Lightweight Credit Card Bike Tour Packing List

We’re embarking on our first “credit card” bike tour in SE Asia in a week, so I wanted to put together another packing list for a shorter, entirely different type of tour than our fully-self-supported cross country tour. Credit card bike touring means we will carry all of our stuff, but we’ll eat in restaurants and stay in hotels every night. Though this would be prohibitively expensive for us in most countries, accommodations and food are cheap in Laos and Thailand (we’ll pay around $8 for a hotel room, $1 for a meal), so we’ll actually be able to spend less money on accommodations and food each day than, say, a single night of camping at the gross and sad KOA in Wadhams, MI. Also, we’re told it’s not wise to go too far off the roads in Laos due to all of the leftover landmines from the US Air Force’s extensive bombing missions in Laos during the Vietnam War, so stealth camping is not an option. This means we won’t have to bring tents, sleeping pads, cooking gear, and a lot of food around with us, saving space and weight.

We’ll be traveling for three weeks, and we’re aiming to pack extremely light for a few reasons: 1) I am suuuuuper out of shape and unsure if I’m even still capable of riding 60 miles, let alone with a bunch of stuff, 2) we will take a lot of different forms of transportation on this trip (multiple planes, minibuses, charter buses), and we learned from our time as Peace Corps volunteers in Zambia that having minimal stuff makes getting around this way a thousand times easier, and 3) we are cheap and don’t want to pay for extra checked luggage.

The goal is to pack all of our stuff in two 30L Brompton Touring Bags and carry our bikes in IKEA Dimpa bags with some foam padding around them to protect the frames and joints. We will check our Bromptons (never done this before!) and carry our Touring Bags on the plane. While riding, we will carry our Touring Bags on the on the front of our bikes, then strap the Dimpa bags to the racks in the back. Sounds simple, but we’ll let you know if/how it works out. On to the packing list.

Here’s everything we’re bringing aside from the bikes and bags themselves:

Now for the contents of those random bags of things.

Electronics

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  • Computer charger
  • Battery charger
  • Phone and GoPro charge cords
  • Universal plug adapter
  • SD card reader
  • Headphone splitter (for watching movies on the plane, though Ted tells me he will force me to spend my time reading the Kingkiller Chronicle)
  • Headlamps
  • Spare batteries for bike lights (on bikes)
  • GoPro and a cool clamp attachment
  • 11″ MacBook Air
  • Kindle
  • Phones, headphones, Nook (not pictured)

Ted has an unlocked phone we will use for most things. My phone will serve as my only camera (!! we just never really took out our big camera on our last few trips, but I might regret this decision), music player, and blog-writing device. We’re bringing the computer because Ted has schoolwork to do. 😦

First Aid Kit

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I’ve had a hard time finding good lightweight first aid kit lists, so here are some details on what’s worked for us.

  • MSR water purification tablets
  • Benedryl
  • Tiger balm
  • Cuts and scrapes pad
  • Ibuprofen
  • GasX
  • Neosporin
  • Burn relief gel
  • Day/NyQuil
  • Sewing kit (not first aid-y, but in here for some reason)
  • Surgical sponges
  • Wound closure strips (awesome)
  • Bandaids
  • Medical tape
  • Leukotape for blister prevention (better than moleskin!)
  • Gauze
  • Ace bandage
  • Antacids
  • Imodium
  • Safety pins
  • Alcohol pads and Pepto Bismol (not pictured)

I love putting meds in these tiny, convenient pill pouches. (Ted would tell you that I love decanting everything into smaller containers. He’s right; it brings me great joy.) The only things we’ve ever used on bike tours or backpacking are ibuprofen, Tiger Balm, Neosporin, bandaids, Leukotape, and Pepto, but you never know!

Also, we considered buying a SteriPen because the water in Laos is generally not potable, but we hear that water at restaurants is potable, so we’re hoping we can ask people to fill up our Platypuses at meal times. We’ll see how it works out, but we have these water purification tablets just in case. Worst case, we can buy bottled water, but we’re not thrilled about the plastic waste that would create.

Bike tools and parts

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We need to bring some Brompton-specific bike parts and tools because they have unique components that are impossible to find outside of a Brompton store and would leave us stranded if they broke.

Toiletries

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Ted’s clothes

  • Swim shorts
  • Swim shirt
  • Swim towel
  • Smartwool short sleeve shirt (2)
  • Muji linen short sleeve button down
  • Mesh sports shorts
  • Padded bike shorts (2)
  • Club Ride casual shorts
  • Outlier OG Pants (the world’s best travel pants – we happened to find a cheap used pair)
  • ExOfficio boxer briefs (4)
  • Smartwool socks (2)
  • Buff

Dani’s clothes

  • Swimsuit
  • Sarong
  • Ibex OD Heather wool short sleeve shirt (2)
  • Smartwool tank
  • Athleta hiking shorts
  • Bike shorts (2)
  • Patagonia skirt
  • Uniqlo leggings (for temples)
  • Patagonia dress
  • ExOfficio undies (4)
  • Smartwool socks (2)
  • Buff

PSA: We have both replaced all of our underwear with ExOfficio underwear. It is the most comfortable, most durable, quickest-drying stuff on the market. It’s pricey, but worth it. We also wear as much merino wool as possible. Again, it’s not cheap, but it doesn’t get stinky, dries quickly, and regulates temperature really well.

We will also both have down jackets that pack pretty small because we’re coming from winter.

Here’s everything together (minus Dimpa bags and foam packing material):

I find a lot of joy in reading other people’s packing lists, so I hope this was helpful for anyone planning a similar tour! Would you do anything differently? Let me know in the comments!

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