In my suitcase: California to Europe

Here there are what I usually bring from California to Europe, for myself and for my friends

Eugenia Melián. 03/12/2015

Last week I was waiting for a relative at the San Francisco International airport and a plane for The Philippines had just arrived. I was mesmerized by the huge cardboard boxes the filipino passengers brought with them, I guess these were checked in with their usual suitcases.  Each box was massive and some people had two of them… I was desperate to know what was in those boxes. My cousin Marga explains in here:

«The Filipinos call the boxes Balikbayan or Alis Bayan boxes. Balik bayan means returning to ones country and Alis Bayan means leaving ones country. As long as the box conforms to the airline weight allowance, one can pack bulky things into it. Usually they contain food and presents for everyone in the land of their birth and the opposite when going back to their “adopted” home. We can also ship Balikbayan boxes without weight limit from the U.S. or any country that has a large Filipino community to almost any point in the Philippines, for a very reasonable fixed rate, depending on the size of the box, door-to-door!  Best deal ever!»


My mother used to do the same when she went to the USA from Spain to visit her siblings every year.   We lived in Andalucia from 1963 onwards and there were many things that she missed from America. We lived in a very rural area with no cities near us, and also, the items my mother missed were only introduced to Spain in the past few years.

Thin fast-drying bath towels, pretty stainless steel flatware, cake mixes, self-rising flower, ice tea mix, MiracleGro powder fertilizer for her garden, pancake mix, plastic labels for the plants, plastic-coated wire for securing the plants, a waffle maker, maple syrup, canned cake icing, an ice cream maker, drip-dry (non iron)  fabrics for making napkins in every hue of green or blue, a huge transformer for the American appliances.


My mother decided to ship these items every year in big boxes from the post office in Jackson Tennessee. They would take months to get to Southern Spain but when they arrived we were so happy! Not so much for the towels and MiracleGro  but very happy for the angel food cake mixes and ice cream maker.

A few months ago I wrote a post about what I bring from Europe to California when I travel .  I usually end up staying for a couple of months so I like to bring a few favorite essentials, like my mom but at a small scale. You can read about it here. And below is what I usually bring from California to Europe, for myself and for my friends who beg me to bring them back specific items that I have turned them on to. Here is my packing list:

Hanky Panky. Make click to buy

HANKY PANKY. Sexy but comfortable styles and one-size-fits-all panties and thongs in every color of the rainbow. In the photo: Hanky Pankies “promise to make women feel great about themselves, their undies and their sisterhood with other women who love the brand and consistently deliver an exceptionally made product that is feminine, flattering and known for its fit». I prefer the 4811 style and the “boy” shorts style, because they cover more of my bum.

Botanical Interests is my favorite brand. Make click to buy

SEEDS: I have turned on my friends to planting flower seeds wherever they have space: on a balcony, in their kitchen garden, in a pot on a terrace, you do not need a lot of space and you will have gorgeous bouquets to cut from may to october. In California you find the seeds everywhere, in most big supermarkets. Botanical Interests is my favorite brand because the drawings make them so appealing and are so visual that no one can resist them.

Above: Zinnias, Cosmos, Sweet peas and mixed cutting flowers grow fast and abundantly. For friends that have proper vegetable or kitchen gardens, I bring them dinosaur kale which is still impossible to buy in most parts of Europe,  and for those who have meadows or lots of space, I bring them the mixed flowers ones that are good for the bees and attract butterflies.

Melatonin spray from NutraSpray and tabbed files and clasp envelopes from Office Depot

Above left: Melatonin spray from NutraSpray. The best and fastest way to fall asleep naturally. Also they say it keeps you young and prevents jet lag. What else can I say?

Below: Tabbed files and clasp envelopes from Office Depot. I know it sounds peculiar but the industrial quality of the thick office envelopes and files are just perfect and cannot be compared to the flimsy sad-looking craft envelopes we get in Europe. Also the tabbed files have many options as to where you want the tab to be when you file them away (side tab, center tab). Very very practical, functional and cheap as well as better looking. I have been bringing these from America for the past 20 years.

Sport bras from Champion for Target. Make click to buy them

Above: Sport bras from Champion for Target $13.95. In every color of the rainbow.  So indispensable to wear under big slouchy t shirts in the summer if you want a low sleeveless T with no side-boob, or front-boob, or any boob. You can do a clashing colors thing, or go with the same tones because they also exist in earthy tones, otherwise, in summer, what on earth do you wear under a skimpy tee? These bras look like you are actually wearing another layer of clothes under your t shirts instead of looking like a mall rat with all your lacy underwear hanging out. I also use them for yoga under a scruffy cut-out t shirt. I figure that even if the t shirt is drab, roomy and purely functional, at least the bra is super bright and cheerful.

Kitchari Spice Mix. Make click to buy it

Above: From my favorite Ayurvedic website Banyan Botanicals I bring Kitchari Spice mix.  Kitchari is a detoxing and simple dish to make with mung beans and good vegetables. I eat this about 4 days a week. The spice mix makes it very simple to make. I also love and use their Mental Clarity and Blood Cleanse formulas. Check them out on their website above.

Triphala ayurvedic purifier

Above: Another  Ayurvedic food/supplement that I bring is Triphala. This is what Banyan Botanics say about it: “Triphala is recommended and used more than any other Ayurvedic herbal formulation. Popular for its unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the system while simultaneously replenishing and nourishing it, this traditional formula supports the proper functions of the digestive, circulatory, respiratory and genitourinary systems. Triphala readily removes excess vata, pitta and kapha from the body, bringing balance and proper functioning to the system. It is commonly taken as a daily supplement to help maintain balance of the doshas.* Even though triphala is found easily in Europe, I like to bring mine from Planetary Herbals. It is the brand that best works for me.

The latest paper editions for my favorites magazines

And last but not least: the latest paper editions of my favorite American magazines: Rolling Stone magazine, New York magazine, the New Yorker magazine. Indispensable.

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