Regina G Beach

The only constant is change.

Packing for a Year

I have never gone somewhere so far for so long with so many unknowns. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve traveled; I’ve lived out of a backpack for a month. I studied abroad for a quarter; I went away to college for 4 years and moved from Ohio to Illinois. But this time seems different, both more and less permanent than anywhere else I’ve lived. The stakes seemed higher going to live in a place for a year than packing for any vacation. I need work clothes and play clothes. Will I be able to find the things I want abroad? What will I do for fun? What do I really need? How much can I carry? Will I want to visit somewhere cold? I didn’t bring a coat. 


The 2016-17 cohort kindly made us a packing list. I used it and my own prior experiences in South East Asia to guide my packing. I’ve been gone a week and I already know I’ve packed far more than I need and that I’m only going to amass more over the course of the year. Hell, I’ve already added two Lao skirts (sinhs) and a polo with the US and Lao flag to my wardrobe. 


  1. Computer, charger, HDMI to VGA converter, flash drives, iPad (yes, Netflix works in Laos) 
  2. Phone, charger, headphones, power brick (extra power has been super nice especially when I’m navigating everywhere. Special shoutout to the app Maps.Me which navigates offline while I live the airplane mode life) 
  3. blue tooth speakers (TBD on usefulness here)  
  4. 3 bandanas for keeping dust out of my face while biking  
  5. bike helmet, lock, and bag (hopefully I’ll soon buy a bike to make these things useful!) 
  6. arm band for phone when running/biking
  7. 2 pair bike shorts 
  8. Drawstring packpack
  9. camel back backpack
  10. Regular backpack (do you think I have the backpack category covered?) 
  11. 8 blouses/ teaching shirts
  12. Sunscreen for a year (much of the sunscreen here has whitening agent, I brought 2 travel size and three 3 oz sized tubes)
  13. Pharmacy kit (aspirin, cough med, zyrtyc, retainer, tissues, nail polish, toothbrush, netti pot, Neosporin, medical tape for blisters, hand sanitizer, Imodium, multi vitamin, band aids, tums, makeup, fish oil, magnesium, heartburn meds, hydrocortisone, tiger balm, bug repellant, soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, lotrimin, ear plugs, lip balm, toothpaste, tooth brush perfume, matches, tweezers, nail clippers)  
  14. 2 shorts and 2 pair dress pants, 1 pair comfy pants and 1 black skirt
  15. 3 dresses, two of which I could also teach in 
  16. Makeup, jewelry 
  17. 2 pairs of Flip flops, sneakers, velcro sport sandals, work flats
  18. Yoga clothes -tons of leggings, sports bras, yoga shorts tank tops (I may have gone overboard in this category) 
  19. 8 tee shirts
  20. Compression bag to cram as much clothing as possible into my big pack
  21. 4 ziplocks to keep ants out of whatever I put in them
  22. 3 small notebooks
  23. Laos/Cambodia travel guide
  24. Small squishy globe ball
  25. Carabiners and climbing gear (harness, chalk and shoes) 
  26. mask and snorkel, booties
  27. head lamp
  28. Charger converter for walls
  29. 15 pair underwear 
  30. 2 bras
  31. 10 pairs socks
  32. 2 tapestry/wraps
  33. combination lock
  34. Tote bag that folds into a little zipped pouch
  35. OU poster and shirt
  36. Gloves
  37. rain coat+fleece
  38. scarf/shall
  39. bathing suits, one and two piece
  40. passport photos and business cards
  41. travel towel
  42. Sleeping bag sheet, inflatable travel pillow
  43. Cavs visor
  44. Mosquito net
  45. Checks 
  46. Pedagogy books from grad school on teaching English/Literacy and yoga books 
  47. Mosquito net
  48. Travel yoga mat and towel
  49. Water bottle 
  50. Cross body purse 


Honestly I could have skipped almost everything in the toiletries, bath, pharmacy department. Yesterday I was in a convenient store where brands like Dove and Pantene, Degree and Colgate are regularly available and people keep saying anything that’s hard to find in Laos is easy to find across the boarder in Thailand. So far there’s nothing I regret leaving behind, but that remains to be determined. Nearly all of the rental property comes furnishes which is amazing. The apartment I have for the next two months also has a fully stocked kitchen with appliances, dishes and pots and pans. Not knowing my teaching assignment ahead of time I opted not to bring school supplies but have a pile at the ready in Cleveland to ship over when I have a better idea of what I need. For an underdeveloped, communist country, Laos has a surprising amount of choice in the markets and stores.