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Survival Gear for Your First Month Abroad‏

by Michelle Schusterman Jul 23, 2009
When in Rome, do as the Romans do…easy to say, but what if the Romans don’t think deodorant is necessary?

Often the first thing expats learn when they make that first move abroad is some everyday items aren’t so common outside of the U.S. Immersing yourself into a new culture is great, but with a little extra preparation, the transition can be much smoother.

Here are a few items to consider packing for your first month abroad.


Specifically, any bathroom items of a specific brand you can’t live without.

A few examples are medicated facial soap, contact lens solution, or that Bath and Body Works mint foot scrub you can’t leave behind.

Consider bringing a few sticks or cans of deodorant unless you’re positive it’s commonly used in your new home.

Some countries in Europe and Asia don’t consider deodorant a necessity (and not just the colder countries).

Finding a stick of Secret can be impossible in those regions, and when you do, the price can be enough to make those pit stains seem bearable.


It goes without saying that you should look into the type of power supply you’ll be dealing with, and to pack the appropriate transformers and voltage converters. But before you pack, take a careful look around at all of your electronic gear to ensure you have as many converters as you need. If you plug the Crockpot in for a few hours, will you be able to charge your laptop at the same time?

What if your new bathroom doesn’t have an outlet? Will the oddly shaped plug for that beard shaver fit into a power strip? Aim for a variety of transformers and converters so you have as many options for charging as possible.

Seasonal Clothes that Fit

Maybe you’re leaving in September, but what’s winter like at your final destination? Don’t forget to research the weather so you’re prepared.

Of course, you can always shop for clothes once you arrive.

However, it can be difficult to find clothes of the right size overseas. A husky gentleman may find it difficult to find a ski jacket in Tokyo.

And if size isn’t the issue, consider this: what’s “in” at home may not be fashionable overseas for both men or women.

A Brasileira (Portuguese for “The Brazilian Woman”) might look fabulous in those fluorescent colors, off-the-shoulder tops, and oversized earrings, but you could feel more like an extra in a Cyndi Lauper video.


This includes everything from electronics to regular everyday items. If you’re heading to Asia, it’s true that the latest mp3 players and cell phones are available for a great price. But if you’re looking for an iPod, the price could be inflated.

Think about things you may need that the locals might not. If you’re moving to South America, most folks there probably don’t need sunblock. Even if you find some SPF30, you can bet you’ll be paying through your burned and blistered nose to get it.

Before You Pack

About a week before your departure, start a list of everything you use on a day-to-day basis. Before you pack, review and decide for yourself which things aren’t so necessary and which you absolutely can’t live without. Of course, part of the fun of moving abroad is to break daily habits and discover a new part of yourself, so don’t be afraid to leave a few things behind.

After a few months of good Italian wine, you may learn to love those sweaty armpits!

Community Connection

For more survival tips abroad, check out 8 Items Guaranteed to Help You Survive a Big City Trek.

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