When it comes to travel, there are two different kinds of packers: those who are prepared for every contingency and those who throw the basics in their duffel bags and figure that when push comes to shove, they can always wing it. While there’s merit in both approaches, if you are in the “be prepared” camp, here are a few things you might want to consider putting in your suitcase before moving to Paris.
- Over the counter medications. For the most part, prescription drugs are more affordable in France but for some reason, it takes more effort to procure the things you might easily find on the shelves of an American drug store such as pain killers, cough and cold medicines, antacids, and special formulations for kids. Plus, it’s nice to have these on hand when illness strikes in the middle of the night.
- Small hostess gifts from your home country or town. A Canadian friend arrived in France with a case of cans of maple syrup, a lady from Virginia brought teas packaged at Colonial Williamsburg. Notecards by local artists and decorated dish towels also make nice inexpensive gifts.
- An extra supply of your favorite lipstick or any other toiletries which you consider essential to your daily regime.
- Some English language greeting cards. Your friends may appreciate a birthday card in French but if your great aunt Mildred ends up in the hospital, you might want to send “get well” wishes in English.
- If you have kids, consider packing a few generic presents for birthday parties that may take place during your first weeks in Paris, that is, before you have time to figure out where the toy store might be. If your kids will be going to an international school, English language books or craft kits are fine. If they’ll be in French schools, think about the language issues when making your purchases.
- Gift bags. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, gift wrap is extremely expensive in France and I have found myself more than once spending almost as much as the wrapping as on the gift itself. Do yourself a favor and lay in a stock of gift bags in different sizes. They will pack flat in the bottom of your suitcase and weigh almost nothing.
- An extra set of American-sized passport pictures. There are photo booths everywhere in Paris but regrettably, the photos are the wrong size for U.S. passports and visas. If you need to renew your American passport or have it replaced during your time in France, you will pay a small fortune to get pictures taken with the right dimensions.
- If you like to cook, but are renting a furnished place, don’t forget your American measuring cups and spoons.
- If you are bringing your American sized beds, think about packing an extra set of sheets for each bed . (European beds have slightly different dimensions.)
What would you add to the list?