The Grove – Pack

I’m convinced some people have the spiritual gift of packing.

I am equally convinced I am not one of those people.  Just thinking about the process of packing up my home makes my blood pressure rise.

Moving is stressful when you have a team of professional movers arrive at your home and pack everything for you and transfer it to your new house across town (or so I’ve heard).

But when you have to go through literally every single item in your possession and decide to either

a. trash it

b. give it

c. sell it

d. store it

e. ship it (for a zillion dollars)

f. pack it (into bags weighing not an ounce over 50 lb.)

for life in a foreign country you’ve never lived in before… well, “stressful” seems to be putting it mildly.  And that doesn’t even include the mile long list of things you need to BUY before you leave.

If this is you right now, in the chaos of packing up your life before you head to the field, here’s a big hug to say, “You are not alone.  Velvet Ashes is a whole community of women who have been there and done that, and we know how overwhelming it is.”

First, I want to first offer you a bit of practical help.  To do that, I”ll turn to someone who does have the spiritual gift of packing.  Check out Kelly Hallahan’s helpful post and for all those who are lovers of lists, her free Expat Packing Planner is truly a gem.

If your packing process looks much less organized, well, you’re not alone in that, either.  Just know that somehow the rest of us make it to the other side, too.

I thought it’d be fun, interesting, and hopefully helpful if all of us veterans shared the answers to two simple questions:

What’s the #1 thing you wish you would have brought when you moved overseas?

For me – spices.  Somehow, cooking was not on my radar when I packed.  That whole realm was so unknown I simply said, I’ll figure it out when I get there.  Big mistake.  We ended up eating scrambled eggs nearly every day for months.  Finally when November rolled around, I bummed some cinnamon and nutmeg off of my teammates and attempted an apple pie in my tiny oven.  Something resembling a pie was the final outcome and my husband and I both nearly cried at the first bite, something that tasted like home…

What’s the dumbest thing you packed in your bag?

Paper.  Yep, I brought paper to China.  And, no it wasn’t some special kind of paper, just plain, old… paper.  No idea what I was thinking.  Newsflash, they have paper in China.

Tell me I’m not alone in smacking my forehead and asking “Why did I waste precious suitcase weight with that??” Do you all remember your rookie mistakes?

Alright, now let’s take these packing tips to another level.

What do we do with all the baggage we carry with us that isn’t packed in our suitcases?  The emotional baggage…

I remember when all the pre-field books and trainers would say, “Living overseas will magnify any struggle you’ve ever had and bring out struggles you never knew you had.”  Well then.

Not exactly something you put on the recruiting posters, is it?

But … it’s true.

So here’s a few words about the emotional baggage we all unintentionally drag along with us to the ends of the earth… (Looking forward to hearing what you all have to add!)

1.  Resolve consuming struggles, physical ailments, and relational issues before you go.  It’s not too late.  A canceled plane ticket is better than crashing and burning on the other side.  For real.              

2.  Let God speak.  Regardless of how prepared you are, you are going to see your ugly come out.  Stress will do that to you.  But if you allow God to speak to you, it will be a refining fire.  Remember how you best connect with God, and then make sure you’re continually do that.  If you find Jesus in journaling, music, art, meditation, then see that those things are part of your new life.  And don’t let prayer and Scripture fall to the wayside in the midst of the transition.  Those are your anchors.

3.  You don’t have to prove yourself.   I think there’s something in most of us that wants desperately to do big things for God.  There’s a whole host of emotional baggage reasons for that.  But when you arrive on the field you’ll feel incapable of even the smallest daily tasks much less doing great and impacting things for the kingdom.  Feeling worthless can make you strive even harder to prove your worth and that’s a spinning hamster’s wheel that will only wear you out. (I just might be speaking from experience here.)

So before you board that plane, know that nothing you do or don’t do will change your worth in God’s eyes.  He declared you priceless when he formed you in the womb.  No great feats of service will change that and neither will any great failures.  You are his treasure, no matter what.

*****

 Now let’s here from you.

Newbies, what questions, fears, hopes do you have as you are packing?

Veterans, what do you wish you would have packed when you first moved overseas?  What’s the worst thing you packed?  What do you have to say about the emotional baggage you brought?

