Two years living in Thailand means that every time I go back, I pretty much go with an empty bag. Thailand was my first ever solo backpacking stop, and I wish I’d known not to take the following as a backpacker/someone who set up camp for years… (sorry if this feels a bit female orientated, but… er.. I’m female?)
It was one of the first things I was told to buy.. “get yourself down to Boots and buy a huge bottle of the strongest Deet you can find”. …..Don’t bother! First of all, those wee Thai mozzies don’t give a rats ass about your Deet.. they’re still going to bite you (especially if you’re further south in the islands). sSecondly, a lot of these Deet sprays are frickin awful for your skin, with a lot of the UK brands going up to 50% Deet. Instead of lugging a bottle of the stuff over there, just nip into one of the hundred million (slight exaggeration) 7Elevens and grab a little bottle of Thai mosquito spray once you arrive. The 7Eleven also sell mosquito coils (looks a bit like a coiled incense stick) and I found them to be the best thing for keeping them at bay. (I’m not sponsored by 7Eleven! ha).
Unless you’re planning to hit up one of the big high society bars (backpackers say what?), then I’d barely even bother with shoes. Like seriously.. leave the heels at home.. you’ll be way over dressed, they’re annoying to carry around, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb, you’re asking to be conned. I went to work in Thailand for 2 months without shoes on. Nuff said.
I don’t even take a hair dryer anymore. The heat will dry it within a good 10 minutes. If you’re staying in a fancy hotel where you might need one, then they’ll have it already. I use my straighteners to curl my hair, but in Thailand humidity, it’s a total waste of 30 minutes (and luggage allowance). If you’re hair is long (and you’re not used to the heat) you’ll spend most of the time with it knotted on top of your head.
A Jacket (for cold nights right?)
Nope nope nope… especially if you’re going island hoping. If you really must, take a hoodie. The only exception i’ll make to this one is if you’re planning an overnight trek in the North. It was the ONLY time I was utterly freezing in Thailand. We slept outside on a mountain. Whilst you’re at it, unpack the jeans too.. it’s 30 degrees.. are you mental!!?
The British medical minds seems a bit scare mongery (I’m pretty sure ‘mongery’ isn’t a word?) about malaria when it comes to Asia. There’s still a good few sore spots in Laos and Cambodia, but Thailand is (for the most part) malaria free. Northern, deep jungle and border areas are cautionary points, but when I got my tablets out in Krabi, the Thais laughed at me.
Pre-topped up money cards
As a first time traveller, a number of travel agents told me to go get myself one of those cards you put all your money on, and then use it to withdraw whenever I needed stuff (at a much lower withdrawal rate than what you would if it were your home cards). I don’t even remember for sure what I was advised to get (though I think it was a Master card cash passport), but loads of places are doing them these days. Total nightmare!!! A lot of the Thai machines wouldn’t accept them, and I had all sorts of problems topping it up, with huge wait times on their line to speak to an adviser to help. I had mine for a week and a half, and then cut it up.
Loads of make up
Two words… Melty. Face. Take your basics; mascara, eye liner, blusher/bronzer, tinted moisturiser. No beach bronzed goddess/god has a Kardashian face full of slap.
And one thing to take….
Balloons!!!! I once had a Halloween party in Bangkok and was going as a bag of Jelly Bellys. I wanted the balloons for full ‘bean’ affect. Could I find balloons anywhere in the centre of Bangkok? (even knowing the word for balloon in Thai!!!)… NO!!!!!!!!!!
I’d love to hear from any budding guest contributors with their ‘what not to take’ lists??