How do you fit your life into two checked bags and a carry-on? Here are some suggestions from former AYC participants. Almost anything you could want is available on Taobao, but it doesn't have everything and prices for some goods are significantly higher than they are in the U.S.
⇩ Documents

  • Your Passport (must be valid until July of next year) AND extra 2x2 passport photos
  • Your TEFL certificate (if you have one)
  • BOTH your original AND authenticated diploma
  • BOTH your original AND authenticated background check
  • Original physical heath examination documents
  • Digital scans of important documents (bank information, tax records, etc) just in case



  • ⇩ Clothes

  • T-shirts, pants, dresses, undergarments, sweatshirts, pajamas and anything else you like to wear. *Please note that it is difficult to find some larger sizes in China.
  • Winter attire if you're going somewhere cold. Items include gloves, scarves, earmuffs, etc.
  • Sweaters are very important because your classrooms may not be heated, or even if they are, the windows may still remain open.
  • Teaching attire. What is considered acceptable work attire varies from school to school. Jeans are permitted in some schools, but not others, and are more acceptable on women. T-shirts are generally considered not okay, however polos and button-down short-sleeve shirts are fine. Sneakers are fine if they're well-kempt. Dressing classy also never hurts!
  • Blazer
  • Shoes. If you wear over a women's size 8 or men's size 10, you will have a difficult time finding shoes here. A good set might include some sneakers, work shoes, party shoes, boots, rainboots and sandals. 



  • ⇩ Toiletries

  • The usual suspects: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner (Don’t bring too much since you should be able to get all of the above when you have settled in at your school)
  • Lotion (many products in China have skin-whitening ingredients)
  • Makeup - very expensive in China
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Tampons if you use them (pads are easy to find; other AYC women advise that menstrual cups work well here)
  • Contact lens supplies
  • *Any specific hair care or skin care products you will need. 



  • ⇩ Medical

  • Bring a year's supply of any daily medication you take. This sounds difficult, but it requires some back and forth with your insurance company. Get your doctor to write the prescription and then bring it to the pharmacy. The pharmacist will call the insurance company, who will first reject the claim. The insurance company will then be required to override the rejection of your request.
  • Vitamin
  • Just to be safe, your basic traveler's pack: anti-diarrheal, analgesic, laxative, bugspray, Neosporin, hand sanitizer. However China does have medicine (lots of it) and people say they work wonders, so don't go overboard.
  • Stock up on whatever birth control pills you may take before you leave the country
  • If you are particular about brands or sizes of condoms, feel free to bring your own, although condoms are readily available. 
  • *Plan B is available in every drugstore in China for 20 yuan

  • ⇩ Technology

  • Camera, of course.
  • *Your phone may be usable in China if you can change its SIM card. Google the model number of your phone and your carrier to see if it is possible. iPhones are particularly tricky. If you buy a new phone in the States before you come, wait to register it until after you return from China.
  • Laptop
  • eReader
  • A converter for any small appliance you may use (such as an electric toothbrush, razor, etc.). If your appliance's plug says 110-240 volts, it does not need a converter.
  • Adaptors for any three-pronged plugs. Two-pronged plugs fit into Chinese sockets, but three-pronged plugs do not.
  • Flashdrive. Almost all of your lessons will be in PowerPoint. WiFi might not always be readily available or very fast so it is good to have for TEFL training and classes.
  • A VPN. You will not be able to access regular American websites like YouTube, Facebook, or the New York Times, and it is easier to purchase a VPN in the US than in China. We like Astrill and ExpressVPN a lot - visit their sites and one week free trials may be provided.



  • ⇩ Optional Apps and Computer Programs

  • Pleco is the most popular Chinese dictionary.
  • Baidu Maps 百度地图 is a desktop and mobile map application that works like Apple and Google maps. It can also be used to navigate public transportation.
  • DiDi is the Chinese version of Uber and Lyft. A ride sharing app that requires Alipay/WeChat linkage.

  • Duolingo is a language learning application for all levels. Free and also easy to access.
  • Chinesepod is an award-winning system of podcasts and has received positive reviews from previous Educational Ambassadors.
  • CCTV Learn Chinese  has thousands of videos produced by China Central Television.
  • DimSum Chinese  is a reading aid for intermediate to advanced learners.
  • Wenlin is also for intermediate to advanced learners.
  • FluentU is a set of subtitled videos.

  • Money Currency Converters are generally a good idea if you want exact numbers instead of estimates.


  • ⇩ Miscellaneous

  • Pens/Pencils/Notebooks are generally used during your first week of TEFL training. Will also likely be provided but it never hurts to bring a spare.
  • Headphones are a good item to bring if you have long commutes or dislike city noise.
  • Umbrella (available in China but often in poor quality)
  • Backpack(s) (especially useful if you will be traveling a lot)
  • Handbag(s)?
  • Sunglasses
  • Hometown small gifts, such as a book of postcards (or several). Whether you are from a big city or a small town, students of all ages will love seeing them.
  • Earplugs. Chinese drivers honk their horns a lot. Seemingly every major event in China warrants 7 AM fireworks and even if you live on the 20th floor, you may still hear them. They are also good for dealing with roommates or noisy neighbors.
    Recommendations include Mac's Ear Seals Earplugs.