Long-term Travel Essentials for TEFL Teachers: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Teaching Abroad
Moving abroad for a new TEFL opportunity is a very exciting step, one that you won’t forget. You will be heading off into a world of new culture, language and new friends! Teaching abroad can be a very rewarding milestone in your life. Whether it’s short-term or long-term, a great TEFL adventure is waiting for you! If you’re moving abroad for a TEFL job, you’ll likely be moving for at least 10 months, if not more! This can be overwhelming – packing up your life is no easy task and it can be tempting to try and take everything you own with you! To make this an easy transition for you, we’ve compiled an travel essentials guide for you!
Important paperwork and copies
This is literally item number one as you won’t get very far without it! Once you arrive in your host country, you will likely have to apply for a visa or register as living in the country. This means presenting your documents. Make sure you take everything, that they are all in date and make copies to take with you as well. Often residency applications will ask for a photocopy of your passport so if you have already got these handy, it will mean one less job for you to run around and do once you arrive!
Don’t forget to inform your bank you will be abroad so that you won’t have any trouble using your card (check this for all cards – both debit and credit!). If you only have one, it’s a good idea to look into getting another in case of emergencies. You can now also get physical cards for transaction apps such as Wise or Revolut which can be handy for paying in other currencies or if you lose your main debit card!
Have some cash to take with you too – whether it’s euros, dollars or the host currency. It’s handy to have on arrival. Remember that not all cities or countries use debit or credit cards as much as we might do in other countries so having this will be very useful. A mixture of card and cash works well when you first get there.
There are few of us these days that feel as if we could survive a while without technology so your trust electronics are must-pack! Depending on where you are moving to, you might want to invest in some “good” technology before you move. If you are moving to a more isolated area or a country that doesn’t have a certain brand available, it might be your last chance to get your hands on your favourite products! If you are planning on teaching online too, then make sure you have a good laptop to do this on.
Don’t forget along with your laptop, mobile/ tablet, that you need to pack all the necessary cables too! A power bank is also a useful item when travelling, especially if you have a long journey to make. Make sure you also research the plug sockets and voltage of your host country, so you can buy and take these things with you too!
You should also take some extra cables and chargers if you can. Travelling a lot and packing can wear your cables down and they might give out a few months into your stay. Packing extras is an electronic safety net!
No TEFL teacher should be without a handy backpack to cart their things around in or take books to work and back! Invest in a good backpack, maybe one from your favourite brand! It’s an item that, if you purchase wisely, you’ll use for years and years to come. One that’s overhead locker friendly is also a great way to save money if you plan on doing some weekend travelling whilst living abroad!
You should also invest in a good hold suitcase or bigger backpack. This will be your best friend as you travel around the world, so why not make sure it will last? Whether you’re planning on doing some travelling throughout the year or making some trips home to visit family, you will get your use out of it.
Trusty essential clothing
Whether you’re into buying new clothes often or not, you’ll need a reliable wardrobe to last you for the academic year and beyond! If you’re the type of person who has a mountain of clothes at home, then you can’t take everything with you! Pick the ones that will go with everything, will be used a lot or will last a while.
Essential items include:
-a good jacket / coat (if you’re heading somewhere colder, then invest well in this for the winter months!)
-a waterproof jacket – this will be handy in many destinations and doesn’t have to take up a lot of room in the suitcase. You can find one that folds up easily!
-comfortable and long-lasting trainers – these are often our go-to choice of shoes for travelling and getting around. Make sure that you won’t have to buy a pair every few months to replace them. If you have smaller or bigger than average-sized feet, it’s good to get these while you can in your home country.
-hiking/ walking boots – if you love being outside, walking and hiking then it’s worth spending the extra money on boots that will last. They can also double up as footwear for rainy weather if you don’t want to bring another pair of waterproof boots with you!
-Jeans – if you practically live in jeans then take your favourite pair with you which you can match with anything!
You will also need to ask about or research the dress code at your new school. If you need to wear something smarter for work, then it would be a good idea to get a good pair of black trousers or a skirt you can pair with everything!
You don’t need to go overboard if you are going to a bigger city and know that you will have access to clothes shops if you need things. However, if you are going somewhere more remote then you need to think about packing more long-term. If you’re very tall and want to move to Japan, you might have more difficulty buying clothes for your height so take more with you!
A reliable water bottle
Whether you need to refresh while teaching all day or on those weekend adventures you’re planning, a water bottle will be used a lot! Get one that you like, that motivates you to drink more water and one that is of good quality! Don’t forget you’re also helping the environment by using your own bottle and not buying lots of plastic ones.
Taking things like books can really weigh down your suitcase so think about digitalising! If you’re an avid reader then a Kindle or tablet can be your best friend for reading. Of course it’s not the same as reading a real book with that book smell we all secretly love, but it’s much more practical for packing – which is the most important thing here! It might be that there aren’t many options for reading in English where you’re heading to so you’ll be glad to have your Kindle!
If you’re into subscription services such as Netflix or Disney+ then check that it is available in your host country or you won’t be able to watch them! If you can’t get these services then cancel the subscription before you leave and check out any alternatives, including local options. Download some films ready on your tablet for long stopovers or when you first arrive and don’t have any internet!
The days of CDs are pretty gone now (who feels old?) and Spotify is our go to for music. Take the time to finally sort out your dream playlist and download it so you’ll always have access to your favourite tunes!
These are always what adds more weight to our suitcases at the airport but things we just can’t live without! You will be able to buy basics such as basic shampoo and shower gel anywhere, but if you use anything special or a brand that’s not so common, you should try to stock up and take this with you!
If you’re more of a no fuss kind of person who will use any brand then you don’t need to worry about packing so much, but one of each essential is a good start.It’s also a good idea to stock up on any hygiene products as these might not be as readily available in other countries – you don’t want to get caught off guard!
If you’re on any medication then it’s a good idea to try to get a 6-12 month supply of this. You need to check any restrictions where you’re travelling to. For example, in Australia, it’s not always possible to bring 12 months’ worth of non-essential medication so you will need to get less. Always get a note from your doctor in case you have any issues when entering the country, especially if it is more serious medication. Check any laws in your host country for carrying in medication, even if it is something such as Ibuprofen!
A sensible traveller will also prepare a small first-aid kit! This can include basic medication also such as paracetamol. It doesn’t have to be too fancy and you can even buy travel kits from Amazon if you don’t want to put it together yourself. It will have the basics such as plasters, scissors and bandages – you never know if you need them and it’s good to have them ready!
Packing up your life can be a big process but remember to keep it to the essentials. You can often buy a lot of things in the host country or even have more things sent over. Let’s not forget any friends or family that visit you could also bring over some of your favourite chocolate! Always do your research about what you can buy and what you can’t, so that you know how to pack your suitcase to be prepared for your new exciting adventure as a TEFL teacher abroad!