Strange Things You (Would) Pack in Your Suitcase to move to BA!


Sep 22, 2009
I wonder...what strange - or not so strange things - did you bring with you that you are so glad you did?...or what would you/did you bring back with you now that you have lived here a while?...

I'm curious because I am sure everyone's "essentials" list will be funny, entertaining, and informative.

In my three checked bags, I am glad I brought....

  • A collection of those little plastic covered wire ties snipped off the top of bags of coffee because most food (including coffee) comes in bags with no convenient method of keeping them closed, and a clothespin is not always the best solution.

  • Nylon Pan Scraper (Pampered Chef makes them!) I use this all the time, for example when my tea light candle that only comes with ONE metal holder PER bag spills all over

  • My grandma's muffin tin - while the Argentine facturas o pastries are out of this world, I was homesick last time I was here for a homemade muffins.

  • A bundle of old lightweight, wire hangers (think dry cleaner style). It's worth it to bring less clothes, more hangers (especially if you are a small women's size-if you are over a size 10, I might reconsider, because most all of the inexpensive clothes here are small, small, small) because the variety and price of clothes here is excellent. And while I could justify spending money on the beautiful clothes here, I could not for the outrageous cost of hangers, in most cases nearly a dollar per hanger! I just could not justify spending forty or fifty bucks in HANGERS!

  • a lighter from the US because the ones here seem to break on me constantly...and they are necessary for almost every oven in the country unless you can afford upscale electronics (check TSA regs on lighters because they have changed over the years - I was told ONE in carry-on only, believe it or not, most recently I think). The spark works to light the gas ovens even when the fluid is gone.

  • My almost dripless to-go coffee mug; the ones I have seen here are the terribly cheap kind that leave you with coffee drips on the front of your shirt

  • a stock of fruit snacks (those little jelly things you eat as a kid)

  • Personal Electronic Items (one per person USED - or at least USED looking - or you will be taxed like crazy on entry!) No joke...the 2008 "iPod Index" (based on the Big Mac Index you may have heard about in Macro 101 used to test the Law of One Price) ranked Argentina the most expensive place in the world to buy an iPod!!

  • One of those heavy gray, wool blankets. While it doesn't get very cold here, the nights can get chilly because most of the buildings are way more drafty than we are accustomed to and the heating has been unreliable in the cheap apartments I lived in. A heavy wool blanket kept the heat in under the covers on the colder nights.

  • A big tin of cinnamon! I have had a hard time finding "real" ground cinnamon, just ground with no additives, though I did once in a verduraria in CÓRDOBA. The Alicante brand of canela is this terrible light brown powder that tastes like semi-sweet Red Hots candies - yuck! Great on medialunas but not to fill your cinnamon craving.

  • Licorice!!!

  • My old U-lock from home (though I wish I also brought a good cable one for larger posts) as well as a bright bright tail light - I use one from Planet Bike that's amazing...and a front and rear mini LED (I'm a bike rider in the city). Even though my U-lock is beat up and thirteen years old, they are uncommon enough as bike locks to deter thieves. I bought a cheap used 50 bike off Mercado Libre we fixed up ( what many might call DECENT bikes here are worthless as transportation because you can't park them anywhere), but I didn't want to invest double in a good lock, which is very very very important because bike thieves are very skilled here!
My list was (when I went back home to visit):

1) Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil - a large roll
2) Washcloths, the plain white ones
3) Crest white strips (not available here and when I had them sent by mail they wanted $400 pesos to get them out of customs) but no problem bringing them back in my carry on bagss
4) Garlic powder (large size)
5) Lipton iced tea mix
6) Hand held can opener (the common ones here are crappy!)
Most other things are manageable!
I didn't sleep with a teddy bear for years, but when I first started the process of coming and going from my hometown in 2004 I started bringing one with me that I've had since I was 7. He used to be white. Now he's sort of a greyish hue, and it's mildly embarrassing, but he has been a great comfort on more than one occasion.

Also, a ton of sunblock since it's so expensive here. And a turkey baster for Thanksgiving since they don't seem to exist in SA. Two credit and two debit cards plus cold, hard cash.

Oh, and a LOT of electronics, new and used. Emily, they didn't bat an eye!

But, I'm most grateful I brought the bear.
Oh yeah! I brought white strips, too! And my can opener barely opens cans, but fortunately the fresh vegetables are cheaper than the canned ones, so I don't use it nearly as much.

I found garlic powder at the Wal-mart San Justo!!!, but I took a 2 HOUR COLECTIVO ride to make the trip there to see what it was like. But I did find canned refried beans-brown AND black- there and little cans of green tomotillo sauce and tahini (though tahini and salsa is readily available in barrio chino).

Oh and Elia, no shame about the bear! I have a little stuffed puppy I not so creatively named CACHORRITO. I bought several copies of him (it's a him) ostensibly to leave one with my younger sister who is an elementary school teacher to have sort of a traveling teddy project with pictures of cachorrito in South America! But especially at first, I soon found him a great companion for a lone traveler. haha! I also brought two credit and debit cards (created a separate bank account at the same bank as well connected to the second card in case one gets locked for security reasons.) This has already served me because one credit card was cancelled for no fault of my own, but a security breach into the database of a third party lender....or so they say.
One electronic per person?

I bought a car radio for a cousing from and it is packed in it's original box.

Should I take it and repack it?

I am packing here in USA as we speak to leave on Thursday and need your advice.

White strips, aluminum foil and hangers are packed as per your suggestions.

Thanks everyone.
Not one item - my carryon usually holds 2 laptops, 2 cellphones, ipod, blackberry, etc. HOWEVER, I wouldn't bring something in in its original box. Unpack it. You are exempt from taxes if you are a tourist bringing something used in for personal use.

Things that come with me:
Iced Tea Mix
Hot sauces
Conditioning Treatments for hair (infusium, etc)
Replacement razor blades (lots & lots of those)
Contacts & Solution
Carolina Girl....

I will touch the subject as I have in the past....female personal they offer ob tampons and mini pads that are basically panty liners...stockup on your favorite brand!!!

Nice teas....if you are a baker...baking spices and/or sauces....Costco heavy duty tin foil.....favorite shampoo and conditioner....good skin care items...
vitamins...very expensive here and not readily many little things...

Hope this is of some help for you!
A torch.
Good Italian coffee.

Garlic powder you can buy in the Jumbo. I bought & don't know why cuz I don't use it.
I brought on a carry-on suitcase full of vitamins, electronics (notebook computer, eBook, digital camera), and a down pillow.

And my stuffed buddy came too--a plushy elephant named Elephanto who has been all over the world. He's actually Elephanto II. When Elephanto I wore out I found another on eBay since this particular stuffed animal has been discontinued.

If I knew what I know now, I would have brought chip clips for these Argentine condiments in bags that don't close, plastic zip lock baggies and decent saran wrap or aluminum foil.
victoria said:
If I knew what I know now, I would have brought chip clips for these Argentine condiments in bags that don't close, plastic zip lock baggies and decent saran wrap or aluminum foil.

Paper clips! They do wonders & are useless for papers, really.