Published on July 29th, 2011 | by Paz12
How to pack for a year abroad – 6 month update
A little more than 6 months ago we were freaking out about what we should pack for our family of four to move to China for a year. We only were bringing one suitcase a piece for one year. You can imagine my anxiety. I did hours of research and scoured consumer reviews of hundreds of products so that we would have what we needed in China. Six months later, what was worth bringing, what did we forget to bring, and what could have been left at home. Find out here!
Lets start with…
Things NOT to bring to China!
In general I think most people always pack too much. When we saw our four suitcases for one year we had no idea what we should expect. After being here for 6 months here is what we know for sure! We could have brought one suitcase less…and so can you. Trust me!
- My coffee cup! You guessed it, it broke!
- Clothes：even though when we were packing we felt like okay this has to last us a year. We could have left a lot at home. Remember where ever you are moving to they also wear clothes (hopefully) and so they will sell clothes too. Now you can’t expect them to have your favorite brand or style, but don’t think that you will only find togas. They should have clothes too. A nice bonus is that most likely you will lose that extra 10 lbs you have always wanted to. Because you are finally experiencing life and not stuffing your face out of anxiety, worry, or stress. You are focusing more on living and everyday is an adventure so the pounds just melt away. I haven’t read one blog about a family or couple moving abroad that has not lost weight. All of our clothes are too big now too! We are not complaining. Good thing China has very cheap tailors. We are now having all of our clothes tailored to fit our thinner bods…it will cost us roughly $10.00 USD to have our clothes alterred. Totally worth the price.
- English books/workbooks： we brought many books and workbooks for our daughter. They weighed a lot! We found two bookstores in Guangzhou that sell the exact same workbooks for only $2.00 dollars more expensive. I would gladly pay the price to not have to carry them in our suitcases again.
- Dress clothes: You don’t need to bring dress clothes to China. I do recommend a pair of black pants and a couple dress shirts. In case you need to go on a job interview or a formal occasion, but leave the stilettos at home. You can find them in China and there are also loads of shops that sell dress clothing. It is much cheaper in China to buy that perfect black dress and their are a million of them for you to try on. People don’t dress as much as they do in the states. It isn’t uncommon for people to go to weddings in jeans. I would have died at the thought of people coming to my wedding in jeans. Many jobs also require an uniform, so check with your employer.
- Coffee： I brought coffee for a drip coffee maker and we still haven’t seen one. I know you can order one online, but at the moment we are getting our coffee fix just fine with instant coffee. They actually have really good instant coffee imported from all over the world.
Things TO bring to China.
There were a few important things we didn’t bring when coming to China and we have asked family members to ship them to us and we have ordered some on-line as well. It is good to know that amazon.com delivers everywhere.
- Calcium We didn’t take into consideration the lack of calcium in the Chinese diet. Although we eat healthier now than ever before we don’t eat as much calcium as we did in the good old Dairy state of Wisconsin. So we had to put our 1.5 yr old on back on baby formula and get more Flintstones vitamins for our four year old.
- Baby formula in China is NOT safe to buy. I am sure that there are some stores that you can trust, but I have not met a person in China that would recommend buying baby formula in China. So what does one do? Baby formula can be purchased online from many reputable western retail stores. We have had grandma’s send care packages full of vitamins and baby formula. They love sending yummy treats for their grand-kids.
- Shoes…China has a thing against shoes. It tears them up and spits them out. We bought quality shoes for the kids, but went cheaper on the shoes on for ourselves. We are now looking at how to buy shoes from abroad. Zeek wears a 10.5 and cannot find shoes in China big enough…even at the Nike store. Don’t be cheap on shoes for China.
- BPA free bottles/sippy cups for Abe I never realized how fast he goes throw bottles and although there are lots of bottles for sale in China I don’t buy them. We have bought a few from Hong Kong when we go and also our family has sent us a few from the states. Most of the beverages are served hot and I am very careful about his bottles.
- Laptop for the kids：Check this one out! You may be asking why would a four year old and a 1.5 yr old need a laptop. Well they obviously don’t need anything but food, water, and love. We are firm believers of that. However we have been debating if we should have a laptop shipped to us for them. Mainly because the laptops we currently have are being used for work and we can’t risk them being ruined by the two rugrats. We also have been doing a lot of homeschooling with Lupita. Her computer homeschooling has included researching online where we are going or looking up things after we have been there to find more detail. We find that this not only encourages her to dive in deeper to a subject, but has increased her knowledge of working around a computer. Obviously a skill that she will need. She loves to Skype and wants to start her own picture blog to share all of the pictures that she has taken in China with her Nonna Penny & Nonna Ginger back home. We do not promote buying a computer and sticking your kid infront of it like a video game or television. This should also be limited and used as a tool and not a babysitter.
What we use everyday in China.
- Pictures & our Shutterfly book this is a great conversation starter and lets people see our life before China. Especially when their are language barriers pictures make it easy to “talk”.
- Keen shoes I cannot stop talking about how much I love these shoes for kids. We love them! They are very easy to clean, are water proof and have great support. They also cover their toes, which on a crowded train station can be very important.
- See how cool they are!
- Nikon D3100 If you don’t believe how great it is, check out this review!
- Lowepro Fastpack 100 This was something I obsessed over and I am so glad that we ended up with the Fastpack 100. I can safely carry my SLR in the bottom compartment and I fit all of the kids stuff in the top area. I normally have a bottle, band-aids, mosquito spray, sunscreen, 2 diapers, wipes, hand santizer, notebook and pens, cell phone, iPod Touch, wallet and any important maps/books with me. So you can see that it we use it a lot and it still looks brand new! If I want to take some amazing pictures I just swing my bag around and grab my camera. Smiles all around.
- Water bottles
- Two strollers
- Catch Phrase
- SteriPEN although we have never used it. I am still happy we have it. Later this year we will be taking a trip off the grid and I know that I can have clean water for us to drink in no time. Clean water is important no matter who you are.
- iPod Touch We use our iPod Touch every day. There are many things we use our Touch for, some of our most favorite features are the camera, translator apps, calendar, and Skype abilities. It is very useful and versatile! Use it every day!