Travel Tips from Thailand

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I just returned from Thailand, which is hands-down my favorite place on earth! While I’m still unpacking my bags and it’s fresh on my mind — here’s my best travel tips, and Berk chimed in here, too! Here goes our do’s and don’t’s of international travel — with some favorite Thailand shots thrown in.

1. Before You Leave

  • Grab your passport and check the expiration date. If needed, apply for a renewal - ASAP!

  • A passport holder is a fun way to keep track of your important documents!

  • Once your flight is booked, check your airline and download their app. Sign up for flight status notifications. Create the wallet option on your smart phone so you’re not juggling passports and tickets and boarding passes.

  • Research the converter you will need! Before you hit the airport, make sure your phone is charged so you aren’t in line worried about showing your boarding pass before your phone dies.

  • Apply for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry! We think the $85 membership fee for five years is WELL worth it — it’s a lifesaver, especially for the trip home! Keep in mind you have to apply in plenty of time prior to leaving on your trip but it saves (ALOT!) of time in customs and security lines both going and coming.

  • Download 3-4 movies, a few podcasts and a book on your Kindle! Last trip, I stood in the airport trying to get my movie to download and it never did. Make sure you go board ready with some fun media to look forward to!

  • Search “sleep” on Spotify and download a sleep playlist. It’s so worth it!

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2. Pack in These Bags

  • And what I mean by “bags” is BAG! Berk and I never check a bag — unless it’s an EMPTY duffel to bring back full of goodies for our shop! This is a favorite suitcase!

  • Pack light! Just fill your carry on what you love! This not only cuts down on travel prep but strangely cuts down on stress during the trip. While in Thailand, I had less options to chose between day to day. Your favorites are always enough. Five days prior to leaving, lay everything out that you might bring. Set the items in your guest room bed, perhaps, so that you can walk in and out a few times a day and start removing things you’re not thrilled about bringing.

  • This Calpak laptop bag is tried and true and we’ve found nothing safer or easier to carry for our computers! It’s a backpack and stylish, too.

3. Tuck these in your carry on

  • Nothing is worse then chapped lips on a plane! We never leave the house without this!

  • Travel-size dry shampoo is your best friend while en-route and all trip long.

  • This (travel size) facial spray is magic for when you start to feel like you need a mid-flight refresh.

  • These no-leak containers are perfect for toiletries.

  • Berk and I both are suckers for a travel uniform, meaning our favorite joggers, a T-shirt, lightweight and comfy sneakers (perfect for when we have to sprint to our gate!) — and most of all, soft socks. Sounds ridiculous but it makes the hours and hours on a flight that much more comfortable.

  • Tiger Balm is magic — it’s a tiny container, perfect for your carry on and takes away headaches and neck/muscle tension quickly.

  • I love having these Colgate Whisps on hand to freshen my breath in between flights.

  • Neck pillow — this one is perfect, Berk and I have both used it every trip we’ve taken! It inflates/deflates so doesn’t take up too much space, and truly I can’t sleep without it!

  • Benadryl — take it 20 minutes prior to being ready to go to sleep and turn on your sleep playlist!

  • Investing in these noise-canceling headphones is a no-brainer. They dramatically changed my experience on flights! They’re incredible.

  • Eye Masks really help get your zzz’s in on a flight!

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4. Airport Tips

  • When you have long layovers, find the closest lounge to pay to get into and use their shower! Definitely worth the fee!

  • Buy some healthy snacks ahead of time or in the airport shop — they always have a nice selection and will help you feel better during your flight.

  • Buy a large bottle of water prior to boarding your flight — and try to get some steps in. We walk our terminal at least twice, just trying to prep for a long time staying seated.

5. Once You Arrive

  • When you get into the international airport, make sure to stop at the kiosk and swap out SIM card on your phone! All international airports have numbers of places to do this — and even better, it is really economical!

  • On every trip, we also rent a hot spot so we can work remote — and stream music/vidoes while we travel on the bus/subway!

Next month, expect a Guide for Thailand to be released and a summertime Guide to Tulum! In the meantime check out our Guide to Marrakech and Guide to Sayulita.

Cheers to a new year full of travel!

A First-Timers Take on Thailand

Kel and I have just gotten back from Thailand. Jet-lagged - yep, a little sun burned - and inspired - oh, you bet!

I have never been to Asia (minus our honeymoon in the Maldives which I was told doesn't count, OK fine). Kelley and her husband Brad along with my husband Diek have spent a whole lot of time in Asia so everyone was excited for me to experience it for the first time and laugh at me along the way.

Thailand is one of those places that you experience sensory overload in the best way -- the people, the food, the shopping, the experiences -- it's all amazing! If you want to have a cultural experience, relax, eat amazing food and shop, this is your spot.

