As I prepared for my trip to China—where I’ll be spending ten days with our Trusted Travel Expert Mei Zhang—Wendy had some good packing advice for me.
1. Pack cold medicine
“In China, it’s relatively easy to get clean bottled water and to get hot fresh cooked vegetables and food,” she told me. “The problem is all of the bad air and the germs and the people spitting and coughing. So bring medicines in case you get a cold. In China it’s the respiratory issues, not traveler’s diarrhea. You don’t need extra clothes, you can buy good quality things like silk pajamas for like ten bucks. You need cold medicine.”
On her list:
Sudaphedrine or similar decongestant
Sore throat lozenges
Saline spray for your nose
Artificial tears for your eyes
2. Bring comfortable shoes
This sounds like an obvious one, but it’s more important that usual in China. Thanks to all the construction and uneven roads, you’ll want comfy walking shoes that you can spend the whole day in—whether you’re hiking the Great Wall or exploring hutongs.
3. Get a good data plan for your devices
This one is from my own research, as I knew I’d want to stay in close touch with WendyPerrin.com HQ, continue working, and post to our social media platforms.
Remember that the Internet doesn’t work in China like it does at home. No Google services—neither Google search, nor Gmail—are supported. Likewise, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter won’t load if you’re using the Internet (whether by Wi-Fi or a landline). However, if you use your phone or tablet’s cellular data (meaning 3G or 4G), the system recognizes your non-Chinese phone and lifts the gate. So I ended up being able to use my phone for anything (it simply switches to 4G) but can’t use my laptop. This is incredibly useful, but if you don’t have a good overseas data plan, this could also be incredibly expensive. T-Mobile offers free unlimited international data and texting included in its Simple plan, and Google Project Fi offers free texting along with international data at the same rates you’d pay at home (meaning your monthly bill is the same no matter where in the world you use your data) so those could be options if you’re a frequent traveler. (Full disclosure: I’m testing Google Project Fi while I’m in Asia, using a loaner phone from the company but paying for the service myself.)