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.
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 59 minute flight from SLC to SFO, a 9 hour 14 minute layover in SFO, a 13 hour 20 minute flight from SFO to TPE, a 55 minute 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
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, 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. 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
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:
- Appearance matters when you travel, particularly to Asia. You will immediately notice how dressy Thais are, even when just running errands or going to the store. They are dressed nicely, have their hair just so, and even have make-up on even if they are only working around the house. So please plan on being presentable.
- You will have access to laundry services, but not every day. We will have designated laundry days when we can launder everything in bulk. These are included in the fee. If you require laundry between these designated laundry days, you will have to pay out of pocket, but it is very inexpensive. The frequency of laundry days will vary depending on the itinerary. For example, we won’t have opportunity for laundry the 4-5 days we are at the second village.
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)
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…..
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.
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:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair products such as gel, mouse, etc.
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Moisturizing lotions (although when the humidity is 90%…)
- Shaving cream
- Over the counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)
- Laundry detergent
You’ll need money in Thailand. In Thailand, the currency is the baht, and 34 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:
- 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.
- Convenience – ATMs are literally everywhere in Thailand. Just make sure you know your pin number!
- 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.
- Security – Now you can withdrawl funds as you need them, and not have to carry large amounts of currency or traveller’s checks.
We take global communications for granted. We can call, email, text, message, and video chat. We can do it the old-fashioned way, on landlines, or on cell phones, satellite phones, smart phones, tablets, or computers. We can use Facebook, Twitter, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, iMessage, and many more applications to communicate. While it may be a bit more challenging to communicate when traveling abroad, especially outside of North America, East Asia, and Western Europe, it has become much easier to take advantage of this brave new world of global communications, even in the most remote locations in the world.
So, how will be be communicating while in Thailand? How will you be able to call home to friends and family? Will there be Wi-fi access? Are there data plans available? I hope this post will answer some of these questions.
Calls to and from the US: We will be providing each of you with a cell phone and a local Thai phone number. Starting this year, if you have an unlocked phone, you can use your own phone and we will provide you a SIM card with a local Thai phone number. You can then choose to have a data plan that will give your phone internet access.
Our experience is that this is still far less expensive than international plans through your cell service in the US. The phone is an older Nokia “dumb” phone that will make cellular calls, texts, and play a few old games like “Snake”. It doesn’t have a full keyboard, so you’ll have to use the old number-pad method of entering text. However, this is extremely inexpensive for calls within Thailand as well as to the US. Calls from Thailand to the US is as low as 3 baht/minute (about $0.10/minute), and calls to a Thai cell phone is even cheaper. Plus, incoming calls are free. Continue reading Communicating while in Thailand