It’s been a year since I started this International Trip Planning series on my blog and the big trip has come and gone. I did a photo diary of our international vacation in Thailand, but I never really went into the things that went wrong. Terribly wrong.
Hubby and I are currently in the process of planning a big summer getaway. So while I am happy that I created those 2 awesome posts to help my readers plan, I wanted to share some tips about the unexpected things that happened while traveling to a new country.
1. Don’t trust the airplane food or cups of water on long flights
This should of been obvious, but our flight was so amazing that when dinner time rolled around we didn’t think twice about the selection of food. Our entire travel time from Houston to Bangkok was over 24 hours, and all the meals were included with our plane tickets, so when they brought out a cute little menu of dinner options, we placed our order for Asian cuisine without a second thought. The food we received actually looked pretty good for airplane food and the flight attendants pretty much kept everyones cup full with what ever they were drinking. But let me tell you, a good hour after we ate, something weird started happening in both my husband and my stomach’s. I try to avoid public restrooms at all cost, but with 2 10+ hour flights, I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the hotel. Dealing with the issues we had on the flight after dinner was absolutely uncomfortable and I will never make that mistake again. My recommendations, once you make it past airport security, buy the biggest bottle of water you can find and make it last until you get to the next airport. You could fill it up at an airport fountain, but honestly I don’t trust fountain water either. Secondly, bring your own food! I would stick to a super bland and light diet. Foods low in fat and oil and foods that won’t feel you up too much. On our next trip, hubby and I will probably just have water, saltines, a jar of peanut butter and a 2lb bag of snacking apples.
2. If you’re going to a non-english speaking country, they don’t know what you’re saying
Once we landed at the Bangkok airport, we didn’t know how to find our way to the cab’s. We went to the service desk, asking for the cab area (or taxi’s can’t remember which word we used) but they didnt know what we were talking about. Many of the people working at the airport probably speak just enough English to give you quick information, but not enough to have a full blown conversation. Which is understandable. I wouldn’t expect someone from China, speaking Mandarin, coming to Houston, TX and expecting TSA to answer their questions in Mandarin.
3. Double check your hotel check in time, and try to match your arrival time to after check-in
Hopefully that wasn’t confusing. But I wanted to tell you guys the importance of this because we landed in Bangkok at 8am. We made it to our hotel around 9am but when we went to check in they said our room wouldn’t be ready for 4 hours! Whet?! Granted this was my mistake, I saw that check in was 14:00 (2pm), but I figured “we’ll find something to do in the meantime.” I didn’t expect having traveler’s stomach and being exhausted even though I slept for the majority of the flight. We ended up sitting in the lobby of the hotel for 3 hours, before they finally were able to get a room ready for us. When we finally made it to our room, we showered and wasted no time falling asleep.
4. If you’re truly tired, take an hour or two long cat nap, then hit the pavement!
After we made it to our hotel bed, it was lights out! It may have been 2pm, but we didn’t care. I had activities planned for our first day, but they were all pushed back until further notice. We didn’t set an alarm, a wake up call or anything. We woke up around 9 or 10pm, and opted for room service because we didn’t want to try to get our bearings in a foreign city walking around at night. This horrible jet lag, day time siesta lasted a couple of days until we finally figured, “we should probably start exploring the city.” The next time we have to deal with jet lag, were going to get an hour or two long nap and then try to get adjusted to the new time zone asap. Now if your trip is about pure relaxation, then get all your zzz’s.
5. Trust NO ONE!
When we finally got the energy to leave the hotel room, our hotel manager waved down a tuk-tuk for us and told him where we wanted to go. This was our first time on anything like it, so we enjoyed the ride. You can actually watch our Thailand vlog, and see us holding on for dear life in the tuk-tuk before the scamming began. We figured since the hotel manager waved the driver down for us that we wouldn’t have any issues, but he did warn us not to buy anything in a very non-straightforward way. Our driver was told to take us to the river ferry, so we could take the ferry to the temples. However, our driver took us to a suit store and told us to go in and look around, and if we didn’t see anything we wanted he would take us to the pier. So stupidly, we went into the store. Nothing bad happened, but we came out empty handed and ask to be taken to the pier like we originally intended. Next, we finally started to see the river and our driver took us up to a lady sitting at table charging 2000 baht for a private long boat ride up the river. That’s when we reached the point where we just turned around and left on foot. I previously checked and the ferry was under 50 baht, so why he drove us to a private long tail that was asking for 2000, was beyond me. Make sure you verify the average prices for all services and look around before you buy a product to make sure you’re getting a good price. If something isn’t going how you think it should, move on to the next. Lastly, everything with out a public price tag (and some things with them) is up for haggling.
6. Have a little international vacation emergency fund
After we left Bangkok and headed south to the sea, we checked into the hotel I booked with a look of worry. I booked all of our hotels months in advanced based on reviews and pictures. So while 2 out of the 3 hotels I booked were absolutely amazing, the hotel in Ao Nang was a fail. It was extremely dated and a bit further from the beach than I had hoped for. On top of that, for some reason we didn’t feel totally comfortable. We ended up finding a hotel on Railey that was pretty perfect. They had one beach bungalow ready for check in that day that was only a few steps from the beach and a pool was right out our front door. It was an unexpected cost, to book another hotel for 4 or 5 days but we had an amazing time, with dinner sunsets on the beach, easy access to a pool and just an overall awesome private bungalow. You never expect having to do that, but having the funds in your account just incase is a good idea.
That pretty much sums up the few bumps in the road we had on our trip. They all honestly added to the memories we have, and still to this day we look back and laugh on the whole airplane bathroom situation. We also learned what not to do on our next trip, so I really wouldn’t have changed anything.
I hope you enjoyed this post! It was more of a story time and helpful tips than anything else, but I thought I would share to wrap up my International Trip Planning series.