I have been living this nomadic life since I was 16 years old. And although I love traveling, I am not much good at it. I can not read a map to save my life, I STILL have not learned the difference between left and right, I never wear 80% of the clothing I pack, and I have gotten lost in my own home-town, only to be re-oriented my Mr. Chef, who had never even visited that part of the country before.
But, there is one thing that I am particularly adept at: packing a suitcase so that it weighs exactly twenty-three kilos. I have an uncanny ability when on vacation to acquire enough stuff so that upon return each suitcase weighs exactly the allowable limit. An important skill. I know you're jealous.
Whatever, this IS totally an important skill in an expat's arsenal; you see, one of the most important facets of the home-leave ritual is shopping for all the lovely things that are unavailable and / or eye-gougingly expensive in one's host country.
So, you might be wondering what exactly it is that I bring back from the Promised Land (Target, I love you.) Here, let me show you:
New toys for Stella because I like things that are not plastic (ignore that phone; it was a pure nostalgia purchase) and don't go blip-blip-blip-bzzzzz-piew-piew-bommm-bommm etc. And nice toys are ridiculously expensive in Japan.
Also ridiculously expensive in Japan: children's clothes that are not ugly. So, I hit those sales HARD and buy up all of Stella's next season duds. I scored some amazing deals c/o Tea Collection and Polarn O. Pyret and Baby Gap. Because if there is one thing I will rarely do, it is pay full price for kids clothes. I want my darling to look darling. But I also want to be able to eat as well.
Stainless steal food containers. Because I have an obsession. Eff you, plastic! EFFFFF YOOOOU! And they are not available here, far as I can tell.
A medicine cabinet reup. I'm actually not really a big drugs person, though I have been known to throw back an Advil or billion, but it sure is nice to have familiar sickie products on hand just in case. Medications are strictly regulated in Japan (for example, the pill was only legalized in Japan in 1999), so (illegally) hand carrying in meds is totally the way to go. And seriously, who wants to decipher dosage info in Japanese when delirious with fever anyway?
Tastes of home. Chia seeds. Nutritional yeast. (Home must taste pretty gross.) Also, yummy treats for my personal chef. Because nothing says "I love you" like speciality mustard.
Oh, and other things that I forgot to add to this picture essay: SHOES (I am size ginormous in Japan); a hair dryer (after two years, I decided it was time to buy one); and crib mattress (don't ask. Also don't ask how I got it into a suitcase.)
What do you bring with you after at trip home?
A special thank you to Megan at SortaCrunchy for the idea for this post.