Apart from hiking, camping is the best way to get in touch with nature. Camping is like jumping into the deep end of a pool. You get exposed to all the elements of the great outdoor experience at once. The beauty, adventure, thrill, and hint of danger come flooding in from the first day. Nothing can prepare you for the first-hand camping experience.
Every camping trip is unique. The diversity and dynamics of nature mean that you may never go through the same camping experience twice. This also means that you may never be fully prepared for the experience. However, having the essentials covered is the best way to start your camping trip. This article brings together the various essentials you should take into account when you decide to camp in South East Asia.
1. Plan Every Aspect of Your Trip
Planning is the most important element of your trip. Every aspect of your camping trip depends on what you plan to do. This is essential because South East Asia is a vast diverse region that offers a wide variety of captivating experiences.
You can move from a tropical rain forest environment to a warm sandy beach in a single day. If you love mountain climbing, you can hike the steep snow glazed slopes of Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar or conquer Puncak Jaya in Indonesia, the highest peak in the region. Whether you are out for the sunny beach, tropical forest or mountain climbing experience, camping in South East Asia will quench your palate.
Southeast Asia is a region that spans 1,755,140 square miles and is home to 641,755,797 people. The region consists of 11 sovereign states namely, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, East Timor, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei. There are also four territories namely, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Hainan, Christmas Island, and Cocos Islands. This geographical layout alone should clarify why it is essential to plan your camping trip in detail.
You should make a decision about the countries you would like to visit and the environments you would like to experience. This will determine the duration, logistics, and requirements for your camping trip.
Some campers are only interested in the warm sandy beaches and others are excited about the forests and mountain hikes. Still, other eclectic travelers are interested in an all-inclusive experience that offers the best of each environment. This article will cover the essentials for all the major camping settings in South East Asia.
2. Choosing Your Luggage
Freedom and flexibility should be your keyword when choosing your type of luggage for camping in South East Asia. You need a piece of luggage that is ready to go whether you are hiking or taking a boat ride. You should also keep in mind that the roads and trails you will use are not all paved. Sandy beaches and rocky trails are not suitable for a roller suitcase. In essence, the only type of luggage you should carry on a camping trip is a backpack.
· With Backpacks, Less is More
When packing for a long camping trip you may feel tempted to pack all your favorite clothes and gadgets. The true essence of camping is felt when you strip your life down to the bare necessities. No matter how long your camping trip, all your supplies should fit into a 65 Liter backpack or less.
Compact backpacks help to limit you from carrying excess stuff. In reality, small backpacks protect you from wearing yourself out. Camping luggage should be an accessory rather than a burden. There are many things such as clothing and shoes that you can buy quite affordably if you need them during the trip.
· Go For Quality Backpacks
For long trips, you must use a high-quality backpack that offers back support. Poor quality backpacks can apply uneven loads on your back and cause serious injuries. You can spot a high-quality backpack in two ways. Firstly by is its price tag and the second by is its design. It is better to rely on identifying quality by the backpack’s design rather than the price. Cheap replicas can just as easily be pricey or presented as a bargain deal.
It may seem strange but, your shoulders are not designed to carry heavy loads. A well-supported backpack transfers the weight away from your shoulders to your torso and hips through chest and waist straps.
Cobra straps that are also a good feature of a quality backpack. These straps are considerably wider and more padded at the top than the bottom for better weight distribution. Quality backpacks have several other features including high-quality seams, waterproof material, extra pockets and many more.
3. Clothing: Pack Light
Clothing usually occupies the most space in your luggage. By default, most people pack more clothes than they need. Gustave Flaubert, a 19th Century French novelist said
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
The quote was later popularized in the 1980s by New York Times writer, Susan Heller. This couldn’t be more relevant than when camping in South East Asia. Here are some tips on reducing your clothing load.
- Carry a bar of soap and wash your T-Shirts, socks, and underwear in the evening, they will be dry and ready to wear in the morning.
- Pack microfiber towels, they dry quickly and occupy less space in your bag.
