If you’re planning on spending a year or more in a foreign country, the clothing thing is pretty clear – you’re going to need a week or two’s worth, depending on how much “specialty” clothing you like to carry around (overcoats, hoodies, hats, etc.). We’ll deal with the clothing part in tomorrow’s post. Today, let’s talk accessories – we’re going over everything that you’d want to bring with you except your clothing.
1. Electronics – For this one, you’ll simply need the big three – phone, tablet (if you’ve got one), and laptop. Yes, I have a big desktop, but I’m not bringing it. I moved all of my documents into iCloud and Google Drive. For folks who absolutely “gotta have it,” throw in the Kindle, and perhaps an extra small hard drive if your music collection is huge. Between the two of them, you’ll get 10GB for free.
1a. Electronics Adapters: As far as 120V adapters go, you can buy those in Mexico. Not as big of a deal as one would think. That said, bring 2 iPhone or phone chargers if you have them, as well as an extra laptop charger if you have it. Apple Stores and eBay mail delivery are not nearly as solid in foreign countries.
1b. Digital Subscriptions: Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with taking your Netflix, Spotify or Rosetta Stone with you to Mexico. (I pay $29, combined, per month for those three), but the selection may be a little different. Perhaps give it a shot for the first month, and then turn it off, if you don’t like what you see.
2. Toiletries: As you may have guessed, Amazon’s delivery terms to Mexico and Central America seem a little tough to understand – that’s why Costco and Walmart are such a big deal down there. (In reality, though, it’s actually pretty simple – Amazon has a duty-free global site. Their Amazon Global shipping typically takes 10-12 days. It’s really not that bad, and you can get all personal care and regular Amazon items (books, DVDs, etc.)
You may want to make one big Amazon order before you go if you’re into high-end toiletries like pricey moisturizer, fancy deodorant, and things like that. If you’re trying to avoid having to check luggage, keep the final order to multiples of the travel sizes, which are often cheaper than the big sizes (at least for men’s brands like Anthony or Kiehls), surprisingly enough.
2a. Prescriptions (or not): Depending on what kind of duration your trip is, the prescription thing may not be a big deal. For any drugs that you may be taking regularly, the easiest thing to do is to get them shipped from your mega-pharmacy (Walgreens/CVS/whatever) to a Mailboxes Etc. type place wherever you are in Mexico. One thing to remember: if your prescription is not for a controlled substance (i.e. Valium, etc.), you may be able to simply buy it over the counter in Mexico. Drugs that would fall into that category include Viagra, anti-depressants, and even cosmetic drugs like the eyelash-lengthening Latisse.
3. Books: This is a tough one, especially for people who don’t love electronic books. If you’re really attached to your hand-written journal, by all means, bring it with you. Other than that, “hard” (i.e. printed) books are going to be a pain to travel with in Mexico. This is where the 5.98 oz. Kindle really comes in handy.
One other note; this may seem a bit anachronistic, but it’s time to renew your library card, and perhaps to even get a SECOND library card, in the city where your parents live. Here’s why: you can usually get a nice, large library of digital books and audio books at no charge, as most libraries in the USA (and some in Canada) work with the OverDrive apps, which you download on almost any phone or tablet. (Yes, you can convert the Overdrive eBooks to Kindle format, but it takes 30 seconds to do it).
4. Other Work/Office Materials: Generally speaking, any Mexican rental office will have all of the typical office supplies that you’d find in the USA or Canada, so there’s no need to pack staplers or sticky notes. If you’re wondering how far Office Depot has gotten into Mexico, let’s put it this way. The Cabo San Jose Office Depot has a Facebook page.
In the next few days, we’ll look at the ideal suitcase of clothing – or, how to do Mexico, or pretty much any country, indefinitely, on 7-14 days worth of clothes.