Can’t Decide What to Pack to Canada? Here’s Some Help.

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Since the COVID 19 related travel restrictions on international students are relaxed, you will most likely be planning to travel to Canada now. This is the right time to talk about things you should pack. As well as how you should pack them.

As of October 20, 2020, the Canadian government has allowed designated learning institutions (DLIs) with an approved  COVID-19 readiness plan to accept international students on their campuses.

When you live in another country, you might feel like packing most things you are familiar with. As creatures of habit, we all find comfort in having familiar things around us. Unfortunately, most airlines allow one checked-in luggage, and that does not give enough room to pack all that you want to. It is crucial to identify the most essential things and pack smart. Pack things that will ease your settling down as a student.

Students invariably ask, “What should I take to Canada? What should I buy there and what should I take from home? What is in fashion? More importantly, what is good to pack, considering the weather”?  Here are some answers to many of those questions.

You are travelling to a beautiful country, which also has extreme temperatures that vary hugely from region to region. Do a bit of research about your university/college – town, extending the research area to about 10 km around it.

Understanding the weather in your university – town will make it easier for you to choose the clothes and accessories to pack. You should carry at least one, if space permits, two sets of warm clothes to manage until you shop for warm clothes in Canada. 

The clothes and accessories that you bring should be okay for student life. That means lightweight, easy to wash and maintain, and something that you don’t have to sit and press every time you wash.

That done, let’s make a list of other essentials to pack.

  1. Documents
  2. Electronics
  3. Clothes, accessories and linen
  4. Outerwear
  5. Snacks and condiments

Keep documents together and safe

First thing first. Ensure that you keep all your documents together. Your passport, study permit, ticket, a credit card that works in Canada, cash in the Canadian dollar, school admission documents, address of your accommodation and a small telephone book with contact details should be kept together in a pouch. Next, get a universal SIM card that you could use for a few days to buy a local SIM.

Remember to carry your documents and the wi-fi enabled mobile phone in your handbag or backpack. Get yourself a sturdy and easy to access backpack that you can take to school and other places. Get a robust, yet compact backpack that you can lug around anywhere you go.

Universal adapter and battery charger

You are most likely to be carrying a mobile phone and a laptop. The voltage in Canada and in your country may be different. If you have bought your devices outside North America, remember to get a universal adapter.

Battery charger: These days, you can find charging stations in most indoor places in Canada. You can charge your phone at your school, shopping malls,  coffee shops etc. However, it depends on where you live. If you are going to live outside major cities, it is good to have a battery charger in your bag for emergencies. Most phone companies sell them bundled along with a phone. Choose one that is compatible with your mobile phone brand and the one you can charge in Canada.  

Clothes, Accessories and Linens

Winter in Canada is cold. You need warm clothes. But be wary of heavy, bulky jackets that will weigh you down. The secret of staying warm is covering all extremities such as the head, neck, fingers and toes before you step out in the cold. Adding an additional layer to keep your chest warm will keep you warm and safe.

You would need a good woollen cap that is warm and nice-looking, one or two scarves (best to get in neutral tones), gloves and woollen socks. Buy good quality ones that are breathable, warm and will keep you comfortable on a cold day.

Socks are essential for everyday use too. Try to pack at least two sets of all types of socks like plain ones, a few with designs for evening wear,  some peds and ankle lengths.

Also, pack at least 2 sets of thermal underpants or long johns and a thermal shirt. A word of caution for women. I find that thermal shirts’ necklines are not designed for all types of blouses and tops that women use. Make sure that you get one with a scoop-neck, so you can wear it with all kinds of tops.

Apart from regular toiletries, carry one large towel, a couple of small ones, a bed sheet and a pillowcase.


Then about the outerwear. A pair of jeans and tights are light to pack. Select designs and colours that are universal. Wash them to make sure that the colours are fast and choose something without heavy embroidery. So you can wash them quickly in a machine.  Also, choose neutral colours which are okay to wear any day, on any occasion. Yes, do pack shorts, skirts, blouses and knitted tops.

Even though you might pick up a winter coat in your country, often, newcomers find that that is not sufficient for Canadian winter. They will need to buy good quality warm outerwear such as a parka here. A raincoat, a  pair of UV protected dark glasses, and an umbrella is good to carry.

Snacks and condiments

And then there are not such essentials like eats and snacks from home that you should carry, especially if you will be living on your own. We have several ethnic food grocery shops in Canada, but it also depends on where you live. The best is to pack a small packet of all essential condiments.

Pack smart

Now that you have an idea of things to pack, spend some time organizing your stuff you can access them quickly.  It could be based on what time of the day you use them or where you use them, or it might be based on seasons. Like you may want to keep your linen, towels, and nightwear or loungewear together and Jeans, blouses, sweaters in another bundle. Whichever way you want to organize, try to put them in separate bags to compress them so they take less space.

If you are packing oil or anything liquid, make sure that you close it tight, wrap it first in newspaper and then in a ziplock bag.

Packing for a foreign journey can be stressful, with many things to take care of. It is plausible to forget something amidst all the stress. Be attentive and pay attention to the most essential items that you will need, and pack well. Happy journey!

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