We all like the idea of throwing a few t-shirts and flip flops into a big rucksack and globe trotting our youth away. But what if after squeezing in that last pair of shorts you’ve left no room for your toiletries – full size of course. What if you NEED seven clutch bags and 12 bikinis? And what if you’re too classy to couch surf?
If this sounds like you, throw away the backpack and get your Dad in the loft to fetch your suitcase, you’re gonna be travelling in style.
First stop: flights
This is where backpackers are forced to use the most luxurious mode of transport during their journey. After the flight to Bangkok, a variety of cheap buses and trains will be the money savvy tourist’s choice.
If you enjoy being crammed on a bus with no air-con for 12 hours than this may suit. However, an imperative piece of advice to the claustrophobic and time conscious visitor would be to fly around the country.
Book internal flights before you even set off to Heathrow. Knowing that you have your dates, times and plans all secured will be a massive weight off your mind. It may cost a fragment more, however Thai Airways are surprisingly reasonable, and you’ll cut off a good 11 hours of smelly bus ride out of your trip.
Hotels: If they don’t offer bathrobes, they’re not getting your custom
Backpackers are happy to stay in a sweaty £5 per night (that’s 250 baht) hostel. Suitcasers do not slumber in bunks; they dream away in plush king size beds, cooled gently by air-con and remain undisturbed by drunken tourists.
Fancy hotels don’t cost the earth in Thailand. If you book before you go you’re guaranteed a good deal. Most hotels even offer wifi for free! So you can tweet and Instagram photos of your tan from the comfort of your suite.
Although luxury is something easily obtained in the land of smiles; staff with a sound knowledge of English can be tough. Make sure you speak to staff face to face and do not demand another dressing gown over the phone, you could end up with a terrible translation and a Thai receptionist asking if you want to ‘sit down’.
A handy tip: make sure your hotel is in a good location… riding a tuk tuk down a dark and empty lane in the middle of the night is NOT classy and NOT fun. Especially when you hit a pot hole and the drivers moped dies as a result.
Excursions: Avoid Avoid Avoid
Wherever in Thailand you are travelling to, there will be an array of excursion shops and tour guides about. One after the other you will be offered elephant rides, treks and boat trips. Beware of these, they can be completely different to what you expect.
Although you are suitcasing around in style, avoid getting ripped off by shopping around; prices really do vary. Once you’ve done your research make sure the trip is everything you expect by asking hundreds of questions.
The worst-case scenario is that you spend 14 hours on a crowded mini-van stopping every hour for a new attraction, with only 10 minutes to explore. The sights you see will be life changing, but for all the wrong reasons; the back of the drivers head, a Thai woman’s choice of pot noodle lunch, and the horrendous crocs worn by the man in front. Don’t do it!
Mealtime: Dinner on the street
Street food is an Asian tradition. Take a casual walk down the road in Bangkok and you will be greeted by the waft of cooking meat and insects.
Insects on a stick tend to be a delicacy out in Thailand, and if you fancy trying it then go ahead. But if you want to take a photo of the scorpion on a stick, that will be 50 baht (£1!). Thai’s understand how fascinated us Westerners are with their interesting choice of delicacy, and use this to their advantage, don’t be sucked in!
For backpackers, grabbing a quick kebab of who-knows-what can be sensible in the money stakes. However, suitcasers would never risk it. The meat is usually festering in the hot sun for a number of hours, building up with bacteria and smelling like horse manure. If you really want to save the pennies without throwing up then hit McDonalds.
Last stop: Take it all in
You may not have travelled Thailand the ‘traditional’ way; sleeping in bunks with strangers, catching night buses to far away towns, and drinking out of buckets every night, but you’ve been to one of the most amazing places in the world.
When sailing across a longboat staring into the crystal clear waters and soaking up that warm comforting heat, stop to remember where you are. Remember how mesmerising the sights appear, how far away home is, and do not moan for one minute. Because when the wheels hit the ground at Heathrow, you’ll only wish you were right back there again.