Jihi Elephant Lifestyle Series Life Travel Travel Diary: Cambodia

How I Prepared for A 3-Week Trip to Cambodia

How I Prepared for A 3-Week Trip to Cambodia

Just over a year ago, in January 2016, I took a trip to a little country called Cambodia. However, before I could take the trip, I had to do some preparation. Preparing for this trip took over a year! This article is the first part in a 4-part series about my trip to Cambodia.

If you would like to read all 4 parts, head over to my All About My 3-Week Trip To Cambodia series hub. Here you will find links and quick summaries for each part.

The 5 W’s of Cambodia

WHO: Me, I went to Cambodia and visited Cambodians (obvious enough).

Elizabeth and Cambodian School Girls

WHAT: I spent 3 weeks in Cambodia studying the 5-social institution (Government, Education, Religion, Family, and Economy). I also learned a lot about the general culture.

WHEN: January of 2016.

WHERE: Cambodia is a small Asian country which shares its borders with Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

WHY: This trip was part of my undergraduate degree. Students at my school were able to spend at least 3 weeks in a country of their choice during their final two years of their degree.

I chose Cambodia for several reasons. The first was because the trip to Cambodia was the entire reason I chose to attend the school that I did. Second, a huge focus of this trip was human trafficking. Childhood trauma is a huge area of interest and passion for me. I plan to counsel adolescents and children who have suffered from trauma, so I felt I would hugely benefit from the trip. The third reason was cost, this was one of the more affordable trips planned by my school. It only cost me $600 before purchasing food, souvenirs, clothing, medicines, toiletries, etc.

Finances

Let’s talk money. How on earth did a college student afford a 3-week trip!? Well, fortunately, most of the trip was paid for through my tuition. Of course, I dropped an additional $800 (at least). So, the real question becomes, how on earth did a college student get $800+?

Every single penny that I spend on this trip was my own hard-earned cash. I was putting myself through college with several summer jobs and one part-time job during the school semesters. Because of this trip, I knew I needed to buckle down financially.

Money

I opened a checking account just for this trip and began putting money in it about 2 years in advance (the trip had to be paid in full over 6 months before the trip). I had several hundred dollars saved up before I started having to make payments. By summer 2015, I had the $600 trip paid for. Next, I began saving for trip necessities and spending money.

I ended up spending more than I expected (probably because I overpack for everything). But, somehow I still managed to pull through with $150 in spending money. I figured that would be more than enough because I am very careful with my money. I spent all my spending money and wished I had saved more.

What Did Preparation For Cambodia Entail?

A lot of Doctors Appointments

To prepare for Cambodia I had to get several shots and prescriptions. I don’t remember all of them but they included Malaria medication, diarrhea prescription, Hepatitis B vaccination, TB and a few more.

All of these prescriptions were preventative except the diarrhea medication. That prescription was to be used, if and when I got diarrhea. Diarrhea is one of the main reasons for death in Cambodia because their water is not safe to drink. Much of their water contains human and animal waste. As you can imagine, I avoided Cambodian drinking water at all costs, hoping not to need my diarrhea meds.

Dirty Water

Classroom Preparations

Before heading to Cambodia, I was required to take a preparation course. In this class, I learned all about Cambodian culture and history. The class also got to talk to students who had taken the trip before. I learned about the people we would meet, like our tour guides, bus drivers, and more. And finally, the group going to Cambodia spent time bonding.

My group included 16 students and 1 professor. The professor had been running the Cambodian trip for many years and was very knowledgeable. Before spending 3 weeks in Cambodia we spent time getting to know each other. We attended several movie nights together and 1 bonfire where we played the Cambodian game, shuttlecock (it’s kind of like hacky-sack but better).

Shuttlecock

Shopping

The final step in preparation was shopping! I needed a lot of stuff before going on the trip. A large concern of mine was food. I am an incredibly fussy eater and did not want to end up starving for 3 weeks. So, I bought plenty of non-perishable snacks. I also bought items such as generic pain medications, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.

I also needed to bring my phone for pictures, I-pod for travel music, and chargers. There is actually a funny story about my phone on this trip… well, it wasn’t very funny at the time. Read all about it in {Part 2}!

Don’t forget toiletries, I packed way too much toothpaste, hair products, lotions, hand sanitizer, etc. I brought my hair straightener, but I only use it once before the long trek home. In the preparation class, I was warned that I would need to bring toilet paper, so I did. Needless to say, toiletries was a long list!

Toilet Paper

Finally, I shopped for clothes! Cambodia is a hot country, far hotter than I am used to. Because of this, I needed lightweight clothing. However, we were advised to dress very modestly. This meant avoiding tank tops, tight pants, and shorts. Bringing long skirts was advised for the more strict places we were to visit. With those suggestions, I had nothing to wear!

I ended up buying several plain t-shirts and some lightweight pants. My mom sews for a living, so I got her to make me some skirts. I bought a large majority of my clothing on black Friday, so I was able to save a lot of money.

I did not expect to have to buy so much! Plus, paying for medications and vaccinations! But I ended up being plenty prepared.

The Day Before Departure

Here’s the deal. Before this trip, I had only flown on an airplane once and that was when I was around 3-years-old. Not having any memory of how flying and airports work, I over-packed and over-prepared. I got myself a small bag to fill to the brim with snacks, electronics, Sudoku books, pens, paper, my homework reading, etc. I was set!

Next, I made sure to know the exact luggage requirements and measure my bags to make sure they complied. Maybe this was unnecessary, but I did not want any surprises. I don’t handle unexpected stressful situations in unknown environments very well.

Now, I ready. I was about to spend 3 weeks in Cambodia and I was sure I had everything I needed. Naturally, I couldn’t sleep the night before.

Sleeping Cat

If you want to check out Part 2, 3, 4 head over to my {All About My 3-Week Trip to Cambodia} series hub. Here you will find links and quick summaries of each part. Hope you enjoyed, there are plenty more great stories to come!

You can also read about how I chose my blog name (This trip had a HUGE impact)

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Preparing for Cambodia

Check out the Rest of the Series!

OVERVIEW: All About My Three-Week Trip to Cambodia

PART ONE: How I Prepared for A 3-Week Trip to Cambodia

PART TWO: On My Way To Cambodia (Stories from My Flight to Cambodia)

PART THREE: Experiencing Cambodia (a series of stories from my experiences in Cambodia)

PART FOUR: How I Experienced Cultural Reintegration