Your China packing essentials should include a variety of things that may be unnecessarily expensive or impossible to find in the Middle Kingdom. If you are coming to China to teach English in the near future, you’ll want to make sure you have the following:
1. Supplements and medicine
Pack any prescriptions you need as well as basic over-the-counter medicine such as aspirin, stomach pills, anti-histamines, and other pain relievers. There are plenty of pharmacies in China, but very few carry products with English labels or have staff who speak English. Some stores like Watsons might have some vitamins and other imported items, but they’ll be quite expensive.
2. Things you put in your eyes and over your eyes
Many Chinese people wear glasses so there are of course shops which sell glasses and contact lenses. However, the product details for contact solution may be in Chinese or it may take you a while to find a glasses shop as you need time to get your bearings in a new city.
3. Various toiletries
Regardless of what you normally use on your skin, if you want to use the same items in China, it’s going to be harder to find and more expensive in China. If you have favorite brands that you use, don’t assume you’ll be able to find it in China. Most products and product formulas sold in China are adapted to the needs of their target market: Chinese people. That means things such as deodorant are not that important while other things, such as skin whiteners, are.
4. 2″x2″ Photos
If you’re think you’ll stay in China for more than one year, bring up a good number of two-inch photos with a white background of yourself which you’ll need for renewing visas, starting a new job, medical checks, etc.
5. Clothing and shoes
Clothing sizes over women’s US size 6 (EU 38, UK 10) or shoe sizes over 38 (US 8) are hard to find in China. If you are tall or wide, you’ll have a bit more difficulty shopping in China. Regardless of your size, you’ll save money by bringing a good variety of items so that you don’t need to stock up on everything in China. Most international stores in China are more expensive than they are back home due to import costs.
6. Adapting to Chinese outlets
Bring several adapters for all of your electronics. Be on the safe side and buy an all-in-one world travel adapter that works in any country. Type A, C and I plugs will fit into Chinese outlets.
7. High quality chocolate and other snacks
Don’t be scared; there is chocolate in China. And you will be able to find some of your other favorite foods in China as well. Imported items can be found in most large Chinese cities at stores such as Carrefour or Jenny Lou’s, but you will spend way more than you did back home. Bring as many of your favorite snacks as will fit in your suitcase. They will also make a great gift to share with your new Chinese students or colleagues.
In addition to the above, bringing a little bit of home with you to China will make being away from family and friends a little bit easier. Whether it’s some small framed photos or a familiar blanket or pillow, be sure to pack whatever you need to make your new China home feel a bit more like home.
Bottom line: don’t stress too much about forgetting something. Worse case scenario is someone from home may have to send you a box or you’ll just have to get whatever you needed a few months later when you go home for the holidays.
If you already have friends in China, ask them if they want you to bring them anything. You’ll score some major brownie points!