Packing, especially for a long stay, isn’t only about clothes. As I mentioned in my first packing post, we’ve been advised to bring a sufficient supply of medications and other essentials to last for the duration of our stay. There are also all sorts of random things that will be tucked into our luggage when we leave for China.
Depending on where you’re going, packing a towel might be a good idea. If you stay in 4 or 5 star resorts you certainly won’t need one but if you frequent $12/night guest houses like the one we stayed in in Cambodia, you’d better take one with you! Our apartment in China will be fully furnished. Dishes and bedding are provided but we’ve been told that towels are not. We can buy them there, of course, but after travelling and hanging around airports for over 24 hours, we’ll probably want to shower and fall into bed when we arrive! I think I’ll pack a couple of towels.
If necessary, laundry can be done almost anywhere. I always pack a small container of powdered laundry soap for those occasions when something needs to be washed out by hand. I learned a valuable lesson on our last international trip, however. ALWAYS pack that container in a ziploc bag! Airline baggage handlers are not kind to luggage and it’s amazing where powdered soap can end up when it’s released from it’s container and allowed to wander freely. Fortunately, the container was in an outside pocket of our suitcase but I was brushing soap from between the pages of my Bible for a long time afterward and I just recently found some hiding inside the case that holds my spare pair of glasses!
If you have eyesight like ours, an extra pair of glasses should always travel with you and it’s a good idea to take a copy of your current prescription as well. Add a pair of sunglasses and you’re ready to go.
Believe it or not, when I shop for clothes, I almost always think about how well an item will pack. How much space will it take up in a suitcase? How badly will it wrinkle? The second question is less important this time as I’ll also be packing our dual voltage travel iron which usually resides in our travel trailer. It’s not something that I’d bother packing for a shorter vacation trip but there won’t be an iron in our apartment in China so it will be essential. We’ll also take an adapter plug that will allow us to plug it in as outlets in China are different from those in Canada.
Voltage also varies from country to country. Here in Canada, we use 120 volts but China uses 220. Fortunately, our laptop computer, which will travel as a carry-on, has its own power converter. A camera is absolutely essential, of course, and at least a couple of memory cards. That, too, will travel in our carry-on luggage.
Wherever we go, we love to walk and hike. Since I’m always curious to know how far I’ve gone, I’ll be sure to pack my pedometer. A compass doesn’t take up much space and can be very handy so we’ll take one of those too. If we planned on geocaching, we’d also take our handheld GPS unit but caching hasn’t really caught on in China yet and I’ve also read that it’s illegal to use a GPS there without a permit! I’m not sure if that’s true or not but since there will be so many other things to see and do, we’ll leave that pastime until we get home again.
A travel alarm clock and a tiny flashlight will also be tucked into our suitcases. Though July and August are Dalian’s rainiest months, it’s on the coast and we’ll definitely need umbrellas. I’m sure we could buy them there but we have several folding ones so we’ll pack a couple of them including a tiny one that fits into my purse.
China is officially an atheist country but we are allowed to take a Bible with us for our personal use. We don’t travel anywhere without one so our compact ultra thin edition will go with us. Our Lonely Planet guidebook is bigger but it will definitely go too. I’m also hoping to fit a few paperback books into our baggage that we can leave behind when we finish reading. We probably should have invested in an e-reader by now as we’re both avid readers but I still like the feel of a book in my hands. It would be handy when we travel though, especially when we spend lengthy periods of time in countries where English is difficult to find.
Reminders of home are important if you’re away for an extended amount of time. A few family photos will definitely go to China with us. Our orientation handbook also suggests that we bring items that show the culture and history of our country to share with our students but I haven’t figured out what those ought to be. Any suggestions?
Maybe I should also pack a few twist ties. That’s the one thing we had a hard time finding in Japan!