Gum. 5-hour ENERGY. Floss. Tide instant stain remover pen. Several pounds of granola.
Everybody has that one thing they can’t live without and at the same time can’t find in China.
For many people, it’s shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from stores with my self-confidence rudely turned down a notch by the giggling sales lady who says in Chinese “Haha, so big! We don’t have that size! Nobody does!”
Here is a starting place for items you may want to consider bringing from home that will make your time living in China easier.
While you can find many things at Western grocery stores, there’s no guarantee and stocks are not consistent, not to mention the inflated cost of imported foreign goods. It’s best to bring the items you can’t live without, such as:
You can find deodorant in China, but not as easily as you’d think (or wish or hope were the case)
Beware: many in China include a special whitening ingredient, even washes that look familiar are re-vamped for an Asian market that is obsessed with fair skin
Tampons (and other items ladies use at that time of the month)
While you may be able to find some in China, the first time you get a wicked cold and have no Chinese, you’ll be so happy you have something sitting in your closet… consider bringing allergy medicine, pain relief, cough medicine, cough drops, and so on.
A few of your favorite foods
Maybe a few chocolate bars to tide you over…. pancake mix, granola bars, trail mix, a few meals-in-a-box to have on hand while you get yourself on your feet and accustom to your new local diet (not to mention figuring out how to order food!)
Your favorite tea or coffee
All the Brits I know have stocks of their favorite English teas.
All the coffee addicts I know bring their own French press and stock up on bags of coffee when at home.
It’s hard to find English language books in China, and so you might want to consider buying an e-reader that allows you to download books if you plan to be in China a long time.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is software you can download that essentially tricks your computer into thinking you IP address is somewhere other than China. You can visit all the sites China’s Great Firewall blocks…Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
You can buy one while in China, but if you will want any type of help setting it up, probably better to do it in a place where you understand the language. Plus, some VPN download sites are blocked in China.
It’s hard to find good quality affordable shoes in China. Think about what climate you’ll be living in, or potentially traveling to, and pack accordingly. Don’t forget you hiking sneakers or boots if that’s your thing, or running shoes if you insist on joining a gym, or flip flops for the warm weather.
Photos of home
This one is a little cheesy, but it’s important! Don’t forget to pack a few photos of friends and family to stick on your fridge or desk.
How about you? What items are a “must have” when you’re packing to live abroad (whether it be China or anywhere else where the grocery store stock is unfamiliar)? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!