Friday, August 16, 2013

"Close the Happy": The Packing Edition

In 24.5 hours I will be on a plane to South Korea for a year, so now is probably a good time to write about what I packed and how I packed it.

I decided on two checked suitcases, a carry-on, a personal item (purse/laptop bag) and my coat (a freebie that doesn't count!).  The reason I decided on two checked suitcases is two-fold (hey, what do you know!): first, two suitcases means I can take more clothing because I'm a little curvier, I have space for random items I may have a difficult time finding, and I can fit larger home items that people suggest you bring even if Korea does carry them; second, given that I will be leaving behind the gifts I bring and probably throwing out worn-out clothing, I will have space for souvenirs and won't have to ship them back or buy more luggage while I'm there.  The cost of shipping and the cost of checking another bag (which I can fill with stuff) will likely be equal or a better trade.  Seems like a win-win to me.

So, what did I pack for my year abroad and how did I do it?  In both my carry-on and suitcases I used a combination of stuffing small items into shoes, rolling clothing, and careful, flat folding.  Any items containing liquids or powders were double-bagged (including batteries!).  I only used two cube suitcase-sized space bags in my checked duffle for some of my bulkier clothes items.  Every suitcase includes a 3x5 card laminated with my name, contact e-mail, home address, and address of the orientation venue in both Korean and English.  These are on both the outside and inside (and inside of my personal item).  My luggage cases also all have TSA-certified travel locks and my most important things will be closely guarded.

Here is the list:

On my person (beyond the normal clothes):
  • Winter coat
  • Hat
  • Nice belt
  • Winter boots
  • Watch
  • Passport/flight information/all that good stuff

Personal Item:

  • EPIK Orientation Information Packet
  • Korean notebook
  • Several issues of Chemical & Engineering News (for the ride)
  • Pens/highlighters
  • Umbrella
  • Tissues & Wet Wipes (Simon & Martina suggested them for the ride!)
  • Slipper socks (to change into out of my huge boots)
  • Gum
  • Flashlight
  • Blackie (my stuffed bear; yes, of course he's coming)
  • Tums
  • Glasses (second pair)
  • Point-and-shoot camera + case + charger + extra memory card
  • Tablet + keyboard + case + charger
  • iPod + charger
  • Flip video camera
  • External hard drive + USB cord
  • Laptop + cord
  • Other camera charger
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Portrait lens
  • Mouse
  • USB flash drives (x3)
  • Batteries (6x AAA; 4x AA) - these cannot be stored in checked luggage


  • Apostilled FBI Criminal Record Check Copy
  • Application for CRC Copy
  • Diploma Apostille Copy
  • Notarized Diploma + Copy
  • Notarized Teaching Certificate + Copy
  • Original TEFL Certificates + Copies (I have four different certificates)
  • Passport Information Page Copies (x3)
  • 2x2in Passport Photos (x4) and 3.5x4.5cm Passport Photos (x8)
  • One sealed transcript
  • Recommendation Letter Copies
  • Proof of Enrollment in Teaching Certification and TEFL Certification Letter Copies
  • Pre-Orientation Certificate + Copy
  • US Residency Certificate + Copies
  • EPIK Information Packet (arrived with my NOA and contract)
  • Original NOA (the Korean Consulate in Chicago sent mine back)
  • Eyeglass Prescription + Copy
  • Health Care Insurance International Coverage Information
  • Copy of my flight itinerary
  • Camera (with case) + batteries + two lenses (+1 case)
  • Camera to USB cord
  • Universal plug adapter
  • 100mL or less bottles of body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and two toothpastes in 1 quart sized bag (as per TSA 3-1-1 rule)
  • Stick deodorant
  • Hairbrush (with hair ties on the handle - apparently non-cute ones are hard to find!)
  • Make-Up in a ziploc
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
2.5 layers of rolled clothing!
  • Ballet flats (for indoors)
  • Black footie socks (5x)
  • Pantyhose (4x; black, tan)
  • Belts (2x; one brown, one black)
  • Dress (1x)
  • Skirts (4x; two professional, two every-day)
  • Shirts (6x)
  • Bandeau (1x)
  • Camis (3x)
  • Undergarments (enough for 10 days)
  • White cover-up (2x)
  • Black cover-up (1x)
  • Capris (1x)
  • Shorts (2x)
  • Athletic spandex shorts (1x)
  • Leggings (1x)
  • Pocket Korean Phrasebook
  • Cheap jewelry
Suitcase 1 (hard case):