Come share on our prompt “Pack.”  Here’s how:

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45 Comments

  1. Elizabeth July 25, 2014

    I LOVE your thoughts on emotional baggage. All so true! I love how you encourage people to resolve their emotional issues before they leave, but also recognize, that no matter how well you do that, the ugly is going to come out anyway, and that can be good too, if you let God use it. Also love your emphasis on remembering how you connect with God.  Love, love, love. 🙂 Packing is so much bigger than the suitcases.

    But speaking of suitcases . . . the dumbest thing I packed was pencils. We homeschool, so of course we needed to bring our school books, but I assumed nothing was available here, and I would need to bring pencils with us. Never mind that there are schools here, and pencils are needed for school, so of course the stores are going to have pencils! (So I really related to your paper packing.)

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      Yes!  Packing IS so much bigger than the suitcases.

      And so funny about the pencils.  Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

    2. ErinMP July 29, 2014

      I love this story!

  2. Anisha July 25, 2014

    I’m so glad you shared the packing planner from Kelly! When I wished I’d had something like it when I moved rather than my pile of sticky notes and sheets torn from spiral bound notebooks. It wasn’t pretty.

    What do I wish I brought to Papua? Floss and index cards. Seriously.

    I could have done without my bathing suit. But I had no idea about the level of modesty here. Women swim in long pants, even jeans!, and t-shirts.

    And about the emotional baggage part, LOVE the don’t have to prove myself part. Even today I was wishing for something more exciting than my language learning process to write home about. To prove that I’m a worthy investment of people’s generous money. I know that’s crazy. I know it. Still, I feel it sometimes.

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      “Prove that I’m a worthy investment of people’s generous money.”  Wow.  Can we all just pause and acknowledge the pressure that that is?  The pressure that we’ve all certainly felt, whether we’ve said it aloud or not?  How many of us are trying to prove our worthiness?  And is that  how our generous givers want us to feel and live?

    2. ErinMP July 29, 2014

      I am discovering the same thing here….glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

  3. Laura July 25, 2014

    Danielle,

    I appreciate what you said about not having to prove yourself. I still struggle with this, even though I know people at home aren’t nearly as concerned about this as I am. As far as the dumbest thing I’ve ever packed – way to many scrapbook supplies. I’ve learned that I only need to pack about 1/4 of what I think I do.

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      Ha!  Now that’s a good rule of thumb – pack 1/4 of what you think you need!

    2. ErinMP July 29, 2014

      Amen to that Laura

  4. Jennifer July 25, 2014

    When I first came to China the one thing I missed the most and needed more of was things that I could read that were in English. That was five years ago now, so access to things like the Kindle, and books I have acquired since have made a difference to that now. I would still put books or access to books in my “essentials” category. Part of the reason for that can simply be that reading is one of those things which helps me relax when I am stressed in any way, so it may be for you, that something else really is more important.  If you know the things which help you the most when you simply need to switch off as it were, and take some time for yourself, in the midst of the challenges which are part of our lives, then if you can I would consider including them, or access to them, into your packing plans. I am beginning to think that we should each simply include something in our packing, in our plans, that is for us personally, to spoil ourselves when we need it most. The best thing which be different depending upon us personally.

    On the personal side of packing, and after not having this for a long time in the last year when I perhaps needed it most, I would try to have at least one person somewhere in the world (not necessarily where you are… though that is good too.. just harder or maybe impossible depending on where you are), that you can speak openly and honestly with when you hit the challenging times, which are I think an almost inevitable part of living and serving where we do. I agree wholeheartedly with what Danielle said about continuing to do whatever things help you the most in staying connected with and listening to God… whatever that is for you. More than anything else, that needs to be a priority. I know that for me, it was the fact that I kept doing that, even when much was overwhelming, that made a great difference to me. If including some things in your packing will help you with that, then include them in your physical packing.  Finally I think we need to pack an openness to change, to being challenged and to allowing God to work in us to enable us to do what he has called us to do. We need to not be afraid to say that this is challenging, that it is too much for us to do alone, because it simply is true that it is. We are not expected to do it alone, in our own strength. We are part of one body, we need each other.

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      Absolutely.  An e-reader has been a complete game changer for me.  Reading is life-giving for me too.  And yes to having someone to be there for you.  Even asking a friend before you leave to be that for you through regular skype calls.

