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What to pack for a 12 Month Exchange in China?

I found this at a temple on an island we stopped of at along the yangtze river. I just wish I jotted down what the tiny island was called! I loved this – smashed up China given a new life as a beautiful mosaic art piece as the character 福 which means good fortune/blessing. It is very commonly used during Chinese New Year.

This guide will be for travelling into China’s winter/February as I have done before and was my plan for 2020 (thanks COVID). But China’s Autumn/ September weather is pretty similar to Australia so I will not have to worry about getting changed in a toilet cubical(thanks COVID).


  • Pocket tissues
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • 1000 yuan
  • Passport
  • Sanitizer wipes
  • Earplugs
  • Earphones
  • Key to suitcase and/or backpack
  • USB with travel documents – (Scanned versions of official letter from university, JW201 form, VISA page, VISA application, birth certificate, Travel Insurance cover, passport, VISA or passport photographs, PDF of hotel booking confirmation, scanned copy of doctor’s letter)

BACKPACK (Going from Aus summer to China’s Winter)
You want to make sure you will be able to survive for a couple days without your suitcase and bring your valuables with you.

  • Medication & Doctors letter
  • Asthma spacer & ventolin
  • 500 yuan
  • Eye mask
  • glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • battery pack phone charger
  • power adapters
  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • Pyjamas
  • Photocopies of documents
  • WINTER PART: I planned to wear a comfy bra, sports top, lightweight sports shorts, and black runners to the airport. No I don’t care what people think, I just like to be comfy and practical. This clothing would be easy to change out of in a tiny airplane/airport toilet and fit easily into my backpack!
  • Warm Vest
  • Tracky dacks
  • Woolie jumper
  • Pink scarf (doubles as head scarf or shoulder cover when in a culturally sensitive of religious place)
  • Thermal Shirt
  • Thermal Pants
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Winter Jacket
  • Knickers! 😮 just in case they lose your suitcase… or you wet yourself due to turbulence 😉



  • Toilet paper in the form of pocket tissues TRUST ME!
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Pads, Tampons, Diva Cup, whatever floats your boat
  • Sunscreen
  • Cap/Hat


  • Black Boot Heels
  • Birkinstocks
  • Winter Boots

Winter Clothes

  • Belt
  • Jeans
  • Farm/winter socks x 3
  • Thermal shirt & pants
  • 2 pairs stockings
  • Warm Vest
  • Rain poncho
  • Winter Coat
  • Winter Jumpers
  • Umbrella

Summer clothes

  • Summer Dresses
  • Shorts and Skirts
  • Button up shirt
  • Singlets
  • Crop Tops
  • You might also want to pack going out clothes


  • Framed pictures
  • Hot water bottle
  • Frank Green Coffee Cup
  • Tote bag (for groceries)
  • Handbags
  • Hair curler
  • Repellent
  • Vegemite
  • Tim Tams
  • Milo
  • Carmelo Koalas
  • Home-made apricot jam
  • Perfume


  • Make-up bag
  • Shampoo, Conditioner and hair treatment (you may not be able to find your regular one for a while. If you don’t want to pack these, take a photo of them so you can photo ID them on Taobao.)
  • Razor blades & Razor
  • Soap
  • Microfiber towel
  • Regular towel
  • Hand towel
  • Deodorant (this will be hard to find, you may have to go to carrefour to find it.)
  • Hair comb
  • Nail clippers and file
  • Tissues (I am repeating myself because tissue are important)

Now that I am going over at the end of the Chinese summer, I plan on buying most of my winter clothes in China because they will be suitable for the northern winter. This means I can pack many more cute summer clothes with me and store them at my dormitory. Once winter is over I can post all the winter goods back to Australia. You might want to do something similar. The cost may just be what you would pay for the overweight charge at the airport but it saves the guessing games and dragging heavy bags to and from the airports.


Published by sazcud

I went on exchange to China, Shanghai in 2017 and after sometime I am writing this blog in my reflection of travel, experiences and culture. I want this blog to help bridge a misunderstanding between two cultures, the East and the West, Australia, and China. I also want to provide informative posts about applying for scholarships and tips for living in Shanghai/ going on exchange. I plan to return to Shanghai International Studies University in Feb 2020. This time I want to travel to Chongqing, lijian, taiwan and hongkong to name a few! I am still adding more to my bucket list. Last time I traveled to chongming island, zhangjiajie, zhujiajiao water town, xi'an, yichang and beijing - which you will see blog posts about very soon!

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