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Toronto packing list: What to bring and what to leave behind

By: Isioma Uwadiunor
August 08, 2023

Toronto packing list: What to bring and what to leave behind is a part of the International Student Guide —  a resource carefully curated by current international students to equip new international students with the essential knowledge and insights you need to thrive in Toronto. View the full list of articles on the International Student Guide web page. 

A parent helps her daughter settle in to her new room on campus. They are smiling and talking to a third person not pictured.

As a student moving thousands of miles away from home, you might be confused or wondering what you should bring along with you. While planning to come to TMU, I thought long and hard about the things I was going to miss having around me when I moved. Those were the things I planned to pack–aside from my documents–to make me feel closer to home. 

As part of my packing checklist, I included clothes, shoes and winter jackets along with some of my favorite cultural foods, hair products, extensions for my hair type, etc. When I was done packing all this, I realized that my boxes were heavy! However, I paid for the extra luggage cost because I thought I was not going to have a chance to get some of these things in Canada. 

A suitcase filled with packets of instant noodles.
A black winter coat with a fur hood.

Tip: Because TMU is located in the heart of downtown, there are many cultural enclaves and stores around where, believe it or not, you can find some of your unique foods back home!

When I got to Canada, I discovered that a lot of the items I carried from Nigeria were available in African grocery stores and hair stores. While the products can be more expensive here, you’ll save on extra luggage fees and won’t need to carry any heavy boxes. 

I asked fellow students what they packed while preparing to come to TMU and compiled the following list! 

 Essentials

  • Passport
  • Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) - if applicable
  • Airline Tickets
  • Cash (Canadian dollars)/Debit/Credit Cards
  • Letter of Acceptance
  • Any documents that IRCC has requested to process your study permit. E.g. letter of introduction (external link) 
  • Proof of address of your long-term student accommodation
  • Proof of tuition payment
  • Medication
  • Emergency contact information

 Tip:  It's always helpful to have more than one copy of your important documents if possible!

 Non-essential items

Other items TMU international students brought from home were: 

  • Clothing items, depending on the season of arrival in Canada. E.g. fall, winter, spring, or summer.
  • Cultural food items like spices, snacks, grains, etc.
  • Neck pillows and earplugs
  • Pets
  • Toiletries
  • Electronics, especially a universal adapter
  • Skincare and makeup products
  • Hair products
  • Sentimental items that remind them of home 

 Items you can be sure to find here

It can be tough to determine what you should just buy when you get here and what to bring along, especially because everyone has different preferences and priorities. In reality, almost everything could be bought here, but some students choose to carry their own belongings due to brand preferences or pricing differences.If you’re not particular about brand or price differences, some of the things you can guarantee to find here include:

  • Skincare and makeup products
  • Non-perishable cultural foods and spices
  • Toiletries/cosmetics
  • Winter jackets and boots
  • Pillows, bed linens
  • School supplies
  • Hangers
  • Non-essential clothing

When creating a customized checklist, you can start from the most important to least important items in your opinion. This will make it easier to decide what to buy here and what to pack from home. It is also helpful to review which items the Canadian Border Services Agency (external link, opens in new window)  won’t allow through Canadian customs so you don’t pack them by mistake. 

With research and preparation, you’ll be ready for your study abroad journey. Remember to go over your checklist to ensure you packed everything, good luck!

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