Travelling across the world is quite a feat. While one of the joys of travel is that you allow yourself to be exposed to new cultures, new languages, new ideas, new cuisines, and new ways of seeing and relating to the world around us, bringing along a few creature comforts from your home country can go a long way in making those rough moments that arise during every trip a little more bearable. While you would do yourself (and the country) an injustice by packing 100 Snicker bars for a weeklong trip to Thailand so that you could avoid having to find a snack on the street, packing a few extra things can be a lifesaver.
Thailand is an increasingly popular destination for tourists from around the world looking for the perfect combination of great foods, great beaches, cool culture, and plenty of natural beauty to explore. If you are planning a trip to this beautiful area in the center of the Indochinese Peninsula of southeast Asia, make sure to pack along these seven indispensable items.
1. A Quality Travel Backpack
Few people realise quite how big Thailand is: the 50th largest country in the world, slightly larger than Spain. That means that instead of just lounging around Bangkok or the beaches, there are plenty of places to explore. Trying to lug around a heavy suitcase with wheels that inevitably will break is a major no-no for the world traveler. During my most recent trip to Thailand, I made that mistake, and trying to carry my 45-pound square suitcase on my shoulder through the sometimes-crowded bus terminals was a major pain in the neck (literally!).
Investing in a quality travel backpack will allow you to comfortably explore the diversity of Thailand, from the highlands of the Thanon Thong Chai Range with dizzying heights of over 8,000 feet to the lowdown, sun drenched beaches. (Read reviews here of the best backpack for travel.)
2. Slip On Shoes
Few travelers are aware that in many places around Thailand, you will be encouraged to take off your shoes. Whether you are visiting the Buddhist temples or have been invited into the comfort of a local´s home, it is customary for visitors to show respect by taking off their shoes before entering certain places. The world traveler that I am, I used to always travel with a gigantic pair of Timberland boots. While these came in handy while hiking through the mountains, it was a struggle to unlace those clunkers during a day tour of the temples around Bangkok. Bringing a pair of slip on shoes will allow you to comfortably slip in and out of your shoes for certain activities that you might be doing while in Thailand.
3. A Water Bottle
One of the great things about Thailand is that there are almost an infinite number of places where you can refill your water bottle with filtered water for only a few cents. The tourist industry in Thailand has finally come to understand that us foreign travelers need our filtered water and almost every restaurant, hotel, and even stores will allow you to fill up your trusty Nalgene bottle for pennies on the dollar. Instead of adding more plastic trash to our already polluted world, avoid the disposable water bottles and bring along a bottle of your own. You’ll be saving money and saving the planet all at once.
For people who are planning on heading to the beach, this should be a no-brainer. However, even if you are avoiding the beach scene, you’ll need sunscreen in Thailand. Especially in the mountainous regions, the sun can be hot and having a bottle of sunscreen can definitely come in handy to keep you from looking like the typical sunburnt tourist. Sunscreen can be found in Thailand but it’s a little pricy, so it is a good idea to bring along a bottle of your own from home.
5. A Good Rain Jacket
When it rains in Thailand, it really comes down. While the main rainy season runs from May to October, a good rainstorm can fall at any time during the year. During a trip in February 2012, I trusted the reports in the tourist guidebooks telling me that it wasn´t going to rain one drop during my two-week trip. Of course, smack dab in the middle of my elephant ride through the jungle, the heavens opened leaving me (and my wallet and everything in it) completely soaked. No matter what time of year you are planning to travel to Thailand, make sure to bring along a rain jacket. If possible, find one with openable side flaps to allow a ventilation to keep you from sweating so much since the humidity in Thailand can be intense.
6. A Light Sweatshirt
The first time I went to Thailand, I brought a sweatshirt by accident. Somehow it snuck its way into a bag full of tank tops, shorts and flip flops. Though the sweatshirt was mostly relegated to the bottom of the bag for the trip, it did come in handy during long bus rides where the drivers really pump up the air conditioning. Stepping into a freezing cold bus with the AC at full power after being in the tropical heat is refreshing at first, but can quickly leave you feeling chilled, especially if you only have a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. A sweatshirt will make any bus or train ride more comfortable.
7. A Quick Dry Towel
One thing that every traveler to Thailand learns is that it can be difficult to dry things off unless you find a laundromat with dryers (which are rare). Though the sun and heat are intense, so is the humidity. After a long day on the beach, I always left my towel out on the deck of my hotel to dry out. Inevitably, it was still uncomfortably damp in the morning which meant that everything else in my bag would also get a musty smell to it as I packed up. Bringing along a quick dry towel is an easy way to get dried off on the beach while not having to mess up the rest of the stuff in your bag.
No matter where you are headed in Thailand, you will surely be in for the time of your life. While this modern country offers pretty much any and every convenience that a tourist could want, these seven items are sure to go a long way in making sure that your trip will be one for the ages.
Editor’s note: If you’re in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, I’d also suggest the Nancy Chandler maps, which you get get before you come, and are great insider’s guides to the cities.
This is a Guest Post from Scott Moses: Scott is a remote worker and outdoor blogger at LiveOnceLiveWild.com. Every chance he gets, he escapes his home office in Brooklyn and travels the world (sometimes with his dog Bennie.)