Teaching Abroad Tips: What to Bring

If you’re thinking about how you’d like to teach English overseas, you certainly aren’t alone. You can get paid and travel at the same time, all while getting some great photos and meeting incredible people that will be in your life forever.  

That being said, there are some practical details that you need to focus on when you are considering the journey overseas. Particularly, how to pack when teaching abroad. It’s not quite the same as when you are just going away on a small trip over the weekend.  

Here are some of the most important travel items to have on you when you get on that plane. 

Know the dress code


You have to make sure that you are prepared in your clothing choices for the venue in which you’re teaching. While some are okay with relaxed and casual clothing, most will prefer that you look the part of educational. This means natural colours, high cut tops, clean shoes and dress pants or skirts.  

Prioritize this when you’re packing your clothes, but try to tuck away a few pieces that you are going to need in your downtime (jeans, a hoodie, etc).


You can’t just run home when you forget something, so it’s important to double check and triple check that you have all of the documents that you need. This includes copies of your academic certifications, your health insurance, registered ID and work visa (if applicable).  

Try to have electronic copies as a backup, but make sure you have paper copies, too.  This will make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way in terms of formal paperwork and identification. 

Your personal items


From special moisturizer to medications, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got enough of everything to last you until the end of your adventure abroad, unless you’re absolutely sure that you can get refills and replacements in the place you’ll be in.  

If you don’t have any kind of special products that you absolutely need, you can just take enough supplies for a week’s worth, and enjoy the idea of shopping around for local items. 

Comfort food

Travelling is hard and you will get homesick at times. Make sure you bring some of your favourite comfort food must-haves so that you can have a little taste of home — literally.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy local cuisine while you’re there, of course, but you don’t want to wish that you had brought your favourite food with you, too.

Extra money

Even if you have a good amount of certainty that you are going to have access to funds from the moment you get there, make sure you are prepared with extra cash that you have already converted into the local currency.  

Even if it’s just for peace of mind, knowing that you’ve got access to cash when you may need it is worth its extra packing! 

Be ready for homesickness


From a favourite stuffed animal to a photograph, make sure that you are prepared for those hard moments of homesickness that will sink in at first. 

You may find that you have to stay in constant contact with your loved ones, or simply detach and isolate yourself intentionally in the space until you adjust. Do what you need to do, and bring pieces of home with you at the same time. 

Dress for the season

From outerwear to seasonal comfort to protection, you need to make sure that you are ready for the season and the conditions of the country that you’re visiting. 

It’s always a good idea to have a raincoat/multi-purpose jacket, a good pair of sneakers, and dress shoes, for instance. Make sure you are ready to take on the climate and be prepared to have to do some emergency shopping if not. 

Bring a backpack


Sure, you don’t think you’re going to need something as primal as a backpack when you are heading overseas to teach ESL, but you really will. You’ll want to make sure that you have a lightweight, comfortable backpack that is going to help you pack away all of your must-haves for the day. From commutes to day trips, your backpack will be your most prized possession.  

Not sure what you want?  Bring an old one and be prepared to invest in a new one once you get there and see what you really need.

Bring earplugs

Even if you sleep easily, travelling is fraught with all sorts of new occasions and sounds that can keep the already stressed out traveller up at all hours. There’s nothing like a week of poor night sleeps to make you feel like absolute crap. Bring earplugs or a white noise machine or anything else that you think will help you get a good sleep when you need it.

Get a camera

Phones are great and all, but you’re travelling to a foreign country and you’re going to want to take photos that will be incredible. Phones take some good photos, but they’ll often break or die or delete data and you’ll be left wishing you had a camera. So, bring a camera.  

It’s best to invest in a really good quality one, but if budget is an issue, just borrow one from a friend, or get a low quality one.  Any camera is better than none at all. 

Got everything you need teaching abroad?


There’s nothing quite as exciting as travelling overseas, but once you get on the plane, that’s it. Make sure you are as prepared as possible by putting together a suitcase filled with all of the things that you are actually going to use. 

There’s nothing worse than packing it wrong and wishing you had learned about what you should pack, so use this guide of 10 must-have travel items to make sure that you are always prepared for the amazing experience of travelling abroad, and all of the memories that it is going to bring you and all those around you.

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