So many American, Canadian, British and Irish students would hugely benefit by utilising their summers during and after University teaching English abroad in Europe. And it’s a fantastic way to travel, have fun and meet new people while new learning skills and gaining work experience. But what to pack teaching English abroad for the summer?! Packing is harder than the job application!
I admitted in this blog post that, while I had every intention of completing my summer in Italy teaching at English camps and living with host families around the country, it wasn’t meant to be. I left after only a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a heck of a lot about what to pack teaching English abroad for the summer!
This packing list is based on the teaching English summer camp program I started. I was going to be moving around every one or two weeks, living with host families with some limited spare time for travelling and staying in hostels. The packing list may be relevant to other teaching programs, but I wrote this packing list with this type of summer program in mind.
So here is my packing list for teaching English abroad for the summer; amended to fix all my mistakes! Oh, and it will probably apply to women mostly.
What to Pack Teaching English Abroad for the Summer
- 1x Cabin-sized suitcase or backpack
- 1x Daypack (with laptop/tablet sleeve)
- 1x Small crossbody handbag (optional)
- 1x Canvas tote bag (optional)
You need to pack light. If you’re travelling on trains or planes every other week, you need to be able to store and transport luggage on trains and planes easily.
I opted for an Osprey Fairview 40L backpack, a cross body bag, and a tote bag packed. I made sure my luggage was carry-on friendly for all airlines and I was packed. Nothing else could fit in it, at all. I loved the backpack, still do, but boy it was my worst enemy sometimes.
When you’re living somewhere for three months, you want to make the most of it. You will pick up new clothes and souvenirs but you also don’t want to spend too much time re-packing and fretting that your stuff won’t fit back in your bag.
If I were packing with what I know now, I would use a cabin-sized suitcase and an original Kanken backpack with my cross-body bag and tote in my suitcase. Yes, I would have gone over the luggage allowance on my flights to and around Italy. However, I’d mostly be travelling on trains. So, by splitting my stuff between two small pieces of luggage, they would both fit easily on the overhead luggage space. That is the most important thing to remember when packing for teaching English abroad in Italy.
Key Takeaway: Pack very light, but leave yourself some room. Imagine yourself packing and re-packing and think about how much time you’ll be spending on public transport.
Clothes for Teaching English Abroad
- 1x Raincoat/Pack-a-mac
- 1x Hoodie
- 1x Cardigan
- 5x T-shirts (one white)
- 2x Vests/Camis
- 1x Dress
- 1x Black leggings
- 2x Smart shorts
- 1x Cotton shorts
- 1x Pyjama shorts
That doesn’t sound like a lot of clothes, does it? Nope, but that’s all you’ll need. Maybe an extra dress if it folds up small.
I’m a huge fan of skirts, but I made sure I packed clothes that would be suitable for downtime and teaching. I couldn’t wear skirts to teach so they would have been a waste of space. Versatility is key when it comes to packing light. If my pair of pyjama shorts were still drying, then I could wear my cotton shorts to bed, etc. And I knew from my experience as a camp counsellor that I would pick up t-shirts as my old ones got gross. So, I knew I didn’t need a lot, to begin with.
And if you are travelling somewhere for a long period of time, you don’t want to carry around too many items that you can’t ditch if they become useless. But you will need one nicer outfit, hence the dress.
Also, be aware if you’re going to be provided with a uniform. My company gave me three t-shirts so I didn’t need too many t-shirts because I was going to be wearing my uniform every day.
Top Tip: For goodness sake, use packing cubes and stuff sacks! I understand you might be able to fit more in your pack if you don’t use them, but you’re packing and re-packing so many times. Packing cubes will ensure all your stuff is organised, at all times, and save yourself lots of stress.
Just two pairs! If I had the money, I would have bought slip-on vegan Birkenstocks slider sandals. Then I would have had decent sandals and flip-flops in one. I will shout from the rooftops that a trip only ever needs a maximum of three pairs of shoes. And since I would not be going to a swimming pool very often, flip-flops would be an unnecessary luxury.
- 1x White bra
- 1x Sports bra
- 12x Knickers
- 7x Ankle socks
- 1x Swimsuit
- 1x Swimshorts
Some might think I’m gross for taking so few bras, but I think taking more would have been pointless. Just be gross for this one summer. Although summers in Europe can be scorching hot, the socks were necessary because I would have been wearing trainers every day to teach.
And why a swimsuit and shorts and not a bikini? Because I knew my teaching English abroad program liked water sports so I would have to wear swimming stuff in front of kids. I wanted to bring swimwear which was as conservative as possible. And I didn’t take anything else because I would be swimming so infrequently, bringing a bikini for one or two swims would be pointless.
Toiletries, Makeup & Accessories for Teaching English Abroad
- Face moisturiser
- Face cleanser
- Sun cream
- Insect repellent
- Aloe vera
- Coconut oil
- Solid deodorant
- Solid perfume
- Shower gel
- Face wipes
- Pack of tissues
- Cotton buds
- Personal medication/Retainers
- Painkillers & Imodium
- Nail scissors & file
- Menstrual cup/Sanitary products
Jeez, that’s a long list. But they fit snug inside my beautiful Muji toiletry bag (get one with a hook, game changer) and Muji clear plastic airport liquids bag (which includes my makeup and accessories listed below). Obviously, you’ll need to be aware of how many liquids you have on you just in case you’re going to catch flights often.
Make sure you have enough prescription medication to last you the whole summer and don’t forget things like nail scissors that you wouldn’t normally take with you on a short trip but will definitely need for a long one!
Try and take advantage of the ‘solid’ toiletry movement and use solid shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc. I already use solid deodorant from Lush but I’m trying to become a full-time solid toiletry user. I want my normal hygiene routine and travel hygiene routine to be identical for ease. And solid toiletries last so much longer than their liquid counterparts.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the aloe vera and coconut oil: I burn incredibly easily and I use coconut oil as a shaving cream, hair mask and night moisturiser.
I wear very, very minimal makeup (and I never wear it during the day usually). But, it is important enough for me to pack some for teaching English abroad. I wear a very basic BB cream then apply powder over the top. Then, because I have very, very light eyebrows and eyelashes I use a brow kit and mascara.
I use Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Pomegranate and it’s my favourite thing ever. I do like wearing Urban Decay’s red lipstick on special occasions but nothing beats this tinted lip balm for everyday wear. And that’s it! No eyeshadow, no eyeliner, just a few pieces to make me look more presentable when I need to.
- 6x Hairbands/elastics
- 4x Bobby clips
- Big hair slide
- Hair scarf
- Black scrunchie
Of course, the hair stuff is personal to each person but I would say just take note of what you wear at home. There’s no reason why you should completely abandon how you normally wear your hair just because you’re in another country.
You might notice there is no extra jewellery. Nope, just the jewellery I wore at the airport! My earrings, a bracelet, some rings and a watch. It would be likely to get lost, anyway. I didn’t want to have to worry about keeping track of expensive or sentimental items.
Extras to pack for Teaching English Abroad
- Boarding passes, anything that needs printing out, etc.
- Glasses & Sunglasses
- Purse (Euros)
- Purse (GBP)
- 1x Plastic wallet to hold ticket stubs and keepsakes
- Pencil case – Pens, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, etc.
- Teaching supplies – Map of the UK, stickers, family photos, USB pen drive, flash cards, etc.
- Travel towel
- 2x Luggage and locker padlocks
- Eye mask
A little plastic wallet is such a good idea when you’re travelling for a long time. You’ll inevitably accumulate tickets and other keepsakes and this is a good place to store them.
I do recommend bringing some, small, teaching supplies. My summer program teaching English abroad in Italy provided some teaching supplies but they wouldn’t last me all summer. Try and bring your own materials you will use to teach, particularly about your home country. Photos of your family, a map of your home country, music and definitely bring stickers to reward good behaviour.
- Phone & charger
- Portable battery/power bank & wire
- Laptop & charger
- Hard drive (to back-up)
- Camera & accessories
I’m absolutely in love with my multi-adapter, it’s the only one you’ll ever need, anywhere you might go. It adapts for UK, Europe, USA/Japan and Australia type sockets (which includes many other countries), both in and out, and it has two USB charging ports. Perfect.
And I buy all my wire/power bank items from Anker, including my portable phone power bank. I just find it really reliable when my stupid Google Pixel battery is dead in approx. 6 seconds and I need to re-charge.
You might be able to bring a tablet rather than a full-on laptop. However, I was going to be away for three months and that’s a long time without a proper laptop. And you might not need an actual camera, a phone will suit most people, but I love photography so I wouldn’t take a trip without mine.
Optional/Conditional Supplies for Teaching English Abroad
- 1x Backpack
- 1x Teaching manual (the size of a phone book)
- 3x T-shirts
- 1x Hat
- Pencil case
- Name tag
- Glue stick
- Craft knife
- Tape roll
- Pack of staples
This is a complete list of all of the supplies my teaching English abroad program gave me. It’s a lot, right? I kinda wish I had a full list of everything they were going to give me so I could be more prepared in advance.
Luckily, all this stuff came with a little backpack I could fit everything into but wow, I really wish my company had sent me this list saying ‘make sure you leave room for all this stuff’ so we could be fully prepared for what to pack for teaching English abroad. I’d maybe ask your company before you arrive if you’re going to be provided with supplies or if you should bring some yourself.
A Few Top Packing Tips for Teaching English Abroad in Summer:
- Try and buy clothes with quick-drying fabric. I packed stretchy-sports style knickers that I wear all the time because they have no VPL (visible panty line) and they dry super fast! Not only are you going to be sweaty all summer, but you’ll want your clothes to dry super fast too.
- Definitely bring a laundry bag and some colour catcher sheets. I like to separate my whites and colours but with so few clothes, you may just have to throw everything in all together. Bring some colour-catcher sheets for those instances! A laundry bag is great if you’re sharing a load, too. Or, if your host family insists on washing your stuff, you don’t have to hand over your dirty knickers! Just put all your underwear in a net laundry bag.
- Bring gifts for your host families. This can be difficult as you don’t want to give up a huge amount of space in your pack for gifts. Bring postcards from your hometown so you can write a thank you note, and maybe something else. I brought Kendal Mint Cake which wasn’t a bad idea. It’s small and doesn’t spoil!
And that’s my suggested packing list and what to pack teaching English abroad for the summer! Have you completed a teach English abroad program? Let me know in the comments below!