Blog, Lifestyle, Living Abroad, Moving

Ultimate Packing List For Moving Abroad: Things you Need to Know

It can be incredibly stressful when trying to come up with a packing list for moving abroad.  I’ve lived and moved abroad six times, and I’ve had to pack for my travels overseas every time.  Every time I had to pack up and move abroad, I learned something new with key takeaways.  

When you have your visa approved and maybe a job lined up, the next crucial step is packing to move abroad.  And that’s when ish gets real.  The stress starts to hit and you may think, “how did I accumulate all of this stuff”?” and “where do I even begin?” That’s where I come into play.  

I’ve become very good at preparing for moving overseas and what to pack.  Through my experiences, I have created a packing list for moving abroad.  This moving abroad checklist I’ve come up with is a combination of my moves to Turkey, my move to England from the US, and a few deployments as well.  

Essentials packing list for moving abroad 

The packing list for moving abroad includes the essentials of what you will need when moving abroad.  This list will help keep you on track on what to bring and what not to bring. 

When moving abroad, it is not feasible to pick up your entire household because it’s expensive and you just won’t need or even use everything while living overseas.  

Plus, when moving abroad, you have to think about the type of housing you will be moving into.  For example, when I was moving to England, I realized how much smaller the homes are compared to the US. 

I have categorized this packing list for moving abroad into 5 sections
  • Legal documents
  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Electronics
  • Miscellaneous

After reading the packing list for moving abroad, I’ll take you through some useful packing tips at the end of the post.

This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and recommend. If you click on any of the links and make a purchase, then I may earn a small commission. For more info, click my full disclosure.

Here is the packing list for moving abroad, the essentials of what you will need to pack. 

Packing list for moving abroad

When you are moving abroad, bringing your legal documents with you is imperative.  You will not be able to enter the country without some of these legal documents like your visa and passport.  

After you move abroad and enter the country, you will need other legal documents like your passport and birth certificate to set up bank accounts and utilities.  Pack all of these legal documents in your carry-on bag.  Keep the documents that are required for entry readily available.

Clothes

How to pack clothes for moving overseas?  

Preparing your clothes packing list for moving abroad could seem overwhelming.  Don’t fret because I have you covered.  Here I have provided some tips on what clothes to pack in your luggage. 

First, you want to check the weather for the country you are moving to.  You will want to bring clothes that will be suitable for that weather.  Case in point, since living in the UK, I hardly ever wear shorts.  That’s because the weather is usually pretty cool year-round, except for a few weeks in the summertime.  Although, even in the summer at night, it could get pretty cool.  

With that, if you move to a climate like the UK, where it’s a pretty cool climate and overcast most of the time, I’ll advise bringing warm clothing and rain gear.  

Do not bring 20 pairs of shorts to a mostly cold and rainy country. 

Here’s a packing list of clothes to bring 
  • Pants 
  • Jeans
  • Dresses 
  • Shirts
  • Blouses
  • 2-3 pair of shorts
  • Sneakers 
  • Boots 
  • 1-2 pairs of sandals 
  • Jacket 
  • Sweaters 
  • Undergarments (socks, underwear, bras, etc.)

But you wouldn’t have to bring too much because you can shop in the stores for clothes.  In England, they dress nicer here compared to the US. They wear more like business casual outfits all the time not just to work.  They don’t wear bummy clothes or sweatpants when they are out.  Needless to say, I became more Londonized when it came to the way I dressed. 

*(I brought my Ugg boots, which are now damaged due to all of the rain).  They keep your feet warm, but that rain ain’t no joke here.

You don’t want to bring 20 pairs of sweatpants to a desert climate.  That’s why checking the weather in the country you are moving to is imperative.  Bringing the wrong type of clothing will take up space in your drawer or end up in a bin in your closet, never to be touched. 

Trust me. I’ve been there.   

At the same time, keep in mind if you will be traveling to other countries while living abroad.  For instance, I did wear shorts when I took a trip to the Canary Islands

Essentially, when preparing your moving packing list, think about all the places you would like to go to and the type of clothing and traveling gear you will need for it.  But do not go overboard.  You can always buy a few extra essentials when you need them.

Packing list for moving abroad

Linen

Let me just say, taking linen with you isn’t a necessity.  Yes, wherever you are moving, you can buy a new set of sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels.

While that is true, I feel more comfortable when I bring a pair of my sheets or blanket with me.  

