On the forest trail near my house in Kyiv, a random display of the minimalist lifesyle
When I had a baby I wondered what I really needed to have with me when traveling. A friend gave me one of the best pieces of advice/wake-up calls ever: "All you really need is a boob and diaper. And you can probably improvise the diaper."
The following lists the essentials, and the one-level-above-the-essentials, for when we arrive jet-lagged at post, on a three-day-weekend, five miles from town, with no car.
Living out of a suitcase makes you pare down to what's really important. It's an interesting lesson. For me, the internet and tea in a real cup are the new boob and diaper.
Absolutely don't forget:
visa card/check book
Everything else is just a happy bonus.
salt and pepper
couple tablespoons of baking soda and baking powder in ziplocs
granola bars, rice crispie treats
tea, teapot (a metal one is least risky) and stevia
coffee cone, filters, coffee and grinder
My kids we're all, "DO NOT PACK THAT CHEESE WITH MY CLOTHES!" when I was scrambling for room in the suitcases. But we've all really been enjoying--and it's made the first couple weeks of dinners in Kyiv easier--the perishables I picked up last minute at Trader Joe's. Stuffed with MY clothes in the luggage:
no-nitrate turkey bacon
chicken Apple sausages
cheddar, lite jarlsburg, feta, parmasean
Sheets I bought a set of soft jersey sheets at Target. They come squished into their own little bag, so they hardly take up any room.
Comforter/blanket I am in love with my new silk comforter--lighter than down and less bulky to pack. For Stefan we brought his favorite marshmallow-type blanket. Camille is suffering with the welcome kit sheets and brillo pad blanket.
SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT PILLOWS. Or sent them ahead, they could have been waiting for us in Peter's office and even if we didn't get them until day 2 or 3, it would be better than the weeks we've been sleeping on these wads of dryer-lint.
Bought two pashmental-type turkish towels minutes before we left Washington. They are super soft, beautiful and light weight. I am much happier having them than just the extremely, uh, exfoliating welcome kit towels.
Clothing--whatever. Stefan needs more socks, but those are easy to buy if I can just get downtown. I have my summer stuff, plus jeans, plus some work clothes that I will be totally sick of by the time I get my things. It's chilly already here, it's been raining even, so I'm glad I lugged around a pair of boots all summer. Should have sent more work shoes, but even Kyiv has shoes.
School supplies packed in new back packs.
Dog leash. Some treats would have been nice too.
A deck of cards and books, kids are getting bigger and I don't need toys anymore really. Stefan packed his own juggling balls and Rubicks cubes.
In the past I have ordered a net grocer or King Arthur Flour delivery, but Kiev has a commissary, so we picked up chocolate chips and peanut butter, and the stores in Kyiv have oatmeal, popcorn and really good flour.
Some drinking glasses, (this is the second time the welcome kit gave us only plastic cups, ugh) teacups, mugs, wine glasses, the wine aerater and a vase for flowers. A couple more work outfits and/or spare shirts for Peter would have been good too.
The dog has taken living out of a suitcase to a new level. She has been sleeping in a suitcase every night. Next time, send ahead a doggie bed.