We’re not light packers. We’re not heavy packers, either. Basically, all of our travel goods can fit in our 5 backpacks (and 3 daypacks). However, on our quick 2-week stint to Vietnam, we decided we didn’t want to take all of our luggage (and pay for it all, either). After all…we were staying in a hotel and wouldn’t be needing everything!

We cut our junk down to only 2 backpacks (and 2 daypacks), and after mentioning this on Facebook, and our readers asked us, “What did you take?!  We want to know!”  So…here is the requested rundown…

We still took almost all of our clothing, which amounts to about 7 outfits, each (I don’t prefer to hand wash in sinks and don’t want to visit a Laundromat every few days).


And here is the rest…


-1 packing cube of plugins and chargers for all things electronic

-Sun hats

-A set of plastic plates, bowls and silverware—perfect for serving up sandwiches or other snacks in our hotel room.

-2 small child-sized pillows (Asian pillows are WAY too overstuffed for our comfort

-1 laptop (Jared’s got left behind)

-2 Folding Tote bags

-1 iPad

-1 Nook eReader (Kindle got left behind)

-A CD-case kit of mini doTERRA essential oils—our first aid kit!

-A Wifi antennae to boost our signal strength (a lifesaver in many hotel situations)


-Kids Entertainment

When planning 2 weeks in a hotel room with limited outdoor running space (i.e. none), some kids’ entertainment is essential!  For us, this included coloring supplies, books, dolls, matchbox cars, and a few other do-dads.


-A toiletry bag with our shampoo/conditioner, toothbrushes, and other essential items.

-Peanut butter. In this particular case I packed chocolate peanut butter, a one-time occurrence. I wasn’t a fan. It’s easy to find jam in Asia…but the peanut butter is a harder bet, and we weren’t taking our chances! And since we’re not keen on eating out more than once a day, sandwiches are a great lunchtime meal!

-1 electronic razor

-2 pairs of shoes for each of us—1 flip flop & 1 tennis shoe (oops—I only included 1 pair in the photo. Who really wants to see our dirty shoes, anyways?!).

Here’s the damage in total (without clothes and shoes):


And there you have it. The most essential items for a 2 week trip! Would it all be essential to you?  Probably not!

However, it allowed us 2 weeks of comfort, without hauling too much with us! So if you want to Experience Dubrovnik and other extravagant sceneries, most of these items may also be part of your luggage.

12 Responses to “The absolute traveling essentials”

  1. In a CD case? Clever!!!

    • Yeah! They make these cool foam inserts that separate and hold the little sampler bottles—so we just re-bottle into the little oil bottles from our normal 15 ml size. It makes it easy to have a large selection of oils on hand for quick first aid needs!

  2. GREAT! I love this stuff. What the bags in the picture at the top? They look pretty handy!

    • They are Eagle Creek Packing Cubes! We couldn’t live without them…thank goodness someone told us about them! We buy the 3-pack sets (1 large, 1 medium, 1 small), and ended up buying about 7 sets for all of us (we don’t just use them for clothing–we also use them for electronic cords, etc)! To keep them organized I bought some ribbon and sewed different color ribbons to the handles of the bags that are dedicated to clothing use. We each have our own color–so it is easy to pull a packing cube from the backpack for a particular person without opening them up to see what is inside. The packaging cubes also come in different colors, but since we didn’t know how many we’d each use, we went with black and the ribbon solution!

      • Brilliant! Where did you get them?!

        • We got ours on discount from ebags.com, which doesn’t seem to have the 3-size set anymore. I think you may also get them from eaglecreek.com directly, or definitely via rei.com, which sometimes has sales as well! I’ve also been tempted to try their other type of packing cube thing…a folding pack. Oh, and I wish I had bought a stuff sack for dirty laundry, too!

        • I believe that someone was Me! So glad you have found them to be super helpful! I discovered them on a solo trek to Eastern Europe and have had mine for the past 6 years.
          They keep everything totally organized and sane, especially when you are unpacking and repacking all the time.

          I remember how much stuff you had in your mini-van when we met you in Guatemala…you’ve downsized enormously! <–(Does that make sense even?!)

          • Indeed—it WAS you! They are an essential for traveling…and keep our belongings SO much more organized! Love them, and wouldn’t consider going without them!!

            Yes–without the van in tow–we have to downsize quite a bit. We had a lot of “extras” we liked to carry in our van, before (like a portable mini shower that came in handy for beaches, etc)!

        • I got them at ebags.com, but you could also order them at REI or any outdoor store (Rick Steves, etc). I love Eagle Creek–b/c I love lifetime warranties, and I like how thick their material is! 🙂

  3. I love packing cubes too!!! We do the one packing cube each for clothes, a shared toilet bag, first aid kit in one big rolling suitcase then a day pack for electronics and a small backpack for toys and books. We’re definitely minimalists.

    • Yes–you ARE minimalists! In truth, this was just our SMALL packing job…and our last 3 bags are filled with all sorts of goodies to make our life more cushie while on the road: More essential oils and a diffuser, more electronics and wires, extra headphones, pants and a jacket for each of us, etc. Amazing how 3 bag’s worth is really just unnecessary…but nice to have, anyways!!

  4. Looks about like what we’d pack….. Although, I have to admit, it seems like the toys we always pack for the kids end up being a waste. They play with whatever is at hand and end up turning “normal” things into toys.

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