    2. ErinMP July 29, 2014

      I agree with the books. Books in general help me unwind and stay sane-feeling… Christian devotions help me think outside of the box (and with lack of English-native speakers here that is helpful), so important. I have definitely made it a priority to keep my prayer-journaling/Bible reading together here! Thanks for the encouragement! And needing someone to honestly talk to! A girl I had met who went to Thailand before me told me she talked to her parents every day…I’d have to say I agree with that one. I think sometimes, why did I come here single? But I’m sure I’d still need my parents and friends back home even if I was married. 😉 And I agree with Danielle and Kelly about naps!! “He gives sleep to His beloved” (Psalm something…).

  5. Kelly July 25, 2014

    Such a great reminder!  Thanks for the encouragement to connect to God.  As I sit here with a bunch of things that still need to find a home in our house, I am tired and perhaps the most godly thing I could do is take a nap!  We’ll see if the kids will let that happen 🙂

    But as for what to bring- whatever tastes like home, or tastes of the seasons (peppermint at Christmas, bag of blueberry muffin mix in the summer, pumpkin spice VIA in the Fall, etc).

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      Yes!  Seasonal/holiday items are so nice to have.

      And I’m a firm believer in the godliness of naps. 🙂  Hoping you get one!

  6. Lindsey July 25, 2014

    I have only been on the field in SE Asia for a few months so the packing issues are SUPER fresh in my mind. The thing I wish I had packed? My sheets and bedding. At the time I thought we did not have the room but little did I know that sheet sets here come with a fitted sheet and pillow cases. That’s it. My husband and I slept on our mattress  in sleeping bag liners for many weeks. When we were able to get our sheets through a friend coming into town, I loved that they smelled like home.

    Dumbest thing I packed would have to be my huge breast pump since my 10 month old weaned during the trip over-moving stress not good for the milk supply.  Even if he hadn’t, it wouldn’t have worked in the plugs here anyway! I have discovered that you can get a ton of baby supplies, including a breast pump, over here.

    I’m still a newbie so the emotional issues have not been too bad yet; although I do find myself short tempered and frustrated much more easily and often. My poor husband takes the brunt of it since we are together most of the day. But I have found that time in prayer is so essential-even if I get nothing else done while the baby is napping!

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      That’s awesome that you prioritize prayer time above everything else while the baby naps.  And the breast pump and electrical outlets reminds me of  a really expensive baby video monitor that someone had gifted to us.  I took it to Asia, plugged it in and fried it!

    2. ErinMP July 29, 2014

      Same– more easily frustrated (I took mine out on a tonic water bottle cap…it took me fifteen minutes to open it. In the states, I kept thinking, this would take me two seconds! Everything takes more time!), and so worried that I’m missing cultural cues. I decided today to stop stressing about that. They know I’m American, we’ll just have to work around that and vice versa haha.

      Oh, I wish I had brought sheets too! Heck, I wish I had brought my own air mattress since I think my bed might have bed bugs…and there’s no replacement…

  7. Amanda July 25, 2014

    Thank you for the great reminder to take care of emotional baggage and to now let your time with God go to the way side. I love that you mentioned that you don’t have to prove yourself. I am in the throws of packing right now and am staying at my parents. My mother is all about image, there is no place for emotions, she has told me a number of times that you have to prove to people that you are worth supporting and just keep pushing through even if you are not alright. While I don’t believe any of those statements it is hard not to let it creep into your thinking.

    Packing for the first time, I left for two years and brought next to nothing. I guess I was thinking I could get it all there. Well you couldn’t. So this time I hope that I am not going overboard with the packing. I am trying to keep it simple, but this time I am packing some photo’s, recipes and spices.

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      “You have to prove to people you are worth supporting and just keep pushing through even if you are not alright.”

      Wow.  Yeah, it’s one thing to not believe that in your head.  But to have been raised with that kind of image worship is huge.  Praying grace for you, sister, and for the freedom to be not alright.

  8. Colleen Mitchell July 25, 2014

    My biggest advice about packing is don’t get overly practical. Leave some space for a few beautiful things for your home, a few sentimental items, your favorite board game, something that makes you laugh. Bring one clothing item that makes you feel beautiful even if it is totally inappropriate for your climate and you have no idea where you’ll wear it. Bring lingerie! Bring some wonderful smelling candles that comfort you. Bring perfume or lotion that rejuvenates you. Bring some memories–one photo album, or one baby item from each of your children, the DVD of your wedding. Something that connects you to your history. Bring cake mix and chocolate chips. And Louisiana Cajun seasoning…oh wait, that’s only if you are coming to visit me 😉

    But you get the idea. Stop in your packing frenzy and think about what will be bring you comfort in the midst of stress, what will make you feel good when you are feeling totally inept, what will kick your marriage back up a notch when it gets a little neglected, what will connect you to home and people you love when you are homesick, and what will make you feel like you still are who you always were and that is okay…I like to light smelly candles and wear pretty clothes. That does not make me a bad overseas worker.

