Packing for Two Months in China in Two Bags

Packing light

Packing can be tough, whether you’re leaving for a week or a month–or longer. You don’t want to arrive at your destination, only to find you left something essential back at home. But, you also don’t want to lug around a bunch of stuff you don’t need and won’t use, taking up valuable space in your suitcase (which could be used for souvenirs!).

I spent months making and revising my packing list for the two months we spent in China this summer. Now that we’re back, I can say that I’m happy with what we brought.

Here’s what I packed in my main carry-on suitcase:


And here’s what I brought in my backpack:


Packing List


  • 2x shorts (one denim pair; one lightweight, fast-drying gray pair from Columbia)
  • 2x dresses (one black and white striped maxi; one black sleeveless knee-length)
  • 1 skirt (long, black)
  • 2x tank tops (one black, one striped)
  • 4x shirts (two graphic tees, both light-colored; one lightweight pink long-sleeve cotton top; one cotton blue button-down shirt that could be used over other tops)
  • 1 cardigan (black, lightweight)


  • 2x scarves (one polka dotted; one patterned)
  • 2x belts (one brown; one pink and gray)
  • Jewelry (minimal: pieces that matched everything)


  • 2x pair of flats (one brown; one black)
  • 1x pair walking shoes (Rocket Dog brand)
  • 1x pair flip flops


  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Moisturizers
  • Contacts and contact solution
  • Bath poof
  • Bar of soap
  • Hand mirror
  • Comb, brush
  • Hair accessories
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Glasses and glasses case
  • Makeup and makeup brushes
  • Straightener, curling iron
  • Travel-sized hair dryer

*Note: Due to the length of our stay, I did replenish some of these supplies in China–I brought only travel-sized versions with me, so that I didn’t have to check my bag.


  • Laptop, laptop charger, and power brick
  • Phone and phone charger (I brought my regular iPhone and an unlocked iPhone that I could use in country with a Chinese SIM card)
  • Nook and charger (I loaded library books onto the Nook for extra reading)

For the Plane:

Travel Accessories:

  • Travel scale
  • Lock
  • Plug adapters
  • Travel towel
  • Travel clothesline
  • Sink plug
  • Woolite travel laundry soap
  • Travel scale
  • Travel-sized clothes steamer
  • Roll of bubble wrap (to fill extra space in suitcase and for wrapping breakable souvenirs on the way home)
  • Money belt (I didn’t use this)

Health Supplies:

  • Thermometer
  • Medicines: Imodium, Tylenol, TUMS, Pepto Bismol, Bonine

*Note: I wish I had brought an all-purpose cold/flu medication, like DayQuil and NyQuil


  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Books: Chineasy + two textbooks needed for class
  • Blank notebook and pens


More Packing Resources:

How I made twelve pieces of clothing make forty outfits: How to Pack Light for Months in a Carry-on Bag

The great packing experiment: Which packing method really packs the most clothes?

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