Category Archives: Before You Go

What to Bring – Paperwork

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

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license or other official ID
  • Westminster College Student/Employee ID
  • Credit card (preferably Visa or Mastercard)
  • Bank/ATM card
  • Written prescriptions for ALL prescriptions you are on
  • Eye prescription if you wear corrective lenses
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Record Card
  • Copy of hotel reservation letter for first night
  • Copy of flight itinerary
  • Copy of Thailand Pass
  • Copy of health insurance letter
  • Copy of Thailand e-visa confirmation (if applicable)

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 – Baggage

Count on packing pretty light.  Bring one medium bag to check in, and a carry-on that can double as an everyday bag to carry with you for the trip  A backpack or courier-type bag is appropriate for the carry-on.

Most international airlines allow two checked bags. However, for this trip, you are allowed ONLY ONE. It must fit this criteria:

  • 3 dimensions of each bag may not exceed 62 in. (158 cm)
  • Weight of each bag may not exceed 50 lb (23 Kg)

This year, there is an additional complication in that our domestic and international flights are on two separate tickets. That means that we will have to pay the domestic flight to check bags. The cost of checking one bag is included in the trip fee; therefore, please plan on bringing only ONE checked bag and a carry on.

DO NOT OVERPACK.  One medium bag should be sufficient, along with a carry-on large enough to carry at least a days worth of clothing and gear.  If you need something, you can always get it cheap in Bangkok. We will be traveling by van from Bangkok to Buriram Province to Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok, and there isn’t a lot of cargo room.  If you have two large suitcases, your van mates will not be happy. Continue reading What to Bring – Baggage

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.

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: 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, etc.

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 – MORE 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, especially your COVID-19 vaccine. 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 – MORE Things to Think About

Staying Healthy in Thailand – Vaccinations

UPDATE: Make sure you are fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or 1 does of the J&J) and have proof of vaccination with you. You can have the CDC card that was given to you when you were vaccinated, or have an electronic version such as Docket (on the iOS App Store or the Android App Store). As of right now, the Docket App only works for those in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Utah, so if you received your vaccine in another state, you may have to find another way to show digital proof of vaccination.

We are also STRONGLY recommending that everyone who is eligible for a booster get a booster before traveling at all. Overwhelming evidence shows that having the full COVID-19 vaccine series plus a booster is highly protective against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Note that Thailand is requiring proof of vaccination to enter the country. There is an alternate quarantine for those not vaccinated, but we cannot accommodate anyone on alternate quarantine on this trip. Therefore, if you are not fully vaccinated, you will not be allowed on the trip.

If you have had COVID-19, please obtain medical proof that you had COVID-19 from a medical facility. And make sure you have had the vaccine even if you’ve tested positive; Thailand requires full vaccination regardless of whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not.

As for other vaccines, one of the nice things about traveling to Thailand is that you don’t need too many special vaccinations other than the ones that you SHOULD have already (MMR, Td, Hep A, Hep B, Varicella if you haven’t had chicken pox, and possibly meningococcus, especially if you live in  dorms).  Pay particular attention to make sure your tetanus-diptheria is up to date, as well as the Hep A and B series.  If you need the Hep A and Hep B, get started NOW as Hep B is a 4-6 month regimen.  Here is the CDC’s recommendations:

Beyond the standard vaccinations, the only ones that the CDC recommends are typhoid and malaria, if you are going to areas that have high prevalences.  Typhoid is a good idea; on one of my first trips to Thailand while at the U of Utah, one of the faculty contracted typhoid just before leaving Thailand, and it made for an unpleasant flight home, to say the least.

Continue reading Staying Healthy in Thailand – Vaccinations

May Term Thailand FAQs

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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.

What is the purpose of this course? Why do we do this?

The main purpose of this course is to introduce students to the concept of global citizenship. Students have exhibited great passion for doing meaningful service in the developing world. Dr. Ingle and I created this course to channel those passions into a structured, faculty-supervised service-learning opportunity that incorporates both a service component along with cultural immersion. We believe this course is a great introduction to students interested in international service, but do not have the experience or skills. This structure allows students to ease into international service in a less intimidating atmosphere.

Continue reading May Term Thailand FAQs

Details on Registration for May Term Thailand XII, May, 2022

May Term Thailand XII (take 2) will be from May 8, 2022 to June 5, 2022. These dates are still tentative, and may chance by +/- 1 day.

Registration will begin the morning of Tuesday, October 26th, 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:

https://www.westminstercollege.edu/about/resources/global-learning/may-term-study-experiences/upcoming-may-term-study-experiences

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, 2022. 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 $4,500, 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 2022:

  • 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 26th 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 26th.
  • The registration deadline for all May Term trips is January 31, 2022.
  • Please note the dates for REQUIRED pretrip orientation sessions.

Important Things to Remember Before Departure – 2019

Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:

I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please call me, email me, or stop by my office.

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.

Continue reading Squat Toilets and Bucket Showers – Essential Information