See below for our itinerary and my first-timer learnings. Please feel free to reach out with any questions if you ever decide to visit. Travel is our favorite thing and we are more than happy to help!

Itinerary:

Bangkok: 2 nights, 2 days + 1 day, one night on the way back

  • Checked out the temples - Wat Pho (where the leaning buddha is) and the Grand Palace

  • Did lots of market and shop shopping

  • Checked out food markets

  • Had cocktails at Sky Bar 

  • Ate at Gaggan  

Hangin' at Lebua Sky Bar

Hangin' at Lebua Sky Bar

Last night at Gaggan!

Last night at Gaggan!

Temple Time!

Temple Time!

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Where do we get our hands on this tree!!??

Where do we get our hands on this tree!!??

Dreamy details

Dreamy details

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Suhkothai: 2 nights, 2 days (plenty of time)

  • Took bikes to visit the ancient city (go early -- it's hot!)  

  • Visited markets

  • Ate at local restaurants

  • Saw lots of amazing pottery  

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Pottery heaven...

Pottery heaven...

Our friends at Ganesha Gallery 

Our friends at Ganesha Gallery 

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Koh Tao: 5 days, 6 nights

  • Went snorkeling

  • Rented scooters and checked out the different beaches and bars (High Bar for the win)

  • Ate amazing food (favorites: The Gallery, Su Chili, Farango, Fizz)  

  • Lots of massages

  • Cooking class with Joy - she is amazing! info@thaicookingkohtao.com  

  • Checked out! This is the place if you want to check out - for real. Its a beach bum's paradise!

Cocktail time at Fizz 

Cocktail time at Fizz 

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We love Joy!!

We love Joy!!

Spring rolls and drunken noodles!

Spring rolls and drunken noodles!

The makings of spring rolls!

The makings of spring rolls!

Totally screamed when we ran into this!

Totally screamed when we ran into this!

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What I learned:

The people:

They really are that nice. Some of the most friendly people I have ever met; they always have a smile across their faces.

Food:

Eat the street food. Before a trip I typically scour Trip Advisor and read up on the best restaurants to eat at. No need for Thailand. We had some of the best meals ever at some of the local spots and markets we stumbled upon. I will dream about all the fresh spring rolls and noodles. Take a cooking class! This was one of our favorite things and not overrated at all. In Bangkok we were lucky enough to get into Gaggan which was quite the experience in itself and highly recommend.

Drinks:

Drink the Chung. It's the local light beer and they go down easy. Also with all the fresh fruit we didn't have one bad cocktail. Lots infused with lychee, lemongrass and mango.

Sunscreen:

Lather up. I got so burned on my bike in Suhkothai without it. The sun comes through that haze and it's serious -- so use it.

Bug spray:

They bite. These mosquitoes are another level, make sure you bring or buy spray.

Clothes:

It's freaking hot. We were all over Thailand and it was just hot. Pack for easy and breezy -- no need for layers the time of the year we went. As you can imagine, I overpacked with kimonos and hardly wore any. Plus the shopping is amazing and you will want room for it all.

Massages:

Some of the best ones I have ever had. They are super cheap and just be open minded - this is not your American spa. These places are set up all over and generally are open floor plan - Kel and I laughed our way though our first one for sure.

Shopping:

Oh man. Where do I begin? First off, if you see something you love but think you may see it elsewhere -- stop that, buy it! We did this a few times and then had to retrace steps or try to find elsewhere which is just not worth it and stressful if you are crazy shoppers like us. Everything is so affordable! While you are there, look for baskets, pottery, clothes, jewelry, textiles. We didn't do Chang Mai this trip which seems to be the best place for textiles. Guess we will just have to go back!

What we found by place:

  • Bankgkok: there are great shops and markets. Shops offered a more curated experience where we were able to find better quality traditional Thai hats (at Thai Home Industries), clothes (Lofty Bamboo!) and jewelry. There are bead and jewelry shops all over and you are able to negotiate prices and find really nice things. At the markets we were able to find some embroidered goods which we totally regret not buying more of (next time!). 

  • Suhkothai: pottery. They are known for pottery in this region and it is soooo beautiful and intricate. We were lucky enough to bring home lots and meet the artist himself and his lovely family. Their home/studio is called Ganesha Gallery.

  • Koh Tao: beachy vibes for days. Amazing clothing options in the local shops and we were lucky to stumble upon a cart full of baskets! The locals use these baskets to carry things and most importantly fish. We mailed home a giant box full of them! Say a little prayer that the deliver some day, we hope to do a insta contest for them :)

Bottom line - take the trip, deal with the jet lag and experience Thailand for yourself. You wont regret it, we promise! Next on the list for us? Sayulitas! With our first sourcing trip under our belts we are ready for some serious shopping in Mexico with pom poms for days in March. Don’t worry we will be sure to keep you updated on insta @houseofnomaddesign