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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

When you’re relocating abroad, it can be difficult to choose what to take with you and what to leave behind. It’s also pretty expensive to ship things across countries. So practically, you want to think rationally about what you should really pack.

We’ll take you through the 5 essential categories that you should start packing for your move abroad so that this chore becomes less troublesome. Save the link to this article, take screenshots if you have to, because this is going to be a super helpful packing guide for when you move abroad.


The Ultimate Packing List For Relocating Abroad

1.Packing A Personal Item Bag

When you fly overseas, your personal item bag is the one that you get to carry in addition to the carry-on. Most airlines allow you to carry one small personal item bag which basically stays with you on the plane. You can either keep it under the passenger seat or the overhead bin if you like.

In your personal item bag you should ideally carry the following:

  • Wallet with credit cards
  • Tickets
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Driver’s license
  • Work permit (If applicable)
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage license
  • Medical records
  • Sunglasses, cap, scarf, cardigan, beanie (Pack according to weather conditions and what you’ll need)
  • Hairband, hair clips, or hair ties
  • A journal with a pen
  • Chewing gum or small candy
  • Toothbrush, tissues, chapstick

Can You Carry Liquids In Your Personal Item Bag?

You can pack liquids in your personal item bag such as sunscreen, gel, toothpaste, lotion, or eye drops. But these liquids must be in a clear bag so that they can be checked conveniently by the TSA. It should be in a travel-size quantity. The general rule is that the liquids in your personal item bag can't be over 3.4 oz (100 milliliters). If it exceeds this, you’ll have to transfer it to your carry-on baggage.

Can You Carry Medicines In Your Personal Item Bag?

Yes, you can carry medicines in a small one quart-size medicine pouch (must be transparent, again). Just like with liquids, it has to be a very reasonable quantity (i.e. 3.4 oz). Otherwise, it must go with your carry-on. You can carry the most essential medicines and make your own first-aid kit by referring to the list below:

  • Pain relieving tablets
  • Band-aids
  • Neosporin for small cuts
  • Allergy tablets
  • Mosquito spray

And lastly, carry any other prescription medication that you require to take and that won’t be easily found in the country you’re moving to. Remember that your liquid and solid medicines will be pulled out to go through the conveyor belt for screening. So keep them readily available.


2. Packing Your Electronics

The next category to organize is your precious gadgets. You want them to reach your new abode to make life easy so be sure you don’t forget any of the valuable ones behind. Use the below list as your checklist:

  • Laptop
  • Wireless mouse
  • Adapter
  • Chargers/Portable chargers
  • Headphones/Earphones
  • Portable speakers
  • Digital cameras or action cameras
  • Extra memory cards, pen drives, and hard drives
  • E-Readers/Handheld gaming consoles

If you’re packing bigger items to be shipped, make sure you take pictures of the wiring so that it’s easier to get it fixed in your new home. Also, be sure to pack small screws and the tiny miscellaneous items of a disassembled electronic piece in small clear packets with the cords.

Remember that all your electronics must go in carry-on baggage, the one that you’ll have with you all the time and doesn’t go in the belly of the plane. Items like your laptop, charger, earphones, and every other delicate electronic item must be put in your carry-on. This is to safeguard it from getting damaged in the checked baggage.

Also, all your electronics will go into the trays that pass through electronic security. So by having it in your carry-on, you’re prepared to take it out and place it in the trays and pack them back in once they pass through the conveyor belt.

Bonus Tip - Download music, movies, Google Maps routes, and books into your phone or laptop in advance.


3. Pack Clothes And Shoes

Before you start packing your clothes, you’d want to do some heavy research on the weather conditions of the place. If you’re going somewhere that’s going to be cold like Canada, keep your winter outfits ready and give them more priority. It’s no use to keep your summer shorts and tank tops at the front of the suitcase because you’d probably not need it soon.

To help you, double-check if you’ve got everything, refer to the list below:

  • Daily wear clothes - a mix of short and long-sleeved tees and tops
  • Nightwear
  • Sweaters
  • Seasonal jacket
  • Swimsuits and beachwear
  • Jeans, shorts, leggings, skirts
  • Socks
  • Formal clothes
  • Occasion clothes (for parties and social events)
  • Towels and hand towels
  • Undergarments
  • Scarfs, belts, caps, handkerchiefs, jewelry
  • Laundry bags

To ensure your clothes are not taking up too much space in your luggage, you can vacuum pack them. We also highly recommend purging clothes by following the 6 month-clutter rule which says that if you haven’t used them for 6 months, you’re probably never going to. You can sell your clothes for cash online or donate them. Don’t overpack clothes because it can be fairly easy to buy a few new pieces of clothing in the new country you move to.

In the shoe category, you’d want to carry the following:

  • Flip flops
  • Business wear
  • Hiking shoes
  • Daily wear sandals

Clean your shoes well in advance and thoroughly before you pack them. Donate or purge the shoes you won’t need to charities or anyone you think can make use of them.

Bonus Tip - Always use the space in your shoes to pack socks, belts, and small items. We also suggest wearing the heaviest shoes so you avoid making your bag too heavy.


