With a week left of our UK holiday, thoughts have turned to that all important question; what will we take back in our suitcases? When we first moved to Beijing, annual trips home would see us hauling back all things baby related. Formula, wipes, diapers, bibs, bottles, plus all sorts of creams and lotions. As the kids have grown, we’ve moved on from diapers, replacing them with school shoes, books, stationery, and clothes. We’ve always set one case aside for food items; proper Heinz ketchup, Helman’s mayonnaise, spices and herbs, squash, baking ingredients, oatcakes, PG Tips, and breakfast cereals. For me I can’t come back without stocking up on make-up, skin care products, haircare products, and medicines.
I asked a few of my friends what items they bring back after their summer vacation home. What are those goodies and essentials that they simply can’t live without. There were different reasons for bringing back certain items. The ingredient lists on imported goods in Jenny Wang or City Shop are often covered over with a big Chinese label, making it difficult to check whether things contain nuts. So for one family, where the daughter has a nut allergy, they prefer to bring back UK brands that they know are safe. Some items are just not available anywhere in Beijing, or are so over-priced it makes sense to buy them back home.
Some of the more popular food items seem to be breakfast cereals, particularly those that aren’t coated in sugar or chocolate, English tea, flavored coffee, squash, biscuits, vegetable crisps, protein bars, sport gels, and proper chocolate (Hershey’s and Dove just doesn’t qualify). Baking ingredients such as self-raising flour, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, cupcake decorations, and flavor essences. Cooking ingredients include gravy powder, custard powder, spices, herbs, cooking pastes, quinoa, and raw honey.
Healthcare and beauty products that we seem to miss from home are toothpaste, moisturizer, face cream, medicines, vitamins, plasters, shampoo, and hair styling products. Clothes that actually fit and don’t fall apart in the wash, underwear and tights, shoes (because it’s hard to find ladies shoes big enough), school shoes for the kids, running shoes, and sports wear, will all find their way into those bulging cases. And it seems the shopping doesn’t end until we’ve stocked up on plenty of magazines, novels, and kid’s books in airport departures. Gosh how I miss magazines…
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.