  • Universal adapter
Right Side - Layer One!
  • Five deodorants
  • Tums
  • Sudafed
  • Benedryl
  • 365 days of allergy medication (Loratadine, 10 mg (basically Claritin); small bottle of Allegra)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Make-up: the basics, but stock up on cover-up and powder in your skin tone because it may be very difficult to find in Asia
  • Hair ties (again, not cutesy is hard to find apparently)
  • Bobby pins
  • Tweezers, nail file, Emory board, small scissors
  • Vitamins
  • Pepto Bismol or something else made of Bismuth subsalicylate... especially if the water where you're going is not potable (like in China) and you forget (like my brother did in China) and you then have to go find the equivalent or something like Immodium when they only have herbal tinctures (like my brother did...)
Right Side - Layer Two!
  • Dresses (5x)
  • Shorts (2x)
  • Capris (3x)
  • Khaki pants (1x)
  • More undergarments!
  • Tan bandeau (1x)
  • Black skirt slip (1x)
  • Skirts (4x)
  • Shoes (3x; sneakers, black flats for outdoors; black heels - for dancing!)
  • Dress slacks (2x)
  • Suit jackets (3x; all black, two long-sleeve, one short-sleeve)
  • White cardigan (1x)
  • Black cover-up (1x)
  • Camis (3x)
  • Shirts/Blouses (6x)
  • Button-down shirts (3x)
  • Socks (6x)
Left Side - Combination of rolling and flat layers
again for the clothes on this side.  Paper stuff went
in the pouch.

  • Korean dictionary + quick grammar book
  • Camera user guide
  • Paper cranes (for decoration)
  • Wall decals
  • Gumpy Cat "Best Noises" Paper Plate Award (from my HSHSP kids)
  • MSU flag
  • Cards from home
  • Thank You note stationary (6x cards + envelopes)
  • Pictures from home (2x)
  • Macaroni & Cheese (5x; put into ziploc bags and then put in a gallon bag)
  • Forks (3x; never hurts to be prepared for home sickness - they apparently are hard to get/expensive)
  • Camera strap
  • Sewing kit (some neutral thread colors, buttons, and needles)
  • Pencil pouch with pens, pencils, sticky notes, white out tape, eraser, binder/paper clips
  • Deep woods mosquito repellent (1x; not in a pressurized can!)

Suitcase 2 (soft duffle):
  • Toothpaste (3x)
  • Feminine products
  • Tissue packets (for the restrooms that apparently don't have toilet paper in the stalls?  Tuck these little guys away in your purse...)
So cute!  My roommate got him for
me after I decided to go.
  • Tights (2x; black, gray)
  • Pantyhose (7x; black, tan, and sheer)
  • Socks (2x; thick for winter)
  • Sandals
  • Ballet flats
  • Belts (6x)
  • Scarf (1x)
  • Polar bear hat (1x; yes)
  • Sweaters (2x)
  • Heavy cardigan (1x)
  • Fleece blanket (1x)
  • Flat sheet (1x)
  • Towel (1x)
  • Leggings (2x)
  • Jeans (1x)
  • Skirt (1x)
  • Shirts (4x)
  • Dresses (2x)
  • One-piece swimsuit (1x)
  • Pants (3x; two can be pajama pants if I so choose)
  • Pajama shorts (1x)
  • Travel mug (1x)
  • Seasoning mix (2x; from my friends)
  • Dry drink mix (8x)
  • Tea bags (7x)
  • Gifts: honey (4x; various sizes); coffee mix (2x) - I'll probably buy something at a duty free shop before I leave if I see something worthwhile
There might actually be more clothing than what is listed here in terms of numbers of items, but not types.  It was too inefficient to record all of it so I didn't bother.

In general girls, just remember that if it shows your shoulders, you need to have something that you can wear over it to cover them; if it shows your chest, you need to have something underneath that is close enough or high enough to cover; and if it's a dress/skirt, it needs to be at knee length or below and/or you need tights/hose/something.  Dress conservatively first and watch the people around you to judge what you need to do.

Digital "Packing":
I also "packed" the following things on my computer:
  • Pictures from home
  • PDFs/Books/Articles to read (especially if you have Kindle or NOOK.  Save the packing space and go digital!)
  • Documents/projects to work on in your spare time (for me, research and science curriculum development)
  • Basic ESL lesson plans about a variety of topics (you don't need to re-invent the wheel, but you should be adapting it!)
  • Korean Rosetta Stone

Other Things to Think About:
  • Inform your credit card companies of your travel plans (you can also allow them to release information to your parents/spouse/etc.)
  • Invest in/check your security software
  • Invest in VPN services
  • Leave copies of important documents at home (also digital copies)
  • Power of Attorney and Living Will arrangements
  • Putting a hold on your phone and/or car insurance (no need to pay it if it won't matter)
  • Health insurance abroad through your plan or even through flight insurance if you purchase it
  • Account information for family members/etc.
  • Enrolling in the S.T.E.P.S. program through the U.S. Dept. of State for updates about international security, etc.

Don't Bother With:
  • Shampoo and conditioner

No comments:

Post a Comment