wheels so I could choose to pull or carry it. When it came to packing said backpack, I knew the over-packer in me (I once took 11 pairs of shoes on a three-day trip to Dubai) had to be specific with what I actually needed to take.

First things first, I bought compression cubes to keep my clothes in order as I knew with over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, we were going to be staying at a lot of different places. I was right – we boarded 10 flights and stayed in 10 hotels over the month. Now, no matter where I travel to in the future, the cubes will be coming with me – they’re so light and useful. I also left my heels at home this time, instead, taking three pairs of practical sandals: one Velcro Teva-style pair from Arizona Love, classic Birkenstocks and a leather slider mainly for evenings. I packed four dresses (I would only pack two if I went again), along with five light layering shirts, vest tops, shorts, skirts and a maxi skirt and waistcoat that I wore once – but they were most similar to my style when I’m at home, so I don’t regret taking either of them.

We’ll get into what I regret taking later on, but first, these are all of the items I’m glad I took as someone navigating travelling SoutheastThe 50-litre backpack surprisingly carried a lot, and it opened like a suitcase, so no need to pull everything out. Asia in my 30s.

I would recommend this two-for-one buy to anyone. The 50-litre backpack surprisingly carried a lot, and it opens like a suitcase so no need to pull everything out. You can also disconnect the rucksack, which is ideal for taking out on day trips or using it as hand luggage on flights.

While my friend thought I was crazy for taking a steamer on my first trip in 2017, we both ended up using it most days. Hence why I decided to take one to the Philippines, too. Stockholm-based brand Steamery is always my go-to for the best steamers and fabric shavers.

This handy jewellery travel case will keep all your accessories safe and easy to find in one spot. I took quite a few different earrings and necklaces – they’re an easy way to update outfits you end up wearing multiple times throughout a long trip.

Once you try packing cubes, you’ll never go back. I rolled up all my clothes so I could fit the most in them. They’re also different sizes so it made it easier to know which items were in each bag when I was in a rush to find outfits.

Although I mainly wore bikinis, it was good to have one really great swimsuit for days when I wanted to cover up from the sun a bit more or to style as a top underneath shorts or skirts.

Worn on all of the 10 flights, this was essential to throw on over my daytime outfits to beat the aircon on board the plane. I also got chilly in some of the hotels in the evening, so it was a handy layer.

I fully understand the hype about the cult TikTok Uniqlo bags now I own one. I wore it every day; it fits so much in it, the thick strap is comfy (especially on sun burnt shoulders), and although it comes in 11 colours, I opted for go-with-everything black.

I took a maxi sarong with me from H&M and I ended up wearing it as a skirt, a dress, as a cover-up while sunbathing and even over my face to protect against the fumes on tricycle rides. Although mine has now sold out, I love Australian label Seafolly’s new styles.

My first tip is to grab shirts in two sizes up to make sure they’re extra oversized and ideal for wearing over swimwear. The second is to opt for a linen blend as they tend not to crease as much as pure linen. And finally, don’t neglect the men’s sections; you’re bound to find brilliant shirts here.

I used these on every flight, ferry and bus throughout the month. The case charges the earbuds, so with 34 hours of listening time, I didn’t have to think about charging them at all when I was away.

I took three co-ords with me, and I wore them on heavy rotation. With multiple outfit opportunities to be had – wear as a set or as separates – you’ll end up relying on these from the beach to nights out.

When I wanted to feel a bit more dressed up for a nice meal, I wore these belted shorts with a bandeau top and leather sandals. I have two of the Australian brand Palm Noosa’s printed sets, and I wear them each and every summer.

The leather sandals I found in the Zara Home sale have sold out, but Cos has a very similar pair. Basically, any good-quality sliders will become your best friend to throw-on-and-go when you get ready for dinner.

I love getting dressed up on holidays, so I packed four dresses I would usually wear for dinners. While I only ended up wearing two of them, it was good to have a couple of options to feel like I was on holiday as well as travelling.

Between hotel hopping and being in and out of boats, I spent the entire trip not wanting to wear them or wondering which bag they were in. Not worth the stress, I chose to wear my Asos pair for the full month.

I packed so many mismatched bikinis that I didn’t end up wearing, instead, I wish I packed 5-6 of my best well-fitting bikinis.

You end up spending the majority of the time in bikinis (even for nights out), and we did a weekly wash at the laundrettes on every island, so there’s no need to pack a lot.

I got caught out in Bali and Thailand and didn’t pack any covered clothes for the temples, but these weren’t needed in the Philippines, so they just took up unnecessary space.

While this may depend on your travel plans, I only ended up wearing my trainers on the flights to and from London. I wore Velcro sandals for any days I would be walking lots so the trainers were just tied to my backpack or in the way a lot of the time.

From roomy canvas carryalls to sleek leather work bags, a good tote is a travel essential