Living & working abroad

Published on February 2nd, 2011 | by Paz


How to pack for a year abroad Part 2

Now that we are only 16 days away from our plane leaving O’hare Chicago we have decided on the majority of what is going in those beautiful pieces of luggage. Why are we going? We are packing only what we need and ditching the rest. Very, very, very little of our home will be stored in our basement. I hope to get a video out of what our storage looks like before we leave.  Check out Part 1 and Part 3!

Coffee – The picture above is of my favorite coffee cup.Yes this is coming with me. I bought this cup when I studied in Puebla, Mexico in 2000. It makes me happy everytime I look at it. So it comes. So now the only problem is that coffee is not a common drink in China, or at least what you and I consider coffee. I read this great article in Forbes about Starbucks in China. Obviously Starbucks in expensive in China and we are not about to spend all of our money at Starbucks. They do have free wifi though. What am I going to do? Well like any good coffee drinker I am going to bring my own coffee to last at least a few weeks until we can figure out how to buy coffee at the local grocery store. Maybe I will end up ditching coffee altogether and go for only tea. Who knows…I know it is better for me, but I do love my coffee. Here is what I am bringing.

A good friend of ours gave me this Rwanda (free-trade) coffee for Christmas and it is delicious. I am also bringing my favorite instant coffee from Trader Joe’s.

First off clothing..what did I pack? For 1 year. Considering Guangzhou has similar weather to Florida it has made it a bit easier to pack. We really only need clothing for 2 seasons and not 4.  Since we will be living in Guangzhou because of my new job we don’t need to be completely mobile, but we do hope to travel quite a bit while we are there.  We love the idea of just picking up and going whenever we can. Totally free and contained to our schedule.

Work attire.The Chinese dress formal for work. You are looked upon as an expert in your field and should dress like one. (I get to wear jeans to work now…I know I am going to miss that) But my amazing sister-in law Thea gave me a great piece of advice when it comes to your work wardrobe. “It should be a uniform…who wants to spend all their money on clothes they wear to work.” Ahhh the light bulb went off. Yes, why am I spending hundreds of dollars to look good for people I work with. I want to use that money for our adventures. So I took her up on her advice and found my uniform. I am bringing 2 grey dress pants, 2 black dress pants, and 4 dress shirts that will be alternated. I am sure I will not love them after a few months, but at least I know what I am wearing every day.

This picture is of my work clothes and all of my shirts. Yup they are all here. I am sure I don’t even need this much.

I have fallen in love with the mini-skirt phenomenon and love wearing mini-skirts. So I am bringing all three that I own.  2 jean and 1 grey  corduroy

 4 pairs of shorts & 2 Capri’sI love these Capri’s they are kind of cargo-ish, but very comfortable and light material. (Again this might be too much)

And of course my capes…well that is what Zeek calls them. I actually have no idea what they are called, but I love them. I am bringing 3 capes and one semi-formal dress. ( Great for going in and out of air conditioning. If anyone knows what my capes are called please let me know. I am tired of feeling like superman.

My shoes..I have ditched high heels. Yup. I am 4’11” I am okay with it..are you? So these are my four pairs of shoes that I am bringing: brown Big Buddhas, black Aldo dress/work shoes, Puma tennis shoes, and of course my flip flops. They are all comfortable and no matter which pair I am wearing I feel great in all of them.

This wallet I bought when we were in Italy. It is a man’s wallet and is supper small. I love it.

A jacket for all occasions. I love this jacket and it might need a good dry-cleaning before we leave, but it has tons of pockets and is good in lots of climates.

Dresses…ahhh I lately have been loving dresses (when it is warm enough). Only one piece of clothing needs to be washed and you never have to worry about it matching anything else. Here are two of my favorite dresses.Now that you get the jist of my clothing and shoes.

Toiletries.This is was actually very easy because I only have a few items that I love to use. Now to some this may seem like a lot and to others it may seem like nothing. First off the case to carry all of my stuff in… obviously I love useful cases. This one not only zips up for easy travel but also hangs on the back of our bathroom door. It helps keep Lupita out of my make-up.

 Love this.

A few items that I love are from Bath & Body.I do love their Tea Tree line and recently have added their Vitamin C Serum into my daily face care (not because I wanted to). My Tide Pen…would not go anywhere with out it. That is all I have to say. Dove makes amazing hair spray and deodorant. Then of course Downy wrinkle releaser. 

