Written by Krista DeSmith and Matt Kaiser of  @backyard_oregon

We often spend the holidays away from home, but for the first time, we’re away from home in the same foreign country: The Philippines (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines). The 25-hour travel period to get here (including a 13-hour flight across the Pacific) was filled with security checkpoints, near meltdowns from hunger, and language barriers, but the hassle was well worth it. Ever since we arrived, we’ve been kicking back on white sand beaches, enjoying amazing food and company, with few worries other than where to hang our hammocks on the beach. Our only issue so far was what we packed!


Like many travelers, we contracted a minor case of “Over-packing-tinitus,” a contagious syndrome that includes symptoms like packing too many pairs of shoes, long pants, multiple sweaters or rain jackets. With over a hundred pounds of luggage between the two of us, we quickly discovered that we vastly over packed our bags.

In the wake of our packing dilemma, we’ve put together a list of thirteen items we’ve found invaluable and that we hope will immunize you against over-packing-tinitus.

Phillippines, hammocking over the ocean

13 Things to Bring to the Philippines:

  1. Learn the words, “Hello,” and “Thank you,” in a variety of languages

    This applies to every country, but if the locals understand that you’re making an effort to fit into their culture, and appreciate their assistance, they’re much more likely to greet you with a smile and overwhelming kindness.
  2. Multiple swimsuits. Duh.

  3. A drone

    So you can get photos like this a couple hundred meters above the water, and also scope for any sharks, sea turtles, and other marine critters within a mile radius.
  4. Dry bag

    For isolating wet, sandy beach clothing from the rest of your clean gear.
  5. Chacos

    Also, Keens - Regardless of which brand you prefer, a versatile sandal is key in the tropics!
  6. Grand Trunk Micro Stools

    These things are small enough to fit in your backpack’s water bottle pocket and are handy for setting up on the beach, or camping out in a long check-in line at the airport.
  7. Hammocks

    Is there anything better than napping in the trees or swaying above the ocean waves with your feet dangling in the water? Plus, the attached Grand Trunk Hammock Bag serves doubly as a beverage holder.
  8. Coffee grounds and a French press

    Unless you’re a fan of instant coffee, this is a must have.
  9. Non-cotton clothing

    The humidity is usually no less than 90% each day, so unless you want to be wearing sweaty clothes as soon as you step out of the shower, it’s best to bring moisture wicking fabrics.
  10. A first aid kit

    On the first day at the beach, Krista managed to slice her foot open on some coral while snorkeling, but we couldn’t let that keep us from the water. Don’t forget that every good first aid kit also includes a bottle opener.
  11. Snacks

    We recommend a healthy mix of Flaming Hot Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish Fish.
  12. A good book

    In typical beach bum fashion, we’ve enjoyed a lot of down time in the sun. When we weren’t too occupied napping or taking photos, we were busy feasting our brains on “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs” (Lisa Randall) (http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Matter-Dinosaurs-Astounding-Interconnectedness/dp/0062328476) or learning about “Spooky Action at a Distance” (George Musser) (http://www.amazon.com/Spooky-Action-Distance-Phenomenon-Time/dp/0374298513
  13. A sense of superstition

We’ve learned that Filipinos have superstitions for every facet of life. Over here, the number 13 is a doomed digit; our hotel didn’t have a 13th floor, our plane didn’t have a 13th row, etc. However, there is at least one instance where “13” is supposedly fortuitous, and that is on New Years Eve. Today as our family is preparing for NYE celebration, we sit gathered around a table covered with 13 types of round fruit, as this will bring the best fortune in the next coming year. Therefore, whether you believe in the paranormal or not, it sure is fun to buy into all the local traditions.

Phillippines, sailboat at sunset

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Belinda Neff