Packing Builds Character: Your Life Counts On This List

Every time I arrive in China and settle in, I experience the kind of situation where I want to bang my head against the wall in an act of sheer frustration at the fact that I always forget to include some basic essentials in my luggage. Let’s stay positive, I look forward to the next time I visit my country and repack for a return to China. Foreigners in China often find difficulty shopping for their preferred brand of a certain product, from deodorants to underwear to condoms. Following will be my customized list of things to include in my and your baggage before leaving to China. In the name of ease and comfort, check this out:

  1. Essential Docs
  • Airplane tickets (including the return flight info)
  • Financial essentials (Credit/debit/ATM cards etc…)
  • International Insurance card or Tavel insurance and the respective insurance contact info
  • ISIC or other purchased International Student Identity Card for students
  • Passport and a couple of photocopies of the first two pages
  • Vaccination records
  • Make sure that some document in your wallet/purse/handbag mentions your blood type info as this could be extremely useful in an unlikely unfortunate circumstance!
  1. Essential Items
  • Laptop
  • Lonely Planet China guide
  • Sunglasses and relevant eyewear
  • Contraceptives
  • Money belt
  • Toiletries (may include your brand of deodorant, dental floss, shampoo, shaving cream..)
  • Gynecological essentials (including tampons for ladies)
  • One light towel (you’ll find more in any supermarket once you’re there)
  • Insect repellent
  • A bag for traveling light around China
  1. Compact Medical Bag: Now this is essential, so at least bring along your painkillers, Neosporin, anti-diarrhea meds, prescriptions, antibiotics, vitamins etc…

I can’t avoid recalling the memory of the first time I went to China and got very sick, probably from the food, which my body hadn’t adapted to yet. I experienced so much trouble at the pharmacy just trying to explain myself, and I ended up using the archaic technique: sit down and endure it till it withers away!

  1. Clothing: Clothing requirements will vary according to people’s specific requirements and preferences. I will just say that flexibility is a virtue when choosing the best combination of clothes that suit your needs. Don’t waste precious luggage capacity on stuffing unnecessary clothing, but instead bring along enough comfy, durable pants and shoes etc.. You WILL find it difficult to buy quality cost-efficient clothing in China, I’ve tried to and failed!
  2. Essential to Do: It’s called Virtual Private Network, or VPN, and you will not be able to surf the internet as freely as you are accustomed to because of internet surveillance, so make sure you install a VPN BEFORE you arrive so you’re all set.

Note: There are many additional items that you may want to consider bringing along with you to China.

  • English Literature: You will find that the selection of books available is not impressive, and even will pose its own challenges, especially if you’re into specific titles.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a list of essentials that will keep you efficient in terms of baggage capacity/allowance and therefore allow you to include the stuff that you may want to add. This guide applies to the kind of traveler who plans to visit China for short/medium-term durations. So stick to efficiency and necessities, and the rest you’ll have to find in China or simply learn to adapt to life without. We’ve been there already.


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