I saw your Instagram photo about your savings. You’re almost at the goal, are you excited?” a co-worker said to me tonight at the restaurant.

Suddenly butterflies filled my stomach, and I laughed out loud.

What? What’s funny?” She asked.

I’m sorry, I just suddenly got goosebumps all over my body and butterflies in my stomach when you asked that. I couldn’t help it.

And then I proceeded to put two fists in the air and announce, “Hell yes, SO excited!

The next adventure is coming, and it won’t be long now.

The days are falling away fast on the calendar, and I am counting down every second until I take off from California to Thailand where I would be landing on my birthday. Great present huh?

I can’t tell you how freakin’ excited I get with each passing day. I think ΓΌber excited is fitting.

After my last update around 116 days out, I admitted I had done little to no preparation yet for the upcoming trip. But at that point I was just beginning to ramp up the savings effort in an attempt to put away around $10,000 by November. Being that I had only 4 months to do this at that moment, it was all about working my ass off — the fun facts and little details will be taken care of down the road.

It’s a bit further down that road, so have I taken care of all the pre-preparations, knowledge, and planning? And more importantly, have I reached that $10,000 savings goal?

Well, I’ll be honest…I have barely anything done for the trip to Thailand.

Okay, my position isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. I’ve said in the past that I would rather discover a place when I arrive, as opposed to knowing everything when I land, but I have made some progress!

The Savings:smarty-pig-savings

Though I am at the midway point of my time for saving for Thailand, and though I haven’t even reached 50% yet, I am pretty confident I will hit the goal.

The past two months at the restaurant have been horribly slow because everyone has been on vacation, or there has been consecutive Holidays holding me back.

But, even with the setbacks, this weekend I will hit $5,000 in savings and 50% to the big goal. I am waiting for a few rounds of funds to transfer in, but technically I am already there!

Also, I’ve nearly cut out all excess spending when it comes to guilty pleasures like Starbucks, dining out, and going out for drinks. Things like these add up. Eliminating these and more from my everyday life will help me to save even more.

Though sometimes those damn pumpkin spice lattes call to me…

The Breakdown:

To reach another 5k, I have 50 days of work left. Though $100 a day average seems somewhat daunting, making $650-$700 a week at the restaurant is pretty easy. From Friday-Sunday, I average $500-$650m, so hopefully I can use weekdays to pad my budget even more.




In this area, in my own mind, I have very little to pre-prep for. Sure, I am going away for hopefully a year or more with the goal of teaching English and exploring Southeast Asia, but I’ve decided to take the let’s see what happens after I arrive approach.

After searching all over the web, and picking tons of traveler’s brains about Visas for Thailand, teaching English, and what to expect, I’ve decided to go ahead and wing it.

I was going to get the 60 day tourist visa and use that time to feel out Bangkok (not literally pervs), but if need be I can always leave and come back into Thailand within the 30 days to extend my time. I also want to research local schools hands on and find a great fit for me instead of accepting a TEFL job preemptively.

The consensus has been that stressing over extended Visas is nothing to worry about, and that finding an English teaching job should be relatively easy as long as I try, and that Thailand is an easy country to land and figure out from there.


For shots, which many are recommended by the U.S. before going to Southeast Asia, I’ve decided to forgo most. The main ones have always been required as a United States citizen growing up, but for the more exotic shots and pills that can be upwards of $500-$1,00, I am skipping these.

Why am I skipping shots? Most travelers I’ve chatted with never touched their expensive supply of malaria pills, and a few people I know who have been in various Southeastern countries for a couple of years never had their shots and have been fine.

It is typical for the United States, the most drugged country ever, to use scare tactics to pressure would be travelers to either not travel, or cough up hundreds of dollars for these things.

I am definitely going to watch out for what I eat and drink, and my health in general like I did in Haiti though.

Travel Health Insurance

For this category, I had a specific goal through SmartyPig set at $1,000 for travel health insurance. I’ve researched plenty of options and most are around $500-$1000 depending on the time you are traveling for.

But I’ve decided to hold off on acquiring this as well. Most TEFL schools I’ve been researching actually provide you with the Visas and also healthcare by completing their certification. If they’ll give it to me included, I think I’ll wait and see how that plays out.


Since I returned from New Zealand, I haven’t amassed much in terms of possessions. I can pretty much still fit my whole life into my backpack, but the work clothes, bed, and a few other items will still need to be taken care of. Shouldn’t be hard.

Homeland Tidbits

I’ve already begun taking care of things that are specific to the United States, like notifying my cell provider about my line suspension, and letting my bank know the tentative dates I will be abroad for.


Here is the hardest one. I have yet to tell my brother whom disowned me for moving to New Zealand the first time I traveled. The biggest feat for me upcoming will be revealing to my brother again that I am leaving, and to be honest, I am really nervous about it.

