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How to Pack for a Temporary Move Abroad

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It is quite common for a move abroad to be temporary. After all, that is how most visas are structured. You want to leave the country and explore the world, but you plan on returning home after some time. This makes packing for your move abroad a little different. What, and how, should you pack if you are moving overseas temporarily?

Pack light

For both overseas moves and temporary moves, you should pack as little as possible.
  • Overseas shipping is expensive and you can be charged for both weight and volume depending on your shipping method.
  • Many items are not allowed or restricted in foreign countries. Become familiar with your destination's customs regulations.
  • Shipments can take several months to arrive at your destination.
  • If your move is temporary, you do not need to ship everything you own.
  • Temporary housing is often pre-furnished.

What you need to bring

Ideally, you should avoid shipping anything for a temporary move abroad. All you really need is your luggage.
Here is what you should pack in your luggage:
  • Clothes
  • Medicine
  • Identification, inventory, and important documents
  • Grooming items (airplane-safe)
  • A laptop or other small computing device

What should you do with everything else?

There are three options for what to do with the majority of your belongings that won't be travelling overseas with you: purge,store, or leave.


  • Purge anything that you own that gets little use.
  • Sell valuable items online or in a garage sale to make some money.
  • Donate items and clothing to charities.
  • Give sentimental objects to family members to keep or hold onto while you are abroad.
  • Throw out or recycle anything that is not worth selling or saving.
  • Use up as much food and other disposable items as possible before the move. Throw the rest away.
  • If you need to empty your home while you are away, storage is necessary.
  • Choose a storage facility that will best protect your items. Look for a climate controlled facility that is well guarded. 
  • Pack your items to keep them protected in storage for the duration of your move abroad.
  • Anything can go in storage as long as it isn't prohibited by the storage company. Foods, explosives, and large machinery are often prohibited.


  • Simply leave your things behind if it is feasible for the duration of your move.
  • If you live in a shared home and your living partners will remain, ask if it is OK that your stuff remains.
  • You may need to rearrange things in your home to accommodate the temporary storage and the needs of those staying behind. Hire moving labour to get help moving items within your home.
  • If there is nobody else using your home while you are gone, consider renting it out and allowing some use of your furniture and appliances.

Packing for storage

Packing for storage correctly is important because you want to come back home to items in good condition.
  • Disassemble what you can.
  • Label everything accurately.
  • Use sturdy cardboard boxes.
  • Consider a wardrobe box for delicate or expensive clothing.
  • Avoid stacking boxes that will remain in storage for a long time. If you do stack, make sure to place lighter boxes on top of heavy items.
  • Use boxes, packing tape, and plastic wrap to protect from vermin, dust, and moisture.
  • Hire movers to take your items to storage if you cannot manage by yourself.
If you pack well, you should be able to leave most of your things in your home country and have them safely stored and waiting for your return from your time abroad. You shouldn't be burdened by your belongings if you travel abroad temporarily, but it is good to know that you don't have to give them all up if you want to see the world.

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on December 1, 2014 - Moving Expert
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