The ultimate overseas packing list – expat, overseas student, travellers

Expat life
13 Mar 2023
9 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

“Ah packing, the art beloved by procrastinators and dreaded by travellers everywhere…”


Moving overseas or packing for a big trip can be an overwhelming feat. Whether you are packing for a life-changing move around the world or just a short road trip, one thing is certain; packing lists should never be taken lightly.


Failing to prepare a detailed packing list is sure to set you up for a disaster of epic proportions – forget your toothbrush at home? Who knows what other essentials will go MIA (missing in action)?


In any case, don’t underestimate the importance of packing lists and give yourself enough time to properly ready yourselves with all the items necessary for travel, so that you spend the journey with your sanity intact.

Not sure where to start? Use the guide below! 


Travel essential documents

This checklist will come in handy when preparing for a big move – it includes all the papers an expat and traveller should never be without. So make sure you get enough copies for yourself and make sure to keep them in a safe place – the last thing you want, is to find yourself stranded overseas because of a missing document!


  • Academic certs and transcript
  • Birth certification
  • Bank Statement
  • Credit/Debit Card
  • Driver’s License/Government ID
  • Flight Tickets
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Job offer letter
  • Marriage certificate
  • Medical records
  • Proof of tax number in your home country and host country
  • Salary Slip
  • Travel, Health and Life Insurance Info
  • Vaccination Records
  • Valid Passport
  • Visa
  • Work Permit

Toiletries list

The last thing you want to worry about is where to find shampoo, soap and toothpaste. Avoiding needless stress on vacation is key if you’re looking to truly relax! That’s why it’s important to make sure you throw all the necessary toiletries into your bag – whether it be a backpack or trolley suitcase – before venturing out.


Even if you prefer to live life on the wild side, rest assured that pre-planning in this case will help keep things from getting too wild!


  • Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Body lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Facial cleanser
  • Make up
  • Make up remover
  • Menstruation hygiene items
  • Moisturizer
  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving kit
  • Shoe polish
  • Soap/Sshower gel
  • Sunscreen
  • Tooth floss
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Tweezer


The reality is your medicine cabinet comes along with you!


That being said, ensure that whatever medications you are taking are in compliance with local laws and regulations—your travel plans may otherwise be side-tracked if customs agents discover any restricted substances. Plus, carrying a doctor’s note could help to speed through any tricky situations.


  • Allergy medication
  • Antiseptic wipes and cream
  • Cold and flu medications
  • Diarrhea relief medication
  • First Aid Kit – bandages, gauze, medical tape,plasters
  • Heartburn relief medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Motion sickness medication
  • Pain relievers
  • Prescription medication


It doesn’t matter if you are packing for an impromptu weekend trip or an extended exploration – be sure to take the season into account to avoid arriving with a giant suitcase full of inappropriate clothing!


Whether you are visiting a hot climate, cold and snowy mountains, or somewhere in between – each item should serve not only its purpose, but also match the local conditions. However, it can be incredibly difficult to remember what season it will be upon arrival.


Remember, it is probably best to prioritize comfort over fashion anyway!


  • Jeans/joggers
  • Tops/tees
  • Shorts
  • Sweater or light jacket
  • Shoes – sneakers, sandals and flip flops
  • Undergarments and socks


For most public-minded people, travel involves packing bags to the brim while leaving behind all of the modern conveniences.


Yet one pitfall of packing for a getaway is that when it comes to packing electronics, like laptops and cameras, we’re forever hauling along too much — and expensive — equipment. But waiting for us when we arrive is often a gasp of dismay after realizing our fancy Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner won’t do a thing in an unfamiliar country if it doesn’t have the right plug converters.


So before you make the addition of an expensive power tool to your luggage, be sure to double-check if those international plugs are compatible!


  • Camera/GoPro
  • Chargers
  • E-book reader or Tablet
  • Earphones/Headphones
  • External hard drive to back files up
  • Laptop Computer
  • Portable Speaker
  • Portable WiFi Hotspot
  • Power Banks
  • Smartphone
  • Travel adapter
  • Wireless mouse and/or keyboard


When it comes to miscellaneous travel items, it’s essential to bring along anything that might make you more comfortable while on the move!


  • Ear plugs
  • Emergency Money
  • Eye Mask
  • Flashlight
  • Sewing kit
  • Socks
  • Spare Clothing
  • Stationaries
  • Travel pillow

Packing list check-list

Travelling has never been easier thanks to these packing list checklists. With one click, you can be as prepared as an expat or student studying abroad—no experience required! For those who prefer to jet-set around the world, a separate easy-to-follow checklist won’t leave you missing a vital item at your destination.



