My Favorite Camera For Travel

When I was preparing for my 3 week trip to Thailand, one thing that was really on my mind was what type of camera did I want to bring?

I have a Nikon D3300 which is a digital SLR. While it is an incredible camera, it is also pretty bulky and has a lot of accessories that would have taken up a decent amount of space in my one carry-on backpack.

I wanted to buy a middle-of-the-road camera. Not quite another dslr yet not just a $50 digital point-and-shoot camera either.  I wanted one that would still take great quality pictures with higher megapixels, excellent zoom options, lightweight, affordable, and was sturdy yet didn’t take up a whole lot of room in my bag.

After comparing different brands and types of cameras, I came across the perfect one that I could take with me!

The one I decided on was the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS. It’s about $300 which was perfect for me!

It has 16 megapixels which was very comparable to my Nikon. The quality of the pictures taken were incredible!

It also had zoom options up to 50x optical zoom! Check these two pictures out! The first one was taken from our hotel room balcony; the coconut was on a thatched roof two buildings over!

This second picture is a close up of the full moon on Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan. I was VERY impressed with these! Whenever I usually try taking a close-up picture of the moon it always ends up blurry but this camera captured it PERFECTLY!

Even the video quality at the optimal zoom was very impressive!

Even though the zoom is powerful the lens does not come out very far so I felt as if it was pretty sturdy and that it had a small chance of getting damaged while carrying it around in my backpack or day purse.

Because of how sturdy I felt it was, I chose not to purchase a carrying case for it. I opted to just have it loose in my bag. It was also very light so I had no problem carrying it around with me during the day.

I fell in love with this camera and will take it on all my future travels!

 

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The Perfect Packing List for Thailand

 

When my boyfriend said we’re only bringing one backpack each on our three-week trip to Thailand, I definitely panicked! I thought to myself, “How in the world am I going to cram three weeks worth of clothes, makeup, and everything I need into a carry-on backpack?”. There was no way!

I was dreading this.

I looked up the average weather for when we were going to be in Thailand (Dec-Jan) and knew it was going to be HOT and MUGGY with a chance of small bouts of rain. I figured that I needed at least enough clothes to get me through one week and to bring clothes that I could re-wear if needed.

Here’s what I ended up packing:

Clothes –

4 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, 7 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 yoga capris, pajamas (shorts and a t-shirt), 3 bathing suits, 1 casual dress, light-weight rain-proof North Face Jacket, water sandals from REI, and flats. I wore a long-sleeve shirt, leggings, and flip flops on the plane.

Hygiene and Medicine –

3 oz shampoo, 3 oz conditioner, Neutrogena face sunscreen, minimal makeup and makeup remover wipes, deodorant, razor, heat protector and travel size hair straightener, hair gel (for the curly days that my hair would not want to straighten due to the humidity), toothpaste/toothbrush, birth control pills, Doxycycline (which I had prescribed for Malaria prevention), Ciprofloxacin (Doctor prescribed in case of a diarrhea emergency), Pepto Bismul tablets (for the non-emergency bathroom issues, comes in handy!), DEET bug spray, hand sanitizer, and TOILET PAPER.

Important Documents –

passport, driver’s license, debt and credit card, copies of passports of all who were traveling with us, and cash.

Misc –

phone and phone charger, camera and battery charger, sunglasses, small purse for while we were out and about, and a notebook/journal.

 

When it came to deciding what clothes to wear I ended up bringing items that would be inter-changeable. I could mix and match almost every piece of clothing that I brought. I was able to find really lightweight razorback tank tops that were loose so I was able to re-wear them at least once before needing to send them out for laundry. Also they did not need to be layered! Remember, it is about 88 degrees with 99% humidity – you do not want to have to wear a undershirt/tank top underneath your clothes! Light and loose is the way to go! Plus, hardly takes up any room in your backpack!

I am also go glad I brought my waterproof North Face Jacket because we did encounter rain here and there! And with the humidity, if you get wet you are going to be damp ALL day long! It was also nice to have some nights too because it did get a little chilly a few nights that we were in Thailand, especially up north in Chiang Mai. I am so glad I decided to stuff that to the bottom of my backpack. If you don’t end up needing it, great! At least it’s there in case you do and you’ll be glad you decided to give up a small amount of space for a lot of comfort if it’s needed!

