Suggested Packing Lists

Better to travel light and smart, than to try to bring everything with you. Here are some suggested packing lists, one for men (this is essentially my standard packing list) and one for women (put together by Rebecca Ruhlen, our new Assistant Director).

While you are allowed 2 checked pieces of luggage for your international flight, I would recommend only checking in one bag (less than 50 lbs) when going to China, and then checking in two bags when you return (with gifts, souvenirs, custom-built clothing, and whatever else you will inevitably buy during 4 months in China). See this other post for smart packing hints.

As for luggage, I used to travel with backpacks like this one from Eagle Creek (the kind where the straps can be hidden when checking in bags at the airport). As I’ve gotten older, I switched to wheeled luggage like this bag from e-Bags. Don’t buy the biggest duffel, since you will end up paying exorbitant excess-baggage fees; keep your luggage size reasonable (less than 5,000 cubic inches) so as to force yourself not to over-pack your bag.

Remember, you will only be allowed one carry-on (total length+width+height less than 45 inches) and one “personal bag” (purse, computer bag, tote bag – something you can fit underneath a seat). Do not check in your computer or any other valuables (i.e., money); if you have medication, take a couple of days worth with you on the flight. Always keep your passport with you (once you get them back from Jessica), and before leaving any plane, do a quick check to make sure that your passport is with you.

Packing Smart – start with luggage, and plan

I’m about to leave for close to a month in China, including a conference where I need to look “presentable.” I will have fieldwork equipment (video, audio); and everything will be in one carry-on bag that I can carry on my back. I will not have any checked luggage.

So much of succeeding in fieldwork is preparation, and the logistics of travelling smart are crucial to your success abroad. Take a look at this website, for hints on travelling smart.

Here is the bag that I use the most for travelling, either domestically or internationally – the Rick Steves convertible. Ebags has a version that I’ve used in the past, but I found the Rick Steves version to be lighter.

Readings for the Program

Possible Course Readings (Public Amazon Wishlist)
Note that not all of the books listed here are required for all courses.

All the readings for the courses (except for Chinese) will be available in Amazon Kindle format. You do not have to own a Kindle to buy and read Kindle books; instead, you can download the kindle software for your computer (Windows or Mac) and read them on your computer.

I would recommend buying a Kindle for your own sanity – you do not get eyestrain by reading using a Kindle, since it uses e-ink (and is not an illuminated screen like your computer). You will need a light source to read on the Kindle, like reading regular printed books. Please see Fuji if you are interested in exploring options other than buying a Kindle.

Tip: Getting over jetlag

Here’s a good graphic to help you manage your jetlag; China is exactly opposite to U.S. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (if it’s 8 pm at Davidson, it’s 8 am in Shanghai).

Yumi Sakugawa has an informative graphic providing tips on how to deal with jet lag. In the end, I think his tip “fake it ’til you make it” is the time-tested way to handle jet-lag. But give these tips a try!



See the table below. The following are recommended by the CDC – note that neither Japanese encephalitis or rabies will be required based on where we will be visiting.

Vaccination or Disease Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots, such as measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)

Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B

Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).

Typhoid Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Asia, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.

Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

Japanese encephalitis

Recommended if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis, see country-specific information.

Rabies Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites.

Source: CDC