Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
When travels involve visiting friends or family, there’s often the pleasant custom of bringing along a gift of local or regional goods — perhaps oranges if you are from Florida, bagels if you hail from New York, bread from a favorite bakery, a particular specialty store’s branded products and so on.
When the travel is overseas, the effect is amplified, with those abroad craving things that simply can’t be obtained – or obtained at reasonable price points – where they live. And the items being conveyed get a bit less usual.
Planning a recent overseas trip, and knowing I’d be seeing an expat friend, I solicited his ideal “wish list” in advance. The request that came back wasn’t the typical one from abroad – hard-to-find electronics or clothing – but for a case of resealable, heavy duty plastic freezer bags.
Beyond food storage, I’m not sure what my friend’s need for so many plastic freezer bags entailed. Reader’s Digest suggests more than 35 ”extraordinary uses” for them and one blog maintains that they are essential to include in a disaster survival kit or bugout bag for “off-grid living.”
Regardless, my expat friend’s request for freezer bags is just one small reminder that the breadth of (affordable) choices enjoyed by the American consumer doesn’t always exist in even similarly industrialized, modern countries. I only wish I had seen the look on the airport agent’s face while inspecting my luggage: clothes for a few days…and 1,240 plastic freezer bags.