Packing List for China

Packing List for China

The purpose of this list is not to be a general comprehensive moving list, but rather a packing list specifically for moving to China.

One of the reasons I created this packing list is because many of the other lists you can find online are somewhat out-of-date due to the rapid modernization of China and, particularly, the recent rise of online shopping in China.

However, despite this, there are some things which (even though they might be found in China) you may want to bring yourself.  This is mostly because many high-quality items are either very difficult to find or much more expensive in China.

A good packing list for moving to China is worth its weight in gold and hopefully you will be kissing this list once you have arrived in China!

Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

(Click Here to Download This Packing List)

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Flight info (for reference and for getting reimbursed from your school)
  • Cash
  • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Marriage/Birth Certificates (physical & digital form)
  • Diplomas & College/University Transcripts (physical & digital form)
  • Photocopies of Passport/Visas/Certificates, etc. (physical & digital form)
  • Money Belt – to keep cash, credit cards, passports, etc. safe while travelling
  • Driver’s License/IDs
  • International Medical/Health Insurance Information
  • Medical History and Any Important Health Certificates (digital form)
  • Emergency Card (with personal info to carry around with you)
  • Prescription Medications
  • Over-the-Counter medications – aspirin, ibuprophin, nyquil and other pain and cold/flu medications can be difficult to find in China. If you don’t buy the Nutribiotic Defense Plus tablets then you should definitely bring some anti-diarrheal and anti-constipation medicine.
  • Nutribiotic Defence Plus Tablets – This will significantly diminish the stomach troubles – diarrhea, constipation, vomiting – which come from adapting to the new food/bacteria and will help prevent food poisoning and basically make your first month a whole lot more pleasant! I cannot emphasize enough how big of a difference this makes – I know first-hand! Start taking the day before you leave for China and continue until you have been in China for about 6 weeks – about 45 tablets per person.
  • Maximum GSE Liquid Concentrate – This stuff is like an insurance policy, you hope you never need it, are incredibly happy to have it if you do need it and, if you don’t have it greatly regret it! Basically, because China has a serious problem with toxic drinking water, you can use a couple drops of this and it will make the water much safer.  Check out the reviews and you will probably want to get it.
  • Vitamins
  • Deodorant (surprisingly hard to find in China – and when found, very overpriced)
  • Appliances which can work in China – these days you can pretty much buy any plug adapter in China, but not a voltage converter. Previously, I used to need a voltage converter – China uses 220 V – but these days it seems like most appliances are designed to be used with both 120 V & 220 V.  See Wikipedia’s voltage/plug guide for details (though I had to hunt for an electric shaver which could be used in both).  Most appliances can be found in China, though the quality is often not the greatest.  Two relatively high-quality appliance brands in China are Haier and Midea)
  • Laptop/Netbook & Charger
  • Unlocked GSM Phone – This is the type of phone which can be used in China
  • E-reader – (such as a Kindle) a nice thing to have because books are big and heavy to carry. And English books, while increasingly more common, are not always easy to find
  • Earphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare Glasses/Contacts
  • Eyeglass prescription
  • Tax records – ideally you just bring them electronically for reference and then prepare your taxes from China using one of the online tax preparers such as TurboTax
  • Insect Spray – surprisingly hard to find in China
  • Suntan Lotion/Sunscreen – also surprisingly hard to find in China
  • Chinese Dictionary and Chinese Learning Materials – See the resources section of China Dream Job for recommendations
  • Non-toxic anti-dust chalk – Yes that’s a thing! And the chalk in China always made me sick – because it is really, truly made of toxic materials – so I stock up on it when I am home in the US. Plus, the dust from the Chinese chalk gets all over the place!  I use the Crayola stuff and it works just fine for me.  I have found that I go through about 50 sticks per semester, but I only use the chalkboard in about half of my classes.
  • Chalk Holder – When my friend recommended I get this, I thought it was completely unnecessary, but now I don’t teach without it. It basically keeps me from getting chalk all over my hands, face and body.  I’ve found the metal ones last much longer.  I use this one
  • Good Pens – I have had trouble finding pens that will last for more than a month or so. So I re commend bringing a few Bics or something like that
  • Tissue/Kleenex Packs – It’s a good idea to have a couple day’s supply in case until you can get toilet paper in your new apartment. Plus, most public toilets will not provide toilet paper, so always carry one with you when you go out and about in China.  They are cheap and easy to find in China.
  • GoGirl Female Urination Device – In case you don’t know, most public toilets in China are squat toilets and, ladies, if you don’t want to deal with that, you can get this thing. I’m a guy, so I can’t recommend it personally J but it has good reviews
  • Teaching Resources – Fortunately, there are tons of great resources online (see the resources section of China Dream Job), but you may have other books or magazines you want to bring.
  • Maps – these days you can find any map online, but, I included it here in case you like the old-school physical maps
  • USB Flashdrive – a must have for a teacher in China
  • AA Batteries – you can find these in China, but you might need a few at the beginning until you can buy some decent ones in China
  • A Couple Books/Magazines – your favorites or for the flight
  • Travel Pillow
  • Clothing – high quality, name-brand clothing is becoming more common in China, but it is usually much more expensive in China because, right now, it is for the wealthy. The poor and middle-class buy the super-cheap low-quality clothing that is everywhere.  So if you have any favorite brands, you might want to bring them.  And make sure your clothing is climate-appropriate.  Also, you most likely will not need any formal clothing.
  • Rain Jacket – see “clothing” above”
  • Warm Coats/Jackets – Unless you go to Hainan in the south, you may not need this, but in almost every other part of China, there are times when it can get cold
  • Shoes – Same as clothing above. Low-quality is plentiful, high-quality not so plentiful and over-priced.  Bring walking shoes as, most likely, you will do a lot of walking in China.
  • Toiletries – Such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. You can get these here in China, but they probably won’t be waiting for you in your new apartment.  So, travel amounts of shampoo and body wash are also a good idea.
  • Make-up/Moisturizers/Beauty Products – The women from overseas that I know in China (including my wife) all recommend bringing those which are most important to you as they can be hard to find and, if you find them are expensive.
  • Birth Control/Condoms –Let’s see…how can I put this?…they have different standards, quality and sizes in China
  • Feminine Pads/Tampons – Thanks to the fact that I am married, I know that it is near impossible to find tampons in China. Pads are common, but tampons are rare.
  • Shaver/Razors
  • First-Aid Items
  • Eye Mask/Ear Plugs/Noise-Cancelling Headphones – China is a very noise-tolerant society and these can come in useful
  • A White Noise APP – Put one of these on your phone/tablet and it will be a lifesaver if it happens to be loud where you live
  • TSA-Approved Luggage Locks
  • Ziplock Baggies – It’s amazing how often these come in handy (though you can now buy them in China, but they are great for travel)
  • Duct Tape – Not yet a thing in China, I can’t tell you the number of times it has come in handy
  • Hand Sanitzer – You can get this in China, but somewhat hard to find and expensive. One or two should be enough until you can find some in China.
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