THAILAND

18-Day Elephant Conservation, Culture, Rock Climbing, SCUBA Diving, and Island Hopping Adventure

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PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

2024 Program Dates:

June 29 – July 17

Availability:

OPEN

Program Tuition:

$5,942 USD

Ages:

14-18

COVID-19 Vaccine:

REQUIRED

18-Day Thailand Adventure

OVERVIEW

Thailand is a favorite amongst travelers and one of the most popular destinations in the world. Spend just a few minutes exploring, and you’ll quickly see why. Its rich history combined with its diverse geography, friendly people, delicious cuisine, bustling cities, and gorgeous countrysides make it a bucket list country you won’t want to miss. Explore the forested mountains, lush jungles, white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and rolling hills of the “land of smiles.” Make lasting connections with people who understand the highs and lows of diabetes all while learning about wildlife conservation, ethical elephant tourism, and Buddhist customs all while rock climbing, hiking, SCUBA diving, and more. 

Come discover for yourself what makes Thailand unlike any other! 

ITINERARY

Depart for Bangkok, Thailand. Meet your expert T1D program leaders at the designated group departure airport, and buckle up for an unforgettable journey ahead! Upon arrival to Bangkok, the group will be joined by our expert local leader, and we’ll catch a connecting flight to Chiang Mai, where the adventure begins!

Sawatdee ka! Welcome to the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand! We’ll get settled into our guest house and begin our in-depth program orientation. During orientation, we will cover a variety of topics including cultural norms, useful Thai phrases, health and safety, group dynamic, behavioral expectations, and more. We will also cover important topics like managing your blood sugars in heat and humidity and during high-intensity or water activities. Then we will dive right in to Thailand. 

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is to learn about its food. So we will head over to a cooking school to take a class with a famous Thai TV chef and learn how to make a variety of Thai food favorites. Yui, the chef, will take us to a traditional market, where we can try colorful and exotic fresh fruits and vegetables. You will quickly notice the strong presence of Buddhism, and, in the afternoon, we will visit some of Chiang Mai’s oldest temples to learn more about the life of Buddha, Buddhist traditions, and Thai culture.

Today, we will hike up Doi Suthep mountain, an important and distinct landmark in Thailand, and tour Wat Phra That Temple at the summit. In the afternoon, we’ll head over to another temple to meet with Buddhist monks. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, foster connections, and learn about their ways of life. In the early evening, we’ll try our hands at Muay Thai by taking a class with some of Thailand’s champion athletes.

Enjoy your penultimate day in northern Thailand on an epic rock climbing adventure about 45 minutes outside of Chiang Mai city. We’ll spend today and tomorrow rock climbing, spelunking, and exploring the vast limestone mountains of northern Thailand, showing ourselves that we really can do anything. To top it off, we’ll camp out under the stars and set our intentions to the sky on floating lanterns.

Hyped up from yesterday’s adventure? You’re in luck: today is our second day of rock climbing. We will arrive back to Chiang Mai city in the evening to enjoy our last night in northern Thailand with a group dinner and reflections.

In the morning, we’ll fly back to Bangkok. Don’t forget your passport! Upon arrival, we’ll settle into the guesthouse, head to a nearby street food market for lunch, and check out a variety of local attractions, including the largest open-air market in the world.

Spend the day exploring the busy and bustling capital city with a longtail boat ride through the small canals of Chao Phraya River which will take us to a variety of floating markets. Visit the impressive Grand Palace and the famous religious temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun and top the day off with a group dinner at the Night Bazaar.

Today’s the day: elephants! We’ll travel to Kanchanaburi where we’ll spend the next few days learning all about elephant and wildlife management and the ethical elephant tourism movement in Thailand.

Experience being a mahout (elephant caretaker) for the day. Walk with the elephants through the forest, prepare their treats, create enrichment activities to stimulate their brains, help bathe them in the evening, and revel in the presence of these majestic creatures.

