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).
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.