As promised, I’m back with another packing guide for Fiji! Too soon? Nah, trust me when I say there’s not a whole lot of resource out there, especially those that pertain to moving to Fiji for future/potential expats. I remember struggling to find relevant information back in February when I’d decided to take up on a job offer in Suva, the capital city. So I had no choice but to learn everything about my new home – literally anything and everything from its exact location in the world map to whether I should pack my rain boots – from Lonely Planet. Although what I read on LP was helpful, I was hoping to get tips from Fiji-based expats because, let’s be honest, advice from the locals is usually the best.
Maybe I was inputting the wrong keywords in Google from the excitement and anxiety of moving to a continent I’d never been, but the scarcity of information was a total surprise to me. Fiji is known as the hub of the Pacific and it’s super famous for picture-perfect beaches and cultural richness that attract many visitors to its piece of paradise, so I’d thought it’d be a piece of cake to get insight on what I should and shouldn’t bring. Unfortunately, it took me weeks to figure out what to pack and what to leave behind. A quick side note – the baggage allowance for Fiji Airways isn’t so generous – 23kg x 1 piece for check-in and 7kg x 1 piece for carry-on, and yes, they will make you put your carry-on suitcase in that metal thing they have at the check-in counters.
In order to provide some insight for future expats, I’ve prepared this packing guide that include what I wish I had or hadn’t brought to Fiji. I hope you find it helpful!
What to bring:
Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats
If you read my holiday packing guide to Fiji, this shouldn’t surprise you 😉 Sunscreen is expensive in Fiji so make sure you pack plenty. I think I brought like 5 bottles because I can’t go a day without sunscreen on my face.
Flip flops and open-toed sandals
Bring lots of them. They wear out quickly, thanks to the not-so-great road conditions. Also you’ll need them for the beach 🙂
Running shoes and hiking boots
Fiji is home to beautiful hiking trails so you’ll want to pack appropriate footwear. I’m gonna be honest and say that I didn’t bring any hiking boots (I don’t even own one) because hiking isn’t my cup of tea. But one day I’ll go…one day.
Bathing suit/snorkel gear
For your weekend getaways at the beach.
Waterproof action camera
For your underwater selfies with fish, turtles and manta rays. Remember how much a GoPro costs in Fiji?
Basic first-aid kit
I always pack a personalized first-aid kit whenever I travel or move to a new country. Aside from the basic items such as pain meds, band-aids and antibacterial cream, I make sure to pack an ample supply of eye drops because I have dry eye syndrome and they’re ridiculously priced here.
If you’re moving to Fiji with your baby, bringing some baby products, including formula, might be a good idea. A colleague of mine from Australia told me she always asks her visitors to bring some formula for her newborn because it’s expensive here. But I’m not sure how necessary this is since I’m not here with a baby and there’re weight limitations from Fiji Airways to consider, so feel free to email me with questions and I’ll be happy to look further into it.
What not to bring:
My biggest regret is packing too many clothes. Not many people dress in western business attire here in the Pacific unless you work for a diplomatic mission. Instead, people go to work in traditional Pacific-patterned shirts and skirts called “bula shirts” and “sulus”. You can buy bula shirts and sulus at any clothing stores in the streets and they’re not only comfortable but also decent quality and affordable. Now I wear my pretty bula shirts every week and couldn’t have survived my two business trips to the Solomon Islands without them! If you’re up for something unique, go fabric shopping and get an outfit made by a tailor. I’ve already purchased a few patterned fabric to take to a tailor – can’t wait for her to work her magic and turn them into gorgeous dresses!
I guess this applies more to women as men are expected to wear formal, close-toed footwear for work. I’m a big fan of shoes that cover my feet because they get cold even during the summer (it’s an Asian thing apparently!). So I made the mistake of bringing a bunch of TOMS and soon realized that I would’ve been better off with crocs. At least I didn’t pack any high heels with me…
This actually contradicts my holiday packing guide for Fiji because I’d recommended them to bring a small umbrella. However, ditch the umbrella if you’re gonna be in Fiji for a while. Your umbrella won’t last more than 2 weeks no matter what season it is. I packed a small, cute umbrella from Korea and it didn’t stand a chance against the wind and downpour. So yea, don’t bother packing one…just invest in a tall, sturdy, Fijian-made umbrella that’s designed to fight the unpredictable weather. I’d thought about bringing my beloved rainboots but nobody wears them even if it’s storming outside. They just walk through the wind and rain in their flip fops, crocs or go barefoot because #pacificstyle.
Another item that contradicts my holiday packing guide. There’s a library and a book club so don’t worry about bringing your paperback books. Just bring your Kindle.
It’s important to research ahead of time what food you can and cannot bring into Fiji. For example, most dairy items are allowed if you’re flying in from Australia or New Zealand. I know a lot of people love to bring cheese as it’s RIDICULOUSLY PRICED here – yes, I wrote that in all caps to emphasize just how expensive it is – but they must be vacuum-sealed and properly packaged. However, if you’re coming from a country that’s not Australia or New Zealand, what you can bring may be heavily restricted. Refer to this page for more information and remember that all foods must be declared at Customs upon your arrival, as your suitcase will be scanned after you collect them at baggage claim. There is an amnesty bin for you to throw away any foods before you go through the scanners. If unsure, ask a Biosecurity Officer at the airport because you’ll face a hefty fine if you’re caught bringing in something that you shouldn’t.
Are you an expat or soon-to-be expat in Fiji? Did anything in the guide surprise you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂
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