Preparing to teach English abroad requires thoughtful packing. Essential items include:
- An accredited 120-hour TEFL certificate - ensure you pack the hard copy securely.
- Teaching aids like flashcards or small educational games to enhance lessons.
- Formal attire for school environments that have strict dress codes.
- Electronic adaptors compatible with your destination's outlets.
- Personal documents, like passport, visa documents, and academic credentials.
- Cultural and climate-appropriate clothing.
Before departure, streamline your belongings, focusing on items directly related to your teaching role and adapting to your new environment.
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Although mobile phones now have improved cameras built in, taking a separate, high-quality camera is certainly recommended. Mobile phones are only as good as the battery that runs them and these can be short lived when using the camera extensively. Bear in mind that many of the places you might visit could be lacking in charging points and you do not want your phone to die on you while you visit the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. Your overseas teaching adventure could well be one of the most exciting times of your life, so it would be a major disappointment to miss out on the photographic memories.
When packing clothes for teaching English abroad, it is essential to prioritize according to the local climate of your destination. For tropical regions like Southeast Asia or Latin America, lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen, are ideal. If headed to cooler climates, layering pieces might be more suitable. Before packing, research the year-round weather patterns of your chosen location. Remember, many teaching destinations offer affordable local clothing options tailored to the climate. As a rule of thumb, only pack items you are certain you will wear frequently, ensuring efficient use of luggage space.
Wet weather gear is not something you need to worry about if your teaching destination is in the Middle East. However, if you are heading to Europe or a more tropical location, heavy rain might be something you will encounter quite regularly. In your previous life, a wet day might have offered a great excuse to crash on the sofa and watch movies. However, if you find yourself living in Rome, Beijing, or Santiago, you should not let a bit of wet weather get in the way of your exploring and adventure. A light, high-quality raincoat might prove to be one of the best investments you can make before heading overseas.
When teaching English abroad, it is crucial to have versatile and comfortable footwear. Given the weight and space shoes occupy in luggage, packing efficiently is key. Typically, two pairs will suffice:
- Professional shoes suitable for long hours in the classroom.
- Durable, comfortable shoes ideal for weekend explorations and social outings.
Choose high-quality pairs that cater to both teaching requirements and leisure activities, ensuring you are prepared for any occasion.
Many people tend to overload their bags with unnecessary toiletries when heading overseas for the first time. These not only weigh a great deal, but can also limit the space you have for other more important items. In reality, you will be able to find comparable local products wherever you are heading and they are also likely to be cheaper.
A small backpack is often an invaluable item when teaching abroad as you are likely to take a number of short trips within your new country as well as further afield. Whether you enjoy hiking, cycling or simply exploring by train or bus, a good quality backpack will come in very handy. Finally, a set of earplugs and an eye mask can be the simplest yet most valuable items in your whole bag. Living in a new environment can bring many new and unfamiliar noises, such as roosters, cows, busy traffic, the call to prayer, or even a snoring roommate. Similarly, thin curtains or a night bus trip can be made easier to handle with a plain old eye mask to help you get the sleep you need.