Grab your swimsuit and waterproof pump gear! We’re floating down the river. Arrive in style to a local land conservancy to learn about habitat preservation initiatives, sustainable food sourcing, and all-things-snakes!

Still got that swimsuit? You’ll need it. Today we’re heading to Sai Yok National Park, where we’ll swim in the river, jump off waterfalls, and sleep in a houseboat beneath the stars.

Today is an exciting travel day. We’ll wake up early to head back to Bangkok, where we’ll catch a flight to the southern province of Surat Thani. From there, we will take a ferry to Koh Tao (Tao Island), where we will embark on the adventure of becoming certified SCUBA divers! Tonight, we will have an in-depth orientation to underwater diabetes management to prepare for tomorrow.

Today is the day! Open Water course day one!

In the morning, you’ll meet your instructor who will go through what your course will comprise of over the next few days, show you the equipment you will be using, and teach you the fundamental concepts of SCUBA diving.

The afternoon will be spent in the swimming pool, where you will do your confined water session to learn and practice basic SCUBA skills. This is the moment when most people doing this course will put a regulator in their mouth for the first time! Your instructor will demonstrate skills for you and you will  repeat the skills back to them. We will start the session in water deep enough to stand up in so if there is any problems or the student needs to ask a question all they have to do is stand up. As the afternoon progresses and the student gains their confidence we will reach a maximum depth in the pool of no more than 10 feet/3 meters.

Note: all expert T1D program leaders will support travelers’ T1D management while diving. At all times, one expert T1D leader will be underwater with the group and one will be on-shore/on the boat. 

On the morning of diving day 2, you’ll again meet up with your group in the dive classroom. You’ll have a bit more “academics” to cover with your instructor before you sit your final exam. Don’t worry this is a straight-forward multiple choice exam designed to remind you of the basics you’ve already covered.

The afternoon of day 2 will be a super exciting part of the course. This is when you’ll head out on a dive boat and do your first dives in the open ocean. The instructors will take you to two shallow and sandy dive sites around the island so that you can easily and safely practice the skills you learned in the pool the day before. The maximum depth for these first two dives is 12 meters (36 feet).

Note: all expert T1D program leaders will support travelers’ T1D management while diving. At all times, one expert T1D leader will be underwater with the group and one will be on-shore/on the boat. 

This is it! The final 2 dives of your Open Water Diver certification. Today you’ll dive down to 60 feet/18 meters. After the dives, it’s back to land to log your dives and officially become certified as Open Water Divers!

In the evening, we’ll celebrate our massive accomplishments with a sunset hike and beach bonfire.

Say goodbye to one gorgeous part of southern Thailand and hello to another. In the morning, we’ll take the ferry back to Surat Thani and drive to Krabi. From there, we’ll hop on another quick boat ride to the gorgeous Railay Beach, where we’ll spend the last days of our program soaking up the sunshine, island hopping, and cliff jumping. 

Take in the beautiful views of southern Thailand and hike to the top of a limestone mountain in the morning. We will spend our final full day as a group enjoying each others’ company and reflecting on all you have experienced–and how you’ve stretched and grown. 

We’ll have one last morning on the beach before departing to fly back to Bangkok. We’ll have our closing ceremony and prepare to catch our late night flight back home. Hopefully this won’t be the last time you come visit Thailand!

Itineraries are subject to adjustment due to factors like weather, current events, and health and safety considerations.

ACTIVITIES

All Type 1 Way Ticket program activities are designed to be fun and inclusive for all travelers, regardless of prior experience. We create opportunities for our travelers to try new things, develop new skills, find new passions, and hone their independent health management skills. Anyone with an interest in culture, wildlife, and the outdoors, and an enthusiasm for new experiences, will have a great time on this program. 

SIGHTSEEING

LANGUAGE

COOKING CLASS

HIKING

MUAY THAI

ROCK CLIMBING & CAVING

ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

KAYAKING

SCUBA DIVING

SCUBA DIVING

With its clear and calm waters and abundance of wildlife, Southern Thailand has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best destination in the world for learning to SCUBA dive. Each T1WT Thailand itinerary includes an Open Water Diver certification course which gives travelers the knowledge and training to dive down to 60 feet. 