I have to tell him though, and I have to hope for the best.

I’ll be counting down the days until Thailand, and if you have ANY tips, tricks, or advice please share!


  1. Lela September 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Hey hey! Having been to Thailand for about…6 times (I think), allow me to share some things πŸ˜‰

    Shots: None needed! I’ve been fine, nothing has ever happened to me, not even flu! The street food are safe. I have seafood allergy but the live and pricking shrimps I ate along the street were fine!

    Teaching: If you don’t accept TEFL jobs, you can always check the local papers. My friend doesn’t have any TEFL/TESOL cert so what she did was she asked the hostel guy to browse newspaper for jobs (since they’re in Thai), and she landed a job, basic ABC, 123, and got SGD400-per week.

    Let me know if you’re in SIngapore, or need help with anything. I’ll try my best. Have fun exploring SEA!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      These are awesome tips Lela, thank you so much! It feels good to read that some of my decisions about this trip aren’t way off the deep end!

  2. Adam Finan September 15, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Hey bud,
    Ok I agree and disagree respectfully on this choice!
    #1 – If you are driving scooters or motorbikes or incase you get Dengue, rabies, you should have insurance…

    #2 – Ok don’t get the 60day, but, you will have to do a visa run and depending on where you are going from this can be a long, uncomfortable journey… When you do a land crossing (assuming your flying in to Thailand) you only get 14 days, so then if you do want to stay for 60 days it will require two visa runs = more than the cost of a 60day – the hassle and journey time on shitty buses.

    #3 You do not need to bring clothes! I am in Chiang Mai now and went out last night to a market and got 2x shorts 6x t-shirts flip flops and dinner for $50NZ..

    #4 – I have Hep A and Typhoid jabs.. Thats all. The rest are pricy and I didn’t have the time to get them.. The Malaria tablets are a nightmare anyway and only needed if you are in the jungle of Cambodia. Be sensible and wear long hippy pants and a light long sleeve cotton shirt and soak yourself in disgusting (but essential) DEET filled products..

    #5 – I came with $5000NZD.. But I hustle online every day and do freelance writing work so I can make $1000+ a month which is sufficient for Thailand..

    #6 – Better tell your brother!

    You can check out my article about island life on Koh Tao if you want mor info. I just spent a month living there. Shout out for Spicy Tao backpackers if you want cheap accom.. 10 bed dorm 200THB a night with free coffee/toast/bananas for breakfast.. Can’t beat that deal!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Adam mate, those are great points, thank you for the insight. I will definitely be telling my brother soon, and I hope he won’t lose it again. Also, I have all of those standard shots set so I should be good. In terms of travel insurance, the schools usually provide that when teaching English, but I am hoping to purchase a month or two. And I didn’t even think about the clothing, looks like I’ll be packing SUPER light this time πŸ™‚

      Thanks dude!

  3. Jonathan Look, Jr. September 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

    As a person living in Thailand I can tell you, no worries, everything you need is available once you get to the “Land of Smiles.”

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      That itself put a smile on my face, thank you for reassuring me and I’m looking forward to it!

  4. Annette | Bucket List Journey September 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Congrats on being halfway to your financial goal! I’m looking forward to reading about your Thailand adventures πŸ™‚

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Ahhhh! Thank you πŸ™‚ super excited to have stories to tell from SE Asia!

  5. Mary @ Green Global Travel September 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I agree with Adam! There are some things that will save you a fair bit of time, money or trouble that are definitely worth doing before departure and while you always hope you won’t need it, it is definitely worth buying fabulous travel insurance. All the best in preparing and traveling gorgeous Thailand!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Thank you Mary, I’ll be trying to figure out a few things before if go like if there is like month by month travel insurance or shorter lengths since the schools usually provide it. So excited!

  6. Kristin of Be My Travel Mues September 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I completely winged my trip too. In fact, I shouldn’t even be online reading this because I leave in a week for round two and haven’t done ANYTHING to prepare!!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Haha, seems like we are around the same personalities when it comes to pre-planning. But you’ve made it out alive so I’m pretty confident now that not prepping wot be disastrous πŸ™‚

  7. Britany September 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Just let it happen! That was my motto and it worked out pretty well. I totally agree about the doctors in the US trying to convince us we need stuff we don’t for vaccinations. I went to passport health and they tried to shoot me up with $500+ worth of all sorts of things. So I declined and did some research on my own and found that most of their suggestions were completely unnecessary. good luck with the rest of your not-planning! πŸ™‚

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I love that motto, and I think I will be totally emulating that for this trip!

  8. Nicole September 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    May I ask how long you’re going to be there? I may have missed that info.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Hey Nicole, I am planning on traveling for at least 1 yr around SE Asia and working

  9. Michael November 10, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures once you get to Thailand!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author November 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Woohoo! I cannot wait as well, so very excited for it, thanks for coming along!


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