Juliet Wells

Before living abroad for a year, what to bring is often a burning question. We've covered this topic in our post "what to bring for teaching English abroad,"but there's a few things that we might of missed, and a few details that we'd like to add. Before you start teaching English overseas, make sure you cover all the basics.


Over The Counter Meds

Over-the-counter medications are very easy to access in most western countries. If you feel sick, you can pop into a Wal-Mart, CVS, or even a gas station for some Advil, or medicine for an upset stomach. In China, all OTC medications and prescribed medication come from the hospital or your local pharmacy, not a convenience store. Save yourself a trip to the hospital for a simple head cold and come prepared with a few of these OTC medications for when you need them most. Painkillers (Ibuprofen [Motrin], Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, Paracetamol) Nyquil (Dayquil, ZzzQuil), Pepto Bismol (diarrhoea medication), Gas X or Alco Seltzer, Theraflu, Allergy Medicine, and sleeping pills.

Universal Converter

Prevent overheating your precious appliances and bring a universal converter. The outlets in your new home may look like they can accommodate your device, but they can't. Don't be fooled. The wattage in China is higher than typical western countries. So if you care about your favourite flat iron, blow dryer, curling wand, electric toothbrush, or any other item, be sure to use your universal converter.


Makeup, Bras, Underwear, and Shoes

Many department stores in China carry the same brands you use at home for foundation, cover-ups, and other related products. However, the complexions available reflect the skin tone and complexions of the local Chinese people. The same applies to undergarments and shoes for women – they run small (larger than size 36C cup or US 8 [EUR 39] is rare in stores). Be sure to bring a few extra bottles of foundation for skin tones of a darker hue, bras, underwear, and shoes until you get settled in and can find a store of your preference, either in the city or online.

Feminine Hygienic items

Talking about feminine hygiene can sometimes be awkward, especially for guys. But it's important to remember that China has a few cultural differences that expats can't adjust to straight away, and feminine hygiene is one of them. The majority of feminine hygiene products available for women in China are sanitary pads. If you want to feel comfortable in China, and you don't want to use sanitary pads, make sure you bring a supply of tampons and/or any other products you need to feel comfortable.


Packing your life into one or two suitcases can leave you making some difficult choices, and you'll need to leave some things behind. Think of yourself as a boxer, and you need to trim some of the fat to make the weight (at the airport). Here's a short list of things that you don't need, because you will be able to buy them abroad, and some of the basics you need, will already be in the hotel when you arrive.

  • Shampoo

  • Body Wash

  • Toothpaste

  • Nail Clippers

  • Towel

  • Unnecessary valuables (Such as expensive jewelry)

  • Bed sheets and linens

You may only be packing for a year teaching English abroad. But, like many of our teachers, this year could lead to two or three, so maybe you'll need to revise this list a little. You can also read our bigger more definitive list.

Apply to Teach NOW

It takes less than five minutes
to change your life.

Related Articles