What to Pack for Korea: 12 Must-Haves for Teachers & Expats
Korea will always hold a special place in my heart – it was both my first time living and working abroad. However, despite all the good memories my time in Seoul provided, my effort to pack for Korea was terrible.
I packed far too much and my bags were filled with things that got very little use.
This list is my attempt at helping both teachers and travelers determine what to bring to Korea. I’ve skipped most of the obvious stuff and tried focused on what I could have used during the trip – may your packing experience be better than mine!
Want more info on teaching in Korea? Check out our detailed guide with info on requirements, salary, and the visa process!
EG offers you a pre-paid sim card with your own Korean number ready for use once you land. The sim card gives you free incoming calls from local Korean numbers, affordable outgoing call rates from 4.4 Won and more than 50,000 KT WiFi Access Points that will save you lots of money on data – plus it makes it easy to navigate as soon as you arrive without having to find a mobile store!
Anker Portable Charger
One of the best and most compact portable chargers you’d find at an affordable price. This 10,000mAh-rated power bank has enough capacity to charge an iPhone 6S three times and still have some left for a feature phone. Travel in Korea is easy but finding power can be a challenge – bringing one of these to Korea ensures you never have to search for an outlet on a plane, train, or bus!
Universal Travel Adaptor
This travel adapter kit includes 5 types of adapters to cater to anywhere you go. It includes two USB ports and a Micro-USB cable to help you to charge cell phones, laptops and any other gadget you would travel with. An advantage of the Ceptics adapter kit is that it comes with inbuilt surge protection and LED indicators that tell you the voltage type either 100V or 220V. Also, unlike other “compact” versions, this adapter gives you two full plugs vs. the usual 1.
Korea winters can be oppressive and I ended up buying a humidifier just to combat my crocodile skin. With a use time of up to 5 hours on just a 2 to 3-hour charge, enjoy a misty breeze with regular spritzing in any room in the house. You can even charge your phone and other devices while you get cool. Trust me when I say that this will be awesome to have during Seoul’s brutally dry winters.
On the flip side, summers in Seoul (and other parts of Korea) can be quite humid. None of my clothes got ruined but my closet did take on a musty smell – hanging bags like this help remove moisture and you just throw them out when you’re done. They can also help reduce the risk of mold in your apartment.
Lonely Planet Korea
What trip is complete without a Lonely Planet? The most comprehensive and imitated travel book available, I love starting new trips with a fresh version and slowly adding notes, dog-earring the pages, and eventually handing it off to another traveler.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
While South Korea has incredibly active and fit country and any job worth its salt will provide insurance, World Nomads provides peace of mind. Especially relevant to travelers just passing through, WN is the king of travel insurance and has been trusted the world over. I didn’t know about their plans when I went to Korea but now use them extensively to support my trips.
Like much of Asia, South Koreans still prefer pads to tampons. This doesn’t mean they aren’t available, but they can be harder to find and more expensive than you are used to – our advice is to bring some from home if you have a preference on brand or style – this will allow you seek out the best selection once you’re on the ground.
Koreans sweat less than other races which makes deodorant a bit rarer when shopping in stores. Similar to tampons, this doesn’t mean it will be hard to find, but it does mean it might be more expensive. Plan ahead and bring a few sticks of your favorite to Korea and save yourself the stress of having to search for it last minute.
Dry Fit Shirts for Men
Summer get’s quite hot in Korea and packing some dry-fit clothing can make moving around and working (especially if you’re teaching children) much more bearable. This is especially true for the big and tall crowd that will have a hard time finding clothes that fit regardless of material. If you’re like me and prefer not to appear sweaty, plan ahead and bring some of these shirts to Korea.
Dry Fit Dresses for Women
Similar to the men’s shirts listed above, these dresses allow you to be out all day and still be stylish and comfortable. The Columbia Women’s Reel Dress is composed of a combination of cotton, rayon, and elastane that are designed to increase your mobility and protect you from ultraviolet rays. The moisture wick feature channels sweat and other moisture from your body and keeps you as dry as possible quickly. The sleeves are also three-quarter length to protect your skin from sun burn.
A Final Word on Packing for Korea
It’s far too easy to get carried away packing for long trips – a year teaching in Korea or even a month exploring the country can be done with far less than you think. The items above are nice to have and they will make your trip easier, but do not stress about packing them all. Korea is wonderful in that most everything can be found there with enough effort – pack smart and have a great time!