Never be without the right gear! Whether you’re crossing oceans or simply travelling through time zones, our packing list templates have got you covered.

Additional things to take note of as an expat or student studying abroad…

Take a deep breath – you’ve got this! We know just thinking of relocating is intimidating, but don’t worry we’ve got your back. Whether it’s transferring your mail or scheduling an appointment with the movers, this ultimate to-do list has you covered!


The six sections cover everything from setting up the utilities to re-registering for school. Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be; cross one thing off at a time and before you know it you’ll be all set for your big move. Go ahead- grab that pen and paper and tick away!


1. Packing Inventory

Create an inventory of all the things you need to take, buy or leave behind.

2.  Plan according to your Living Situation – Current & Future
  • If you are a homeowner, will you be renting it out while you’re away? If not, do you need to hire a caretaker or house-sitter to keep an eye on things?
    • Talk to the utility (water, electricity) service providers if you plan to continue the services. Pay dues, and make arrangements to pay future bills to avoid disconnection. Setting up automatic billers in your online bank account will regularise this process and make it hassle-free.
  • If you are currently renting, how long is your lease?
    • When do you need to inform your landlord that you are leaving? Make sure you document all such communication to prevent future problems.
  • Do you know yet where you will be living in your new country?
    • Talk to your new employer and ask if they can arrange temporary housing until you can find something more permanent.
  • Scan all property/house rental websites in your new country.
    • If you find any houses/flats that interest you, contact the listing agent for further information such as moving-in date, advance payments, rent, rent period (weekly/monthly), utilities included, etc.
  • Remember that living requirements are different for those who move alone versus those who move with a family. Customise your home search accordingly.
3. Manage Your Personal Property
  • Will you be shipping any of your items to your new destination?
    • If yes, find a reliable courier company and get a quote from them.
    • Remember that shipping charges usually depend on weight, item type, source country and destination country.
    • Talk to the company about insurance for your goods.
  • Before you ship anything, check your destination country’s biosecurity procedures and ‘banned goods’ list.
  • If your plan is to leave your things behind, decide what you will do with them – leave them in your home, donate them or sell them?
  • Figure out what you will do with your mobile phone and the plans you are on
    • If it is ‘locked’ for use in one single country, you may not be able to use it in your new country. In that case, you can either donate it or sell it.
    • If you have a landline telephone, make arrangements with the phone company to get it disconnected. Make sure you pay all dues!
4. Travel Paperwork
  • Check that all your travel paperwork is in order. This will include your passport, visa, work permit, tickets, travel insurance, etc.
  • Make a note of dates, conditions of travel and exceptions if any.
  • Check that your passport is up-to-date.
  • Make photocopies of these documents and place them in your carry-on luggage. Also, upload scanned copies to the Cloud.
5. Medical Checkups
  • Schedule medical tests as required, and arrange to send the results to your new employer (if they ask).
  • Your visa processing officer may also need a copy of the medical report.
  • Some countries have strict requirements regarding immunisation and quarantines. Check if you need to get yourself immunised before arriving at a new country
  • Talk to your doctor about your current medications, and get new prescriptions if required. Obtain copies of older medical reports if you don’t have them already.
6. Other Tasks
  • Cancel existing subscriptions
  • If you are a parent, research schools, extracurricular activities and day-care centres for your children.
  • Get information on medical centres, hospitals and pharmacists in your new city. Research the healthcare system there – insurance, costs, paperwork, etc.
  • Get some information about your new country and city.
  • If you have any insurance policies, confirm with the provider if they will remain in effect even after you leave the country. If not, cancel them.
  • Talk to your banking relationship advisor about your bank accounts. Many large banks offer non-resident accounts with special advantages. Check if you need to open a new account, transfer your existing account, or close it entirely.
  • Settle all outstanding bills and taxes
  • Buy some foreign currencies for the new country and for countries you will be passing through.
  • Research insurance and investment options in your new country.
Before you go…

You probably want to travel or move overseas without worrying about money.


That’s where Instarem comes in.


Whether you’re:


  • an expat who is moving abroad
  • or a student studying abroad
  • or someone looking to travel,


Instarem can help you save time and money.


With no hidden fees and competitive exchange rates, we make it easy to send money home. Try Instarem for your next transfer by downloading the app or sign up here.


And through amaze*, pair up with any Mastercard bank cards or top up your amaze wallet and get:


  • Fantastic FX rates with every global purchase.
  • Earn InstaPoints on FX spends and redeem them as cashback or discounts on overseas money transfers.
  • sign up now and get your virtual card promptly


*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.

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