- Ladies can pack a Sarong, it can be modified for a wide variety of clothing styles. It can even pass for a modest wrap or skirt if you want to visit temples.
- Zip-off convertible pants are suitable for chilly evenings or walking in bushy jungles. They can also be worn as shorts on the beach or a warm hike.
- Buy clothes on the go. Clothing is cheap in South East Asia and you can find a wide variety of high-quality items as you travel.
- Pack shoes to suit your purposes. You don’t need to carry heavy hiking boots if you plan on spending the whole trip on the beach. If an unplanned hiking trip comes up, you can buy or hire a pair of mountain climbing boots to match your needs.
- Southeast Asia is mainly warm and humid, lightweight capris or cargo pants are a safer bet than heavy jeans. They also occupy less space in your backpack and are easier to wash.
- Be sure to carry one or two warm items such as a hooded jumper. Windproof and Rain jackets are significantly more effective than umbrellas in South East Asia.
There are many more tips you can follow to halve the number of clothes you carry. However, your choice of clothing will ultimately be dictated by your preferences and culture.
Camping in Singapore (Image by Nparks)
4. Medical Essentials
Traveling to South East Asia from other parts of the world can have various implications for your health. You are likely to be exposed to a variety of microbes and allergens that you have never experienced before. It is not clear how your body will react to the different types of food, pathogens and environmental conditions you will experience.
Although the locals and frequent visitors may have developed immunity over time, you may need to take a few extra precautions. Here is a range of medical essentials that you should consider when planning your trip.
Various maladies are not present in all parts of the world. As such your country may not require the mandatory administration of certain vaccinations and immunizations. However, traveling for extended durations to different geographical regions may warrant the need to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC and the World Health Organization, WHO have an outline of vaccinations they recommend before visiting certain countries. For Southeast Asian Countries, they include vaccinations for diseases like Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Shingles, TDAP and others.
While the risk of contracting these illnesses may be small, the vaccinations will give you peace of mind during your trip. Also, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. As you plan your camping trip, consult your doctor concerning the recommended vaccinations.
ii. Medical Insurance
Most European countries require you to have a valid medical cover when you travel. This is a system designed to simplify your treatment process should you fall ill during the trip.
There are various types of medical insurance for travelers and the prices range depending on the service you require. Some have the basic outpatient cover while others include a helicopter evacuation service for mountaineers. Your choice of medical insurance will depend on your preferences and the health concerns or alerts that exist in the regions you plan to visit.
iii. First Aid Kit
Accessing medical supplies and medication is quite easy in South East Asia. Most pharmacies can sell you a wide range of medicines over the counter. It is advisable to leave home with a basic first aid kit and top up the supplies during your trip.
Be sure to stock up on pain killers, anti-diarrheal medication and some broad-spectrum antibiotics. Be sure to consult your doctor before buying any medication. Remember to pack enough plasters and bandages and vapor rub for the days you go hiking in the jungles.
When camping, you will frequently find yourself eating on the go. Dirty hands are a leading cause of stomach infections. If you plan on eating any food, keep a hand sanitizer on you. Cleaning your hands with hand sanitizer is a sure way to kill germs before you eat. A hand sanitizer is valuable, especially where there is a limited supply of water.
v. Insect repellent
Insect repellent creams should be a standard item whenever you go camping more so in tropical regions. These will help you to fend off a wide variety of insects especially mosquitoes. It may take you a while to get accustomed to the smell, but its benefits are immense. Insect bites can be a nuisance especially if you have an allergic reaction to them.
A potent insect repellent significantly reduces your chances of contracting malaria or dengue fever in South East Asia. You can carry a small bottle of insect repellent when leaving home and stock up when you arrive at your destination. This saves space and reduces clutter in your backpack.
There are many more essential items you can carry on your camping trip to South East Asia. These include invaluable items such as sunscreen, an unlocked cell phone, solar-powered torches, and kindle or tablet among others.
In essence, the nature of your trip defines the most essential items you will need. The key principle when packing for a camping trip in South East Asia is to pack light and enhance your comfort. By carrying fewer items, you have less to worry about and can move around freely.