What’s in your Suitcase??

I have adjusted my 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons, once again.. and I think 3rd times a charm! I’m packed for one year in the desert, and praying I stayed under the 50lb weight limit. But I find myself wanting to take everything from my race medals to my baby blanket, which could double as a grown man’s quilt. And I’m facing the fact that something must go.. But there are a few items that I have always found to be essentials (at least for me).

1) Medicine!

The most frustrating thing ever is to come down w/ ______ , know exactly what it takes to treat it, but not being able to read the labels in the medicine aisle of your new country. After playing charades w/ a passerby to describe your ailments *fingers crossed*, they point you to the right one. Or you can avoid all of this by packing a your own specialized first aid kit.
2) Haircare and makeup

This is mainly for those who have different hair textures/complexions than the country they are going to. For example, if you have darker skin or curly hair in Asia.. Basically, if you tend to have a hard time in the U.S. finding the perfect combination of products, stock up for abroad.
3) Feminine products

It’s easy to assume that since every woman, no matter the country, has the same set of “issues”, and that we’d all handle them the same way. Wrong! Tampons can be a luxury, in some places. Either adjust to their method, or bring your own. Tampon tip: take everything out of the boxes and squeeze them into ziplock bags.. it saves a lot more room.
4) One week’s worth of clothes (per category)

(for work/going-out and casual/workout + a pair of shoes for each category + jacket) 

This is the hardest one for me! I start thinking of all of the ‘what-ifs’.. what if I need my salsa dancing shoes? What if I need both swimsuits? In a conservative Muslim country, I’m guessing these would be at the very bottom of the ‘must-have’ list.. So, I have convinced myself that I will buy what I need, there. Plus, I guess it could make a good conversation starter. “Where’d you get that sweater??”.. “Well, actually..”

5) Many will disagree on this one, but my last must-have = my fave BOOKS!

I’ve had friends who took their collection overseas (when Kindle was less popular), and didn’t open even one! They’d end up giving a good portion away. As an avid reader, this hurts me! Because I barely let folks even borrow a book. But if you can’t afford one of these e-readers, and reading is the way you spend your downtime, pack your faves in your carry-on (w/ wheels). Many countries have a foreign book section, but may be limited certain or lack restrictive topics. Often this carry-on bag isn’t weighed, so it doesn’t count towards the 50lb limit. Just make sure you (or a kind gentleman) can lift it into the overhead bin.

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5 thoughts on “What’s in your Suitcase??

  1. I would agree about not taking too many books. You can easily buy books at bookstores, online, or do a book swap once you get there. Plus those are easy to have shipped.

    One suggestion is to bring maybe 2 weeks worth of clothes because you never know when you’ll be able to shop and those first few weeks are busy.

    I also found that bringing things to help you cope with homesickness are a must. Like, pictures of family and friends, a few DVDs, snack foods that bring comfort that pack easily. I’ve found that having these things help me when times get rough.

    • @yokotempie… Thanx for dropping by! As ridiculously-sized my ‘baby blanket’ is, it’s one of my must-haves for a good night’s sleep! Do you know if blankets are considered a carry-on?
      The way I selected clothes, they can go with multiple categories. For example, most of my work clothes can also be used as going-out clothes and vice versa. Same for my gym clothes and kick-around house clothes. Therefore, instead of 7 work shirts, i’ll actually have 14.. Also since I keep hearing of how Saudi is restrictive in types of clothing, a lot was automatically eliminated. To make more room in my suitcase, I also bought those vacuum seal bags!

      • I’m sure the blanket will be fine, just try to fold/wrap it around your carry-on ‘purse’ straps. That’s what i do with my travel pillow and blanket and I’ve never had an issue with them in the decade or so I’ve been carrying them.

        As for the clothes I was just speaking from experience. I brought a minimal amount of clothing and thought I’d be able to wash and wear for different occasions, but I somehow forgot to account for not having a clothes dryer which can make the turn around for clothes a day or more instead of a few hours. But then again you are moving to a country where you’ll be able to go out and buy clothing more easily than I can in South Korea.

  2. Thanks cantstandtheheat, this post is very helpful! I’m leaving Toronto for a position at PNU in a few weeks and I’ve been wondering about what to pack. I agree with your list…right down to the books and baby blanket ; )

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