Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Things They Carry

Summer is coming, and when you live overseas, summer usually means travel. Some people travel back to their home countries, some people make whirlwind travel itineraries and try to visit as many places as they can, and others stay in the region but visit one or two nearby places. This summer, we are in the latter category. It’s been a while since we’ve been back to the US, and while I do love a summer spent in northern California, it’s not in our plans this year.

First of all, our youngest daughter, Skye, is still under the age of 2. This means that she is still too young to watch movies, play video games or sit still. So that basically means that she is still too young to make traveling long distances with her NOT horrible for all parties involved. Secondly, we are going to the US next Christmas to live out Kaia’s big dream of finally seeing snow, so the idea of two long-distance flights within 6 months of each other is enough to make me want to curl up in bed and chew my hair. Anyway….

That leaves us with a summer in SE Asia, and we are renting a vacation house in Thailand for a month.

And with a summer vacation house in Thailand come…grandparents! My parents, who 10 years ago had never left the US besides a few day trips to Canada, are now the kinds of people who say things like, “Your dad is really excited to go to Phuket again!” That is what grandparenting overseas kids will do to you. My parents are very good sports about coming to see us when we can’t go to see them (and, thank god, they are also very good about understanding WHY we can’t go and see them). The thing they are the BEST sports about, though, is acting as my very own pack mules and dragging all of the things that I
want/need/cannot live without whenever they come. Seriously, they arrive with 4-5 huge bags, and it turns out that the bottom half of one bag holds all of their personal belongings for the week.

So, with the email announcing that my parents have booked their tickets to Thailand this summer, I immediately began making my list. The List. Also known as The List That My Mother Dreads Receiving, because she knows that she will be the one trying to cram it all in to her suitcases, while still leaving a smidgen of room for important things like her clothing, toiletries and medication. And shut up about my slight compulsive need to constantly make lists. I know I need help, but I don’t care!

There are two categories of things that I add to my list: Things I want/need but cannot get in Indonesia, and things I want/need and CAN get in Indonesia but at three times the price.

The first category includes things like medicine for the family, swim diapers, fruit leather, Crayola products, Fancy Nancy books, clothes from Old Navy, Shout wipes and my favorite moisturizer. The second category covers things like board games, pine nuts, spices, LeapFrog crap, various kinds of hair accoutrements for Kaia, Cheerios, Parents magazines, etc…

However, even though I am looking at the list and feeling a slight (and I mean EVER so slight) twinge of embarrassment, I am still open to things I might add to it! So I need to ask you this question:

What are some things that you just do not like to be without?


  1. I love lists. And my parents constantly carry out things for us - but the Australian challenge is that they can only bring 20kg each - no more! and so I have to prioritize on necessity and what the necessities weigh... the one thing we can't do without is childrens' medication and then usually Clint needs good coffee and chocolate chips (however these are now becoming more available). If we are lucky enough to have a USA run then the main things are shoes and kids cheap clothes as well as books! I love that I have found someone else with a list fetish; packing lists (my current list is for summer US shop that must last us through Christmas and birthdays...) goodness I sound so anal when I read over this again... !

  2. Mel, our lists sound eerily similar! Yes, Childrens' meds s #1 on my list. The comes the clothing/shoes for the kids, as well as a big old Amazon order of kids books! If there is any room leftover, then Jabiz and I get to put a few things in, like coffee and pine nuts.

    This year, my parents are coming to Thailand in late June, and then we are going to the US for Xmas, so my list is LONGER than ever.

    Oh, and I start my packing lists DAYS before I even start packing! Anyone who thinks we are anal has clearly never gotten caught on a SE Asian holiday having forgotten diaper cream or fever medication! Though when we go to the US, I really only worry about packing for the flight, because I know that anything we forget, we can just get there.