One Year in Shanghai: The Ultimate Packing List

Creating a packing list of items needed for a year abroad seemed like a completely daunting and overwhelming task. How do you know what you will need in 7 months? So we focused on the weather and climate for Shanghai and tried to minimize as much as possible. There is a short version here or you can scroll and read the full detailed version with some tips and suggestions. Men's Packing List - 1 Year in Shanghai, ChinaWomen's Packing List - 1 Year in ShanghaiTyler’s Packing List – CLOTHES & ACCESSORIES


  • 4 collared casual short-sleeved shirts
  • 7 t-shirts (2 long sleeved)
  • 3 long sleeved button downs
  • 1 light rain jacket
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 heavy winter pea coat
  • 2 pullover light sweaters


  • 3 pairs of shorts (Red, Blue, Khaki)
  • 2 pairs of nice casual pants (blue & gray)
  • 1 pair of hiking/outdoorsy shorts
  • 1 pair basketball shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans


  • 2 belts (casual & dressy)
  • 1 week’s worth of boxer-briefs
  • 1 week’s worth of socks
  • 1 trucker style hat
  • 1 pair of sunglasses (a must!)


  • 1 pair of tennis shoes
  • 1 pair of semi-casual loafers
  • 1 pair of Toms
  • 1 pair of Chaco Mandals (perfect footwear for arriving during a typhoon)
  • 2 pair of botas (gray & brown)

Lauren’s Packing List – CLOTHES & ACCESSORIES


  • 2 Casual Dresses
  • 1 LBD


  • 1 pair of jean shorts
  • 3 pairs of jeans (**only because this is what we wear to work, jeans are heavy so stick to 1 pair if you can)
  • 3 pairs of Nike shorts
  • 3 pairs of leggings
  • 4 T-shirts (2 are long sleeve)
  • 4 tank tops
  • 3 nighties
  • 3 cute tops
  • 1 cardigan
  • 3 Sweaters
  • 1 rain jacket/windbreaker
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 winter coat


  • 1 pair of tennis/hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of booties
  • 2 pairs of flats (closed-toe for work)
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of pumps


  • 3 scarves
  • 12 pairs of underwear
  • 12 pairs of socks (mix of no-show/ankle/knee-high)
  • 3 sports bras
  • 4 regular bras
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 3 necklaces, 1 pair of earrings, 1 bracelet
  • 1 pair of sunglasses


  • Hair dryer (only if you have power adapters)
  • Straightener (only if you have power adapters)
  • Daily make-up
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss (this is really hard to find in China, so bring a lot)
  • Razors
  • Q-tips (we brought a baggy to last for a couple of months, but have seen that the quality of these are not great in China, so if you love them, bring them)
  • 5 deodorants each (Also hard to find so we were prepared on this… wish we had done the same with floss…)
  • Shampoo (We brought big containers of these so we didn’t have to worry about shopping immediately when we arrived, I suggest it, but know this are easy to find if you need some room in your bag)
  • Body Wash
  • Face Wash (Lauren: I didn’t typically use face wash in the states, so I didn’t pack this item and it was a huge mistake. It is humid here and the change in climate required some immediate face wash action. It’s difficult to find face wash that doesn’t include whiteners here, so if you have a favorite, bring it along.)
  • Pain Reliever
  • Tummy Acid Reducer like Ranitidine tablets & Tums
  • Band-aids (these are great because we walk A LOT in the city and blisters happen)
  • Allergy medicine (pollution…)
  • Sinus Rinse


  • Camera & accessories
  • GoPro with batteries, chargers, accessories etc.
  • Laptops (It’s easier to go ahead and have a VPN on your internet-using devices prior to arrival)
  • UNLOCKED Phone (If you are from the United States. Phones bought in the US are only allowed to have US sim cards. To get around this you need to contact your cell provider and ask them to unlock your phone for an international sim card. There are certain criteria you have to meet for them to go ahead and unlock it. We didn’t unlock ours before leaving and it was a huge pain trying to do this process from China.)
  • Chargers for all electronics
  • 4 power converters/adapters (We got these pretty cheap on amazon and they’ve been super useful!)


  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Crushed Red Pepper (We should’ve skipped the spices and brought regular salt and pepper, it would make our carry-out dishes and cooking at home much easier)
  • A huge bag of coffee beans (coffee is pretty expensive here and I just happened to have the bag on hand to bring)
  • Snacks leftover from our long plane ride (These were great to have as we were settling in and still letting our tummies adjust.)


  • Salt & Pepper (if you like cooking)
  • Unlocked phones vs. our regular phones
  • More books on our kindles and more movies pre-downloaded to watch on our computers. It’s nice to have these ready to go before you leave so you don’t have to go through the headache of trying to get more over the Chinese internet. As lame as it sounds, it is nice to have the option of just holing up and unwinding in your apartment with a movie or book.
  • Tyler: I wish that I had traded out one pair of my botas for a more casual pair of shoes like Vans or Toms that can be worn with shorts and long pants. It’s nice to have shoes that can be worn in many different ways through out the year.

We packed all of this into 2 regular backpacks, a day pack, a large suitcase, and a carry-on size suitcase. We wanted to have multiple packing options for other trips during our time here.

Do you think we over-packed? Let us know in the comments below.

One Year in Shanghai: The Ultimate Packing List by

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