useful things when moving abroad Expat Advice

Useful Things For Expats To Bring When Moving Abroad

A little while ago we put together a guide on what to pack and leave when moving overseas. It covers a broad range of items to consider as you plan and pack. Here, we’re honing in on the top things to bring when moving abroad. We also have a few suggestions of what to be aware of.

You’ve researched the expat guide for your new country. You’ve found the best shipping company and chatted to a relocation consultant. You’ve read up on moving and packing tips and filled your boxes. Now it’s time to make sure you have a few specific items to hand for your international move.

A smart phone

Small, pocket-sized computers have changed the world. And they can make things so much easier as you settle into a new country. As long as you have WiFi, you can make any last-minute calls or emails from the airport when you leave and arrive. You also have easy access to friends, family, and the wealth of knowledge on the internet.

This can come in especially handy if you have to navigate around your city, look for work, or do research as you set up your new home. If your new country speaks a different language, a smart phone will be an extra bonus. All kinds of apps are available to help travellers and expats settle in.

Plus – you’ll have a camera right in your pocket. That’s a quick and easy way to capture the interesting things you’ll see. It’s also an easy way to share your experiences.

One thing to keep in mind is the kind of phone you have. There are two types of phone network – CDMA and GSM. If you have a phone made for one type of network, it usually won’t work on the other. Some countries only use one network. Before leaving, you should also check if your smart phone is locked. While phones can be unlocked overseas, it’s much easier to do this beforehand with your provider’s help.

A power pack

Your smart phone won’t be any good if it runs out of battery. A small travel power pack will make sure you can charge it, even if there are no power point around. Or if your chargers don’t match your new country’s power sockets.

Before you make this worthwhile investment and put it in your hand luggage, check regulations for the country you’re going to. There are some restrictions for the size of power pack that can be taken in carry-on. In most cases, it should be fine in your checked luggage.

Just make sure you keep your power pack charged…

Some personal items

Culture shock and home sickness can be quite real. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving into a completely new culture or just shifting to a new location. You may still experience it whether you’ve set off on a solo adventure or moved with your entire family. In a new place, those familiar frameworks and everyday things you’ve taken for granted will change. It can be disorienting.

That’s why taking some small, personal items can be invaluable for coping with culture shock. They’ll help ground you when you feel a bit lost or disoriented. It can be like having a little piece of home in your hands.

We suggest you don’t take too many large items, as they can use up a lot of space. But a few objects with real meaning will make all the difference.

A travel towel

If you’re familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ve probably already got a towel in your luggage. If not, think about investing in a small towel. Microfibre travel towels pack down small, are light, and dry quickly.

In a pinch, they can be used as a blanket. If you’re delayed on your journey, you can freshen up in the bathrooms. If you’re in temporary accommodation while you’re looking for a place to live (try navigating Hong Kong real estate!) you may not have “real” towels. You’ll be grateful to have a way to clean and dry yourself to hand!

Light entertainment

Remember those films and TV shows with an airport scene? The traveller’s parent or friend rushes off at the last minute to buy them a handful of trashy mags or a thriller paperback. We may have in-flight entertainment these days, but you may still be spending a lot of that time on the plane. Alternatives can be welcome.

Books, kindles, tablets, sudoku, puzzles, magazines, cards, and small games are all small, light-weight options.

Some easy, light entertainment is also great to have when you arrive. There will be moments when you need something to distract you, help you relax, or fill in time. If you’re moving somewhere where they don’t speak your first language, you may struggle to find a book or similar entertainment. Pack the language in your bag before you leave.

There’s always light entertainment to be found on your phone in the form of games and apps. However, don’t underestimate the grounding power of a simple, physical object. You also don’t need to worry about powering it up.

Your favourite sauce

Got a favourite type of sauce? Another favourite condiment? There’s every chance it will be harder to get – or more expensive – in your new home. If you’re able to pack it, pop some in your bags.

This applies to other types of packed and sealed foods of course. There are bound to be things you love that won’t be readily available once you arrive.

You may like to check customs laws first. While most packed goods are fine in most countries, fruit and vegetable products are sometimes problematic. There may also be limits to how much of different products you’re allowed to take over borders with you.

It’s inevitable that you will run out of your favourite food. When that happens, just look for an expat food store.

Your favourite clothes

If you have a particular style, or a favourite item of clothing, take it with you. You may not be able to find what you’re after in your new home. Clothing sizes and styles can vary a lot between countries. You’ve probably also got a few favourite clothes or jewellery you love and don’t want to leave behind.

If you’re moving to another country with a completely different culture, do be aware of what you wear. There are some things that may be inappropriate in some situations. A little bit of research, observation, and some hints from expat articles or forums, can help.

We also suggest packing business-casual clothes. You can always buy some, but it’s good to have something for your first couple of days at work. If you don’t yet have a job, you’ll have interview outfits sorted. Don’t have to wear business-casual for your job? There are still plenty of times when semi-formal wear will come in handy!

Are there other things you’re thinking of taking with you? Why not check out the Independent’s list of bizarre things banned around the world.

Patrick