What should I pack for teaching English abroad?

In the run up to your departure overseas to teach English there will inevitably be plenty of things to organise. You will probably have one or two leaving parties to attend and you might have to clear out your old apartment and office space. Even if you only have to pack a bag in preparation for your trip, you will still need to consider exactly what you will and won’t need to take with you.

Should I invest in a good quality camera?

Although mobile phones now have improved cameras built in, taking a separate, high-quality camera is certainly recommended. Mobile phones are only as good as the battery that runs them and these can be short lived when using the camera extensively. Bear in mind that many of the places you might visit could be lacking in charging points and you do not want your phone to die on you while you visit the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. Your overseas teaching adventure could well be one of the most exciting times of your life, so it would be a major disappointment to miss out on the photographic memories.

What clothes should I take when teaching English abroad?

The bottom line with clothes is: If you are not absolutely certain that you will wear an item regularly, leave it behind. A bit of quick research will reveal the local climate throughout the year in your chosen destination, which should have a large bearing on what you do and do not need. If you are heading to the tropics of Southeast Asia or Latin America, there is a good chance that your destination will be hot all year, so that favourite knitted jumper than your Nan gave you is only going to take up valuable space. It is also worth remembering that most popular teaching destinations with have plenty of options for buying suitable clothing for the local climate at cheaper prices than you will pay in your home country.

Will I need a raincoat when teaching English abroad?

Wet weather gear is not something you need to worry about if your teaching destination is in the Middle East. However, if you are heading to Europe or a more tropical location, heavy rain might be something you will encounter quite regularly. In your previous life, a wet day might have offered a great excuse to crash on the sofa and watch movies. However, if you find yourself living in Rome, Beijing, or Santiago, you should not let a bit of wet weather get in the way of your exploring and adventure. A light, high-quality raincoat might prove to be one of the best investments you can make before heading overseas.

What shoes will I need when teaching English abroad?

As shoes are generally heavy and take up a lot of room in your luggage, it is best to only pack a couple of pairs rather than a pair for every day of the week. Two pairs of good quality shoes that can cover all types of occasion between them are all that you really need. Just bear in mind that they will need to cover long spells of teaching in the classroom, weekends and holidays travelling and exploring, as well as time spent socialising with your friends and colleagues.

What other things should I consider when packing?

Many people tend to overload their bags with unnecessary toiletries when heading overseas for the first time. These not only weigh a great deal, but can also limit the space you have for other more important items. In reality, you will be able to find comparable local products wherever you are heading and they are also likely to be cheaper.

A small backpack is often an invaluable item when teaching abroad as you are likely to take a number of short trips within your new country as well as further afield. Whether you enjoy hiking, cycling or simply exploring by train or bus, a good quality backpack will come in very handy. Finally, a set of earplugs and an eye mask can be the simplest yet most valuable items in your whole bag. Living in a new environment can bring many new and unfamiliar noises, such as roosters, cows, busy traffic, the call to prayer, or even a snoring roommate. Similarly, thin curtains or a night bus trip can be made easier to handle with a plain old eye mask to help you get the sleep you need.