Packing for Korea in Spring

Published on 29 March 2023 at 00:41

Finally, it’s time to actually pack for my trip. Since I was introduced to packing “cubes” a few years ago, they’ve been my favorite way to organize the inside of my bags. I used to use plain organizing cubes, but I found that my clothes were still shifting around. So I switched to the compression cubes, which have a second zipper to eliminate excess air and space and keep my clothes wrinkle-free.

I also like to separate my wardrobe into the cubes so that I always know what I’m pulling out when I get dressed for the day. I’ve seen articles about packing “hacks” like putting each day’s clothes into a ziplock bag and having a brand new outfit every day. I don’t travel like that. I prefer to take a few pieces I know will mix and match like a few pairs of solid pants or shorts, blouses and shirts that layer, and a coat or jacket that will keep me warm and dry.

For every trip, I make a spreadsheet as my packing list. On the day I pack, I print it out and check off each item as I go, so nothing important can possibly be forgotten. I only pack what I know I will wear or use. If I desperately need something else, I’m prepared to buy it. For example, I once found myself in San Diego without a swimsuit and had to purchase one to join my friends at the pool. (Fortunately, it was a swimsuit I liked and kept using after that trip was over.)

What goes on the spreadsheet varies by a few factors, but the biggest one by far is weather. I also have to be cognizant of the culture where I go. Leggings might be considered pants in the USA, but not in Korea or Japan! So I adjust my list, and start to fill my packing cubes. For an upcoming trip, the temperature is going to be at wide extremes, with a predicted high of 80° and a low of 39°. Hopefully that really cold low will be while I’m asleep, because I’m not planning to take boots and a heavy coat when it’s only supposed to be cold for a half day. I also consider whether I'll be able to wash clothes on the road. We've had a few interesting encounters with foreign washers and dryers, but got clean clothes in the end. If the trip is long and I know I'll be able to do laundry, I can pack half as much!

Ready to roll!

Everything on the spreadsheet is a necessity, but not all of it goes directly into a suitcase. When I fly with a rolling bag and a backpack or my tote bag, things like toiletries and technology go into the smaller bag with my passport, tickets, and wallet. This frees up space in my rolling bag and means that the things I couldn’t bear to lose are always within reach on the plane, with no chance of getting lost or delayed!