(Photo: Daniel Bernard via Unsplash)
There are two important sets of "dos and don'ts" for all travelers. The first set has to do with the pre-travel process. Essentially, how can tourists best position themselves to have the vacation they are envisioning before they even leave their homes?
Things on the pre-travel portion can include understanding whether or not you need a visa. If, for example, you're planning on visiting South Korea, then you must research South Korean visa types. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and have officials reject you from boarding your flight. Or, even worse, to arrive at your South Korean port of entry and be denied because you didn't do your homework.
Another "do" before you fly is understanding the climate of where you are going and how long you intend to travel. If you are going to a warm and dry climate, then you will not want to bog down your luggage with cold-weather gear.
On the flip side, just because your destination is hot does not mean you won't face some rain. Keep that in mind when packing your bags.
The other aspect of "dos and don'ts" concerns how you comport yourself and what decisions you make while in your destination country. Exposing yourself to the subtleties of a new culture is part of what makes travel incredible. However, it can also be fertile grounds for misunderstandings.
With that in mind, reading up on how to act without offending the locals can go a long way to ensuring a smooth and fun trip.
What to Pack for a South Korean Vacation
Packing a bag is often overly complicated. We get overwhelmed standing in front of our closets trying to imagine ourselves in a destination we've never been to before. Will it rain? Be too hot? Will you have access to a laundry machine or dryer? Do I think I'll need a swimsuit or a pair of hiking shoes? Will I want to get dressed up and go to dinner one evening?
All these questions and more can lead you to either have to make an unnecessary purchase once you arrive or to overpack, taking up valuable suitcase space with something that will remain folded up for the entire holiday.
With those basic tenets in mind: what is on the list of recommended items to (and not to) pack for Korea?
Packing for a South Korean Vacation: Dos
South Korea can get both very hot and very cold. It is important to consider the time of year that you are visiting while organizing your luggage. Make sure to bring rain gear no matter the season, especially if you are visiting more tropical regions of the country as visitors are often surprised by the heavy, sudden rain showers.
If it is hot, do not be content with only sandals. Be sure to bring a good, sturdy pair of closed-toe shoes for those long days traipsing around the city or for those long hikes in nature. Additionally, it is a good idea to bring a portable water bottle. That way you can avoid having to waste money on disposable items. Tap water is safe to drink across the country.
Lastly, South Korea is a very stylish society, especially in big cities like Seoul. Do not be shy about using your clothing and accessories to express yourself. You are more likely to stand out by dressing down than to stand out for looking your best.
Packing for a South Korean Vacation: Don'ts
The "don'ts" are just as important as the "dos" while packing. Make sure not to take up valuable space in your luggage and carry-ons with unnecessary items. You can be confident that what you need is widely available across South Korea.
Remember that South Korea is a highly developed society, so don't worry about whether or not you will be able to find a particular item or product there, the answer is most assuredly yes.
With that in mind, don't pack too much cash. You never know when your bag will get lost or stolen while traveling. Even though South Korea is regarded as safe, why risk it? Especially because credit and debit cards are accepted throughout the country.
Dos and Don't While in South Korea
South Korea is a friendly and welcoming country. Locals love to laugh and enjoy their time. Especially over a meal and a drink. South Koreans take pride in their hospitality, so be open to new experiences and new dishes.
One thing to keep in mind is that South Korean society is more hierarchical than some western cultures. Be sure to understand your place in social situations regarding age and stature.
Always be kind and gracious and you will no doubt have a wonderful experience in Seoul or anywhere else you choose to visit.
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