    Now when we travel to the States, I reserve one bag for items like this. I never actually end up taking up the whole bag, but simply giving myself that permission not to always have to think practically, the freedom to bring a bit of beauty and whimsy into our lives,  is liberating for me.

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      I love, love, love this!!  “The freedom to bring a bit of beauty and whimsy into our lives.”  We can be such a practical bunch, can’t we?  Your words make me think of how pleased Jesus was with the alabaster jar of perfume…

    2. Kristina Krauss July 28, 2014

      Fabulous!!!  The things I brought that had those meanings are what I am most grateful for. I used the candles, I play settlers with whoever will join me, and Im lovin muchin on a few ginger snap cookies.

  9. Nancy Chambers July 25, 2014

    Spices!  yes, and a good can opener,  are the things I wish I had packed.  We also reserve room for good coffee beans.

    The dumbest thing:  a hair dryer and curling iron.  We were going to the tropics (Madagascar) so what was the point?  One minute later, my curly hair does what it does.

  10. Beth July 25, 2014

    So jumping in again I have been working on the packing deal with short term to eventual relocation.  I love the practical but the biggest issue is the emotional packing and unpacking.

    Even though we dont leave again until January we have started gathering items to take down. I am the thrift queen 🙂 The website has been a beautiful encouragement to my life. Thank you all from sharing from your heart…the laughter and the tears. The real and the funny.

    As a newbie my biggest fear is…not being enough. But in reality it is a crucible time a sharpening and healing in ways I could never imagine.

    And it has dusted off the writing…

    http://nicaraguacalling.blogspot.com/2014/07/suitcases-baggage-and-bird.html

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 25, 2014

      Beth, we are so thrilled that you’ve found us here and that this place has spoken to you.  Love hearing that your writing has been resurrected.  And as for not being enough…well, join the rest of us. 🙂  We’re all not enough and yet declared enough, made wholly enough by Love himself, right?  May that reality sink in for you and for me.

  11. Meagan July 26, 2014

    Currently sitting in the departure terminal waiting for my final flight back. A good can opener and vegie peeler have been the happiest things I have ever packed in my suitcase. I am actually being a can opener back for a friend. My bags push the limits with the amount of teaching supplies and childrens books I try to cram in. I attempt to scan as much work stuff as possible….where would we be without electronic copies of that giant pile of paper. After 3.5 years my parents finally got me a kindle (I have been using the app on my laptop and phone) so there goes the need to bring books for me. I always bring dates as I love to bake with them and they cost the earth where I am. Pack something appropriate to wear for a wedding (I am so grateful someone prompted me of that) and if you are in a country that dresses modestly light cardigans and shrugs are something I always pack. And due to having non asian sized feet I pack some new cute shoes so I don’t feel doom to live in flip flops and ugly crocs.

    1. Danielle Wheeler July 26, 2014

      Would you have ever guessed 4 years ago that a can opener and veggie peeler could bring you happiness?  Haha.  And I’m right there with you in the non-asian sized feet!

      May you be blessed as you settle back into life there…

    2. Kristina Krauss July 28, 2014

      Me too! Living in Latin America with non-Latin-American sized feet. 🙂 Always gotta pick up some shoes size 10. I’m in a weird place right now because some overseas workers that had brought everything just decided to go back to the States and they left me soooo much! So, for now, I’m overwhelmed with a million delightful things from the States that would have taken me years to gather. I have a new attachment to my kitchen aid, a pile of 4th of July decorations, and TONS of chocolate chips! Its a blessing, but pretty numbing too.

  12. Jen July 26, 2014

    I went out and bought a nice pair of snow pants and snow boots even though I knew it didn’t snow but once a year where I was going.  I had never lived in a cold climate and thought I would wear them on a regular basis to keep warm.  The boots got a couple wears out of then, but the pants weren’t put on once…oh the things I could have brought instead…like my ceramic pie plate, which came later and has brought us many delicious meals and treats.

    Danielle, as I sit surrounded by supporters, family, friends and don’t forget the ever growing mound of things that need to be packed, it was timely to be reminded to spend time with God.  Can’t the very reason we go sometimes get lost in our own personal life?

