Family and friends of May Term Thailand participants have asked us many questions about this trip. Questions such as what we’re going to do, how we’re going to stay safe and healthy, and why we’re going to Thailand are some of what is asked of me. These are very important questions for friends and family, knowing that we’re going so far away to a country that is so different. So to answer some of these questions, I have compiled a little FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) post here. If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment on this post, and I can answer those questions as well.
May Term Thailand XI will be from May 10, 2020 to June 7, 2020. These dates are still tentative, and may chance by +/- 1 day.
Registration will begin the morning of Tuesday, October 29th, at 7:30 am. The registration process will be slightly different this year. The link for registration will come online at 7:30 Tuesday morning (not before), and the link will be at the bottom of the May Term Thailand trip description on this page:
It will be an online registration, first come, first served. The $300 deposit MUST be entered using a credit card WHEN you register. The deposit is what will save your spot on the trip, so make sure you are prepared to enter the credit card number when you register. The remainder of the trip fee will be due on February 1, 2020. Last year, the trip filled very quickly, so if you want to go, please make sure you register as soon as you can!
The trip fee this year will be $4,400, and this includes roundtrip airfare from Salt Lake City to Bangkok, Thailand, all in-country travel, all lodging, all meals while in Thailand (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and all admissions and trip fees. It does not include spending money for souvenirs or snacks, cost of immunizations, passport fees, visa fees (if you are staying afterwards), food at airports during the flight to and from Salt Lake City, or fees for optional activities.
Here are a few more details on registration for May Term Thailand XII for May 2020:
- IMPORTANT! If you have a registration hold for any reason (student accounts, library, etc.), you may not be able to register for any May Term trips! Please check your Self-Service account and make sure you don’t have a registration hold. If you do, please clear it and confirm that it’s clear prior to October 29th so you can register!
- If the trip is full by the time you register, you will automatically be placed on a wait list. I know it’s disappointing that you aren’t on the list, but there are always cancellations, so please put your name on the wait list.
- To register successfully and reserve a spot on the trip, you MUST place a $300 deposit at the time of registration. This must be done online when you register for the trip. All major credit and debit cards are accepted. This deposit is nonrefundable (unless the trip is officially cancelled by the College due to lack of enrollment or other unforeseeable reasons). Please be ready with your credit card or debit card when you register on the 29th.
- The registration deadline for all May Term trips is January 31, 2019.
- Please note the dates for REQUIRED pretrip orientation sessions.
Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:
- The final orientation meeting will be on Thursday, May 9th from 4 to 6 pm in HWAC 351. PLEASE TRY TO BE THERE!!!
- Practice your Thai! Thaipod 101 is a great Youtube channel for learning Thai, but there are many others. Or you can use Duolingo or another language app.
- We will meet at Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal 1 (Alaska Airlines) at 5:30 AM on Sunday, May 12. Make sure you are there AT 5:30! We will meet on the first floor, by the check-in counter. We will check in and go through security as a group.
- Pack one back to check (less than 50 lbs., less than 62 inches combined height, length and width). You can also have one bag (and a personal item) to carry on. Make sure this is small (less than 15 lbs, and no bigger than 22″x14″x9″).
- I’ve created a checklist of things to bring. USE IT!!! You can also modify mine, but I highly recommend you literally check things off as you pack.
- When we go up to the second village, we won’t be able to bring our main bag with us, because we have to ride in the back of pickups, and we don’t have room. You’ll have to pack light using your carry on. Or you can share bags with someone else.
- Make sure you have identification on the bag. A sticker or some other mark can differentiate your bag from others for easy retrieval.
- Make sure you don’t forget your passport and other important paperwork!
- I have some suggestions on making the long flight a bit more comfortable here.
- Make sure you have your assignment completed before the deadline! Failure to complete it will result in a 0. Also make sure you’ve started the pre-trip portion of your journal before Sunday!
- Please go over the recent blog post for orientation details. In particular, read over the posts on baggage, personal items to bring, clothing, money, electronic items, additional items, paperwork, and a first aid kit. Again, I have a checklist to help you stay organized. Here are the highlights for each post:
- Bring about 7-9 days worth of clothes. Focus on versatile pieces. Make sure you have at least one outfit that you can “dress up” for more formal occasions.
- Call your credit/debit card companies, so that they know there will be legitimate charges/withdrawals in Thailand. Otherwise, they will mark it stolen, and you won’t be able to use it.
- The critical personal items to bring are sunscreen (high SPF), insect repellant, any prescription medications/eyeglass prescriptions, and anything else that you are particular about. Otherwise, you can get anything in Bangkok.
- Don’t bring cash. Bring an ATM card with a memorized PIN (and enough money in the account!) You should also bring a credit card for emergencies (preferably NOT an American Express), a driver’s license and your Westminster ID. Leave everything else at home.
- Make two copies of everything you bring (passport, IDs, etc.) Leave one copy with someone at home, and bring the other copy with you. Make sure you make copies of the back as well. It’s also a good idea to upload copies on a password-protected Cloud drive (like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive, etc.) Most are free, and it’s a good way to backup important documents.
- Make sure your family and friends have your Thai phone number, as well as the faculty’s. Also, make sure they have instructions on how to call you.
- Unless you have an international data or calling plan, put your US phone on Airplane mode as soon as we take off from SFO, and LEAVE IT ON AIRPLANE MODE FOR THE REST OF THE TRIP!
- Please bring a small first aid kit. I have a post about this here.
- Safety issues are covered here. Health issues are covered here, and here. Notes on motion sickness are covered here.
- I will download photos onto my laptop and external drive, so don’t worry about not having enough memory cards for your camera.
I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please call me, email me, or stop by my office.
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 items. I have a packing list you can print out here in .pdf format. I would literally check off items as you pack them.
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 2 hour 20 minute flight from SLC to SFO, a 3 hour layover in SFO, a 14 hour flight from SFO to HKG, a 3 hour layover in HKG, and a 3 hour 20 minute flight from HKG 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 close to 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
Here are some more unusual items to pack that will be VERY useful on this trip, or really ANY international trip:
Zip Lock bags, various sizes – These are incredibly useful, and take up 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.
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
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 at the highest level of achievement. 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. Continue reading What Not To Wear…..
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.
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.
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.