Teaching English Abroad: The Dos and Don’ts of Packing

Packing smart, as most well-traveled backpackers will know, is an art. It’s something that needs to be learned through months of frustration and lugging around needlessly heavy suitcases. Until you’ve spent a while living and working abroad, knowing which items of clothing, toiletries, and documents to pack, you’ll have to suffer through a long and tedious learning curve.

To help out, here’s a brief guide on what to pack (and what not to pack) when globetrotting.


Do pack light. Doing so makes the affair a whole lot easier. Obviously, you have to pack clothes; just keep in mind that you can always buy extra at your destination if needed. Packing light makes traveling less strenuous on your body and it also allows some room for souvenirs on your return.

Do bring a water-proof jacket. Yes, you might be spending the next few days/weeks/months in the lovely climes of the Mediterranean/Caribbean/Southeast Asia, but everywhere rains so it would be very unwise not to bring some water-proof layers.

Do carry essential documents at all times. Your passport, visa, and other similar documents can mean the difference between arriving at your TEFL job or not. Check, double-check, then check again.

Do bring some toiletries. ‘Some’ means only the necessary items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant/body-spray, or hairbrush. Most things are either heavy or take up too much valuable space. Forget bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and all the rest – they add on more weight than needed and can be easily purchased in most stores.

Do remember photos of family. When you’re feeling homesick, and it’s likely you will,  you won’t regret the family memorabilia tucked into your luggage (which can be more than just photos) over the pair of shoes you thought looked nice.

Do pack your phone and other electronics. Not many would leave the house without their phone, let alone the country, but just in case: bring one. It’ll let you contact your family, friends, and work colleagues quickly if ever you find yourself in a bad situation. If you decide you want to conduct online lessons, then at least you’ll have a base set of equipment to start with. Also, new electronics are not what you want to be spending your TEFL salary on.


Don’t bring valuables. With the exception of your phone, try not to bring, or flaunt, anything that looks at all expensive.

Don’t haul more than two bags. One suitcase and one backpack is all you need. Anymore is unnecessary and will only serve to be a nuisance. A rucksack, beyond functioning as extra storage, can be used for weekend trips with friends you make during your time abroad.

Most importantly, don’t panic! Even gearing up for a holiday is stressful, so don’t be surprised if you’re a little stressed when deciding what you should and shouldn’t cram into your suitcase for the next big chapter of your life. Maintain a checklist of the items you plan on keeping and stick to it – feeling like you’re organised will reduce stress enormously.

Packing doesn’t have to be the formidable task you perceive it to be – use the above dos and don’ts as a guideline to keep you on track. After a while, it’ll come as naturally as teaching English!

Now you’re a packing expert, you’ll be needing somewhere to teach! Well, if you book one of our TEFL courses you will be entitled to full access to our Jobs Center. The Jobs Center advertises jobs for trusted schools who hold teaching vacancies across the globe. Don’t hesitate; book now!

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