Anytime I travel, be it for 2 weeks or 2 months, there are always a few comforts from home that I miss on my adventures.
No matter where in the world you may come from, we can all agree that we each have our own favorite products and stores that we frequent. We’re loyal to certain brands and carry around extra knick knacks that we cannot seem to live without.
But after spending the past year and a half living overseas, I’ve started to miss these American staples more than ever before. So much so, that I’ve compiled a list of 13 American Products & Brands You’ll Miss Abroad
1. Chipotle - I think it goes without saying that I miss this fast-casual restaurant more than I miss most human beings. Let’s face it, the latin food outside of, well, Latin America is just not that great. Fajitas don’t sizzle. Guacamole sometimes comes from a box. Worse, a frozen box. And forget about choosing from pinto beans or black beans, let alone refried. Chipotle’s constant fresh ingredients coupled with affordable prices are something I frequently miss in foreign airport cafes or shopping malls.
2. Tide to Go Pens - These are unheard of outside of America and arguably one of our best inventions. It’s a little portable stain remover from the FMCG giant, made famous from that Super Bowl commercial in 2016. I happened to have a pen with me at a bar in Melbourne, Australia when my friend spilled her espresso martini all over her white dress. It worked miracles, instantaneously erasing the giant stain and preventing us from a night that could’ve gone sour very quickly.
3. PB&J - Sure, I can still make my own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wherever I find the ingredients. It’s challenging, though, because most countries have peanut butter that pales in comparison to JIF or Skippy (and if you can find the trusted American brands abroad, chances are they’re very expensive). Few grocery stores also carry grape jelly. So I’ve had to substitute for strawberry jam or raspberry, which is tasty, but certainly not a classic PB&J. Despite how hard it is to get this All American classic kiddie sandwich, sometimes you might be lucky enough to stumble upon Gerber PB&J in a single jar. I found a jar of it in the Philippines which took me down memory lane. If it weren’t for the $9 sticker tag associated with it’s import fees, that is.
4. TGIFriday’s Spinach Artichoke Dip - I didn’t even realize spinach artichoke dip was American until a friend was visiting me from New Zealand and inquisitively asked what it was on a menu. Thereafter, I found myself craving it abroad and could never find it in any restaurants. While I like all artichoke dips, I’ve always found the one from TGIFridays to be the best.
5. Crest White Strips - There’s a reason why everyone says Americans have amazing teeth. For me, it’s Crest White Strips. I use them often back home to keep my pearly whites even whiter. Sometimes I bring a small kit with me to make sure my teeth don’t stain from all the delicious coffee and sweets I eat abroad.
6. “Normal” Sunscreen and Tanning Oil - This may not be explicitly American, but its worth noting here that when you travel to Asia, so many sunscreens and face washes and lotions contain bleach in them. It’s a cultural difference - we in the West want to look tanner whilst they in the East want to be paler. So if you find yourself in Vietnam or anywhere around the region anytime soon, make sure you stock up on sunscreen before you go. You won’t find brands like Banana Boat too easily (or cheaply) and you will almost definitely NOT find any tanning oil.
7. Reef Safe Sunscreen - On the topic of lotions, for those who do a lot of swimming in the ocean (or anyone who cares about eco-friendly products), most sunscreen we use isn’t good for our oceans. Especially the aerosol cans. So another product I miss/love, and often have a hard time finding abroad is Reef Safe Sunscreen. It’ll help keep our corals alive and all the animals who live amongst them.
8. Laundry Pods - another convenience of laundry care back home are the little Tide or Downy pods. You pop one into your laundry and it contains just the right amount of detergent and fabric softener. They’re easy to transport too (as long as you put them in a plastic bag to make sure they don’t pop all over your suitcase).
9. Makeup from Sephora - I can often find Sephora in other countries (particularly Western countries) but it’s always more expensive! They also don’t carry all the same makeup (especially the extensive line of Sephora original products, which are a bit cheaper than but still just as high quality as some of the other brands). It’s a good idea to stock up on that particular brand of foundation that you love or a mascara because chances are you won’t find it overseas or if you do, it’ll cost you double.
10. Travel Sized Shampoo and Conditioner - Other countries are getting better at this, but for some reason, most places I’ve been to either don’t have the brands I love or they charge way too much for the <100 ML bottles. In the US, you can usually go to Target or Walmart and get all your travel toiletries for $1 - $2 each . For a consumer, that’s a steal.
Even better though, you can order them in bulk online. Some companies like Convenience Kit have all the best brands and the more you buy, the cheaper they are - sometimes even amounting to less than $0.50 per product!
Ordering these in bulk are a great option for businesses, too, maybe just before a big company holiday or attending a university career fair. You can print your company logo on the kits if you order +100. I used to have a few branded toiletries bags that I loved - got them from my university career days festival and it made me really like the brand (because what college kid doesn’t like free stuff?)
11. Venmo - While America is a bit behind some European countries when it comes to digitised payment platforms (and Asian/Oceanian), since we don’t have the instant tap-to-pay feature on our credit cards yet, one thing we’ve had for a while is an instantaneous money transfer app between banks. It’s so convenient to “Venmo” other people the exact amount of money you owe them while you’re still out to dinner, and it even works well if you’re taking money out of an ATM overseas with another American friend. (This way, you only use one bank account to take out cash for 2 of you so you don’t get hit with double the bank fees).
12. Stick Deodorant - On topic of travel sized products, or just toiletries in general, you’ll find that in some countries its nearly impossible to find stick deodorant. Instead, they often use aerosol cans (which are horrible for the environment), or roll-on deodorant (which is similar but feels weird and doesn’t stay on as well).