I'm sure you already know that we travelled with a backpack and a daypack that did not weigh over 12kg. How did we do it?
Understanding your airline regulations
Our flight via Air France-KLM had a cabin baggage restriction of a total of 12kg for a cabin-sized bag and an accessory, which was a very decent amount of luggage as most airlines strictly allow only 7-8kg. We decided that we did not want to check in any luggage, as our stuff would be the bare necessities that we have carefully prepared for the trip and we wouldn't want to risk losing them by checking in our bags and arriving to nothing.
Know the type of backpack you want
The type of backpack you want is correlated to whether you have decided on checking in your bags or not. I always feel that less is more, and it certainly helps if you use a smaller bag so that you will have no chance of overpacking.
We shipped in an Osprey Porter 46 from the US, and scored two Eagle Creek backpacks (Digi Hauler and Adventure Weekender) from a local warehouse sale at a steal. These packs are of maximum legal carry-on dimensions and are sure to pass the stringent checks at the airports!
Write down a packing list
This is a tricky one as there would be tonnes of items that would make the first cut. Nonetheless, write them down and review it several times, removing a few items each time. Another tip is to have 2 lists: 'things that go into your luggage' and 'things that would be on your body or in your daypack'. This helps you in knowing exactly what would be going into your backpack.
Please leave a comment if you are interested in our packing list!
Remove things that you have included "just in case"
These items should slowly be weeded out of your packing list, or if they have already gone into your bag. How did we define "just in case"? These can be things that you have a high chance of not using, or things that can be purchased when you arrive at your destination, such as toiletries, which can be cheaper than where you are coming from.
Tip: buy toiletries from cities that do not use the Euro.
Wash your clothes often on the go
One of the criteria we looked at while choosing our hostels or apartments is that there has to be a washing facility. Most hostels and apartments we stayed had a washer, and sometimes even a dryer. You'd need a little planning to get the most out of this facility though. We usually wash our clothes if we are staying at a place for at least 3 nights, so that there is ample time for the clothes to dry before moving to the next city.
Tip: bring a small bag of washing powder as some hostels do not provide it.
Buy fast-drying socks and underwear
We bought underwear from Exofficio via Amazon. They aren't exactly cheap but let me tell you how amazing these underwear are. They are easy to wash, durable, moisture-wicking which keeps you feeling fresh, and dries tremendously fast. They usually dry by the next morning and we could pack them up and go. We had 3 pairs each and are totally sold.
As for socks, we bought them from Smartwool via Timberland. Wool is a great material for socks as it is moisture-wicking (you still perspire in the cold!), and additionally it dries very fast due to its moisture-wicking properties. Wool socks can also be worn in sunny Singapore, as it actually helps keep you cool instead of the misconception that wool only keeps you warm.
Tip: Consolidate your purchases on Amazon for items that 'ships from and sold by Amazon.com'. If the total is above USD125, shipping to Singapore is free! Just remember that any incoming packages above SGD400 will incur GST of 7%.
Use vacuum bags to save space and stay organized
We bought these awesome vacuum bags from Qoo10 (this is an alternative link as the original seller we purchased from has stopped selling it) that do not require a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out. Moreover, these bags can be reused to store your winter wear upon return, or can be used on your next trip.
Ditch that extra pair of shoes
We did think of bringing an extra pair of shoes as we would be walking a lot, but gave up on the idea as we purchased really good boots for the trip. If in any case your only pair of shoes give up on you (thank god ours didn't), you can always buy another pair wherever you are, and they probably are in season too. This applies to everything else that you want to bring an extra piece for.
Shaomin & Kiat went for Timberland boots, while Shao Hui went for the Palladium Pampa Sport Cuff WN. It is magnificence in a boot, as it is waterproof, comfortable, and did not let her feet hurt a single day for 70 days.
Bring only one really good coat
It is tempting to want to bring more than one coat for a winter vacation as it is the one and only thing people see you wearing in your photos. However, we are thankful that we kept it to only one piece, as coats take up so much space in your bag. While travelling, the coat is out of your bag anyway so it definitely takes away some weight from your bag when you start wearing your coat and other winter accessories.
Tip: It rains and snows often during winter so it is a great idea to have a coat that also functions as a windbreaker/ raincoat.