Wondering what to bring on your study abroad trip or for your time as an expat? Well, I have been both an exchange student and an expat in South Korea. I am not ashamed to say that I have made a number of packing mistakes. In no particular order, here are 12 packing tips I managed to pick up along the way, so you won’t make the same mistakes I did.
- Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. Don’t bring them. They are unnecessary added weight and you guys can buy really great and healthy products here. Do bring along travel sized versions with you, because you may or may not be able to buy these things immediately.
- Hair products. If you are a Black female, bring your own hair care products. But don’t bring an excessive amount. Bring only the necessities. If you are not, then don’t bring hair products with you. You can buy great products here.
- Facial cleaning products. Don’t bring them with you, because you can buy great products that are actually healthier for your skin at stores like, Nature Republic, The Face Shop, Innisfree, and Skin Food.
- Make-up. If you have a darker complexion (anything other than white), it is best to bring your own make-up, because there is a high possibility you won’t find your shade.
- Deodorant! Bring the deodorant that works best for you. Koreans here don’t really wear deodorant, because they don’t need it. If you do want to buy it here, it is a little pricey for a small stick.
- Toothpaste and extra toothbrushes. You can easily buy these things here at a descent price. If you already have a tub of toothpaste that you started, go ahead and bring it with you. But you don’t need to bring extra.
- Clothes. Clothes for every season is unnecessary. Bring clothes for the season you will be entering and buy clothes for when the seasons start to change. It’s also okay to wear the same few outfits over and over again. It’s very common here. So don’t worry about buying or bringing too many outfits. But if you are over a certain size, you will have to bring your own clothes, because finding clothes that fit will be a challenge.
- Socks and underwear. Ladies, bring your own bras if you wear one. There is a great chance you won’t find your size if you are anything over a B. Also, guys and gals, bring enough underwear and good quality socks with you. The ones here wear out really quickly.
- Shoes. Depending on your shoe size, you may or may not be able to find a pair that will fit. I wear an 8.5 (255 in Korea) and I have not been able to find my size. The highest I have seen stores go is 250, which is an 8 US. There are some places that go up to a 10 US, but it is rare and mostly like in street shops. Same for men. If you are over a 10.5 (280), you might struggle finding your size as well. So, bring a pair of sneakers and a pair of nice shoes along with you.
- Peanut butter and snacks. You don’t need to bring peanut butter with you. You can find it here. Yes, it is a little expensive, but saving a few extra bucks is not worth the space and weight peanut butter takes up. You can also probably find some of your favorite snacks or discover some new ones in the international section of Emart and the Lotte Department Store, Homeplus, or Cosco.
- Sanitary products. Ladies, you might have heard this myth that Koreans don’t use tampons or they don’t use pads, but they do! Yes, the brands are different, but they work just as well. You don’t need to pack extra if you aren’t already on your period while you are traveling.
- Towels. Do bring a large sized towel, as they are difficult to find. Hand and face towels are very easy to find and you can buy them cheap at Daiso.
For a conversion chart on sizes, you can check it out on Korea’s official tourism site: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SH/size.jsp
If you are unsure about something to bring, leave a comment and I will let you know! If you also are curious about certain stores or products, I will gladly tell you about them. Happy travels!