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
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
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.
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.
Continue reading For Those Staying – Travel Insurance
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.
Continue reading What to Bring – Some Additional Notes on Clothing
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
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.
Continue reading What to Bring – A Personal First Aid Kit for International Travel
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
Continue reading What to Bring – Personal Items