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Malaysian Must Haves When Malaysians Travel Out of Malaysia

by Rachel Yeoh. |

Wow, to mention Malaysia three times in a title - there has got to be a prize for nationalism here!

But let’s face it, circumstances and opportunities can take us out of Malaysia but man, our roots grow deep and it shows!

I personally went on a 3 and a half week holiday (it’s not that long, honestly) and just a few days shy of returning, I was having full-on withdrawals for rice and instant noodles. So, no - the grass is not greener on the other side. The grass is greener where the onde-onde and cendol is.

Then the travel bug bites again and we naturally crave to go see and experience the sights and sounds from beyond our borders - which is great. The world is a great teacher and you’ll have to traverse it to learn. Upon learning, we also realise that there is no where else like home and it takes travelling to appreciate where we came from.

As we balance on this ‘I-want-to-travel’ and ’There’s-nowhere-else-like-home’ scale, here’s a packing list that has to be printed and placed somewhere visible when you are prepping for a long haul trip.

Let’s start.

1. Data roaming

Top of the list for a very good reason. Most of us can’t live without social media (Malaysia ranks 30 out of 215 countries in terms of internet users) because there is always a need update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat about our whereabouts and - we just generally love sharing about our adventures.

If you did not post a picture of your vacation, did you even go for a vacation?!?!

Hence, before you even leave for a trip, ensure that you’ve got your data roaming or pocket wifi settled. Other than frequenting social platforms, you’ll need to Google the best places to eat, opening hours of some of the places you want to visit, transportation you need to take and Google Maps.

We recommend Roamingman, a Cloud 4G Wifi Rental that is available globally in 138 countries.

2. 3-in-1 Sachet Drinks

No need for an introduction when it comes to 3-in-1 sachet drinks. It is of utmost importance when you are visiting a country where the weather is expected to be chilly - more so when it’s going to be sub-zero (urgh, winter - good for snow angels but other than that, brrrr!).

Stash a few Milo sachets (if you are going for longer than a few months please don’t be embarrassed to just buy the 2-kilogram pack, we don’t judge), teh tarik and coffee packs. You’ll probably go through all the packs and wonder why you didn’t pack more. Perfect for breakfasts, suppers and stopovers if you are on a road trip, all you need is hot water.

Here’s a tip, if you’re lazy to get Lazada, they’ve got a gazillion types for you to choose from.

3. Dried Crystalised Ginger

Photo: Able & Cole

This is a tricky one because not many people would put ginger in their favourite food list - but you might need it.

If you are one to easily experience nausea, ginger is actually an anti-nausea aid. However, it is a little bit difficult to be chewing or sucking on ginger and hence, crystalised ginger. The taste is still strong but a little bit more bearable because it is coated with sugar. A bag of it will last you through your trip (if you are not chewing on them like candy).

You can get them from your local mini market or supermarkets like Jaya Grocer.

4. Tiger Balm

Photo: Watsons Malaysia

Well, if it is not the trusty Tiger Balm that we use to treat any discomfort that befalls us.

Stomachache? There’s Tiger Balm.

Joint pain? There’s Tiger Balm.

Rashes? There’s Tiger Balm.

Cold? There’s Tiger Balm.

Muscle ache? There’s Tiger Balm.

It’s starting to sound like a Mastercard advert already! But you get our drift; when in doubt, just Tiger Balm it. A one-stop solution is convenient when you are travelling.

Get it from any pharmacy store like Watson’s (online or their brick and mortar) and stash it in your hand carry.

5. Over the Counter Medicine (Clarityn, Zyrtec)

Okay, so there are some things that Tiger Balm can’t cure. Hence, you actually need to stock in on REAL medications. Probably the most important would be the medications you need to take (if you have any conditions that are prescribed by the doctor) and also antihistamines.


Because we love to eat. And sometimes, our bodies reject the things we eat and that causes an allergic reaction. Nobody wants to be at war with their own body; and antihistamines serve as a white flag saying ‘Ok bodily functions, I got you - now you gotta chill down because I am on vacation and I cannot have a hot flush, naturally induced thick lips or teary eyes while I am at it.’

If you are visiting countries where their food is not known for their cleanliness, remember to grab some charcoal pills too. Prevention is better than cure. And in this case, prevention against further dehydration is better than landing in the hospital and being put on drips.


6. Foldable bags

Never leave without extra foldable bags stuffed in your luggage bag. It can be a foldable luggage bag, plastic bag, cooler bag or a non-woven bag we go grocery shopping with.

It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. When we are in a new environment, we tend to want to take a part of it back with us - some as a keepsake for the home (any guilty of buying magnets here?), souvenirs, food stuff and anything that you are willing to exchange your money with, really.

Foldable luggage bags are great for additional clothes, shoes and accessories you buy that just can’t fit into your hard case. Plastic bags and non-woven bags are great for clothes that must go into the laundry upon landing, and to separate the items you bought, so it won’t be mayhem when you unpack. A cooler bag (throw in a ice pack while you are at it), is for the stuff you buy that are cheaper in the country you are visiting than in Malaysia (like cheese). What I do is that I’ll buy cheese, freeze it in the freezer, dump it in the cooler bag with the ice pack before I head to the airport. Ensure that it is properly placed in your check-in luggage.

Long haul flight? No biggie. You can find cheaper options online like on Shopee.

7. Sanitary Pads

Oh women, we’ve got to be concerned about our womanly matters. If you are going on a longer than usual vacation, it is highly likely that the time of the month will arrive. You’d think that it would be a great idea to just get sanitary pads in their supermarket or drugstore, but what if they don’t have the ones that you are used to wearing? What if all of them wear tampons and have the smallest selection of sanitary pads you can choose from? Not to mention the price that might not be easy on the wallet.

Simple, pack the pads. Be pre-pad (prepared, geddit?).

8. Curry paste/Belacan

Photo: keviniscooking.com

It’s only a matter of time before your taste buds decide to go on strike and demand for the spice of life that is present only in curry paste and sambal belacan. Whatever you eat starts to fail in comparison to the taste of curries that are easily accessible back home.

Pack curry paste and when you are there, simply stir in coconut milk (or skim milk if coconut is nowhere to be found) with your preferred meat or vegetables and you are set. Sambal belacan? Just remember to cook the belacan with your windows closed or your neighbours might call the cops on you.

9. Dried Goods (ikan bills, udang kering, dry soup base)

This is what we call meal enhancers. You can get the vegetables, meat, pepper and salt but the secret ingredient that makes the dish pop is the dried goods that we use to cook our soup and stir fried items.

Yes, when we are gone from Malaysia for a period of time, the experience turns us into cooks. What we used to take for granted suddenly becomes a passion that burns. Suddenly we yield a wok and ladle, cooking up a storm - then we video call our parents and they go,

How come you never even step into the kitchen when you are at home?’.

Oops, got us there!

10. Instant Noodles

Photo: Her World

Okay, what took us so long to list instant noodles? Well, we’d like to say that we save the BEST for last.

The inevitable comfort food champ when it comes to travelling is the instant noodles. I mean, some people don’t even go on 3 day 2 night trips without instant cup noodles, and if you can survive a month or so in a foreign land without instant noodles (think Penang White Curry Mee, Pedas Giler Tomyum, Laksa and Kari Cili Api), are you even Malaysian?

So there you have it. A list of 10 items that you need to pack before you travel the globe. All that is left for you to do is to add it into your packing list and go have an amazing adventure.

You’re welcome!

You may find out more about Rachel Yeoh here on Instagram.

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