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We all do it. We feel slightly guilty and maybe embarrassed about it. We plan special trips to stores to make sure we get everything that we “need.” We even make sure that the airline we use to get back to our home country allows for a checked bag, maybe even two checked bags if we’re lucky (that is if our partner let’s us use their elite member status!).
We can’t wait to go home for the holidays! It is lovely seeing our family and friends. Some of us only get to see them this one time out of the year. But even though spending time with family is the number one reason we go back home each year, we also like stocking up on all the wonderful (and secret) items of our home countries!
Of course, I stock up on clothes. Many times clothes are cheaper in our home countries. They also have sales more often in our home countries. Our parents might have coupons that we can use to make the total price even cheaper. As another plus, some states in the USA don’t even have sales tax on clothes. Additionally, it is often easier to find our own size and understand the size labeling system! Don’t be deceived though, clothes can add a lot of weight to your suitcase, so plan accordingly!
One of the best feelings in the world is baking some food that reminds you of your time in your home country. There are just some spices that you can’t get while living abroad. One is high quality vanilla extract. Baking powder can be also hard to find. In many countries, it is basically impossible to find stores that sell other baking items such as dried cranberries, pecan nuts, chocolate chips, and the list goes on. It is worth it in the end to bring these ingredients back because there will always be that one night when you are inspired to make your favorite recipe that reminds you of home.
Garbage Bags and Quart and Gallon-Sized Plastic Bags
Now these items do seem quite ridiculous. Why bring these bags back with you when you can put so many other more important things in your suitcase? Not until you live abroad do you realize how crazy garbage bags are in other countries. They are typically super small, don’t have drawstring enclosures, and are more prone to ripping. I’m quite comfortable with making some space in my suitcase for a roll of garbage bags from my home country as I know I will very much appreciate having them throughout the coming year.
Tortilla Chips and Corn Tortillas
If you live outside of the Spanish-speaking countries (including USA), you can probably relate to this one. High quality tortilla chips are extremely hard to come by in many countries. You can usually find some brand (or if you are lucky, brands) of tortilla chips where you are living, but they are of a low standard that’s for sure. Even though your home country bought brand of tortilla chips might break a bit in your checked bag, it is still worth it to pack as you will definitely impress your other expat friends when you invite them over for a mexican-themed dinner. Corn tortillas are even harder to find and are a must to bring back for baking a nice batch of enchiladas.
It appears as if cooking spray doesn’t exist in other countries, only USA. Though to be honest, I have tried some host country alternatives. But, they are not the same in my opinion. As I like to cook and bake a lot, I find myself gravitating towards this product while grocery shopping at home. I usually buy two cans!
It is hard to find nice, quality salad dressings in other countries. Sometimes their version of salad dressing is definitely not to your liking, or they just don’t do salad dressing at all. It is a bit American to use salad dressing for a salad or dips, so I guess that is one reason they are not so popular in other countries. It’s true, sometimes they do import salad dressings from the UK and USA. But even if they state the same kind of dressing you like on the bottle’s label, it certainly will not taste the way you were hoping it would taste because of the generic brand that they are selling (a brand that you’ve never heard of and have never encountered before in your home country).
I just heard from an expat friend today that their expat friend used to fill their whole suitcase up with bottled water from their home country! Can you imagine?!? Must be some excellent tasting water!
With that last one being said, it is clear that everybody has a weakness that brings them to buy certain things while traveling back home.
You might say that the longer you stay at a school in a certain country, the less things that you find yourself wanting to bring back. But there seems to be always something that an expat wants to bring back regardless of their time spent abroad. It might not be the same things that they brought back with them their first year abroad, but there is typically something else that takes priority.
I have got to the point where I have a rule for myself: don’t buy anything that I can actually buy in my host country, even if it is slightly more expensive there and has a different brand name.
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