It makes me feel more at home to have that piece of home with me.  I love my own linen because it has my scent on them too.  It especially rings true for me when I am on a deployment.  It just helps relieve some of that stress.  

Despite all of that, if you do not have the extra room to bring it, then just leave it.  Leaving your linen behind won’t be the worst thing in the world.

Toiletries

You should pack some toiletries and bring them with you.  I recommend bringing small-size or travel bottles so they won’t take up too much space in your luggage.  Bring enough that will last you for a week.  Once you get to your destination, you can go to the store and buy regular full-size bottles.  

Some countries may not have the exact toiletries brand that you usually use.  So if you have something rare or from a small company, I would bring enough to last a few months. 

Regardless, before you bring too many toiletries, check with that company to see if they will ship the products internationally. 

Here is a packing list of toiletries
  • That expensive perfume
  • Contact Lenses
  • Contact solution
  • Nail kit
  • Period kit (tampons, liners, cups, etc.) 
  • Body Wash
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Face Wash
  • Lotion 
  • Moisturizer

Medicine

Make sure to bring any critical prescription medicine you will need while living abroad. Such as blood pressure medicine, heart medicine, etc.  Pack enough (about a month’s worth) to hold you over until you can get it refilled abroad.  Keep in mind that it may take a while for your insurance to transfer or kick in. 

Also, the medicine you carry needs to be prescribed by a doctor in the original containers.  You don’t want to get caught hauling a bunch of pills with no labels.  TSA and customs will not be playing that. 

Over-the-counter medications are not necessary to bring with you since you can buy them upon arrival.  However, if you need them for your travels, only bring travel-size OTC medicine in case you get a headache or an upset stomach.  

Additionally, it is helpful to bring a First Aid Kit.  Just in case you cut yourself and need a quick fix.

  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Indigestion medicine (Tums) or Alka Seltzer
  • First Aid Kit (band-aids, alcohol pads, etc.)

Make-up

If you wear makeup and have lots of it, you should bring it with you.  I would just bring the essential make-up to get you by for a few weeks or so.  It’s not that hard finding make-up abroad or even ordering it online.  

In England, there is a Beauty store called Boots that sells most high-end American and European products.  If you are going to a major country, you should be okay with make-up. 

If you are going somewhere like Turkey, they may have a limited supply of American brands, but you can get your family to send you things as well. 

Here is a packing list of makeup  

  • Bring Eyeshadow (only if it’s the UD Naked Pallet) JK 
  • Foundation
  • Mascara
  • Lipsticks 
  • Lip balms
  • Makeup brushes

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Electronics

When it’s time to move abroad, electronics definitely ranks high on my packing list.  With that, the voltages of the electronics will be different in the other country.  

But don’t trip, big companies are known and make products worldwide.  They make and tailor their products for the country’s voltage they are selling to.  

So even if you have a 110 (2-prong) plug for your Apple computer you bought in the US, you can buy a 220 prong and use that instead. 

Here is a packing list of Electronics

Adapters

That brings me to my next point.  You will need to bring some adapters.  That is because when you are traveling from country to country, the outlets and voltages will change.  You need adapters in your life when moving abroad.  It will be a lifesaver. 

I like to use a universal adapter with all the different prongs.  The voltage for the UK is 220 with 3 prongs. However, for Europe, it’s still 220, but they have 2 prongs.  However, that one universal adapter will only take you so far.  You can’t use that same adapter at one time around the house or for multiple people.  So you should pack a couple of adapters for all those electronics you have. 

Click here for travel adapters. 

You need to be careful, though.  Using an adapter will not work for everything in the home.  You can’t use a $2 adapter for a big appliance like a TV.  I’ve endured a few incidents where my family and I blew out a 110 vacuum cleaner and an electric heater thinking a $2 adapter would be fine.  Uh-Uh.  

Just make sure to check the voltage of whatever country you are moving to.  For some appliances, you can change the voltage on them, but you will need a converter for others.  Using a converter does burn more electricity, so choose wisely on when you use it. 

Misc. packing list for moving abroad

Here in this miscellaneous section is not necessarily essential. It is more like niceties. 

Accessories

Do you have a love for purses? Me too but you shouldn’t bring all of your purses with you. Pick a few bags that you carry all of the time and just carry those. 

Jewelry

If you love jewelry like I do you may want to bring your entire jewelry collection.  I made the mistake of bringing all of my jewelry when I moved to Turkey for 1 year.  And guess what? I didn’t use half of it. 

What should you include in your jewelry packing list?  

