At the end of December last year, I spent a week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand with two of my best friend Maria and Natalie. We had an absolutely amazing week, and if you’d like to find out more about our experience, be sure to check out my volunteering vlog and volunteering Q&A at the end of this post.
After we left the park, Maria, Natalie and I were chatting about some of things that we wished we had brought with us, as well as the things we did bring that proved to be essentials. I thought that it would be really useful to put this into a blog post for any of you who are planning on visiting the park to use as a kind of packing checklist. So, here are the not so obvious items you should definitely consider taking with you:
Mosquito spray – there are lots of insects around at night so a good insect and particularly mosquito repellent is essential. I took the Incognito* spray and it worked really well for me!
Insect repelling shampoo – I took the Superdrug 3 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo Tea Tree & Lemon, it’s super cheap and its ingredients make it naturally lice repelling (I assumed this meant other insect-repelling too, and it worked really well for me! I actually liked it so much that I have continued to use the shampoo at home). Be sure to also bring a good hand wash/shower gel combination as there are no toiletries in the accommodation bathrooms.
Dry shampoo – as most of the showers were cold on our visit and we didn’t find the hot showers until the day before we left, we didn’t end up washing our hair very much when we were there (like maybe twice in 7 days) so a dry shampoo would have been really useful!
Hand Sanitiser – there is a lot of picking up poop and dirty work so a little bottle of hand sanitiser comes in very handy!
Microfibre towel – towels aren’t provided at the ENP accommodation and as microfibre towels are really light-weight and super absorbent, they won’t take up a lot of room in your luggage and will come in very handy!
Packing cubes – ever since our trip to Australia 2 years ago I take my packing cubes with me everywhere I go as they are such a great way to organise your luggage; so really this is more of just a general travelling tip rather than an ENP specific recommendation but is still something worth considering!
Ziplock bags – ENP has a great washing service which is super inexpensive and ideal if you are continuing to travel afterwards and want to re-wear your clothes; however, if choose not to get your washing done, ziplock bags are really useful as your clothes will get super dirty throughout the week, so putting your dirty items in the ziplock bags stops them from contaminating everything else in your bag.
Old clothes to donate – at the end of the week, there is a box where you can donate any unwanted items such as shoes/clothing; so I would recommend taking some old clothes with you that you can wear for volunteering, then get washed and donate at the end of the week! You can also donate any towels/blankets to the dog sanctuary, so if you have room in luggage, I’m sure that would be really appreciated.
Long sleeved and long legged clothing – although the hot weather makes it tempting not to bring anything long-sleeved with you, on the cutting corn/collecting hay days you will want to cover your arms and legs if you don’t wanna get scratched to bits. It’s also nice in the evening to have some leggings/trousers and a hoodie to throw on if it gets a little chilly.
Vegan snacks – if you’re fancying a snack outside of meal times, there is a little shop which sells chocolate bars etc; however they all contained dairy. So, if you’re vegan I would definitely recommend bringing some little snacks with you such as Cliff Bars*.
Torch – the short walk back from the communal area to the accommodation can be a little bit dark at night so if you don’t have a torch on your phone, it would definitely be useful to bring one with you.
Portable phone charger – with so many incredible photo opportunities, your phone battery can die really fast at ENP (at least, I know mine did), and when you’re not busy volunteering, you won’t want to be stuck in your room waiting for your phone to recharge, so having a small portable phone charger will be very useful.
I hope you guys found this list useful and as always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment them down below. To find out more about our volunteering experience, check out the two videos below:
My Elephant Nature Park volunteering vlog:
My Elephant Nature Park volunteering Q&A:
* Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate, this means it won’t cost you any more to purchase but I may earn a small commission if you purchase the product using my link 🙂
This was so helpful Jade, bookmarking this for future reference 🙂
So pleased it was helpful Tracey 🙂
Thanks for this! I’m wondering if a pair of rainboots for some of the chores (like scooping poop and cutting/collecting would be helpful?
Yes that could definitely be helpful if you have room in your luggage 🙂
do you know if Chiang Mai sells any insect repellant or sanitizer because i will not be checking in a bag just carry ons and cannot take many liquids with me. thanks!
Hi Macilynn. I purchased mine before I left so do not know of any Thai brands unfortunately. The only thing I can reccommend is to buy those small 100ml plastic containers (I get mine from superdrug) and fill them up before you go. Hope you have an amazing time xx
Thanks so much for all these helpful tips, especially about vegan snacks. I’ll definitely bring some.
My sister and will be volunteering during the week beginning 4 Feb 2019 so hoping we don’t get too much rain/mosquitos. We will follow your advice though and bring everything you’ve mentioned.
Could I ask about plant based milk? Is that available. I’m pretty hopeless without a cup of tea in the morning!
Many thanks, Lesley
I’m so excited for you and your sister – I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time!
To be honest I’m not a big tea drinker so I can’t remember if they had plant based milk; however, from memory the only non-vegan items in the buffet contained egg rather than dairy so I’m sure they do :).
Hope you have a great trip xx
Thanks Jade. I think I’ll take a few tea bags with me too.
My sister and I have just returned from a wonderful volunteer week at ENP. Your list of additional items worth bringing things was very useful but we were unprepared for the VERY cold mornings. I just brought a light fleece and could have done with something far warmer, including to sleep in. Perhaps this might be useful to mention in your blog.
Many thanks, Lesley