My life in a suitcase

Whit and I are getting excited about our imminent return to Gwangju, South Korea. After being home for about six months, we are aching to get back out into this big ol’ world.

We bought a new suitcase at TJ Maxx the other day. A really large one. Last time we moved to Korea we brought two suitcases and two backpacks in total. I still remember how hard it was to pack for the first time. What would we need in a year in Korea?

This time, we’re doing one big suitcase and two backpacks. We’re also doing some traveling on our multi-destination ticket out to Korea and we don’t want to lug around fifteen hundred bags.

So what do we take for one year abroad?

  • My favorite jeans. (ok, two pairs)
  • Whit’s one pair of jeans. (he seriously owns only one pair)
  • A dress or two
  • Man pants (translated: pants that will actually fit Whit)
  • Whit’s two pairs of shoes.
  • A few tops
  • Whit’s stinky running shoes, wrapped in four plastic bags
  • My stinky running shoes, wrapped in four plastic bags
  • 2 winter coats
  • About 15 boxes of tampons (they don’t have them there)
  • My camera + equipment
  • Settlers of Catan, our favorite game
  • About 5 books, which we will trade and barter off after finishing them (currently on the list: Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories; William Faulkner’s Intruders in the Dust; The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, to name a few).
  • Sheets
  • my beloved Mac and new Sherpani carrying case
  • A sleeping bag

I’m sure we’ll throw a few more random things in there. But there you go, our lives in a suitcase. What’s in yours? Or would be in yours?


  1. Oh the joy of packing! And the frustration of new high prices on extra luggage!
    What a hilarious adventure my husband and I under took when we came here, just about five months ago! Every little inch that could be was packed-in to the tightest degree. I was sort of clueless as to what Korea had and didn' we just packed the necessities; certain clothes, shoes, our computer, camera..and my husband is a film maker; I still don't know how we managed to pack his equipment!!
    I wish I would have packed health food goodies and yes tampons for sure!! lol

    Okay!! Pack tight..have fun..and safe travels!! Don't forget anything!! hehe


  2. Donna says:

    I wish I had your list when I helped our almost 19 year old neice pack for a 5 month volunteer stint in Ghana. Although there were a lot of essentials like the tampons that took up space. I'm sure it will be tons lighter on the way back.


  3. how funny everyone is talking about tampons, i just sent my mom an email asking for more too 🙂

    linds. i still have that pair of jeans i got at your exchange. i even had the crotch patched and had them hemed…all for free (the local man loves me :)) and they are the best. I am sure when we get ready to leave in a few months we will have a blow out too so you can stock back up on some of your old goodies.

    Where are you guys heading on your way here?


  4. Nicole,
    I was just thinking wistfully about those jeans the other day. Loved them.
    We are heading to Tahoe, Seattle & Vancouver on our way out to Korea. We're excited to see more of that area.
    We're also super excited to get back to Korea!


  5. sarah says:

    one word. keeper.


  6. Geri says:

    Hi you two. I have been following your blog for quite some time and am happy to hear you are heading back to Korea. My dream is to be there someday again for an extended period like you. My husband and I were there in 2003 and 2005 getting our Korean children. Good luck as you head back.


  7. I am packing now… first time going to Korea!!! I packed a lot of razors, soap and now I know I need a lot of tampons (TARGET HERE I COME)!! Thank you this was very insightful, makes me de-stress a little!


  8. Jenna says:

    I was in Shanghai for a year, some of the weirdest things I packed? Purple rubber duck and measuring cups…didn't need but still brought my huge robe (huge space killer)….it was great for cold nights when nothing could warm the apartment….even better for my first night in the apartment when I couldn't figure out how to turn the heat on!!!!!!


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