If you ever get the chance to move overseas, TAKE IT! Whether it’s for 1 month through a school exchange program, 1 year as part of your university course or long-term for work, it’s a truly unique opportunity to live somewhere different, meet new people and experience things you wouldn’t normally at home. Yes, it can be scary and takes you out of your comfort zone, but that’s the best part of being overseas!
I recently found the checklist I wrote the very first time I packed up and moved overseas for university. With the benefit of hindsight, I now see what was super important and what I could have left behind. So to prepare you for that exciting (and scary!) leap, here are 6 uber-practical packing tips to moving overseas!
Lighten up on your:
Clothes and shoes
Woah woah, before you start getting out your torches and pitchforks, hear me out! While clothes and shoes are what we try to bring the most of (like 80% of the suitcase), it’s just not practical to cart over the bulk of your wardrobe when moving overseas. Believe me, I’ve tried.
In all honesty, buying clothes and shoes from your destination actually makes a lot of sense, especially if where you’re going has a different climate to home. This is because the items you can get there are much better suited to their weather and environment. Like when I moved to London, I had to buy new jackets because mine weren’t warm enough for a UK winter. I also found the streets were too uneven for all my dainty stilettos and only wore them once in a span of 2 years. So bring your essential favourites but be ruthless and leave those ‘just in case’ items at home!
Favourite food items
A common concern about moving overseas is that you might not be able to get your favourite instant noodles/curry paste/herbal soup/*insert ultimate best food item* in this new city. But as I’ve travelled, it’s clear that global borders have really melted away and we can get almost anything from supermarkets and specialised grocery stores. Many big cities have a well-stocked Chinatown, and little suburbs where Malaysian-style restaurants are abundant. While they may not have that specific brand you ALWAYS get, you can find plenty of other options – from frozen roti canai to Tean’s curry paste to a freshly cooked nasi lemak. DON’T YOU WORRY!
Essentials you think you can save money on
Ever looked at the exchange rate and thought “Ohemgee, HOW MUCH for a bottle of shampoo?!”? While it’s great to be conscious of your expenditure, there’s marginal gain to be had by stocking up on basics like toiletries and stationery and carrying them overseas. You will be able to find plenty of cheap alternatives from local places like PoundLand (an all-providing ‘dollar store’ in the UK) and Aldi (a German mini-mart that stocks foreign brands). Plus, adding heavy items like liquids or printing paper to your suitcase might push you over your weight limit and paying for extra baggage is DEFINITELY not worth it!
Load up on your:
Original official documents
It seems obvious but I cannot assert how IMPORTANT it is to bring your official documents when you go to a foreign country, especially if you’re going for an extended period of time. I was once asked to provide my birth certificate and my parents had to mail it all the way to me! Boy, was I nervous for the few days when it was in transit. Documents like your birth certificate, school results and recent bank statements are really useful to have to hand wherever you are. Alternatively, if you’re nervous about bringing along your originals, certified photocopies are a good fall back.
Dual / Multi-purpose equipment
If you’re moving into in a smaller space like a dorm room, a studio or a shared house, dual or multi-purpose equipment can help you cram a whole lot more into that space. Think universal adaptors, a sturdy tote that can double up as a grocery bag, or a hand-held blender with multiple attachments. While these things might be a little bulkier in your suitcase, I think they’re worth the trouble. My most precious equipment is a multi-layered rice cooker that can cook rice (obvs), steam leftover food, boil eggs and make instant noodles. I mean, c’mon…isn’t that the dream? No? Maybe it’s just me, but I LOVE that thing and still use it to this day.
Memorabilia from home
While moving away is full of adventure and excitement, there will inevitably come a time (or multiple times) when you feel lonely, sad or homesick. Being away from your loved ones is hard but having memorabilia from home reminds you of the wonderful people in your life and how much they love you. Photos, cards, a favourite cuddly toy, an old pillowcase…all these things will help you feel closer to them, even when you’re physically far away.
And that’s 6 uber-practical packing tips to moving overseas! Anything else to add or feel I’ve missed out on something crucial? Let us know in the comments below!