So you’re moving abroad for a year..or maybe more. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of a big trip and this is certainly BIG! Moving overseas is an exciting adventure, filled with the opportunity to explore places, meet new people and have unique experiences that you just can’t have at home.
Moving abroad for a year - What to pack
Whether you’re travelling with a group, a friend or going solo, there’s one thing that is for sure. No matter how much fun you’re having, you’re going to hit some walls. Whether it’s not being able to find your way around, missing foods from home or red tape dilemmas. You could even be hitting some road blocks before you leave just deciding what to pack… I mean how do you fit a whole life into a suitcase? And, how can you possibly predict what may be an essential item compared to a nice to have or even I’ll never use it kind of thing?
Well, we were definitely guilty of packing quite a few ‘never take it out of the case’ items. Luckily, we had family and friends who could ferry things back to Australia from the UK for us and bring us over a few items that we wished that we had packed. Postage is super expensive, so its best to get it right before you leave. So, after learning the hard way, we’ve got you covered with our top 5 essentials that you MUST include when packing to move abroad.
#1 Noise Cancelling Headphones
An essential item for your working holiday packing list is noise cancelling headphones. They’re number one for us because they meet so many needs in a pint sized package, which when you’re packing to move abroad is essential. Now we’re not talking about those big clunky headphones, our top tip is to select the ear bud style. This way they’ll easily fit into a carry on bag, handbag or front zip of a pack. Easy access will allow you to put these guys out whenever the crowds or noise get a little too much.
Even if you aren’t playing any tunes, noise cancelling headphones make great stand in ear plugs when on a plane and are a much better option that using the stock standard airline variety. With many airlines going for the budget route and asking you to bring along an iPad or other device to watch movies, if you’re travelling with a mat, a good pair of noise cancelling headphones will be your best friend. No longer will you have to plug in a single set of earphones and take an ear each, good quality ear phones come with a splitter plug so two pairs of headphones can simultaneously listen to a device – genius!
Good quality earphones don’t come cheap and we recommend not to skimp on this purchase. A good quality pair will fit comfortably into your ears, come with spare earbud inserts, a splitter and even an adapter for aircraft sockets. A zip up case is also essential so you can wind them up alongside their accessories and have them on hand for your next journey.
#2 A Power Board
Any working holiday or year abroad packing list should include a power board. Whilst a year (or two) away may feel like you’ll be gone for a lifetime, it’ll actually go quite fast. It is a big and unnecessary expense to buy a multitude of power adaptors or even new appliances for such a short time. Power adaptors also have a major drawback in that they only allow one, maybe two devices to be plugged in at a time. In this digital age, finding a power point in a hostel or other accommodation can be nothing short of warfare and it can often be impossible to charge a solo let alone several devices at once…and that doesn’t even account for tasks like blow drying or straightening your hair!
A power board will allow you to charge and use multiple devices at once with your original power cords and only require you to need one adaptor. If you’re really savvy it is also possible to buy power boards that have a foreign plug but local sockets (i.e. a European plug but Australian sockets). Having extra spots at a hostel may just be the way to say hello and get to know your fellow bunk mates. It may just be the best thing you include when you are packing to move overseas!
#3 An iPad or Lightweight Laptop
Phones are great, but whilst you’re in the midst of setting up a new life in another country, they just don’t cut it. You will have lots of tasks to do such as contacting government agencies, setting up banking and searching for somewhere to live. These tasks are much more easily undertaken with a larger screen and web rather than phone based browsers. This is why an iPad or lightweight laptop is an essential inclusion when you are packing to move overseas.
We took both a MacBook and iPad when we moved overseas. The larger screen of the MacBook was great for Netflix and booking more involved travel itineraries. We used both the MacBook and iPad to Skype back home and found the flexibility and smaller size of the iPad a more flexible option for any trips that we took with a pack or involved hostel stays. Having a proper keyboard allowed us to email, blog and communicate more easily than a screen based keyboard. Our move was to work abroad for a year, so having our own laptop allowed us to keep up with any work required.
The iPad was also useful for watching movies or Netflix whilst enjoying some down time in the hostel or to Skype. We also found that the MacBook and iPad had much greater longevity than our phones. We both required new phones as we had burned through them from charging and using them so often whereas the iPad and the MacBook are still going strong. Cost per use has been far more economical in comparison.
#4 A Good Quality Hair Dryer
When you’re packing to move overseas you have totally different requirements compared to packing for a holiday. If you’re moving abroad for a year or more, chances are you are going to have a job and undertake normal day to day activities as well as travel and experience the world. In comparison, a holiday is far more carefree and usually much shorter. If your hair is windswept and beachy, it’s not so much of a big deal if you’re on holidays, however if you’re going to work you’ll want to be a little more polished.
A travel hair dryer is a great option for those packing light for a shorter vacation, however if you’re going for an extended period of a year or more then a travel dryer just won’t cut it. Travel dryers take longer, leave your hair frizzier and don’t allow you the freedom to style your hair in a variety of ways like full sized dryers do.
I skimped and took a travel dryer initially however I wasn’t happy with how it dried my hair. It took a long time, my hair was frizzy and I really missed the power of my dryer back home. To purchase a new good quality dryer whilst abroad seemed like a waste of money to me as when I returned home I would already had a good quality dryer and I would also be stuck with a dryer that had an international plug on it. I was lucky enough to have someone visiting from home to bring my hair dryer over for me, however in hindsight I should have forgone a pair of heels or other item I never got around to using for my dryer which I used several times per week.
#5 A Power Bank
It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and it’ll be a lifesaver the next time you just need that little bit of a power boost on your phone. A power bank got me back on track when I needed to use Google Maps in Lyon (I thought I could navigate by memory…nope), charge my phone up just enough that I could make an emergency call and provided a couple of hours of entertainment (on more than one occasion) at the airport where there was no power point to be found.
A power bank is a small but mighty item that you’ll grow to rely on when you’re travelling. They can charge a device whilst they’re being charged themselves which allows you to make the most of power points and will allow you to rely on battery sucking apps like Google Maps or Instagram whilst you’re out exploring. If you’re packing to move overseas a power bank is a must have item, particularly since you’ll be going somewhere new where you don’t know your way around or perhaps who to ask for help. Ensuring you’ve got back up power for your phone is an essential safety undertaking and if you’re someone who uses a lot of power, having a back up power bank may also be a viable option for you.
If you’re moving abroad for a year or more make sure you buy a power bank that is powerful enough to charge a laptop or iPad as well as your phone. A quick charge model is worth the extra coin, as is a model that allows for 3+ charges as a bigger device may take 2 charges worth of power to fully power up. You will appreciate this if you’re on a longer flight and using your own device to watch movies.
Packing to move abroad doesn’t mean forgoing all of your creature comforts or having to repurchase everything again once you get to your destination. With a bit of forethought you can pack useful items that economise on space and a little bit like a capsule wardrobe interconnect with each other.
Our suggestions focus quite heavily on tech as you’ll use it a lot whilst you’re overseas and many are used in conjunction with each other. You can’t possible pack EVERYTHING you’ll need to move abroad for a year, but you can pack the core essentials that will make it easier for you to settle in, look good and save you the expense of shipping items from home or repurchasing expensive electronics.