When it comes to hygiene products you really don’t need to bring too much at all! There are 711 stores literally on every block in every town in Thailand. 99% of the hotels we stayed in provided shampoo and conditioner so when you run out of your first bottle you can easily replenish your supply for free! We ended up ditching the idea of bringing sunscreen (though I did still bring my face sunscreen, I love that stuff and didn’t want to have a huge breakout while I was there! Plus, it comes in carry-on size!) because sunscreen is something you can quickly purchase at a 711. So why take up the space if you don’t need to? One note about sunscreen: make sure there is no bleach added to it! You will notice quickly that there are a lot of beauty products designed to whiten your skin in Thailand so watch out for that!

As for why I brought hand sanitizer and toilet paper, please read Important Hygiene Tips. Bringing these two items were a life saver!

Why bring so many documents? Our routine once we got there was to keep everything in 2 locations – one on you and one in the safe in the hotel room. We did this in case 1 set got lost or stolen. Here’s what I personally did with my documents: my passport, credit card, and everyone we were traveling with passport copies I put in the hotel safe. My driver’s license, copy of MY passport, and debit card I kept in my purse on me when we were out and about. I liked this system and would use it in all my future travels.

A journal. Trust me, just bring it. When you are going on a trip to a location that is so unfamiliar with different cultures and crazy new experiences you’ll want to write it all down. Especially if you are going for an extended amount of time. You start to forget all the fun little details that you experienced during the day and people you met because each day is so packed full of exciting things that you forget the details of your amazing adventure! I brought a small notebook with intentions to write down what I did every single day I was there. I’ll admit, there were days when we had downtime that I sat down to write and realized I was 5 days behind! But reading back jogs my memory of things that I otherwise would have completely forgot. Even if you just bullet point main experiences that happened throughout the day, it’ll be worth it when you look back at it years later!

Below is a link to the exact journal that I bought! It was so fun to fill out during the trip! I also brought a lined notebook to write more detailed notes about my day-to-day adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Important Hygiene Tips You Need to Know for Thailand

Before you leave for your trip to Thailand…..

Make sure to read these 3 important hygiene tips to take into consideration before you leave! They may save you a lot of discomfort when you are there!

1) WATER

I’m sure it’s well known that you do not want to drink the water in Thailand. ALWAYS drink bottled water and make sure that the lid has not been tampered with. Every single hotel we stayed in provided at least 2 bottles a day of complimentary water. You can also buy bottled water at 711’s for about 10 – 20 baht per bottle (that is only about $0.15). Make sure you are drinking a lot of water throughout the day. If you are feeling thirsty, that means you are already dehydrated. It is very hot and humid in Thailand so you sweat out your liquids pretty quickly.

We also were weary about using sink water to brush our teeth with, especially in Bangkok. We were staying in a nice hotel yet still even realized that our sink water had a yellow tint to it. We took the safety precaution of using bottled water to brush our teeth with and opted for hand sanitizer to clean our hands.

Ice in drinks is something to be mindful about and to be aware of. Most hotels use “good ice”, you can tell because it’s circular. We felt safe having circular ice cubes in our drinks. If we noticed that it looked like it was shaved off a block, we would request to please not have ice in our drinks. We were walking down the street and actually saw a place that was “making ice” as in there was a large block and they were hitting it with sledge hammers to break it in to pieces, picking it up off the floor, and selling it. This type of ice in not sanitary and probably just came from city water. You might as well drink the city water straight if you’re going to have that ice melt in your drink. Just be conscious of what type of ice you are allowing yourself to drink. You don’t want to make yourself sick.

2) HAND SANITIZER

So glad we had this! Since the water isn’t very clean, why would you wash your hands with it? I was frequently applying hand sanitizer the whole trip! And if you run out, those millions of 711’s will have some in stock as well as the many pharmacies all around town!

