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

  • CLOTHES! T-shirts, pants, dresses, undergarments, sweatshirts, PJs, and anything else you like to wear. Please note that it is difficult to find some larger sizes in China.
  • Winter clothes if you're going somewhere cold
  • Sweaters are very important because your classroom may not be heated, or if it is, the windows may stay open in the winter.
  • Teaching apparel: What's acceptable varies from school to school. Jeans are permitted in some schools, but not others, and are more acceptable on women. T-shirts are basically not okay, although polos and button-down short-sleeve shirts are fine. Sneakers are fine if they're not full of holes. Of course, if you want to look very spiffy, that never hurts.
  • A blazer
  • Shoes. If you wear over a women's size 8 or men's size 10, you will have difficulty finding shoes here. A good set might be sneakers, work shoes, party shoes, boots, and sandals. 



  • ⇩ Toiletries

  • The usual suspects: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner (Don’t bring too much, you should be able to get all of the above when you have settled in at your school)
  • Lotion (everything in China has skin-whitening ingredients in it)
  • 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 medication you take daily. This sounds difficult, but it just takes some arguing 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.
  • Vitamins
  • Just to be safe, your basic traveler's pack: anti-diarrheal, analgesic, laxative, bugspray, Neosporin, hand sanitizer. China does have medicines (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 brand or size 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

  • ⇩ Tech

  • A 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.
  • Your laptop
  • An 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.
  • A flash drive. almost all of your lessons will be in PowerPoint.
  • 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 a lot -- visit their site for a free seven-day trial; afterwards, it's $70 a year.



  • ⇩ Optional Apps and Computer Programs

  • Pleco is the most popular Chinese dictionary. Everyone has it.
  • Chinesepod, an award-winning system of podcasts, has had some positive reviews from Educational Ambassadors.
  • CCTV Learn Chinese - thousands of videos produced by the China Central Television
  • DimSum Chinese - a reading aid for intermediate to advanced learners
  • Wenlin - also for intermediate to advanced learners
  • FluentU - a set of subtitled videos


  • ⇩ Miscellaneous

  • Umbrella (available in China but often poor quality. If you've got extra space...)
  • Backpack (especially useful if you will be traveling a lot)
  • Handbag(s?)
  • Small gifts from your hometown, such as a book of postcards (or several). Whether you hail from the big city or a small town, whether your students are five or fifteen, they will love seeing these.
  • 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 will hear it. Also good for dealing with roommates or noisy neighbors. Mack's Ear Seals earplugs work well.