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!

Packing: The DON’TS

What to pack? What to pack? Calm down, let’s not have a heart attack. I’ve put together a helpful list and strangely it’s just easier to start with what NOT to pack. It’s human nature to bring more than we need. You don’t want to do that when you go to Thailand. Things are really inexpensive there so if you forget something, you can probably buy it for cheaper in Thailand. And most things you’ll  probably never use… I don’t really want to explain myself.. weird this being a blog and all but… you’re just going to have to trust me.


  • An adapter- If you’re an American, you’re in luck. Our plugs fit into the wall outlets in Thailand. No need to purchase an adapter for your electronics.
  • High heels – you will never use them, NEVER.  Not for teaching, not for clubbing, fight the urge.
  • Blow dryer/straightener-  Save room in your suitcase. You can buy these items at the market for very cheap. Or you can be like me and go to the salon and get your hair washed and straightened every 2 days for $2.50.
  • Jewelry-  Just don’t do it. When you see the marketplace and learn how to bargain, you’re going to have a jewelry box you’re proud of. Yes, even watches guys.
  • White/silky clothing– Hot, humid and arm pit stains galore. Plus the water in Thailand can be a little brown at times so your whites are sure to turn.
  • Favorites- If you say, “I love this,” or “This is my favorite…,” as you’re packing then put it back in your drawer. If you are planning on traveling after you teach you’re going to want as much space in your backpack as possible. Leave your favorites at home because you’ll have new favorites that will be just as hard to part with soon enough.
  • Anything expensive- Thailand is so cheap. Their biggest bill is worth $30 American dollars so to bring anything worth more than that is just silly. Clothing is usually around the $6 range over there, $15 tops,  so save yourself the money and keep your expensive clothing home.
  • Baby powder- Maybe it wasn’t on your list to begin with but if it was, I just saved you. There is an abundance of baby powder in Thailand. Kids walk around with white faces of powder and grocery stores have a full isle of the stuff. Baby powder nation.

Birthday Cards Worth Keeping

Most of the time we tear a part our birthday cards just to see how much greenery is inside. (Don’t act like you’ve never done that.) Those that contain none, get tossed to the side pretty quickly. Unless you have slight hoarding problems – then you probably keep your b-day card pile until your next birthday. Okay, maybe it’s not a hoarding problem, maybe it’s just called feelings. You feel bad for throwing cards out. I get it. But let’s be honest, most of them are not worthy of being kept even for the day of your birthday. (I’m not ungrateful, I’m honest in a very blunt way.)

Anyway, when we’re tossing cards to the side, we seldom read the words in the actual card. I mean, it’s a birthday card, you can kind of sum up what it’s going to say… right?

Well, once in awhile,  some one gets you a card that fits perfectly to your life… and when all the cash is sure to be spent just as quickly as you opened it; that card, cash or no cash, remains sitting on your desk for months to come.

Thank you Aunt Barbie and Uncle Tommy — This one’s a keeper:

“Dream of the life you want to live…

It’s your life.

Honor and celebrate your individuality.

Surround yourself with people whose company you truly enjoy,

people who not only support you but empower you to be your very best.


the ones that tug at your heart.

The dreams that just can’t sit on the back burner,  

no matter what else is going on around you.

And never forget that it’s your life… ALL YOURS

So make it the life you love.”

In the past year, I have received some of the best cards from family and friends. I’ve realized that I have an incredible network of people in my life — Some have written words to me that I just can’t throw away. If I’m traveling, I travel with those cards (helps with homesickness) and when I’m home, I tuck them away in a messy little drawer and read them every now and again.

Cards that make you smile, cry, laugh; those are the cards worth keeping…*