  13. Grace L July 26, 2014

    I want to share  a funny story about packing for living overseas. Back in the spring of 2007 as we were in the process of moving to China, we really wanted to bring our 2 inch memory foam mattress topper (beds are very  hard here). A friend gave us a big old suitcase so we folded the mattress topper to fit into the suitcase and added a lot of other cherished items for living overseas. My husband was recovering from surgery so I had to take on a lot of the work of checking in at the airport, and we booked him a wheelchair for getting to the plane. All went well and we were waiting to go through security when I heard my name being paged. Uh oh, what could be the issue? At the check in desk they told me that one of our suitcases had broken. At 5:30 am none of the little shops were open, except one where I could buy some big straps. Someone took me down to the luggage area, and sure enough, that mattress topper was trying to escape the suitcase with the zipper ripped open. It was blazing hot down there and the airline lady just stood there and let me struggle with strapping the suitcase and then wrapping it with copious amounts of duct tape. By the time I emerged to the air conditioned departure hall, I looked and felt exhausted and a mess, and by this time, we were running very late for catching our plane. The guy in charge of transporting my husband in the wheelchair took one look at me and said: “Lady, I think you need a wheelchair too!” I was a bit embarrassed but took up his offer. I plunked in to the wheelchair and balanced the backpacks on my lap and this big, strong guy wheeled both of our wheelchairs, one in each hand, zooming through the hallways at breakneck speed, whisked us through security and right down the ramp to the door of the airplane, just in time. And at subsequent stops in Dallas and then Tokyo, there were two wheelchairs waiting for us to transport us to our next flight. When we finally arrived in Guangzhou, we politely declined the wheelchairs and walked, not wanted the customs folks to think we were disabled in any way. For 7 years now we have been blessed with sleeping with our memory foam mattress topper. It had definitely been one of our most favored possessions that we brought from the states. And the biggest waste for taking up space and weight in our baggage was the big cast iron fry pan. We very seldom ever use it, having found such good fry pans at Ikea. Anyone want a cast iron fry pan? Sorry, we won’t give up our memory foam mattress topper:)

    1. Ashley Felder July 26, 2014

      How funny! I’m contemplating how I can bribe my husband to let me bring back a cast iron pan! I’ve searched high and low in China for one. Maybe Taobao will have a good one (that will fit in my tiny oven) by the time we return. And, I’m TOTALLY with ya on the foam mattress. We’re currently sleeping on one at my parent’s house and I told my husband he had better figure out a way to get me one when we return. 🙂

      1. Grace L July 27, 2014

        Seriously, Ashley, do you want our cast iron pan? I’d be glad to ship it to you, and happy for it to find a new home. As for kitchen supplies, we brought a lot over when we came, but now that we have discovered Ikea (during our travels to Guangzhou), we have bought a lot of helpful things there. The most important kitchen supplies for us were the measuring cups and spoons. We have not been able to buy any accurate ones either here in China or out in HK.

        1. Ashley Felder July 27, 2014

          Wow, Grace, how thoughtful of you! First, we’re not there right now. We’re on home leave until February (we hope), and we don’t know where we’ll be once we get back. So, if that defers you, I understand. If not, could you measure it for me? I’d love to be able to put it in my oven.

          1. Grace L July 30, 2014

            Hi Ashley. For sure we can save the cast iron pan for you. It is 12″ diameter with an extra 4.5″ handle. If that size would fit in your oven (do you make corn bread in it?), I would be most happy to send it to you once you are back in China. No need to carry such a heavy item in your precious luggage space. Save it for the memory foam mattress topper:)

             

          2. Ashley Felder July 30, 2014

            If you insist, Grace! I don’t know exactly what size our oven is (yes, it’s for cornbread–but the possibilities are endless!), so I’ll have to contact you when we get back. Perhaps not until February. Do you have Facebook?  If so, you can look me up or shoot me an email so I have yours: ashley.felder@elic.org

          3. Grace L August 1, 2014

            Hi Ashley. I will send you an email this weekend so we can connect in more depth. It’s been an exciting and busy week around here so I haven’t had much time for writing. Blessings, Dorothy

          4. M'Lynn August 21, 2014

            I’m late in reading all this…and now I’m back China side. Just wanted to say “YAY!” for Ashley. You get a cast iron skillet. My husband toted one across the ocean last year and we use it every single day. I love it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever cooked in. I especially LOVE using it to make homemade tortillas.