I love Bobbi Brown make up. This is what I am bringing with. Who knows if in a year this will still be what I use, but right now it is so I am going to bring it with.

So that basically finishes up what I am bringing. Haaahaa how funny. You may have noticed no jeans…well I am bringing 2 pairs of jeans. One doesn’t even deserve a picture and the other pair is getting hemmed because of course they are too long. But I do love them. My new Miss Me Jeans are sparkly and lots of fun.

We are only buying things that are of quality, we LOVE or really need (not usually fun), and fit in our nomadic lifestyle. If I lose my Miss Me jeansI won’t be upset or sad. Just a pair of jeans, but I will smile everytime I wear them. I don’t like heels so I am not going to wear them anymore. Basically only filling our lives with stuff that we want it to be filled with.

What about medicine…. well since I do have the MOST WONDERFUL MOTHER IN THE WORLD! We are all set. Check out one of our Christmas presents. She must have read my post about non-cluttering presents.

This is amazing and pretty. This beautiful eco-friendly bag came full of every medicine we would need. It also included band aids, alcohol wipes, carmex, neosporin, and on and on. Amazing!

My books….yes everyone keeps asking me ‘books’ huh? Probably because I work and live with IT people who don’t ever even use paper.

Remember all of our books must have a purpose or be something that we really love…like everything else.

1. The New Global Student by Maya Frost …you all know how much I love this book. Even though I have read it 4 times, it is coming with.

2. A New Earthby Eckart Tolle A great book about living in the moment and listening to your heart and not your head.

3. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Goldmen Gelman This is a great book about a woman in her late forties and how her life is changed forever and her years traveling around the world.

4. Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Goldmen Gelman This book is a compilation of stories from various women and their travels. It also includes great recipes from around the world. Yum!

5. China Lonely Planet

6. Live & Work in China

7. The Bilingual Edgeby Kendall King and Alison Mackey This is a great book (I just started reading) about how to help your children become bilingual & trilingual. We both believe that the more languages you can speak the better and intend on trying to learn Chinese as much as possible. This is the only book that I have found that speaks to all aspects of teaching your children a language that you yourself don’t know.

8. What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten Since we plan on also doing some home schooling to make sure that Lupita and Abe keep their native English accent. We also want to encourage at home learning.

9. Instant Chinese with phonetic spelling…yes!

I have divided our packing up into 3 posts. This may be too much for everyone, but I couldn’t find any information on what a family should bring when going on an adventure of this magnitude. I hope that if other families would want to leave everything and travel for a year (or more) that they would find this helpful. If not, well at least you know every detail of our luggage and our belongings. Remember this is all that we are keeping.

Check out Besty and Warren on Married with Luggage. Here they review everything that they have packed for their trip. They talk about what changes they have made and what they would do differently. Great site!

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About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

13 Responses to How to pack for a year abroad Part 2

  1. Rachael says:

    Love your items your taking with you…..your a brave woman with the mini skirts!!! You couldn’t catch me DEAD in one…

    Could you ell me the name of the book again that I should read besides the global Student….or was that it?

    • Paz says:

      Rachael- Please keep in mind my legs are only like 27″ long so the minis are not that mini. lol

      Yes The New Global Student was the one I was telling you about it. I meant to send one to you this week. But have now been stuck in the house for 2 days. That book is great. I have also loved both of Rita Goldmen’s books. She has some great advice on how to deal with the nay-sayers as well.
      My new book The Bilingual Edge is suprisingly good. I have been reading it a lot. Great information on what to so for helping your kids to learn a second language. We stopped teaching Lupita Spanish because she has a significant speech delay early on. (now that is way behind us) But even the speech therapists couldn’t tell us if that was a good idea or not. What should we do? When was it okay to get her back into her second language? Anyways this book totally goes into detail answering all of the questions I had with Lupita 1.5 yrs ago. Oh well. Since we don’t know Chinese we are very eager for all of us to learn. Lots of reading and I know you are busy with your little men. Thanks for checking out our site! Take Care,

