Overpack. That’s why suitcases have wheels now.
I like to be prepared. I love to plan ahead and I will be the first one to admit that I’m a bit of a control freak. This might seem like the worst possible thing when it comes to packing for a whole year. In one go. In a 30 kg suitcase with an additional 7 kg hand luggage. I had to find ways (some very creative and others just downright crazy) to cope with the packing pressures.
I hope that sharing this will help you guys to get an idea of what and how to pack. I share some links to amazing packing video’s on youtube, checklists and cool packing/traveling gadgets you may need somewhere along the line.
- Baggage allowance. Make sure that you keep to the Airline’s baggage restrictions. Most Airline’s have 20 kg for domestic flights, and 30 kg for international with 7kg hand luggage in both cases. Here’s the catch: If you fly from Cape Town to Joburg as part of your international flight schedule, that is considered an inland/domestic flight, so only 20 kg of checked luggage. If that extra 10kg is very important to you, choose a direct flight skipping the domestic layover. Most direct flights for Korea is Cape Town, layover in Dubai/Doha arriving at Seoul/Incheon airport. From Joburg you will have it a lot easier since the flights will be direct, with no domestic layover options.
- Invest in suitcases. I am not saying that you should go and spend R5000 on a Samsonite luggage set, but do try and buy a suitcase with an expandable handle and wheels. It will just make your packing easier. I got cheap suitcases from PEP stores, and seeing that it only needs to last me two international trips I was not very worried about the quality. Since buying them I traveled domestically 3 times, and they are still as good as new.
- Checklists. The real golden rule of packing is being organized. Use a checklist (either download one or make your own). Remember to take into account that most check lists are just general guidelines, you’ll need to adjust it as you go along. Take into consideration that you will be in Korea for one year, and go through four seasons. Korea gets extremely cold, wet and humid. So pack for all of those. You will also be spending the most of your time at school. Check the dress code, and make sure you are covered for that. Weekends you will be spending however you want, and most probably not in the same place – so you can wear the same outfits over and over without having anybody notice it. A good checklist will include much more that just clothes. Documents, electronics, speciality items/loved items etc. are all very important to include. Here’s some good checklist which can be downloaded in Word format for easy editing; Checklists for vacation, college and business traveling . You can also generate your own printable checklist from scratch by using this cool tool. There’s a lot of sites out there where you can find checklists. Find the one you like most, and the one which works for you.
- Carry on packing. Many people don’t realize this, but the carry on suitcase is the secret weapon of traveling. You can easily pack all your important documents, a week’s worth of clothing and other essentials and some cash in your carry on, and have it with you every step of the way. You do not want to arrive in Korea, find out your luggage is missing and be stuck with a carry on which contains one set of clothes, pj’s and a toothbrush. Here is some awesome youtube videos which will tell you what, and how to pack your carryon. Carry on packing (guy/techie version). TSA approved packing for liquids/ toiletries. General packing and traveling tips for carry on
- The vacuum bag. This is a life saver. Sometimes your suitcase can hardly close, but it weighs 5 kilos less than the amount you are allowed to take. The vacuum bag comes in handy to utilize every last bit of space in your suitcase. I apologize for the infomercial, but it’s the only one I could find which I know for a fact is available in RSA. Tevo Vac bags. You’ll forgive me for this one when you start packing… You can find them at Game Stores, and the knock off version at Crazy stores and China Town. They cost about the same, so whichever ones you get to first will work.
- The things you might not get in Korea…or can get for a much higher price. Ladies, deodorant and tampons. Korean girls are not fond of tampons, so you will struggle finding it in smaller towns or the corner shop. You will get brands like Lil- lets in the bigger cities, but for a much higher price. Pack at least two boxes extra. Koreans are blessed with minimal body odor issues. Pack at least three extra deodorants. Guys, this one’s for you as well. Don’t be stinking it up in Korea. Bigger size clothes. You will get it, but for really big stuff (size 10 shoes for example) rather prepare and pack ahead.
- Electronics. Korea use a different voltage than RSA. You will need to take at least one multi plug to plug your appliances/chargers etc. into, and one power voltage adapter to plug into the power outlet. Instead of buying a lot of adapters, use one, and your regular multi plug. Electricity and voltage
- Money money money. As you know, you must take at least 1000USD with you. This is a lot of cash to carry around. For safety I will recommend going half in travelers cheques, and half in cash. Carry some on your person, and the rest safely stored in your carry on- which will be with you all the time, right? Right.
That’s it for now. Should I think of something else, I’ll get back to you. Happy packing.