Important Things to Remember Before Departure – 2016

Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:

What to Bring – Checklist for Packing

I like to use a checklist of things to pack and do for a long trip to make sure I don’t forget anything. This one is specifically for Thailand. You can add and subtract certain items, but I would be really careful about dropping “critical” items. I have a packing list you can print out here in .pdf format. I would literally check off items as you pack them, to make sure you bring those critical items.

Packing List for May Term Thailand 2016

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How to Survive the (Gulp!) 24+ Hour Flight to Thailand

It’s a long flight to Bangkok, there’s no way around it. It is almost on the opposite side of the globe. It’s not quite as long as a flight to Africa, or India, or Australia, but it’s close. It’s a 1 hour 50 minute flight from SLC to LAX, a 9 hour 10 minute layover in LAX, a 14 hour 5 minute flight from LAX to TPE, a 1 hour layover in TPE, and a 3 hour 30 minute flight from TPE to BKK. It’s a long long day! And during this “day”, we pass through 13 time zones and the international date line. We miraculously land 2 days after we leave. You will have no sense of time or place; your body will be completely out of whack.

But there are ways to make this flight, if not completely enjoyable, at least tolerable. You have to do three things: bring the right things for the flight, wear the right things during the flight, and do the right thing during the flight. Continue reading How to Survive the (Gulp!) 24+ Hour Flight to Thailand

Miscellaneous Items to Bring

Here are some more unusual items to pack that will be VERY useful on this trip:

Zip Lock bags, various sizes – These are incredibly useful for many reasons, and take almost no room. They can be used to pack up wet or dirty clothing, used to store liquids when going through airport security, waterproof important documents or electronics, pack potentially leaking toiletries, etc. This site has some other wonderful ideas for these incredibly useful items.

Garbage bags – For the same reasons as above, but for bigger and bulkier, or more, things. And they make a handy emergency poncho.

Duct tape – This is obvious. You can repair your bag, use it as a label, repair clothing….its uses are only limited by your imagination. Here are some more ideas. You can bring an entire roll, or roll some around your water bottle or other cylindrical object. And yes, in a pinch, you can create an evening gown out of duct tape.

Zip Ties – These are great impromptu luggage locks, but they also work great for repairs. Bring a bunch of miscellaneous sizes.

Continue reading Miscellaneous Items to Bring

Personal Safety While Traveling

A fear many have about traveling outside of the United States is personal safety. Much of this is ingrained in the fear of the unknown, and not on any firm data. While there are dangerous regions in the world today (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Nicaragua, Yemen, Pakistan), there are many parts of the world that are considerably safer than regions of the US. Thailand in particular is a very safe destination for travel. By many measures of crime and safety rates, Thailand is safer than Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Belgium, and far safer than France, Italy, Ireland, and even the United States. And within the United States, places like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit are far more dangerous than many developing countries. Continue reading Personal Safety While Traveling

Squat Toilets and Bucket Showers – Essential Information

Traveling to remote parts of the world, especially in Asia, may require Americans to rethink some fundamental aspects of their daily activities. We have found over the years that the squat toilet and the bucket shower can be problematic for some students. To help everyone prepare, we want to provide some information to consider.

Here is a link to a good site that explains the essentials of the squat toilet.

Here is a link to using a bucket shower

Might be a good idea to have a look at these before we go. When we stay in peoples homes, understanding these makes for better relations with the family and the village as a whole.

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. Continue reading For Those Staying – Travel Insurance

What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing

This is probably the topic where I get the most questions about, so I wanted to add a few additional notes on clothing to bring. As usual, it will be in bullet points, because I’m too lazy to write coherent paragraphs: Continue reading What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing

What Not To Wear – Tips for Women

This is a special edition of “What Not To Wear”, specifically for women, courtesy of Jen Simonds, one of the faculty leaders of May Term Thailand 2015.

Ideas for Enhancements to the Packing List for Women

Have clothes for approximately 9-10 days at a time.  My experience is that we had laundry less frequently than we expected.

Overall Clothing Strategies

Good Guideline #1:  Look for moisture-wicking fabrics.  Travel fabrics are worth the extra $.  Activewear sections with dri-weave performance fabric clothes are a great source of moisture-wicking clothes and these can be found inexpensively at Target, Walmart, etc.

Good Guideline #2:  Lightweight fabrics.  This allows you to do quick rinse/wash in a hotel sink and get it dry by morning.

Types of Outfits for Different Occasions (Individual items are listed below)

Continue reading What Not To Wear – Tips for Women

What Not To Wear…..

Appropriate clothing for the village. Nothing too revealing, no short shorts or skirts.

Thailand is hot and humid, especially in May and June.  The monsoon season is just beginning, and the air feels saturated with moisture.  It may not be quite as hot as August in Salt Lake City, but the humidity leaves you soaking after just walking a city block.  It’s tempting to wear a t-shirt and shorts all the time. And if we were in the US, we would. But we’re not in the US.

In most of Asia, academics are considered the highest level of achievement (even if it doesn’t pay like it).  Becoming a professor is highly respected, and there is a lot of status in being a university student.  Undergraduate students are expected to wear uniforms. Luckily, we will be doing service work, so we won’t need to dress up as much. But be aware that appearances are important in Asia, and as Americans we really do dress casually (dare I say slovenly) compared to the rest of the world. American tourists in particular seem to go out of their way to dress like….well…like tourists. There’s no other description. You can always tell who the American tourists are, and usually from a distance. We seem to insist on extreme casualness when on vacation. Maybe we want to escape the workplace so much, that we dress in completely opposite fashion. Granted, you will never completely pass as a native African or Asian, regardless of your clothing, but you can show respect and courtesy towards your host culture by dressing as they do, and putting as much emphasis to appearances as they do.

Continue reading What Not To Wear…..

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