So this entry is going to get a bit wordy. Since I’ve never really traveled out of the country for this long or with a volunteer organization, I was pretty lost on what to do. The PDF that IVHQ provides is very helpful, but its like 80 pages and can get overwhelming at times.
I’ll try to make it easier by letting you know what I did for all the prerequisites that IVHQ and Mirror Foundation require. I’m not really digging these paragraphs, so I’ll try to make simple points for each item. And since I am simplifying them, there will probably be things missing, so make sure to ask me if you have any questions.
- This takes a minimum of 8 weeks to do.
- I suggest you apply for this one about 5 months before you go. Mirror foundation says it can’t be older than 3 months, but it takes 2 months to get back to you. Believe me, this will probably make you worry the most if you don’t do it on time.
- This is all the steps to get a background check
- $18 for background check, $20 for inked fingerprint card
- I got my inked fingerprint card at my local police station
- NOTE: There is no way (that I know of) to check if the FBI even got your background check request within the first 4 weeks.
This was the most nerve-racking because I submitted my request a little over 2 months before I was supposed to leave. It took 7 and a half weeks to get to me. You can call 304-625-5590 after 4 weeks to check if the FBI got your request, but when I called that is all they could tell me. They couldn’t even tell me if I forgot to sign something or if it was the right form.
I don’t fully understand the visa process, but I’ll tell you what I think I know. And the Thai Consulate homepage was confusing for me to navigate, considering I can’t read Thai.
- If you’re staying less than 30 days, don’t worry about this
- I got the single re-entry 60 day Tourist Visa
- With that tourist visa 60 days + 30 day re-entry = a max of 90 days
- At my 60 day mark, I will have to cross the border and re-enter into Thailand
- Here is some useful Visa information
- Here is the Visa form for Los Angeles Thai Consulate
- Remember to say your visit is for vacation and NOT volunteer. IVHQ says things get a bit tricky when you say volunteer.
- Go to Albertson’s and get a money order for $40. They do not take cash or credit.
- Takes up to 2 weeks through mail, or 2 days in person.
- Passport stuff
- I had to get a new passport since the last one I had was before I was 15, so I’ll spare you the boring information. And I think passport information is pretty self explanatory.
- DO THIS FIRST! It can take 4-6 weeks, but a passport is always useful to have
- Travel Inurance
- State where you are from, pick a plan and get your policy number in the email. Pretty easy pleasy.
- Hostel I’m staying at overnight in Bangkok
- I looked for flights at Kayak.com and if you’re a student, statravel.com supposedly has some good deals
- For my local flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, I went with AirAsia.com
Ok! So that was longer than expected. I know I started to just list random stuff at the end, but this is already way too long for someone with internet attention span. This is of course just a quick and dirty guide and hopefully will help someone later on.