One of the nice things about travelling 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:
Here are some miscellaneous important things to remember before departure:
- Our last orientation will be on Thursday, May 11. Please review the orientation material on this blog before coming to the meeting, and come with questions. I will not be reviewing everything on this blog, so it’s important that you review it on your own. We will cover the most important aspects, however.
- We will meet at Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal 1 (Alaska Airlines) at 4:45 AM on Sunday, May 14. Make sure you are there AT 4:45! 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″) China Air has been militant about the size of carry ons lately.
- 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.
- I will have your airline tickets. Don’t worry about that. But make sure you don’t forget your passport!
- 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, clothing 2, clothing for women, money, electronic items, other items to bring, 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.
- Put your US phone on Airplane mode as soon as we take off from SF, 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. 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.
- Make sure your assignments are completed before we leave.
I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please call me, email me, or stop by my office. See you on Thursday and Sunday!
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
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.
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.
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.