July 16th, 2016
The Essential Guide to Packing for Working Overseas
Working overseas is a unique and educational experience, but how do you decide what to bring with you? These tips will help you pack for a work abroad trip, whether you’re earning money as a nanny, on a working holiday, or teaching English.
Working abroad is an unforgettable experience, and one that you should take advantage of if you can. In most cases, you’ll have to wait to start your job hunt until you get there—which means you’ll have to pack for interviews, as well as daily work and any traveling you plan to do. Chances are, your work and interview attire will vary greatly from the more casual clothing you’ll wear to travel. And depending on the type of job you’re seeking, you might also want to bring specific tools or prior certifications. All in all, packing for the experience can certainly be overwhelming—but these tips, below, can help you get organized and stress less.
You’ll want to include both professional and casual clothing. Odds are, much of your time will be spent outside work, traveling, or hanging out, so the majority of the pieces that you pack should suit those needs. As for professional clothing, include a few outfits that will work for job interviews in your chosen field, and keep it simple. Think: Solid colors and layers that you can mix and match into different looks. Women should also consider bringing jewelry, scarves, and other accessories that can dress up a casual look (without taking up tons of space in your suitcase). Organize your items into packing cubes to keep your tops, bottoms, and accessories separated and easy to locate.
Also, consider what type of clothing you’ll actually wear to work once you land the job. Though some jobs, like those at bars and restaurants, will assign you uniforms, you likely won’t know if that’s the case until you get hired. Hospitality jobs typically require employees to wear solid, black or white collared shirts and black pants, so bring a couple of those from home. Pack the items that you don’t want to get wrinkled in a packing folder for best results.
As for shoes, try to bring as few as possible, and make sure that you have at least one comfortable pair. For women, one pair of nice, black flats will work, while loafers are best for men. If you’re applying for an office job, you might need more than one pair, but consider shoes you can wear both in and out of the office. And bring something comfortable that you can wear around town, specifically when you’re dropping off resumes, like a pair of casual sneakers.
When I moved to Australia on a working holiday to find a job at a bar, I didn’t pack a number of things that I wished I had—like my favorite brands of toiletries from home, and makeup, which would have been handy for my initial interviews. I later bought items to put in my toiletry kit, but it’s nice to have a few comforts from home to start, like your beloved perfume or favorite lotion. Just remember to stick to ones that are TSA-approved sizes or plan to check your bag.
When you’re planning to move overseas for a long period of time—or indefinitely—it’s easy to fall into the trap of packing too many suitcases filled with too much stuff from home. But the truth is: You don’t need as much as you think you do. Consider bringing whatever you can fit in an international carry-on to start and buying additional items once you better know your needs. Rolling bags provide you with more flexibility to get around and won’t hurt your back and shoulders. The EC Lync™ System International Carry-On is a perfect option: You can take it apart and tuck the bag into the stuff sack in your closet or under your bed once you’re settled into your new home..
For getting to and from work, quick weekend trips, and for your personal items on long flights, bring the Convertabrief. The bag has a laptop pocket that opens butterfly-style, separate pockets for your headphones and smaller items, and optional backpack straps.
To make your job search easier, bring a few printed copies of your resume or CV, as well as a digital version that's on a USB drive or in cloud storage. If you have specific certifications that will further help you get a job in your chosen field, bring copies of those. Most importantly, bring your passport and work visa and keep them both safe in a money belt while traveling.
As you plan your trip to work abroad, whether you’re teaching English in South Korea, caring for children in France, or slinging drinks in New Zealand, the key is to pack a balance of work wear, casual clothing, and a few comforts from home.
Want even more packing tips? Check out our ultimate travel checklist.
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