So it’s the day before you leave and you’re figuring out how to stuff a weeks worth of living into a carry-on and a backpack. I’ve been there! Some items are obvious (i.e. clothes, toothbrush, cell phone) but others can be easily forgotten. I’m particularly forgetful and negligent so I always take 5 minutes and make a list. I subconsciously organize it into four categories: clothing, toiletries, electronics and miscellaneous.

Clothing is easy; you just need to think ahead and make sure your clothing is suitable for your plans. Checking the weather for rainy or cool weather is never a bad idea, either. I wrote down hiking shoes, fluffy socks and a swimsuit because we planned to hike a lot and visit a hot springs.  You can also save space by double-dipping clothes and wearing them more than once. This is especially permitted with bottoms. Jackets are your friends and always remember PJs!

Other than the generic daily health items, the toiletries section caters to your needs. I didn’t count on my hotels having shampoo so I made sure to bring enough for the week. If you have a special regimine with certain soaps like I do, make sure to mark it in your list so tou don’t forget. A new phenomenon I’ve recently appreciated is bringing a self-made first aid kit around with me. I always have a stash of headache pills, chewable Pepto-Bismol (these are lifesavers!), fever meds and band-aids in my bag lest I or somebody else needs them. I highlited, underlined and starred my prescription medicine so I wouldn’t forget it. The last thing anyone wants is to get sick during a trip, and sometimes it can be  easily avoided by just having simple medicine.

How long your electronics list is depends on how brave you are (and whether or not you have homework). I like bringing my pocketjuice portable charger, adaptor and headphones for the long trips and the occasional late-night video binge. The most important thing for me, however, is to explicitly write down chargers on my list. Like aforementioned, I am forgetful and have packed the device without its charger, so now I write it down. (As it turns out, for this trip I managed to pack all my chargers but forgot my Chinese cellphone! One day I will remember them all!)

Lastly, miscellaneous. As the name suggests, anything that does not fit into the other categories can go here. For me this included things like the all-essential passport, itinerary plans, tickets, student ID, cash, insurance cards, jewelry, books, pens, a lot of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sunglasses, Chapstick, etc. a small backpack is always handy, especially if you’ll be walking long distances like we did on the Great Wall and in the Frangrant Hills (Xiangshan). I always try to finish my homework before trips, but I had to do some of my homework about my trip so I brought it along as well. The long train rides were very handy for completing it!

My packing list
My packing list

To me, packing is a useful skill you develop and can always improve upon. I think it’s like a fun challenge, or a puzzle! You get better at rolling up clothes and stuffing medicine bottles into corners! I certainly learned a lot packing for Shanghai!  Compared to a year ago, I can fit so much more into a suitcase-and I’ve learned to leave room for souvenirs! We’ll see how well I’ll be able to pack in December!

Chinese words of the day:   Suitcase  xíngli   行李

Toilet paper   wèishēngzhi3   卫生纸

Leave a Reply