When you travel to countries like Thailand or Indonesia, known for their distinctive cultures and food, you may be concerned that you'll might miss out on a few home comforts, especially if you're travelling with children or planning a special celebration with friends. Worry not. All life's little pleasures are freely available, including some you probably wouldn't expect to find on a tropical island
You can always spot the free-spirited globe trotters at the check-in desk. They travel swift and light, sound in the knowledge that they can buy everything they need at their destination (in the case of Southeast Asia, probably for less than they would pay at home).
If you're travelling to places like Phuket or Bali, there's no need to weigh down your luggage with items once seen as essentials like soap, shower gel, shampoo or even sun cream. Convenience stores are so abundant, even on islands, that people often use them as landmarks when they give directions. "Opposite 7Eleven" is a phrase your likely to hear at least once on a trip to Phuket or Koh Samui, and even if there's only a local "mom and pop" store nearby, it's almost certainly stocked with more than local produce.
Such ease and convenience makes renting a holiday home a supremely untroubled experience, and even more so with helpful staff on hand to nip the to shop (often without you even knowing) when you run out of milk.
It also means you can enjoy a rich blend of new and more familiar indulgences. In fact, with advanced notice and clear instructions, your villa manager will be able to source just about anything you desire.
Here are a few treats you may be surprised to find available on a tropical island.
Whether you're in need of a morning boost when you roll out of bed or a post-dinner digestive at a restaurant, a fine cup of joe is easily found in countries across Southeast Asia. The larger supermarkets stock a choice of ground coffees, and top global brands such as Illy and Lavazza even grace the grinders at upscale eateries. The kitchens at most private villas are equipped with a coffee maker and in-villa menus often include a choice of styles to match your taste. Iced latte by the sea anyone?
If you're planning a few nights out during your holiday or just enjoy dressing up in the evenings for dinner, there's no need for the ladies to burst their wash bag with make-up or the guys to cram in extra hair wax and roll on. Thailand is actually one of very few countries in Asia that's offers the UK's biggest pharmacy, Boots, and local pharmacists, as well as the larger supermarkets all have a wide choice of branded cosmetics. General and even specialist medicines are also available, but is always best to have enough prescription medication to hand, just in case.
For the Kids
Travelling with children can mean some serious packing is required, especially for a longer trip and with younger ones in tow. Fortunately, in places like Phuket, Koh Samui and Bali, well known hypermarket chains like Tesco Lotus and Carrefour cater to locals and international visitors alike. The range of products for kids is almost as extensive as you would expect in most equivalents back home, so whether its pampers or beach toys, you'll generally find what's needed. Even better, there's often a play area to keep the kids amused while you shop (unless, of course, you prefer to make a list for the villa staff to source for you).
Cold Cuts & Cheese
Outdoor living is always better with an occasional picnic, and the French and Italians are undisputed experts when it comes to making bread and anything into a gourmet meal. Thanks to a proliferation of international restaurants in places like Phuket, Koh Samui and Bali, foreign food suppliers have also set up shop and bakeries also offer daily fresh bread to complete the treat.
Wine & Beer
Wine lovers, and those with penchant for boutique beers generally indulge their passions at home. In this respect, staying at a private villa really comes into its own. Some high-level rental properties boast their own well stocked wine cellars, and as is the case with imported foods, niche options such as Belgian beers are also easily sourced, either in bars on a night out or (with some notice) from the suppliers to stock up your fridge.
by MAX VEE