You Can’t Take Everything

You’re truly one of the lucky ones if you’ve landed a teaching position at a school that supplies a 20-foot, all-expense-paid shipping container for your upcoming move. Not all schools, however, are so generous & most of us will soon be trying to cram our entire world into what amounts to a small herd of suitcases.

Considering today’s technology, it’s not necessary to pack heavy/bulky teaching materials & textbooks, both of which can be scanned/reprinted at destination. Novels, sheet music & the likes are readily available on Kindle & other devices so there’s no need to use up that precious airline-imposed weight/space allowance on space-killing paper products.

With that said, if you’re moving in suitcases, what are the absolutely necessary-to-pack items? For starters, how about earplugs for noisy sleeping environments, personal reading material for a year (remember – scan & download it at destination), postage stamps from your home country so people traveling back can mail items for you, extra passport photos, a good map, an ample supply of required medications & voltage converters, if necessary.

Soon International Educators will be leaving for overseas posts, some for the very first time, packing & repacking, making sure they’re remembering everything they’ll need in their new country of residence. To be sure no one forgets to pack something they’ll wish they had on arrival, ISR Asks: What are YOUR must-pack items when going overseas to live?

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25 Responses to You Can’t Take Everything

  1. Wizzy says:

    Dental supplies. In some countries, dental floss is hard to find. I bought 30 packs of dental floss from Amazon.

    Back up documents for Visas and adapters.


  2. ElleDubs says:

    Stick deodorant when you move to an Asian country. Many times you can’t find deodorant at all, or just the spray kind. My summer visits home always include a trip to Costco so I can get a 5 pack of Lady Speedstick, and supplement with some single sticks from common drugstores.


  3. Richard says:

    Odd as it may seem, socks and underwear, even though they may be made in the country you go to, they may not be sold there. Remember different countries have different cultural styles for their clothing so some basic things might be needed.


    • Barbara says:

      Years ago when I went to the UAE I thought I would be able to find pretty much everything and was surprised at what a hard time I had just finding a decent sweat suit. No HANES sweats in the UAE!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Linen. Linen. Linen. Nothing better than a good night sleep in a new, strange place.

    Bath towels. As above, nothing better than a nice shower followed by wrapping up in a soft towel.

    I’ve been to places where linen and towels are hard, don’t breathe and or are scratchy.


  5. Theo says:

    I travel with double of anything electronic that I rely on at home…two batteries for my phone, two chargers, adaptors for my MAC if the school is PC based for their projection system, two MAC cubes etc. In most countries you will find they are either over-priced, out of stock etc. I need to feel independently armed when I go into a teaching assignment, lol.

    And…I second the idea of unframed art or posters. You want to feel a part of ‘home’ is traveling with you wherever you go.


  6. Been there says:

    Wall art (unframed, of course) is a fast way to personalize your flat with memories of home. Framing services are often less expensive in foreign countries than at home.


  7. Anonymous says:

    It is so important to talk to anyone already in-country to find out what to bring. If you don’t want to ask new colleagues try internations, your embassy, etc. Otherwise you may waste your space on stuff you can buy locally! I always ask, ” What is hard to get here or a lot more expensive than in my home country?” Then I think about it. If you are picky or very allergic, cosmetics might be good to pack.


  8. Carly Thomas says:

    Some special throw blankets or pillow cases, hanging fabric wall art…some things to make my new space feel like home, but won’t break or take up too much space.


  9. Laura says:

    Something small to hang the the wall. Blank walls get depressing quickly, especially when you don’t have heaps of money to spend on decorating.


  10. bross597 says:

    I was told by in a letter from from the Curriculum Director that toilet paper was often unavailable and that I should always carry it with me… Being new to all of this new to me lifestyle, I thought she met that it wasn’t available in local stores in the country… SO… I brought TWO YEARS WORTH in my shipment… REALLY what she was saying is that when going out and about in my new country-to-be, that I’d need to bring TP, as it wasn’t usually in public restrooms… 🙂


    • Joann Tilyard says:

      Likewise, I read that coffee was not drunk in Japan!!! NOT TRUE… during the 8 min walk from the train station to school I passed six coffee shops. Admittedly, most of them I would never buy from at home, but they are coffee shops.


  11. Kathleen Polly says:

    I always bring sheets, towels, and pillows. You can’t always find decent quality. I also started using the big yellow and black totes that you can find at Home Depot instead of suitcases. The totes are great, you can drag them, kick them with your foot and if they are damaged by the airlines your out $5 or $8. After just spending a year in Venezuela food was the issue. Most places you can find what you need.


  12. Gus says:

    We always bring our favorite coffee, fabric softener sheets, tea, pillows and bedsheets.


  13. Barbara says:

    Arm and Hammer Tooth Paste, Secret Deodorant and 5 Second Nail Glue. I have been in 3 schools in 3 different countries and even in the UAE there was NO 5 Second Nail Glue and could only get Arm and Hammer Tooth Paste at Carrefour on its good days. While I could get the Secret Deodorant in Abu Dhabi it just wasn’t the same. I will be leaving for country #4 in 9 days and already have my stock of personal care items well packed.


  14. Jeanne says:

    My Swiss knife. I never leave home without it. I also always save space for gravol ( for those bumpy, never-ending roads), activated charcoal (against those nasty things I eventually end up eating and that make me sick), polysporin and band-aids, hand liquid gel, my spork camping ustensil and favorite water bottle, lavender essential oil (to help put my mind at ease when stuck with bad smelling pillows and rooms), and electrolyte hydrator, to prevent dizziness when hiking or driving at high altitudes. Last but not least, a favorite book. 🙂


  15. Susan Wieland says:

    When i taught in Brasil, we had nice apartments but there were no screens on the windows. One teacher, who had taught in Central America, brought screens! They can be bought at any hardware store in the U.S. It is window screening that comes on a roll and fits in a large suitcase. She attached magnets to the screens and the window frames and it worked well. Since there was not air conditioning in the apartments, leaving the windows open was a must but then the mosquitoes could get in. Taking a roll of screening can be very helpful!


  16. Keep Your Eyes Open says:

    It may be wise to bring extra cables for unique electronics and be sure to take them in your carry-on bag. My friend had all his apple cables and chargers stolen out of his checked luggage. The cost to replace them at destination was horrendous for his Apple products,


  17. Sarah says:

    I moved from the US to Germany and found these items hard or impossible to find:

    Pillows and cases in US sizes, boots and shoes (if you have big feet that your destination country doesn’t stock), favorite cosmetics, nail clippers, spare phone lightning cables (very expensive here), favorite US non-perishable foods (peanut butter, mac and cheese, Luna bars, etc.).

    If you’re a plus-size (US 14 and up), it’s a huge challenge to find attractive clothing, so bring your favorite unique items with you.

    Also, don’t forgot important legal documents!


    • I travel *to* Germany to buy plus-sized women’s clothes!!!

      My favourite shop is Ulla Popken but you can get very reasonably-priced clothes at C&A and Karstadt. They all have GREAT summer sales.


      • gypsygirl60 says:

        I guess I’m just not thrilled by the fashions here. I buy basics (turtlenecks, solid color pants, etc.) at the stores you’ve mentioned, but I miss my more colorful, interesting stuff in storage back home. Overall, it’s very expensive to buy stylish, flattering plus-size clothing in Berlin. Admittedly, I’m spoiled by the range of options I had in CT.


  18. Anonymous says:

    One set of good linen!

    Liked by 1 person

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