4. Pack Toiletries

After you’re done packing your clothes, the next category to deal with is toiletries. We’ve made a list of possible things that come under this category so that you can use this as your checklist.

Here are the possible things you would need to pack:

  • Haircare products (Shampoo + Conditioner)
  • Shaving cream + Shaving brush
  • Aftershave
  • Essential oils
  • Cotton pads
  • Nail Clippers + Nail Polish
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste
  • Body wash + Facewash
  • Mouthwash + Floss
  • Contact solution
  • Feminine sanitary products
  • Blowdryer
  • Hair comb
  • Hairspray
  • Hair straightener
  • Makeup

Ideally, pack all your toiletries in a toiletry bag with multiple compartments. Everything in the bag should be easily accessible when you need it. Make use of plastic wrap to seal tight the opening of any liquid bottles (You don’t want to deal with leaks).


5. Pack Miscellaneous Items

In this category, you must pack things that hold value to you and could easily remind you of home. It doesn’t have to be a sensible must-have item but something that holds sentimental value. These items could help you deal better when the feeling of homesickness comes over.

Few items that are not bare necessities but could be carried are:

  • Photos of family and friends
  • Books you enjoy rereading
  • Scented candles that remind you of home
  • A favorite mug you like to drink from
  • Religious items like a statue or a holy book
  • A snack item that you won’t find easily in the new country
  • Handwritten notes from friends
  • A family heirloom
  • An artwork that speaks to you
  • A stuffed animal that your kid loves
  • Small decor items

It’s important to save some space in your bag for these items because it personally holds some significance to you.


Should You Ship Items Overseas?

Before you decide to ship anything overseas, you should first ask yourself two essential questions:

  • Is it better to sell these items instead of taking them?
  • Is it going to be cheaper for you to buy new items?

You have to find a balance between expenses and the trouble it takes to decide if it’s worth shipping. Shipping items overseas is expensive and it could end up costing you a fortune.

There will be some bulky items like furniture (beds, dressing tables, cabinets, mattresses, recliner chairs) that you’d like to have in your new place of residence. But if it’s too expensive to move these bigger chunks of items abroad, you must take the approach of donating or selling them before you leave.

Be it furniture, pool table, or bicycle, it’s best to sell off as much as you can. Use the cash you make to buy new things in the prospective country you move to.

If you have to ship a few items abroad because you really need them, you’ll need to pack them efficiently for shipping. Here are the other things you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Weigh the items you wish to take and the charges to ship them.
  • Check how long it will take to reach your destination because you will need to survive without it up till then.
  • Ensure you’re packing it well enough to survive the strain of international shipping or it could come damaged.
  • Ship items that you can’t carry with you well in advance.


Things To Keep In Mind For Your International Relocation

  • Carry extra copies of important documents so that you’re not stuck in a foreign country trying to figure out where you can make a copy.
  • Consider renting a storage container in case you don’t end up selling what you don’t need in time and have to leave the apartment.
  • Do some thorough research about the new country you’re moving to and the neighborhood. Understand the weather conditions and commute options. Make sure you also plan your accommodation.
  • Set a budget and keep track of your international move expenses on a spreadsheet. This way, you’ll be able to not go overboard with expenses and play it safe.
  • As you pack, divide items into sell, donate, or ship. When you categorize your packing, it becomes more efficient.
  • If you’re flying, double-check the weight allowed and the items that are forbidden to be taken on a flight. Call your airlines for doubts if you have to.
  • Always check if you’ve packed something twice if you have to. You can also maintain a sheet that confirms whether it’s in your bag so that you’re not tensed that it’s left behind.

For more advice, you’ll also find these articles extremely useful -


Packing for an international trip can be stressful but this list can make things a lot easier on the condition that you begin the packing process well in advance. Work on the donate, sell, and ship category as you pack so that you’re staying organized. All in all, moving to a whole new country is an adventure. You get to start on a clean slate so enjoy the experience as it comes.



How Do I Pack My Luggage For Moving Abroad?

When you pack your luggage for moving abroad, you want to use the space in your suitcase as efficiently as possible. Pack the things you wish to take with you in categories. Use pouches and arrange things in a manner that you’re utilizing every corner in your suitcase.

How Do You Pack Clothes For Moving Overseas?

It’s ideally best to vacuum pack your clothes so that you have more space to take more with you. Check the weight limit of your airlines and pack accordingly. Carry only what you need and sell or donate clothes that you won’t take well in advance.

What To Do Before Moving To A New Country?

Before you move to a new country, you will need to take care of the following:

  • Apply for your visa and buy your plane tickets.
  • Research the new neighborhood you’re moving into.
  • Look for a new job in the country you want to move to.
  • Sell or rent your old house.
  • Sell or donate items you won’t take with you.
  • Start packing well in advance.

These are the major tasks but there will be many minor tasks to handle such as setting up a budget, making administrative visits, telling friends and family.

What Should You Pack First When Moving?

You should pack items that you rarely use first when moving. Seasonal items, shoes, and decor can go into your bag first. You can slowly build your way to pack things that you use most like your laptop, charger, toiletries, and so on.

See also: Best Cross Country Movers | Avoid Getting Sick while Moving | How to Pack Heavy Items for Moving