3) TOILET PAPER

Time to talk about the bathroom situation in Thailand. Most bathrooms are kept very clean in Thailand but there are definitely a few differences. One of which is that most places, especially public facilities, do not allow ANY paper products to be flushed down the toilets. To prevent people from accidentally dropping toilet paper in the bowl, they simply do not provide any. I always made sure to have a small roll of toilet paper in my purse at all times! Just please make sure to respect their policy and throw the toilet paper in the garbage next to the toilet. It’s a hard habit to break but you get used to it after a while. And if you have to go number 2, there are hand held sprayers you can use to clean off. Again, took some getting used to. I had no idea what it was for the first time I saw the sprayer. Then I realized they were in every single bathroom. Once you get used to them you really start to like them! My boyfriend and I joked about getting sprayers for the bathrooms in our house! It’s your own little handheld bidet. Moral of the story, for your own sake and comfort, bring a roll of toilet paper with you! You’ll be so happy that you did when you’re sitting in an empty stall all alone.

“Um, excuse me, do you have a square to spare?”

 

 

Before Your Trip…

Before your trip, there are a few things you need to prepare for!

First of all, you’re going to need a passport! It can takes 6 weeks to process so I would get it as soon as you can! If you already have one, make sure that is it not going to expire during the time that you will be away.

Second, you’ll need to get some vaccines! I got mine at a local Multicare facility, just double check to make sure that they specifically do travel vaccines. You’re more likely than not going to need to have an exam first to discuss with the Doctor where you are going and for how long. From there, they can order which vaccines you will need. I ended up needing to get updated on my tetanus as well so in total I got DTaP, Thyphoid, and Hepatitis A. I also got prescribed medication to prevent Malaria. He also prescribed Ciprofloxacin (in case of severe food poisoning).  You will want to make this appointment to meet with the Doctor sooner rather than later because you may need to get boosters!

You can look to see what you may need by checking out the CDC web site – here’s the link for Thailand: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/thailand

Planning Your Trip!

When? Where? How to afford it?

 

When my boyfriend and I were on our very first date, we quickly established the fact that we both liked to travel. We asked each other where we would want to go on vacation next and both of our replies were “Thailand”. Yes, our first date we started to talk about traveling to Thailand. Coincidentally, we both had looked in to going prior to meeting each other. Who would have thought 14 months later we would go on an adventure of a lifetime together to the place that we talked about on our first date?!

First thing to figure out when planning a trip to Thailand is “When”?

We looked up the average weather and we decided to go December – January. December 26th – January 14th to be more exact.

On average, the “dry season” tends to be November – February. This is also their winter. Don’t be fooled though, it’s still quite hot and humid during their winter months. Hot days but generally cooler nights.

We heard multiple times from locals to avoid April at all costs! It is extremely hot and humid during the month of April. If you are heading to the Northern side of the country, they also do a lot of jungle burning during April which causes thick smog to cover the cities.

May – June is the “summer season”. Hot and humid! Rain on and off.

July – October tends to be the “monsoon season”. When it rains, it pours!

The most cost effective time to purchase plane tickets in about 9 – 12 months ahead of time. We were able to book round trip airfare from Seattle, Washington to Bangkok for $750 on EVA Airways! Not a bad deal at all if you ask me!

Where?

Figure out where you want to go! There are so many places to go and things to see that you’ll want to do your research and decide where exactly you want to go. You will also want to research how you’re getting to these places and how long you want to stay. You can take a quick flight from one city to the next, take a train, book a ferry, or even sometimes take a taxi ride.

We decided we wanted to see Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the islands on the eastern side of the country.

How to afford it?

In general, Thailand is a pretty inexpensive country to visit. The currency exchange is about 35 baht to $1 USD. In 3 weeks’ time, I would say that I spent about $2500-$2800 in total including all hotels, airfare, and transportation. When we bought our plane tickets for Thailand I knew I needed to start a better savings plan so I started a travel account. (I’ll be posting a blog on this soon!). I would encourage ANYONE who wants to travel to start up a travel account, it was a life saver to me and has helped me to afford so many trips! If I did not have a travel account set up I do not think I would be traveling like I do.

 

Don’t forget to plan ahead as far as what vaccines and legal documents you may need! Check out my next blog “Before You Go!”.