When we lived in Asia, we would head south to Thailand around Lunar New Year. Where we were, everything shuts down and it is cold and dreary so it was a perfect opportunity to let our souls thaw out with friends, food, and SUN! We would often be gone for at least three weeks, with a week or two of meetings followed by some vacation time.
When you travel for that long, you have to just plan to do laundry. There’s no point in trying to come up with three weeks of outfits — you can’t take a suitcase that big (even if you wanted to). For those three weeks, you will have a capsule wardrobe so you try to plan accordingly. To make matters even more interesting (read: stressful), my husband is a minimalist and he strongly preferred that we pack only carry-ons. For our family of four.
Now, I can certainly concede that there are huge benefits of this strategy: you don’t need to wait on luggage upon arrival, sometimes it saves you money, and you don’t have to worry about the airline losing your luggage. There are a few drawbacks, though, and they include extremely limited space for anything you might possibly need for 3 weeks (including medicines, books/toys), nightmares (that could just be me), and the problem of liquids.
Shampoo and toothpaste can be found easily in travel-size in both places, so that means we can easily pack some, buy more if needed. Our main problem in this realm was suntan lotion. The kind of sunscreen I normally pick up before a trip to the beach is fairly difficult to find in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, there are sun lotions everywhere. Most of them have skin whiteners in them, though. Womp, womp. That is not exactly what this already blindingly white-skinned girl from the West wants for her beach trip. Once in Thailand, you can buy “normal” suntan lotion, but it feels extra expensive.
We would often have sunscreen either packed in our luggage from America (when my husband never suggested we pack only in carry-ons) or we would request it in boxes from our families. So for Thailand, I would often end up with a gallon ziploc filled with 8 or so smaller containers of sun lotion. A few Aveeno for Kids 2-3oz bottles, a couple of sunscreen sticks for faces, and a few travel bottles I’d purchased, then squeezed my giant bottle of Great Value Sport Sunscreen lotion. Sometimes that was enough. Sometimes, we still had to shell out the big Baht for more. But then a new problem is created, since if we still want to carry all of our luggage on, we still can’t put it in the bag. If we knew a family staying longer, we would gift it to them. Sometimes it would be confiscated in security, but at that point, with two kids in tow in an airport, it stings a little less (the goal at that point is just to get home alive).
A small introduction to one first world problem of Americans living and traveling in developing countries 😜.