Packing: The Must Haves

So you’re finally moving to Thailand? There are definitely some things you’re going to NEED.  But don’t worry, it’s not too bad. Most western luxuries can be found in Bangkok with the exception of just a few.


  • Original college transcripts (Yes original)
  • Original college degree (You need this for a work visa)
  • About 20 small photos of yourself. The school will need a couple  passport size photos for processing your documents and when you travel you will need them for visas. It’s just easier if you already have them on you.
  • Photocopies- Bring at least 5 copies of each of the following: Your resume, college transcripts, college degree,  letters of recommendation (you should have two different recommendations), and every page of your passport. Keep all of these copies neatly  in a folder or binder. You’ll thank me later.
  • Crayons – The crayons in Thailand are terrible! And if you find Crayola they are kind of expensive.  The kids normally have colored pencils.   I recommend bringing crayons to help make your teaching props. (Way quicker to color with.)


  • Tampons- Good luck ladies. Tampons can usually be found if you’re heading to the Thai islands but if you’re not, calculate how long you’ll be gone for and pack accordingly. This was a biggie for me.
  • Toothpaste- While other super market items are written in English, toothpaste just isn’t. I tried to go for a mint flavor by purchasing a green tube and was surprised with a salty seaweed taste. Stock up!
  • Q-tips- The quality in Thailand just isn’t the same as the States. I once had a cotton bud get lost in my ear and I somehow kept my calm and managed to pull it out with  tweezers. Not one of my best moments.
  • Undergarments- While you can buy almost everything in Bangkok, keep in mind that Thai people generally have smaller builds then us Westerners. If you want underwear, boxers and bras that fit comfortably, bring them from home. And bring A LOT of underwear. It’s hot and humid in Thailand. It’s common to shower at least three times a day. You’ll need extra undies for sure!
  • Jeans/Shorts – Again, it’s all about the body type. Shirts are easy to purchase no matter what size you are. Bottoms can be a little tricky. I actually gave up on trying to buy any type of pant. I’m 5’4”, 125lbs, thin and curvy. Trust me, if you’re packing any type of butt, bring your own bottoms. I bought a high waisted teaching skirt in Bangkok that fit like a glove once, but that was the only time! You may find bottoms that fit you, I’m just suggesting that you don’t rely on it.
  • A deck of cards- It’s illegal to gamble in Thailand so you’ll never find a deck. They usually come in handy for long trips and the usual pregame.

That’s all that’s on the MUST HAVE list. Six items. Surprised? I’m sure you are. But to prove to you that I’m not joking, here’s my suitcase before my departure from New York City to Bangkok:

After being away from America for six months - There was only ONE thing I wanted to bring back to Thailand with me  - A BAGEL; and so I brought back 2 dozen.

After being away from America for six months – There was only ONE thing I wanted to bring back to Thailand with me – A BAGEL; and so I brought back 2 dozen.

I came home for one week. I could have brought anything back to Thailand with me and I chose to bring back carbs.

This proves two things:

1. I am a true New Yorker.

2. You can purchase all of your American products in Bangkok. (Look for International supermarkets.)

The CVS bag contains a new supply of tampons — See, I was stocking up. And I remember being really upset when I realized I forgot to pack Q-tips and toothpaste!


12 thoughts on “Packing: The Must Haves

  1. A tip for the tampon problem. Look up divacup, its SO much easier and you save money from not having to buy tampons. I use it and I will never go back to tampons, its great for traveling if you may not have a bathroom or how long your travel days will be.

  2. Great list. Just came back to the States for a visit after living in Thailand for a year and a half. My first meal was bagels and my first purchase was a huge box of tampons. Spot on!

  3. Kate, when you left for Australia for a year how much did you pack? I wouldn’t want to pack heavy, but I feel like I would have so many clothing items I would want for a whole year…

  4. Kate, I want to start off by saying you’re an inspiration. I have dreamed of traveling for far too long. I am finally gathering all my thoughts and research to make this dream a reality. But, I have a major concern, I did not hold a bachelors degree as I decided to attend a trade school. Do you think there would be employment opportunities for someone in my position?

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