Category Archives: What to Bring

Powering all your electronics in Thailand

As you probably guessed, electrical standards abroad are different. The US uses 120v/60Hz. Thailand uses 220v/50Hz. That means if you plug an appliance that is set for 120v/60Hz into an outlet in Thailand, there will probably be lots of sparks and smoke, and possibly some charred flesh. I did this once in Uganda, and the resulting smoke and sparks were entertaining, if not expensive.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your US electronics won’t work abroad.  Most modern electronics are dual- or multi-voltage, meaning it will work at 120v or 220v.  Check the label on the power supply to make sure, but all of my electronics, including my MacBook Pro, Fujifilms digital camera battery charger, iPhone/iPad charger, cell phone charger, and my son’s Nintendo DS power adapter are multi-voltage.  Typical multi-voltage label looks like these:

If it is dual voltage, it will say something like INPUT: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz or AC IN: 100v-240v, 50-60Hz.

Continue reading Powering all your electronics in Thailand

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.

IMG_0210

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

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.

Per EVA Air, you are allowed to check two 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)
  • 3 dimensions of both pieces may not exceed 107 in. (273 cm)
  • Weight of each bag may not exceed 50 lb (23 Kg)

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 Kalasin 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

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

Thai Phrasebooks

The Thai language is a unique language, only spoken in Thailand and not closely related to any other language with the exception of Lao. It has some unique grammar, 5 tones, and a very unique alphabet, making it a very difficult language to learn for Westerners. What gets me are the tones. You can say they same sound in 5 different tones, and they can mean 5 completely different things. And tones are subtle to us Westerners. A subtle raising of the tone to emphasize a point in English can alter the entire meaning of a sentence in Thai.

Continue reading Thai Phrasebooks

Thailand Travel Guide Books

Before you go this summer, do yourself a favor and get a guidebook.  And peruse it before you go.  They have lots of suggestions and recommendations, and if they are from a good guidebook, they are typically spot on.  And the sections on culture, history, arts, etiquette, geography, weather, etc. are invaluable.

There are a ton of guidebooks, from a variety of publishers, including FodorsRough GuideMoon, and a host of smaller publishers.  I am partial to Lonely Planet.  The audience that they write for seems to be spot on with the type of travel I enjoy (going on a budget, exploring on our own, independent of tourguides and tour companies, going to out-of-the-way places where typical tourists are scarce, using local transportation, etc).  Fodors seems to be targeting a more upscale traveller, and Rough Guides seems to target the backpacker crowd.  Lonely Planet seems to be in a nice medium.  (By the way, these websites have a LOT of good information for travellers, so they are definitely worth perusing.)

Continue reading Thailand Travel Guide Books