Packing: What to Take (and Not Take) to China

When it came to packing for China, I was one of those “better safe than sorry” over packers and brought my whole life with me. And when I say life, I’m referring to the toiletries and clothing accessories a woman thinks she needs that a man thinks are stupid.


When we arrived in Xinxiang, there were some items I was grateful I packed and others I found at every market for nickels. So in an attempt to help future HIST teachers, here’s my list of packing do’s and don’ts:


sun screen
make up, make up remover and moisturizer
spices such as vanilla and cinnamon
a money belt
a set of locks
a backpack for long trips and a backpack for day trips

Don’t pack:

shampoo and conditioner
body lotion
toothpaste/brush/mouth wash
body wash
eye contact solution
bug spray
nail polish and remover
appliances (hair dryers, curling irons)
power adapters/converters


2 pairs of dress pants
1 dress or skirt
5 dress shirts
comfortable dress shoes
socks and underwear
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair shorts
5 casual shirts
work out clothes/pajamas
comfortable tennis shoes
optional: boots, sandals

If you’re teaching only 4-5 months, you could easily cut this list in half. I haven’t left anything out; don’t fill up your bag with unnecessary items or things you can easily get in China (that will be much cheaper and cuter) like scarves, gloves, hats and heavy coats. I bought my coat in Xinxiang for 100 yuan ($16.50) and layered it with a sweater and was just fine.

If you pack what I listed above, you won’t need anything else. I left most of my clothes in China anyway because they were worn pretty thin; I wouldn’t bring anything you absolutely love – the washers can be pretty rough.

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