Comments 11

Weirdest thing you’ve packed or shipped?

When I lived in Singapore, one of my aunts shipped me a shoebox full of Heinz ketchup packets from the United States. Tomato sauce is not the same thing as ketchup!

People love to talk about the fresh encounters that occur when you move to a new country. The amazing new food you’ve never experienced or innovative fashion trends you’ve never worn before. But let’s not forget the things from home that just aren’t available in whichever new and fabulous country you live in. Maybe comfort food. Shoes that actually fit your feet.

Certain I wasn’t the only one shipping odd items, I asked other TCKs on Denizen’s Facebook Page what things they bought in bulk, shipped to themselves from home or had a friend or relative bring them while abroad. Here’s what they had to say:

“Bottles of Indonesian chili, curry paste, chicken rice packets, Laksa packets, pork jerky, fish floss, pork floss, shrimp chips and an Indonesian blow dart!” — Alaine Handa, 27, Singapore, Indonesia, United States
Photography by William Hebert

“Makeup. I noticed a lot of makeup in the U.S. is for pale skin, with a pink base hue. For Asians, the base tone has to be yellow.” — JeeYoon Park, 24, South Korea, Poland, Russia, United States

“Boxes of Danish matches. It makes me feel like home to light my candles with them. Weirder still, I bring home Danish cleaning cloths, which we use instead of sponges. My family thinks I’m nuts! I think it’s quite normal.” — Annette Rahbek Floystrup, 60, Denmark, United States

“I once brought 50 granola bars from the USA to France. And when we were living in Canada, my boyfriend went to the States and brought me back eight or so boxes of marshmallow peeps in all different colors. My parents would also make me bring them canned soup, pudding mix and cosmetics from North America when they were living in Sweden.” — Isabelle Meika, 24, Singapore, Canada, France, Indonesia, Sweden, France

“[I’ve] cleared customs with fresh butter, fresh bread and croissants from a bakery, camembert, cases of wine, a melting chocolate pastry, large bags of chips, pounds of cheese and donkey sausage. Silly customs.” — Esther Brumme, 30, France, China, Germany, United Kingdom, United States

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve packed or shipped? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. tech.sam says

    We build custom boxes for furniture my wife’s parents left in the Philippines almost a decade before. They had brought the furniture over when my wife was a toddler and that chair and secretary had been a standard feature in every house they lived in growing up. They turned up as stage set pieces at the school where we worked, and when we returned we knocked them down and packed them up.

    We also packed yards and yards of very nice fabric that we picked up from the local market of cast-offs from the garment district. We paid by the pound, and found the same textiles in magazines and up-scale shops for $20 or more per yard.

    And, there is the cast aluminum rice pot…


  2. Maire Paul says

    Depends on what’s weird! The weirder would be my self :-). The normal sentimental stuff would be: Marmite, Bovril, Bisto, Colman’s Mustard, Jelly, Walkers, malt vinegar, dried flowers from IC (Ivory Coast), atiéké, banana chips, peanuts(IC), beer…gosh there won’t be enough space to write them all!


  3. Sarah says

    We used to pack the cheese packets from Kraft Mac and Cheese to bring back to Thailand with us when we first moved over. One year my grandma came and brought an epic 36 packets of dried, processed cheesey deliciousness with her – of course, that was the year they started selling it in the stores in Pattaya! (FYI – it’s one and a half cups of dry noodles to one packet of cheese, just in case you ever need to know.)


  4. Market cheese! After staying in Korea for five yrs I realized Korean cheese would NEVER satisfy me. My dad’s business trip was like a beaming sunshine, “What(present) do you expect?” he would ask, my only answer? [Cheese]. He used to ‘smugle’ some unlabeled stinky cheese from Russia to Korea in his suitcase!


  5. Julie says

    When I moved to Romania almost six years ago…thinking I was gonna be there at the very least 2 years…I shipped a small crate…mostly clothes, books, craft supplies, and VBS material (I was going as a non-traditional missionary mostly working with kids). Also in that crate were pots and pans, dishes, and a few decorative things from the US and Peru to combine with Romanian stuff to make my apartment seem more ME. What people thought was the funniest stuff though that was shipped was my HUGE supply of tampons, refills for my razor, makeup, and enough cans and boxes of stuff to make all the traditional side dishes for a couple years for Thanksgiving and Christmas!!

    Stuff I’ve shipped or brought back in suitcases from Romania to the US include cherry sodas, Nutella (before you could find it easily here), and Airwaves gum!! Stuff I’ve brought back from Peru to the US include Inca Kola, various hard candies, and nougat.

    Interesting how a lot of the shipped stuff involves food!!


  6. Julie says

    Oh yeah, and jeans from Peru!! Forgot about those…they are cheap and the best fitting and cute jeans ever!!


  7. Brenda says

    I brought Nutella, soup mixes, and Fanta from Germany to the U.S. before they were avialable. Oddest was when the Army movers wrapped up our peanut butter and eggs (each one individually in wrapping paper). Not too good when we opened it all 3 weeks later!


  8. Tansy says

    Regularly shipped Sard Soap and Nappi san (stain removers) from NZ to the states. Also pineapple lumps, gingernuts and frozen lamb.
    Probably the strangest things though, were things we brought back for my uncle (the manufacturers didn’t ship outside the USA and so he’d get them sent to us and we’d haul them back to NZ with us) Imagine my mothers embarrassment when the customs people uncovered a set of life size plastic bulls balls in her luggage… At least the semi automatic rubber band gun was amusing rather than blush worthy. 🙂


  9. Sophia DeVera says

    This is easy (I’d need a BIG suitcase for this): Toothpaste from Edinburgh; tea from Chicago; nail polish & hair dye from the US; lotion from Malawi; clothes from Japan (if possible) & Hong Kong; glass & jewelry from Venezia e leather goods from Firenze; tourist brochures (comedy gold) + chocolates from Belgium; stroopwaffles from Holland; Krónur from Iceland and memories from home.

    There are so many things I’d like to bring with me (gai daan jai or “egg-shaped pancakes” from Hong Kong), but don’t travel well. On the other hand, I’ve lived in Singapore the longest yet, I can’t think of anything I’d like to bring with me whenever — and wherever — I travel “abroad.”


  10. Yillian Burek says

    My older sister packed a half a dozen glazed donuts from dunkin donuts for me when I was living in Tunisia


  11. Alexandra D. says

    Tampons, makeup and face wash/moisturizer from Australia, deodorant from Malaysia (used to be so expensive here) english magazines and chocolate from all over to China.


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