What to bring to the island that has it all? Spoiler alert: a boatload.
I swear I'm not a heavy packer. I traveled the world for nearly 2 years with only a carry on and when I travel for business I never, ever check luggage. But somehow all of that goes out the window when you've got 5 kids and are moving to an island without easy access to goldfish crackers or sugar free maple syrup. We recently returned to Bali after the end of year break and we did not travel light.
For those of you counting at home, yes, that's 14 boxes and suitcases. Each one weighs about 23kg...so thats about 720 lbs of luggage! Plus carry ons...plus carseats...plus stroller...plus 5 kids...
You might notice in these pics that my kids don't look super happy. That's because our flights are at 11:30 at night and that's not a kid's best time of day.
So what did we pack? Laugh all you want, but it's mostly books, toys, snacks, body glitter and sunscreen. A few big ticket items like air purifiers for the bedrooms and outdoor string LED lights for the garden take up a few boxes too. I admit to least 100 pounds of goldfish crackers, sugar free ketchup, sugar free maple syrup, peanut butter puffs...My kids struggle with the local snacks options and I cringe giving them full sugar condiments.
So a few Costco runs later...we're ready for another 5 months in Bali!
I give thanks to the Bali gods for airport porters. These guys were lifesavers! Also thank you to this crazy Coronavirus for clearing out the airport and giving us a half full flight. I've never been through immigration as fast!
A quick list of things we can't find in Bali that we "need"
- our favorite sunscreens
- Hidden Valley Ranch
- sugar free condiments
- LED outdoor string lights with shatter proof plastic bulbs
- children's books
- tahini made with sesame oil (only coconut oil tahnini here and it is not the same!)
- goldfish crackers
- decent kid's footwear
- acrylic samovar for parties (we don't need this but I needed this!)
- colorful organic cotton sheets for the kids beds (unicorns, mermaids, sharks, etc.)
- inflatable SUP
Other stuff like air quality monitors, air purifiers, and outdoor projectors could have been purchased here, but they are wicked expensive and quality was dubious.
I blame the kids for most of the packing (convenient, right?), though I could just force them to adapt to the local foods...and games and books and clothes and shoes...but it's so easy to buy stuff in the US. And the irony that the consumerism is a HUGE part of what we are trying to escape isn't lost on me. Am I failing them by failing to adapt? Probably, but there is only so much I can adapt to without feeling frayed.
Bali is about balance. Bali is about acceptance. Bali is about pushing our comfort zone. But I'm a mom of 5 living in a strange land, dealing with sunburns, typhus (seriously!), dengue (yikes!) and weird snack foods. Sometimes moms need a little help...sometimes 700+ pounds of it helps a lot.