Pack Rat

Currently 1000 km above Greenland writing this post, en route to Abu Dhabi for the first leg of my flight!  This post is going to talk mostly about travel logistics, including flight information and packing.  For some reason everyone I told I was going to Thailand was all “OMG what on Earth are you going to pack?!?!?!”  I thought this was an odd question, but maybe they just had a better grasp on the concept that I’m leaving the country for a year than I did.

I opted for a 35 hour flight, consisting of 12 hours to Abu Dhabi, 12 hours in Abu Dhabi(!!!!!), 4 ½ hours to Colombo(Sri Lanka), and 3 ½ hours to Bangkok.  I would always recommend NOT getting a direct flight this far unless you’re pressed on time, do you want to be stuck in a tin can for 23 hours?

The flight was cramped, full of moody babies, and I had a middle seat (ugh).  Fun fact: using sitting behind 3 screaming children on a 12 hour flight as birth control is 100% effective.  On the plus side they served Indian food, my personal favorite.  Never having seen Indian food on a plane before I had to give it a try, even though it was peasant plane food.  I apologize for the pic quality, I didn’t want to scare anyone by whipping out my DSLR mid-flight, so these were taken on the prestigious 8 megapixel ~iPhone 5s.~


Top: dinner Bottom: Breakfast

Plane food

Dinner menu:

  • 3 bean salad
  • Paneer makhni(cottage cheese in tomato butter sauce), with cumin rice and garlic lentils
  • Mango Mousse

Breakfast menu:

  • Unidentifiable mix of cooked vegetables
  • Cumin rice
  • Raw pepper salad

The only thing I really avoided was the paneer, cooked cottage cheese in a pre-prepared meal does not tease the palate.  But overall, in the US we really need to step up our vegetarian game.


Now on to the most stressful subject since freshman year bio – packing!!!

At first this didn’t really concern me.  I’m not sure if it’s because jetting from Chicago> Connecticut and back taught me how to downsize, or because my emotional breakdown when I realized I could only bring 1 suitcase to Italy for a semester thickened my skin.  Either way, here’s a short semi-semi-professional in training guide on the essentials that you should pack for a long trip to Southeast Asia.

I am allowed 2 checked bags at 23 kilos each(!!!!) so about 50 pounds each, a carry on, and a “personal item” meaning my leather tote that I shoved my laptop, DSLR, ad various de-sanitzing supplies for this endeavor.  My strategy was to fill one checked bag with clothes, and the other with creature comforts like shampoo and lotion that I can throw out when I leave, giving me a full suitcase to bring fun goodies home with.

Tip: go through your suitcase and only keep clothes that you ACTUALLY NEED.  Not like “Oh what if a famous DJ in Barcelona invites me to an afterparty on his tour bus” or “what if I want to take a majestic picture in a black dress with a red umbrella by the eiffel tower” crap.  If you can’t picture yourself wearing it at least 5 times, ditch it.  If you have multiples of something, ditch them.  I brought 1 sweatshirt to Italy for 4 months.  ONE.  And I had two pairs of running shorts that I switched off between when I jogged.  And let me tell you a secret – I survived.

Be especially cutthroat with your shoes.  Shoes take up SO much weight.  Thankfully, it’s hot as hell in Thailand so I won’t need to pack heavy boots or other heavy clothes.  I did make a concession and allow myself one pair of heels.


In flight meal @Sri Lankan Air.

Packing List 1: things you actually need if you’re going to Thailand for an extended period of time

  • Mosquito spray, about enough to bathe in for a week
  • Lotion out the wazoo
    • The Thais value pale skin (COUGH COUGH get on the trend US, it’s the future), so therefore their lotion/sunscreen has bleach in it, gross
  • Tampons
    • I hear you can only get them in major cities like Bangkok, and personally I don’t want to be stuck 2 hours from Bangkok without them
  • Malaria pills, serious disease what ~fun~
  • Luggage locks(for any traveler, duh)
  • Apple cider vinegar
    • Probably me being paranoid but I’m tryna keep the jungle spidies out of my apartment
  • Nice raincoat and SHORT rain boots
    • Coming upon monsoon season in hot weather, you don’t want to subject your calves to the abuse of chafing in suffocating knee high rain boots
  • Some kind of scarf you can wrap around your shoulders if you want to enter a temple and are wearing a skimpy top
  • Enough hand sanitizer to make taco bell breakfast almost safe to consume
  • Mini toilet paper that will fit in your purse,
    • Not all public cesspools offer toilet paper, BYOTP
  • Hats and SPF 50 to save your beautiful milky complextion from developing wrinkles prematurely(or ever)
  • Gifts for anyone hosting you, as it is polite, I brought my coordinator a Chicago mug
  • Copies of important documents(duh)
  • Extra iPhone products if you have an iPhone(like a charger) because Apple products are both expensive and a pain in the butt to find when you’re not in the US

For DSLR users: 

  • A camera strap that DOESN’T say “NIKON” or “CANON” on it in huge easy-to-read letters.  If you’re going to wear a branded strap, why not just hold up a sign that says “$600+ camera in tow & I’m stupid please mug me”

Packing List 2: Things I brought because I need my creature comforts and had the room in my extra suitcase(most of this stuff is going to be thrown out upon return)

  • A jar of peanut butter or 3 for a rainy day
  • A candle from TJ Maxx so my room smells nice
  • Leftover Christmas lights from my college apartment to add a homey touch
  • Pictures of the squad that I can tack to the wall
  • A mug with my college buddies on it that they sent me as a goodbye gift
  • My favorite tea to drink in said mug, so right now green, rooibos, and spiced chai
  • Cliff bars, in case of emergency
  • A yoga mat in case I’m in the mood

Not listed:

  • CONVERTERS!!! Because you don’t need them if you’re coming from the US!
  • Heavy sweaters and boots!

Now I can’t wait to get there and realize that I’ve actually forgotten something super important.  Also very excited to roll up to my teaching orientation group hauling my weight in luggage like the high maintenance betch that I am.

Sorry this was so boring, I’ll update it with a few pics after I get situated.  Any questions let me know/packing advice please comment!



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