The course consists of three phases: knowledge development, a confined water dive (in a swimming pool or shallow ocean bay), and four open water dives. The course lasts three days and gives travelers plenty of time and 1:1 instructor attention to hone their new skills prior to earning their certification.

 Getting a diving license challenges you to reimagine your own limits, teach you the ropes of underwater diabetes management, and open up a whole new world of wonders for you to explore. And the certification lasts a lifetime!

For those who can’t or don’t want to dive for any reason, every dive boat will have snorkeling gear available for use, and you will be able to enjoy the coral reefs and marine life from the surface!

TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SCUBA DIVING, TRAVELERS MUST BE ABLE TO:

Travelers younger than 15 will be certified as Junior Open Water Divers and must dive under the supervision of a dive professional or certified adult thereafter.

DIABETES CONSIDERATIONS FOR DIVING

Your program leaders, who are experienced T1D divers, will hold a detailed diabetes orientation prior to the diving portion of the program. There are a few things to consider before departure to Thailand:

If you are a pump and/or CGM wearer: 

  • Pack enough diabetes supplies (pump sites, CGMs, adhesive wipes, etc.) to change your devices 2x per day while diving. 
  • Omnipods have an IP28 rating for up to 25 feet for 60 minutes. Because dives go to deeper depths and are submerged for longer periods of time, pods often error and alarm while diving. 
  • Insulin pumps with tubing, including waterproof insulin pumps, must be taken off while underwater due to the depth and duration of the dives. 
  • Consider opting for MDI (multiple daily injections of both long-acting and fast-acting insulin) while diving. 
  • Apple Watches (Series 2 and newer) are water resistant for all depths you will be diving to. Though water can interfere with Bluetooth signal, you may be able to receive CGM readings underwater. 
  • CGMs (sensors and transmitters) are guaranteed to function as normal underwater at depths up to 8 feet. Many divers have experienced CGM functionality while diving up to 80 feet. 
  • Be sure to pack a backup blood glucometer and supplies in the event of CGM errors. 

For all: Please plan to consult with your endocrinologist to create a personalized healthcare management plan and ensure you have the proper supplies prior to departure. Our T1D expert program leaders will hold an in-depth SCUBA orientation and be available to oversee health decisions in-country.


A NOTE FROM T1WT FOUNDER, SAVANNAH JOHNSON

“There are only three things in life you can’t do,” I vividly recall my endocrinologist saying to me when I was 10 years old, “be a pilot, join the army, and SCUBA dive.”

Those words rang loudly in my mind as I embarked on my Open Water SCUBA Diving certification over a decade later in southern Thailand. I had a doctor’s note, a management plan, and (admittedly unlike my discovery diving experience several years prior), both my instructor and my group knew about my diabetes. There was even another Type 1 diabetic and a nurse who wrote her dissertation on T1D technology in my small international group of 8! I was doing everything right–but a part of me still felt like I was doing something wrong. Was I recklessly defying legitimate limitations? Or was I embodying healthy determination? I’ve never responded well to limits imposed upon me externally, and I’ve always been fascinated by marine life. I was so excited to see octopi, my favorite marine creature, and maybe even whale sharks if I was lucky, up close and in the wild. And I knew I could prove to myself–and that doctor–that I could do it.

As many things travel and diabetes go, my course, and the fun dives afterwards, weren’t without hurdles to jump. I had anticipated wearing my Apple Watch to hopefully receive Dexcom readings while diving, but its face fell off and rendered it useless the day before, and the Apple store in Bangkok, the only one in Thailand, told me it’d take two weeks to fix. My Dexcom sensor fell out on the first day though, so I wouldn’t have received readings as intended any way. My Omnipods also either errored or fell out often, and I kept my blood sugars a bit higher than normal for the dives which made for some underwater thirstiness. But as I grew more comfortable underwater, so too grew my ability to plan for any situation thrown my way, and I gained a unique sense of confidence that enabled me to better manage my health and overcome diabetes challenges both underwater and on land. 

