For Those Staying – Travel Insurance

Travel insurance comes in two parts: travel health insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Travel health insurance assures that any medical expenses if you become sick or injured abroad will be covered. This covers minor illnesses to serious injuries or illnesses that require potential evacuation. It will also, if necessary, cover expatriation of remains in case of a death. It is highly recommended that everyone obtains travel insurance while they are abroad. Some domestic insurance coverages will cover international travel, but it is not nearly as convenient.

Trip cancellation insurance is insurance that will pay you a percentage of the trip costs if, for some reason, you have to cancel the trip. This can be due to illness, a crisis in the country you are visiting, or other event that may cause cancellation of the entire trip.

Continue reading For Those Staying – Travel Insurance

How to Start a WordPress.com Account

For your pre-trip research blog post and your trip report blog post, you will need a WordPress.com account to post on this blog. Here is a quick video on how to do that. I will send you email invitations. If you don’t get one, please let me know and I will send it to you again.

Remember, you don’t need to create a blog (WordPress.com will ask), you only need an account.

What to Bring – A Personal First Aid Kit for International Travel

Stuff happens, and at inopportune times. So it’s best that you’re prepared. We will have a group first aid kit, but it is prudent to have a personal one as well. Not a huge one that will take care of any possible accident or disease that could happen. You’d need an entire hospital and a staff for that. What you want is something that will take care of minor problems that occur so that it doesn’t get worse, and for those with existing medical conditions, something that can make sure those conditions are taken care of. Plus, we’re not going to have enough NSAIDs, bandages, or Immodium for everyone; you are responsible for bringing your own.

Now, the easiest way to do this is purchase a premade first aid kit, and add on to it. The best ones for international travel are ones that are specific for that, such as the one above (which you can purchase at REI). But any first aid kit is better than none.

Continue reading What to Bring – A Personal First Aid Kit for International Travel

What to Bring – Personal Items

Of course you’re going to need personal stuff…toothbrush, deodorant, medication, sunscreen, etc.  Luckily, most items are readily available in Thailand, as long as you’re not too picky about brands.  So don’t worry about bringing a month’s supply of shampoo or soap, unless you HAVE to have a particular brand.  Just bring a few days worth, and buy what you need when you get there.

Items that can be easily purchased in Thailand include:

  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair products such as gel, mouse, etc.
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Moisturizing lotions (although when the humidity is 90%…)
  • Shavers
  • Shaving cream
  • Over the counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)
  • Laundry detergent

Continue reading What to Bring – Personal Items

Money, Money, Money

You’ll need money in Thailand. In Thailand, the currency is the baht, and 30 baht is roughly equivalent to US $1. If you want to check the current exchange rates, a good site is xe.com. Dollars are not very widely accepted here in Thailand, so you will have to get some baht when you’re here.

So what’s the best way to get it? Forget traveller’s checks; they are a total waste of time and money. You actually get WORSE exchange rates for traveller’s checks, and they aren’t honored everywhere. And don’t bring a lot of US dollars to Thailand, either. The best way to access your money is through the thousands of ATMs all over Thailand. This gives you several advantages:

  1. The best exchange rates – since the banks are negotiating the rates, you get much better exchange rates than if you go to a bank with US dollars and definitely better rates than the tourist exchange booths.
  2. Convenience – ATMs are literally everywhere in Thailand. Just make sure you know your pin number!
  3. Reasonable fees – the transaction fees are reasonable. It’s about $1.00 for the Thai bank and $1.50 by your US bank. To minimize fees, you’ll want to minimize the number of withdrawals. I usually withdrew about $150 at a time, and I never had to go to the ATM more than once a week.
  4. Security – Now you can withdrawl funds as you need them, and not have to carry large amounts of currency or traveller’s checks.

Continue reading Money, Money, Money

What to Bring – Paperwork

There are some critical pieces of paperwork that you need to bring to Thailand:

  • Passport
  • Extra passport photos
  • Driver’s license or other official ID
  • Westminster College Student/Employee ID
  • Health insurance card (we provide this)
  • Credit card (preferably not American Express)
  • Bank/ATM card
  • Travel itinerary/airline ticket
  • Written prescriptions for ALL prescriptions you are on
  • Eye prescription if you wear corrective lenses
  • Next-of-kin information

Keep these with you in transit, so make sure they are in your carry-on luggage. Also, please make a copy of all of these, and have them in another part of your luggage. Westminster College will also have a copy of the paperwork that you submitted, and I will have .pdf copies of your paperwork that I will place on a secure server, so that we can have access to it. However, it is a good idea to have a copy of this paperwork with someone at home, just in case.

By the way, you don’t have to bring every piece of ID or card from your wallet/purse. Your Smith’s Fresh Values Card and Salt Lake City Public Library Cards are not going to be used in Thailand. Leave those at home.

