Lewis Gardner

There is already plenty of great advice out there for how to pack and prepare for your journey to China. However, the COVID 19 pandemic dramatically changed the reality of coming to China. One of the biggest changes is the mandatory fourteen days quarantine all foreigners now face on arrival. Do not panic! The time can fly by, if you bring the things you love that are going to make it easier for you. Your quarantine hotel may allow you to get deliveries from local supermarkets or Taobao, but this is not going to be guaranteed and you’re not going to know until arrive. Of course, your arrival team is always going to be on hand to help you with whatever you need, but the amount of help they can give you with deliveries is far from certain before arrival. So make sure you’re ready for those two weeks!

The Essentials

Make sure you have all the documents you will need for your journey on hand. You are going to need them, and the officials are going to ask for them. COVID has given you a few more to keep track of. The COVID test results and the all-important health codes are a couple of the new ones. Make sure to keep your smartphone charged as plenty COVID health codes are only available online. A powerpack or portable charger would be a great idea.

A laptop, smartphone and chargers are obviously a must, as EF will be giving you plenty of onboarding to keep you busy over the two weeks and you’re going to need to find fun ways to pass the rest of the time. Research what the plugs look like in China and make sure you have at least of couple of plug adapters. EF will give you one, but not until after quarantine.

WeChat and your EF account are going to be essential. Alipay and Taobao will be to once you leave quarantine. Remember, the internet can be very different in China, but your recruiter can help you find ways to navigate it.


If you need medication, make sure you bring a good supply of with you. Getting any medicine delivered in the first place is not a certainty and getting the specific medicine you need in China isn’t always easy. A lot of the brand names you’re used to can’t be found in China or can only be found under their Chinese names. Even when you leave quarantine, all over the counter medicines, right down to something as simple as paracetamol, can only be found in hospitals and pharmacies. So, stock up now!


Normally, bringing a lot of toiletries would just be a waste of space in your bag as most items you’re likely to need can be found easily in China. These are not normal times though. You’re going to be spending two weeks in quarantine and chances are you will be able to get deliveries of essentials, but that is not guaranteed. It’s a good idea to bring two weeks’ worth of anything that is essential to you. The quarantine hotel will probably provide body wash, shampoo, and toothpaste, but anything else you feel you need is down to you. That means shaving foam and razors, nail clippers, deodorant, etc.

Feminine hygiene products are something to think about. In China, sanitary pads are the standard, so if you prefer to use tampons or other products, bringing a supply that lasts even beyond the quarantine is a good idea.

Home Comforts


There are two things I can’t live without. Coffee and biscuits. I made sure I had plenty of both when I arrived for my two weeks in quarantine. Maybe you’re a big tea drinker, don’t worry you should have a kettle. If you’re a chocoholic, make sure to bring some of your favourites from home. You might not find them on the shelves in China and you certainly won’t find them while you’re in quarantine. A colleague brought some pot noodle with him from the UK. It’s a great idea, if you remember to bring a fork.

There are going to be times in the two weeks when you feel down and all you want is a taste of home.


This can be a very long two weeks. For a lot of the time, you will have onboarding and teacher training to keep you busy. The rest of the time might not be so easy. You will definitely want to bring the things that you love to pass the rest of that time. If you’re a big reader bring some of your favourite books. A kindle could save you a lot of space in your bag. I brought my Nintendo Switch, which I thank for keeping me sane in some of the boring moments!

Keep it Simple

For everything else, I have one last piece of advice. Keep it simple! Ask yourself if you really need to bring all twenty pairs of jeans you have sitting in your wardrobe? How many of those sneakers are you going to be wearing during quarantine? If you don’t need it, then don’t worry about it. Whatever you do need, you can buy easily when your fourteen days are up. Your recruiter will be with you every step of the way, so just don’t panic!


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