Packing for your move to China

ENREACH Guides: Packing for your trip

Moving to China is no small process.   Once you get all the paperwork done and your visa is in your passport then it’s time to get started on packing. To help with this process, we have developed a five-step process to help you get it done right the first time and you can focus on learning Chinese and the other fun parts of moving to the middle kingdom.

Step 1: Go Shopping

Start with what you know you’ll need that you don’t have. Make a list and be thorough but not excessive.   Be sure you have a good pair of shoes or two if you have larger feet. While you can get anything you need in China, you want to arrive with everything you need for the first few months so you don’t have to worry about shopping there when you’re first getting settled. Other things you might want to consider are any of your favorite name brand toiletry products and of course any under or over the counter medications you want to be sure you have. Before I moved o China I got a new laptop I’d been waiting to buy and my favorite brand of toothpaste.

Step 2: Make a list (or two).

Rather than deciding to take your favorite sweater with you or not – first look at the big picture and consider what items you’ll need. A rule of thumb is to pack for the season you’re going into and the next one rather than all four seasons. Remember that you can buy almost anything in China so you don’t need a year’s worth of socks. Start with what matters and work back from there. What matters will depend on you of course but here is my list:

  • Electronics
  • Toiletries
  • Books (for the old fashioned)
  • Other personal items you need
  • Work clothes
  • Outside of work clothes

I like to start at the top of that list and work down as the things on top are typically harder to scale back.

Step 3: Get your gear right

Leave that ratty bag from college at home and invest in a good suitcase. Most airlines allow two 50 pound bags to check, one carry on and one personal item.   There is of course the option of extra baggage but I’ve never needed more than that. Don’t cut corners, get the right stuff as you’ll be using it for years to come. The same goes for your internal bags – what you put your toiletries, your cords, and any other items.

Step 4: Store extras

Inevitably, there will be some old picture album, heirloom, or something that you can’t fit in your bags but can’t bring yourself to part with. I am a strong believer in getting rid of everything unnecessary but if you find yourself with more than you can carry, it is better to put the unnecessary items in a box and leave it with someone at home.

Step 5: Practice Pack

Practice putting your gear together at least once before you go, ideally a week or two before you need to do the final pack. Unless you are a very experienced traveler you will most likely think you have more room than you do. It’s best to get a good handle on how everything fits together so you know that everything fits and where you can put the items you have. It’s best to have heavier things on the bottom and make sure everything you want to be able to reach is accessible so you don’t need to take everything out to reach something you put on the bottom.

In your personal item that you can access be sure to put your passport, wallet, and other items that you need to access easily. Additionally, don’t forget to pack the things you’ll need for a comfortable 14 hours on the plane. My go-to list is warm socks or slippers (if you wear sandals on the plane), a bottle full of water, some snacks like fruit and nuts, a book, and a journal.

Still have questions? Just give us a call. We love talking about China and have been in your shoes before so are happy to troubleshoot any questions.

Good luck! You’re going to love China.