What to Bring – Electronics

We live in a world surrounded by high tech electronics. Rarely do we leave home without a smart phone. We also have digital cameras, video players, laptops, tablets, smart watches, Bluetooth speakers, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, etc. But when you’re traveling like we will be, electronics are both good and bad: they can either enhance your experience, or cause more trouble than they’re worth. Think about these pros and cons:

Pros: they can record your experience in audio, photos, or video, allow you to communicate with the world, entertain you on a flight or a van ride, or allow you to access information that you may need.

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Cons: they are expensive, heavy, delicate, require power, and are a target for theft. They can also isolate you from the travel experience; I’ve seen too many people so obsessed with electronically recording everything around them, or so busy on their texting/email/Facebook/Instagram applications that they miss the true experience.

So before bringing every electronic toy you own, think about if the pros outweigh the cons. Also, try to bring devices that will do multiple things (such as a smartphone). Here are my suggestions for electronics:

Laptop: Leave them at home. Seriously. They are heavy, delicate, and require power. Unless you are planning on blogging extensively, or doing some heavy duty work, leave it at home.

Tablet: If you insist on bringing something that has a bigger screen, or need to do some light-duty work (blogging, journaling, etc.), consider a tablet. They are much lighter, typically less expensive, last longer on battery power, and can do most of the work a laptop can do. If you need to type, and hate the onscreen keyboard, consider a bluetooth keyboard, which are pretty comparable to a regular keyboard. I have one that doubles as a case. If you have a Microsoft Surface, you may already have a built in external keyboard. Continue reading What to Bring – Electronics

Treatments for Motion Sickness

We will be experiencing just about every mode of transportation during this trip. We will be flying, driving in minivans (a lot, through city traffic as well as curvy, mountainous roads), riding in speedboats, riding in the backs of pickups over rough mountain roads, riding in tuk-tuks, riding bikes, riding tractors, and even riding on elephants.

Unfortunately, traveling causes misery for many people in the form of motion sickness. Motion sickness results from when the motion that your inner ear senses differs from the motion that you visualize. Many people experience motion sickness to one degree or another, some more severe than others. Some only get sick on ships during the roughest seas, while others can experience it during short drivers or even while skiing on an overcast day. Motion sickness progresses from a feeling of uneasiness to sweating and dizziness, and progresses to nausea and vomiting. Symptoms are exacerbated by lack of ventilation, inability to see outside the vehicle (and visualize the movement), being inside an enclosed space, or having anxiety or fear of traveling.

Estimates of the prevalence of motion sickness varies, from 3% to 60%, depending on the study. Many researchers believe almost everyone suffers from motion sickness, given strong enough motion stimuli. Women and children are generally more at risk for motion sickness. Continue reading Treatments for Motion Sickness

Staying Healthy in Thailand – Some Things to Think About

Staying healthy while on the trip is a very high priority for students, faculty, family, friends …… really everyone. Being ill on a trip like this really is not very fun. So far, we have had few illnesses on this trip. And there are several things we can do to stay as healthy as we can, although sometimes, stuff happens.

Before you leave…..

There are a few things you can do before even getting on the plane to help keep you healthy. The most important thing you can do is make sure you have all your vaccinations. This was covered in another post in detail. Make sure you have the standard vaccinations (DTP, MMR, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, etc.), as well as typhoid. As recent measles outbreaks have shown, even standard vaccinations like MMR are important when traveling abroad. Continue reading Staying Healthy in Thailand – Some Things to Think About

Flight Itinerary for May Term Thailand X

We will again be taking EVA Air from SLC to BKK via SFO and TPE, and via TPE and SFO on the way home. It will be approximately 20 hours in the air. We will be in coach, and the flights are usually full. But the 747s and 777s are big and comfortable, with free meals, food, drinks, blankets, headphones, slippers, and personal entertainment centers.

Please note that the flights this year are a bit different than in previous years.

Here are the details of our flight itinerary for the trip:

Salt Lake City to Bangkok, Thailand

Date
Airline
Flight
Airport
Time (all times are local)

Monday, May 14, 2018 Alaska Airlines AS 743 Salt Lake City (SLC) Dep 6:15 am
San Francisco (SFO) Arr 7:09 am
Duration 1:54

Monday, May 14, 2018 EVA Airways BR 7 San Francisco (SFO) Dep 1:00 pm
Taipei (TPE) Arr 5:10 pm (May 15)
Duration 13:10

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 EVA Airways BR 61 Taipei (TPE) Dep 10:30 pm
Bangkok (BKK) Arr 1:10 am (May 16)
Duration 3:40

Bangkok, Thailand to Salt Lake City

Date
Airline
Flight
Airport
Time (all times are local)

Sunday, June 10, 2018 EVA Airways BR 212 Bangkok (BKK) Dep 12:20 pm
Taipei (TPE) Arr 5:10 pm
Duration 3:50

Sunday, June 10, 2018 EVA Airways BR 18 Taipei (TPE) Dep 7:40 pm
San Francisco (SFO) Arr 4:10 pm
Duration 11:30

Sunday, June 10, 2018 Alaska Airlines AS 3450 San Francisco (SFO) Dep 7:05 pm
Salt Lake City (SLC) Arr 9:50 pm
Duration 1:45
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