Southeast Asia: 24 day trip , 3 girls, 1 suitcase


With the girls’ flying on nearly 3 dozen flights between the two of them before they turned 2, they’re certainly no strangers to air travel. And for those flights, I’m one for packing light. No matter the length, I usually pack for the 3 of us in my carry-on and a duffel bag.

But now was a new challenge: a 3 week trip which included a 14-day cruise through Southeast Asia starting in Hong Kong and ending in Bali going through a range of temperatures ranging from a rainy, high 50s to mid-high 80s in tropical island climates. Not to mention that on the cruise we would have daily fancy-ish dinners and events (ugh more outfits!). We would need ROOM. I don’t think I’ve packed a check-in suitcase since high school. Even with the extra baggage allowance, I was STILL thinking about a carry-on and a duffel!  But I gave in—and decided on a larger suitcase. However I drew the line at 1 large suitcase for us—we were still going to fit all 3 of our wardrobes in 1 bag.


what to pack

I referred back an old post where I did an 18 day trip across Europe with just a carry-on and used that as my guide - then applied the same principles to the girls’ wardrobes. Basically it boiled down to basics paired with a lot of mix and match pieces in muted/dark colors. And then you layer, layer, layer. Even though Nyla is half of winter’s size,  all the long sleeve shirts (save for 1 pair of basic black long sleeved tees) would do double duty for either girl. I threw in some summer dresses that could be layered with a cardigan or leather jacket for chillier days, added in rain coats (which we barely wore) because it would be rainy season and then at the last minute (not pictured), I threw in a tutu skirt to dress up some of our evening dinners on the ship. Not to be forgotten: 2 swimsuits each with one being a 3-piece bathing suit set that gave the girls some versatility.  Here’s where we netted out:

Packing List for the girls

  • 2 pants (1 denim)

  • 1 denim short

  • 1 cotton short (bedtime, pool/play wear)

  • 5 tops (1 button down in the mix)

  • 2 swimsuits

  • 1 tutu

  • 5 dresses

  • 1 pajama dress

  • 1 jumpsuit

  • 1 legging

  • 2 athletic bottoms

  • 1 leather coat

  • 1 raincoat

  • 4 long sleeve tops (shared between both)

Rolling up everything got both girls’ gear and their shoes into half of our 28” suitcase. The other half was reserved for moi. Toiletries (mostly hair stuff because well, our hair is special) went into part of Mr P’s suitcase. If we really had to pare it down, we could have done without the toiletries and just pick up hair stuff at our destination like we usually do but being that SE asia was completely foreign to us, accessibility to black hair care products could be challenging, so we brought it all along.


My packing list

  • 1 black jean, 1 legging, 1 skirt

  • 1 denim short, 1 casual short

  • 4 dresses (could have used 1 more)

  • 2 cover ups (which could also act as a sundress too)

  • 2 full-body swimsuits, 1 bikini (could have used 1-2 more)

  • 4 basic tees (black, white, cream)

  • 2 sweater-like tops

  • 2 dressy blouses

  • 1 raincoat

  • 2 sets of workout wear (bra, top, bottom)


So how did we end up with 4 suitcases? 1 large 28” was for Mr. P (and we threw in extra cardigans or extra pairs of shoes in his bag), the other 28” was for the girls and I, one carry-on had toiletries and hair products, and the other carry-on? Empty. We brought it along to carry any souveniers but it ended up saving us on weight fees since one of our suitcases exceeded the weight allowance; so we just ended up transferring some items into the empty carry-on (we were way under the number of check-in luggage allowance).

If we were to go on another trip of this caliber, I think we could pack even lighter and gone with smaller suitcases. I actually think we could have done 4 carry-on suitcases but with the girls being still on the toddler-side I anticipated the “I-dont-want-to-drag-my-suitcase” episode, so we consolidated and I grudgingly accepted checking in our luggage. And if we’re going to check in, then might as well size up. Looking back on our trip yes there’s some things I could have added but in the end, we wore everything and added in a few cute things as we went along. I felt we kept it comfortable yet stylish but not over the top to dive into different lands and cultures.

Here’s a sample of how our travel style worked out: