In the last thirty two years, I have moved to two different foreign countries. My first move was from the UK to the USA then, 19 years later, from the United States to Thailand.
During both moves, I learned a lot about what to pack when you move to a foreign country, but the second move taught me the most. After all, the UK is quite similar to the USA in many respects, but a country like Thailand is not.
The things you need to pack are completely different and, what you should pack might surprise you.
If you too are planning on moving to Thailand, it can be difficult to know what to pack. With these few tips on what to pack though, you too can make an easier move to a foreign country.
Clothing – In some countries like Thailand, because of the size of the average person compared to Americans, it can be more difficult to get clothing that fits you. That is why I recommend bringing enough clothes to last you six months, along with enough professional work clothing (if you are going to be working) to get you through the first three months.
In Bangkok, where I live, you can get beautiful quality clothing tailored very cheaply, but buying it off the rack can be more difficult if you are a larger size.
That is because most Thai girls are smaller than a size 4 so, for your average Western woman, it is more difficult to get a skirt, a blouse, or a dress that fits.
Thai men are generally quite a bit shorter than Western men so length on pants can be difficult sometimes too. Bring a couple of pairs of dress pants with you, and then get others made if necessary.
Shoes – In Thailand, the average shoe size is smaller than in the U.S. or Europe. That is why it has always been difficult for me to buy good quality leather shoes in Thailand that fit (Thai girls have much narrower feet than me). The Western men I know also report the same problems.
Many expats in Thailand bring a supply of well fitting shoes with them when they move here, and then replenish their supply every time they visit their country of origin.
Bras – For women, buying bras that fit can be a nightmare in Thailand. In eight years of living in Bangkok, I have found bras that fit me, but it has taken a lot of time shopping to find stores that occasionally sell them.
Most Thai women have small breasts and also have narrower backs than Western women. Every Western woman I know living long-term in Thailand complains about the same thing — it being a nightmare to find bras that fit.
So, do what I do. Buy a year’s supply of bras before you move, and make sure you have someone in your home country that can replenish your supply when needed (my Mom ships mine to me from Target!)
Tampons – When I moved to Thailand, I was told tampons were difficult to find, so I brought six months supply. Most Asian women still use pads and not tampons, which can be frustrating for Western women. However, once I got here, I found that every supermarket and Boots Chemist sells them.
If you too use tampons, no, you really do not need to bring more than a month’s supply as you can buy them at just about every drug store and at supermarkets like Tesco, Tops and Big C.
Condoms – If you plan on being sexually active while living abroad, bringing your own condoms might be a good idea. Thai men, on average, have smaller penises than Western men, and several Western men I know in Thailand have complained that even a Thai ‘large’ doesn’t really feel comfortable.
In Bangkok, most supermarkets now sell Western condoms but, if you are in a smaller town in Thailand, they may not. In some countries, condoms are more difficult to come by. So pack a few boxes and you can enjoy your intimate relationships with no worries (or discomfort).
Medication – One of the first things you should pack if you are moving to Thailand is your medication. Make sure, before you leave, you get a prescription from your doctor for six months supply of medication (most doctors, when they know you are leaving the country, will give this to you).
In Thailand, it is easy to get most medications as much of it is over the counter, but you will discover it is only possible to get others with a doctor’s prescription, and visiting a doctor is not what you will want to be doing when you first get here.
If you have six months supply, however, this will give you plenty of time to arrange for an alternate way to get medication if you find you cannot get it.
Food, DVDs, CDs, towels, coffee etc — When I moved to Bangkok, other people suggested bringing certain foods, DVDs, CDs, towels, coffee and any number of other things.
Believe me, if you are worrying about what to pack to move to a foreign country, these are the last things you need to worry about.
Food is everywhere and, even if they don’t have what you are used to eating, there are always things you will learn to enjoy instead or substitute for what you would normally eat.
DVDs and CDs are everywhere and far cheaper than the US and Europe and, with Netflix now readily available anywhere in Thailand, that is hardly a concern at all anymore.
High quality towels and bathroom supplies are on practically every street corner, and coffee is the lifeblood of many Thais (check out all the Starbucks in Bangkok).
Follow these few tips though, and you should find you have packed the necessities. For the rest, you will figure out where to find them in time and, meanwhile, enjoy the hunt.
That is part of the fun of moving to a country like Thailand.