  2. Janette says:

    It has been twenty years- but travelers tell me my advice is still good.
    We lived in Hong Kong. It might be worth a trip to get a few things.
    There is an excellent British bookstore in the Star Ferry Station (Hong Kong side). A book called “Traveler’s guide to Asian Customs and Manners” is worth every penny. As well as a “Shopper’s guide to Hong Kong” (tiny book).
    Park and Shop is like a mini Safeway- great for children’s meds- there is one in the Ferry area as well.
    Repulse Bay is where to buy American Clothing and American food (if you need it)
    Gymboree and Lee Jeans are there- exporting out of there. I am NOT a small person- neither were my children.
    There was a Toys are US at the Star Ferry Kowloon side.
    Most important is a tip I got from the State department years ago (3 countries- outside of the US). Find someplace that reminds you of home as soon as you can. It could be a restaurant, or park. Plan monthly visits there. At the six month point, when the honeymoon is over, spend LOTS of time there. It takes about two months to get over homesickness and the feeling that “everyone is against me”.
    Having that place will save you. It did me- in Hong Kong, in Germany and in Saudi Arabia.
    If you need anything—let me know. I am pretty resourceful over there:>) Lots of friends have made their way to the US top…if you know what I mean.
    Enjoy your life! I would not trade those years (our kids were 5&7) for anything. They both speak several languages. The spark began in China.

    • Paz says:

      Great advice. I am going to pick up that Shopper’s guide to Hong Kong before we leave. Good tips on finding a place that reminds me of home. I am guessing mine will be the local Starbucks…if they have the same US feel inside of them. I am not sure what will make our kids feel more at home. Did they have a lot of homesickness? Our kids are one and three, so I am guessing mostly parks and MdDonalds will make them feel at home. Also another question…did you do anything special to encourage them to learn so many languages? I want them to learn as many languages as they want to…so don’t want to be too pushy or not supportive enough. Thanks for checking out our posts!
      Take Care,

  3. Pingback: How to pack for a year abroad Part 1 | International Cravings

  4. Erin says:

    Paz, I have lived in China for almost two years with my husband and now 2 year old daughter. Your packing list looks pretty good but there may be a few things you could leave behind and buy here. Let me know if you want any advice or have any questions. Guangzhou is a really big city and is also home to ALOT of American clothing manufacturers so it has clothes and many western amenities.

    • Paz says:

      Erin- thanks for checking out our site. Yes, I would love advice on what to leave behind and if you think there are other things we should bring. It is great to hear of another family that has left the US for great adventures in China. We are newbies at all of this and are open to any feedback you could give us. Take care, Paz

      • Erin says:

        I do not live in Guangzhou but it is bigger than both cities I have lived in so most of my advice “should” hold true. I say that because almost nothing holds true from place to place in China, get ready 😉 I guess you are working in a university? Hopefully they have someone to take you around or acquaint you with your surroundings, if so you want to ask about the closest Metro (and Starbucks, of course 😉 Metro is a big German owned store that is where I buy most of my import or more Western items. They have everything like veggies, milk, eggs, etc. but can be a little more expensive. (Very slightly, sometimes the convenience of buying everything in one spot def outwieghs the three dollars buying at the market) look me up on skype jake.erin.mills if you really want to chat about whatever…What airport are you coming through?

        • Paz says:

          Yes, we have a person that is going to show us around and get us acquainted with our new home. We have one week before I start work. I am guessing that will give us enough time to recover from jet lag and find some good food. Thanks for the heads up on Metro. We will check it out. We are flying into Hong Kong and then going to Guangzhou. I added you on Skype. Thanks for being open to answer some of our crazy questions.
          Take Care,

  5. Pingback: How to pack for a year abroad Part 3 | International Cravings

  6. Pingback: How to pack for a year abroad – 6 month update – International Cravings

  7. Katie says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have read your other posts about moving and packing light and so far all of them have been a great help to me. I am about to move from Florida to Lijiang (I’ll actually pass through Guangzhou on my way there), and am trying to do so with just one suitcase. What is one thing you wish someone had told you before you went?

    Also, your “capes” are (ironically enough) called fly away sweaters 🙂

    • Paz says:

      Katie…hilarious that they are called fly away sweaters….thank you for letting me know. The one thing that I wish people would have told me is that I need really good shoes and to be ready to get pushed more than ever ever before in high season Chinese traveling. You don’t have to worry so much in normal everyday traveling but traveling on a Chinese holiday is nuts pure insanity. We won’t ever do that again. We did it on accident not looking at the holiday calender and have had some rough traveling moments with the kids. Also having a really good BPA free water bottle for yourself is priceless!

      Can’t wait for your adventure

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    We are a family of four: dad, mom, sister, brother, who decided to leave our job, home, and community to live life in China. After a year abroad we decided to become permanent nomads. We road school our children and try to enjoy every minute.

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