First off, I would bring my expensive jewelry with me.  Additionally, if you have tons of costume jewelry, you don’t need to bring all of it.  Pick out a few pieces that you adore and leave the rest behind.  When you get to your new country, you may buy jewelry from there anyway.  I know I’ve come across some unique finds in all the countries I’ve lived and traveled to.  

Packing list for moving abroad

Momentos packing list for moving abroad

Books 

For your moving abroad packing list, if you love to read, you should bring a few of your favorite books.  Books will keep you entertained on your journey while moving abroad.  But please, don’t bring 100 books with you.  That’s a no-go.  Besides, books are heavy, which will take up a considerable amount of weight and space in your luggage.

Photos 

I love taking pictures, and my printed photos of family and friends are precious to me.  If you have pictures in picture frames, just take them out and bring them only.  You can purchase more frames in your new city.  

I also like having small photo albums.  When I would deploy for 6 months, I would bring a small photo album that held about 20 pictures.  It helped me stay sane while deployed, and the small photo album was light and fit in my bookbag.

Other Momentos like family heirlooms, trinkets, etc., would be nice to bring along.


Packing list for moving abroad – Carry on 

What should you bring in your carry-on bag? 

  • Travel pillow
  • Travel blanket
  • All important documents
  • Electronics
  • Adapters
  • Toiletries (sanitizer, lotion, etc.)
  • Scarf
  • Light Jacket or Sweater

Packing list tips for moving abroad 

In this section, I wanted to give some useful Packing tips for moving abroad.

How to pack a suitcase for moving overseas?

Buy a good suitcase

Having good quality suitcases is essential and will save you tons of anguish.  If you are an expat that moves around frequently, then you need to have a good suitcase.  The luggage handlers throw your luggage around and then they get stacked on top of each other.  

The best suitcase for traveling and moving abroad is the hard shell suitcases like this oneThe cloth suitcases tend to start ripping over time.  

I’ve been traveling for a long time with the military and for leisure.  I’ve used all types of travel gear both cloth and hard shell suitcases.  The hard shell-suitcases have lasted me much longer than the other cloth ones.  

Another tip is in the military we use duffle bags for most deployments.  Duffle bags are perfect for fitting a large number of clothes in them and they expand and stretch.   

So if you need to fit more, I’ll advise using a duffle bag for your clothes.  Then you can use your hard-shell suitcase for your other packing essentials.

Click here to see hard shell luggage. Click here to see duffle bags.

Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are great for compacting your clothes and putting them in a suitcase.  They come in a variety of sizes, and it helps keep your clothes organized and compartmentalized.  For instance, I would put all of my shirts in one packing cube and bottoms in another.  You won’t have to dig and dig through a pile of clothes; just unzip that packing cube and you’re good to go.  I also like the fact that if TSA decides they need to open your suitcase, at least all of your unmentionables won’t be exposed. 

To purchase Packing Cubes click here.

Buy a luggage scale

Use a luggage scale to weigh your luggage before checking in your bags at the airport.  That will let you know how much your bags weigh beforehand.  The scale will help you to not go over your luggage limit.  This by far will save you the embarrassment of having to pull out clothes and re-organizing while at the ticket counter.

To purchase a luggage scale click here.

Shipping your belongings abroad

If you don’t want to or cannot bring everything on the plane then ship it instead.  

DIY

If you are still struggling and have more on your packing list for moving abroad then you can ship some of your belongings through the US Post Office. 

You will need to make sure you know what that country will accept and what you cannot ship. 

On my move to England, I used these hard, tough storage containers to ship some of my belongings.  It could become costly, but to me, it was worth it.  The things that I had shipped are items that make me happy. 

To see the containers click here. 

Hire A Moving Company  

Another option you can take is to hire someone to pack up your house and ship your belongings overseas.  However, hiring a moving company to do that could be expensive. 

Last but not least…

Don’t worry about not having everything you had in the US.  If you are truly missing something, you can always get a family member or friend to send you a care package of things you want or need.  Plus there are plenty of American companies that will ship internationally if you really need that fix on a US product. 

I hope this packing list for moving abroad will help alleviate some of the stress you may be experiencing.  I would love to hear how your move went.  Please let me know in the comments below.  

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Packing list for moving abroad

3 Comments

  1. Nice content and detailed lists that everyone can follow through before moving abroad.

    1. Thank you.

  2. […] TrendingUltimate Packing List For Moving Abroad: Things you Need to Know […]

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