In 1975, American Express came up with one of the most remembered slogans of the time. An actor holding up the card, looked at the camera and reminded, “Don’t leave home without it.”
I started thinking about my American Express items, the things that I would now never leave home without, my living abroad must-haves. From there, I polled other expats to get a glimpse into their American Express items. Here are some things that, when moving abroad, expats would never leave home without.
Living abroad can expose you to new channels of life but television channels usually do not fall in this spectrum. No one that I’ve spoken to – and I mean no one – has ever had anything good to say about their new residence’s television programs (I would argue that language is a big setback.) In fact, in our third year here, armed with pretty awesome streaming websites, Husband and I decided to cancel our cable all together. But before we made this decision we bought a projector. The projector might be my favorite purchase of all time. All. Time. ALL TIME. Every Friday, Husband and I order pizza, choose a movie, and project it on a huge white wall. Once in a while, during the week, we’ll eat dinner and watch an episode of a show we’re watching at the moment: True Detective, House of Cards, GIRLS, Grey’s Anatomy. It is one of the few times where I feel like I’m home. Really home. Cozied up on my couch with nothing to do but vege out. Added bonus: you save money by not going to the movies but still get to watch a movie like The Avengers on a big screen… awesome!
I am an English teacher. I am a writer. I come from books. I like the smell of them, the turning of gritty pages, the feel and weight of a good book in my hand. But I’m also living abroad with plans to continue living abroad which means I have limited space both in our apartment and in our suitcases. I can’t take my collection of Paulo Coelho books with me no matter how much I love looking at these beautiful hardbacks lined up on a shelf (His new book coming out this August. YAY! Can’t wait!). While I still buy a few real books every year, the majority of my reading is done on our Nook and Kindle. E-readers just travel well.
Since I don’t have one of these helpful little millennium technology devices I will defer to the report of a fellow expat: “It almost goes without saying, but this thing has saved my life over and over again. What did people do before these devices? Maps, translators, apps… I’d be lost without it.” And when traveling in a country not your own, she might seriously mean lost.
DECOR / HOME
Tapestry / Roll up art
One friend has a huge tapestry hung on a large white wall, draped above where the television stands. Another friend uses it on her bed as a bedspread adding instant decor. Yet another friend uses her tapestry as her space to lounge on the beach. Often they’re super light. Roll up art or reusable wall stickers offer the same ease and accessibility. Wall. Peel. Stick. When you’re moving: peel off and reuse. Does instant color and design get any easier?
When my poll resulted with this answer, I thought Come on people, I want quality answers until I thought back to my first month here. The pillows I bought at Jumbo, the equivalent to Walmart, were TERRORible. They were fluffy in that fluff falling apart way. When I laid my head on the pillow, my head would sink to the mattress and the sides would raise up over my ears. I was drowning in my pillow. In the next shipment that my mother sent me from home, I told her to include my pillows and my comforter. My expat friend also added that “pillows could be expensive and hard to find.”
Sheets / Comforter
There’s just something about bedding that you’ve properly worn in – especially when you’re sick and just want to lay in bed all day. My comforter would be the next thing (under projector) that I would never leave home without.
My boobies don’t have this problem. They are small enough to stuff into any old bra but other ladies with their double alphabet sizes do have this problem. Similar issues could include being too tall and needing longer pants, too short and needing shorter pants, bigger than average shoe size, etc. Specialty items or sizes that need specific tailoring might be quite difficult to find in other countries – especially a developing one.
Crank up charger / Radio / Flashlight
For one friend who has lived in all developing third-world countries where blackouts, power shortages, and hurricanes often interrupt power, he insists that this has been a lifesaver. It runs on manual labor and for every minute you crank it it gives you 10 minutes of power. Pretty handy tool to have around, wouldn’t you say?
What item would be on your list?~Pack lightly. Live well. Move often. Repeat ~