Just WHAT is in those 8 suitcases?(part 1 of 2)

Ravi and I have never been “light” travelers.  Carry-ons only?  Who ARE those people?  Where do they put souvenirs?  Their third pair of shoes?   We are, in fact, so in love with baggage allowances that we make a point of getting a specific status with United Airlines that allows us a free third bag and that all bags could be 70 lbs instead of 2 50 lb bags (or 1 50 lbs bag).

So we came back from the US with 8 bags (Ravi and I each get 3, Ellie gets 2), 2 carry ons and 2 personal items.  But what the hell do we actually pack in those bags?  I know the numerous porters, maxi cab drivers and raised eyebrows from other passengers would dearly like to know.

So here it is…8 bags of stuff

most of the 8 bags

Before we get into the 8 bags, let us start with Ellie’s “personal item” (aka a tote bag) full of things meant to keep her from irritating other passengers on 25+ hours of flying.  Things that help me in this mission are books (several Dr. Seuss, Pinkalicious, A Bad Case of Stripes, and at least one Sandra Boynton book), art books (two coloring books, a scribble book with the magic pen that turns the illustrations colors, and a painting book where you only use water to make the pictures appear and then they disappear once the water dries), a magnetic sketch square (not sure what the proper name would be), a lace up board, and (not pictured) the iPod.

Of all of these, the iPod gets the most use.  We’re pretty lenient with tv overall (in that we let her watch it…she only watches educational tv like Sesame Street/Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Disney cartoons like Aladdin and the Lion King) but on flights, the rule is that she can watch as much as she wants.  It’s the easiest way to pass time, and it’s not like I don’t empathize with the desire to just zone out for lack of anything better to do.  On this trip, she discovered a new educational tv show called “Little Einsteins” which features travel, classical music and art…so we downloaded several episodes and she alternated between them and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse primarily.

Ravi and I tend to amuse ourselves with games on our phones, books on our phones, the occasional in flight movie (I was pretty happy with the Japan/Singapore flight which had four movies I was willing to watch) and stuff we’ve downloaded to watch.

We are armed with multiple charging options as the most critical part of keeping everyone happy for the duration of the trip is juice to our electronic devices.  The one time it failed (when my laptop died mid flight in Nov 2010), it was horrible.  Luckily E slept a lot more back then, but I was bored stiff.

1-2 bags are filled with stuff we took with us, like clothes, shoes, camera equipment, etc.  I won’t bother showing you those.  Suffice it to say we are overly cautious, and most often have several outfits/shoes we never wear make the trip.

So the remaining 6-7 bags include…

Healthy and Beauty/Medicine—We’ve yet to find replacements for our favorite shampoos/conditioners that we really like, so we tend to stock up on those.  Deodorant is another frequently purchased item.  Ravi only wants to use a specific body wash that he can’t find in Singapore.  Some medications, like Zantac are over the counter and significantly cheaper in the US, so we stock up.  Vitamins also are cheaper.  We love Aleve Cold and Sinus and usually pick up a box or two.  I dislike the q-tips here (too flimsy) so I always get a giant box of them at home.  And, considering that this trip would be the last before I have the baby (and lose my free birth control) I also picked up my preferred brand of condom (no unplanned pregnancies, thank you very much).

My “system” for bringing bottles of shampoo (etc) halfway around the world is quite simple.  You double plastic ziploc bag EVERYTHING that is potentially messy (food, paints for Ellie, shampoo, etc).  Once around the individual item and then once around two or more ziploc’d items.  I have had some leakage, but I have never not had it wholly contained, something I feel fairly triumphant about.


This is the final sum total of plastic ziploc bags used for this trip.  I know it was over 60 because I went through more than one box.  But nothing was ruined, so I’ll call it a win.  Some of them possibly could be used again, but I choose not to.  I know…I’m bad for the environment.  But you should have figured that out when you realize I max out my luggage weight on every trip home.

Books.  A somewhat controversial item to purchase/pack as they take up far more weight than we’d like.  Generally we restrict it to books for Elanor (and now the baby), but Borders was closing, so we had to treat ourselves as well.

Of course, then there are those books which you can’t get in Singapore

Decorations for as many of the upcoming holidays as possible, especially those not (or not really) celebrated in Singapore, like Halloween and American Thanksgiving.

Halloween also means the necessity of purchasing a totally pointless costume as there is no trick or treating (I’ve heard rumors about Jurong near SAS, but have not verified them) and I could be in labor…but it’s my favorite holiday, so whatever.

More junk forthcoming in the exciting second part tomorrow!

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11 Responses to Just WHAT is in those 8 suitcases?(part 1 of 2)

  1. bookjunkie says:

    All the stuff looks amazing. I thought I was the only one who double ziplocked. Just curious. Could you share the brands of shampoo and shower gels that you use?

    • Crystal says:

      Ravi uses “Crew” brand shampoo. With his long and super curly hair, he needs a high quality shampoo and conditioner. The problem is that most of those are made for women, and smell accordingly. While he’s a secure man, Ravi doesn’t enjoy smelling of flowers. They have a great hydrating conditioner and daily shampoo he’s been using for a few years. I’ve been looking for local options, but haven’t loved anything yet.

      The bodywash is also his–Neutrogena body clear body scrub. While you can find some neutrogena products in Singapore, we haven’t found this, and Ravi swears that it keeps his skin acne free than other alternatives.

      Ellie uses a shampoo and conditioner from the scruples line…the smooth out curl control. I preferred the “twisted” brand by scruples, but either the line was discontinued or my salon stopped carrying it (I forget which).

      I also like the scruples white tea line for my hair, which is super fine and straight and prone to looking stringy if I overcondition it. However, I also use a line that strips excess junk from your hair called structural balance by TRI.

      I tend to bring back deodorant too, the Dove brand because it’s both anti-persprint and deodorant in one, and I’ve yet to find something I like here.

      Aleve cold and sinus, zantac and other meds top our list too 🙂

  2. michelle says:

    i so, SO understand. plus, you’re smart – we all learn what’s less expensive in the U.S. We were never caught ‘bringing in’ items that were sealed and not available there. We never did, but i was always suprised no one asked if we were going to sell those products in a foreign land.

    • Crystal says:

      I can’t believe the difference in cost for Zantac, for example! I get like 60 or more in the US for what I pay for less than 20 in Singapore! And with the heartburn I’ve been having, Zantac is not an optional medication!

      Someday I just know I’m going to be asked why I’m bringing all this crap into the country…I’m not re-selling I swear!

      What did you guys bring back from home when you lived in Asia?

  3. prongs says:

    An easier way to deal with soap/shampoo bottles is just to tape down/around the caps firmly. I always do this and my bottles have never leaked once. No need for ziplocs! 🙂

    • bookjunkie says:

      great idea…am going to try this next time.

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve tried that too, and it *is* absolutely effective. You are totally in the right 🙂

      I’m just paranoid and end up ziplocing on top of it just to be sure that clothes and such don’t get messy. Which makes the double ziploc the lazy/easy approach.

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  5. Sandy says:

    When traveling with the kids, I pack like that, even in the car. My kids can make me want to go on a bloody killing spree even when we have a 2000 sq ft house to escape each other in. Stuck in cars and planes with my own spawn is my worst nightmare. Add in other people’s kids and a judgemental public – horror. I go shopping just for things to do on the plane/car. The local economy feels a boost when the Soloves take a vacay.

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