Earning the certification represented so much more to me than just a license to SCUBA dive: it represented my ability and my determination to live beyond Type 1 Diabetes. It represented how the only person who gets to determine my limits pertaining to diabetes and otherwise is me. And, with the right amount of support and perseverance, even the limits I think I have can be stretched and my potential expanded.  

In the months that followed my Open Water course, I went on to Indonesia where I dove through a sunken U.S. cargo ship covered in coral reef and wildlife and saw my first octopus and to the Philippines where I completed my Advanced Open Water Diver certification alongside sardine runs and whale sharks. To date, I’ve experienced underwater wonder on 18 dives with diabetes–and, from one T1D diver to an aspiring one, let me tell you: diving is nothing short of magical

Each year, I look forward to exploring new dive sites around the world, and I look forward to continued opportunities to prove to myself and others that diabetes can’t and won’t stop me. This year, I have the tremendous privilege of guiding you on the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you’re discovery diving or about to join me as a certified diver, I can’t wait to show you just how much you can do and that diabetes can’t and won’t stop you.

See you underwater,

T1WT Founder, Savannah Johnson

ACCOMODATIONS

T1WT adheres to intentional guidelines when selecting program accommodations to facilitate fun and comfortable experiences for our travelers. We partner with locally-owned, locally-operated, three-star-equivalent hotels and guest houses which offer great locations, comfort, and safety. Travelers stay in shared accommodation with 1-2 roommates of the same gender. Unless noted, all accommodations have running water, electricity, WiFi, and access to refrigeration for insulin. Program leaders brief and prepare travelers in advance of stays without electricity or refrigeration. 

PROGRAM FEE

$5,942 USD

We recognize the financial impact of diabetes healthcare and strive to make our programs accessible. As such, we offer two options for payment, including an interest-free installment plan. Need-based financial aid may also be available. Please contact us for more information. 

18-Day Thailand Adventure

PAY IN FULL

$5,942 USD

Pay a $500 deposit after submitting your application and the remainder of the program fee in full after your interview.

All in-country travel and transport
All accommodations
All meals
All group activities & entry fees
Open Water SCUBA Diver Certification Course
Taxes & tips
Drinking water
Visas
Expert T1D travel leadership team
International flights
Travel insurance (required)

18-Day Thailand Adventure

INTEREST-FREE PAYMENT PLAN

$453.50/month

*Must enroll by July 31, 2023. Pay a $500 deposit at the time of enrollment and begin a 12-month interest-free installment plan.

All in-country travel and transport
All accommodations
All meals
All group activities & entry fees
Open Water SCUBA Diver Certification Course
Taxes & tips
Drinking water
Visas
Expert T1D travel leadership team
International flights
Travel insurance (required)

**All travelers are required to have comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of the program. Proof of travel insurance must be supplied to the T1WT office prior to the program start date. Read more about our travel insurance guidelines and recommendations under “Resources.” 

***Building independent diabetes travel management skills is core to our programs. As such, we require our travelers to bring enough of their preferred low blood sugar treatments to last the duration of the program. Common portable go-to’s like juice boxes and glucose tablets can be hard to come by abroad. However, there will be ample opportunities to replenish low treatment supplies with local goodies. We require our travelers to keep low snacks and extra medical supplies (pump site changes, extra sensor, etc.) with them at all times. Our leaders always have extra low treatments on-hand as backup. 

GALLERY

Ready to explore Thailand? ไปเหอะ, let’s go!

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We recognize the extraordinary role that international travel plays in shaping the lives of young people by creating itineraries which push travelers to see themselves and the places they visit in a new and exciting light. We also recognize the nuances of traveling with diabetes and have crafted our programs and leadership curriculum with the unique needs of our travelers in mind.