    2. Kristina Krauss July 28, 2014

      wow Grace! Awesome idea to bring the mattress topper! You might just find me in an airport next year with a bulding suitcase!

  14. Ashley Felder July 26, 2014

    I wish I had packed more “homey” type stuff. Moving 3 times in 4 years seriously dampered my visions of turning our cement-walled apartments into homes. (Hoping our next place we’ll be able to stay put for a while!) But some more photos, or even crafty things to create decor would’ve been helpful. And, I’m with Danielle on more kitchen supplies. I didn’t know how to cook before going over, so I naturally didn’t think about that stuff. Now, my list contains mostly kitchen stuff and food items. 🙂

    Silly things I packed: way.too.many.clothes. What can I say, I’m a girl? But it was silly. I don’t know about you, but while overseas, I definitely take on the “I don’t care what I look like” attitude. Especially since I’m at home with my kids 80% of the time.  And like some of you taking office supplies…we took several packages of our favorite pens. Then, it made sense..how could we function without our favorite writing utensil?! Our priorities have shifted slightly. And hey, whaddya know, I like the pens in China just the same!

    “Feeling worthless can make you strive even harder to prove your worth and that’s a spinning hamster’s wheel that will only wear you out.” Emotionally, I struggle with this still, every time we land! Maybe someday I’ll learn…

  15. Kristina Krauss July 28, 2014

    Oh… the love of packing. It’s part of the joy of going to the other side where the grass is greener. When I am home in Mexico, I can’t wait to go “home” to Oregon. We go back to Oregon for 1 or 2 weeks every year, usually in the summer. This time my husband couldn’t make it, and I got to participate in a special inheritance day to divide up all my parents belongings amongst our 4 siblings. I got so burnt out on “things” that I ended up numb wandering Walmart wondering what I should spend my few pennies on to fill up my 2 bags of 23 kilos. (I like to push the limit of 50 pounds, and go just a little heavy. They usually let me get away with it. jijiji) What things will I kick myself later for not getting??? I made sure to re-stock my spices for the year, and the basic medications like ibuprofen, Nyquil and Benadryl. I also enjoyed replenishing my shoes, since my huge feet don’t fit the shoes they sell down here. From there I just wondered numbly, allowing myself to just buy whatever little thing I wanted. I have never done this before. I have always gone with a list, and panicked about what things I would not want to live without for another year. I always stock up on thanksgiving things. I know I can make everything from scratch, but I don’t have the time. So every year I get stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy mix, and green beans. This time I wondered and just let myself get stupid little stuff if I wanted it. I picked up a gadget that squeezes the toothpaste from the bottom to get all the goop out. I got some jewelry that looked pretty ‘gringo’. I got some sticky notes that were a little different than what I can get here. I bought a sharpie because it was so cheap. And for a special food item that I cant get in Mexico, I picked up a bag of mothers ginger snaps. jijijiji I can’t tell you if this random numb-shopping is a good idea. I guess I will let you know next year if I end up kicking myself for not planning. But at least I can get all the toothpaste out of my tube now.

  16. ErinMP July 29, 2014

    Thanks for the emotional baggage advice!!

    I wish I had checked dress code, packed more socks and airline-allowable bug sprays and treatment, nonperishable food, and my own bed sheets. I could have done with less notebooks…I pretty much did the same paper thing now that I think about it haha. I mean I packed nice journals but dude, I could get those later. Bug spray is needed NOW.

    I’m a newb!

    Already packed…but sadly I wasn’t worried about anything, really, except not having enough room for my books. I wish I had researched a little more! I “knew” the culture, but not the environment I was going into!

  17. Grace L July 30, 2014

    One small item that is so helpful to us here in China is Resolve Stain Stick. One stick lasts a long time but sure helps with the stains, and especially so when we can only wash in cold water. I have searched in China and HK but have not found it or any viable substitute.

     

  18. Kristina Krauss July 30, 2014

    YES!  I just brought a stain stick down with me on this last trip. What fun to find people who are going thru what I am going thru. I guess that is the idea with this website. I’m so glad I found ya’all. 🙂

  19. M'Lynn August 21, 2014

    One of my favorite things I packed this year was my “Shark” electric sweeper!  All of my family have them back home and I used to think they were silly, but….WOW! I am winning the war on crumbs with one hand while holding a baby in the other. I’m still so happy it’s dual voltage.

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