what i’m packing for five months in dubrovnik

After months of planning, I’m finally on my way to Croatia! Last year I managed to hit silver medallion status with Delta, which means I get two free 50-pound checked bags on international trips. I took full advantage of that, and my two bags each weighed in at just under 50 pounds. (That doesn’t include the carryon with a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries, and my computer bag stuffed full of electronics and medications.)

Happily, much of that weight is things that won’t have to return with me from Croatia. The advantage of having spent several months in Dubrovnik already is that I knew what I’d missed most, and could bring with me.

So, what’s in those overstuffed bags?

  • Lots and lots of clothing and comfortable shoes/boots, because I can’t buy anything my size in Croatia–and that includes two sizes of many things, since the 500 stair climb to my apartment resulted in me dropping several sizes during my stay! Vacuum-sealed “space bags” were incredible helpful here; I compressed the clothing, then stuffed those bags into a super lightweight non-wheeled duffel bag. It’s a bitch to move it around, but it allowed me to bring far more clothing because the bag itself added so little weight.
  • Two pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts french vanilla coffee. There’s plenty of coffee in Dubrovnik, but it’s all espresso ground. I missed my American coffee! (Oh, and coffee filters, too, though I’m hoping to pick up a small french press coffee maker when I get there.)
  • Maple syrup and peanut butter. I don’t use either one a lot, but when I do I really want them–and they’re very hard to find there.
  • Double-acting baking powder. In Europe they have only the single-acting type, which doesn’t work nearly as well for the comfort-food blueberry muffins I like to make.
  • Measuring cups and spoons, with imperial rather than metric measurements (see comfort-food muffins, above).
  • All the over-the-counter medications I might want, especially Benadryl (diphenhydramine)–which I discovered last time can only be purchased in topical form in Dubrovnik! Also, even though they’re available there, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium–because it can be hard to figure out brand names there, and because they’re only available from pharmacies which are open odd hours rather than at markets. And Sambucol, which is my go-to for avoiding colds. Prescription meds, too, which I got refilled right before I left–including Tussionex, a codeine-based cough syrup in case the Sambucol fails me.
  • A dual-voltage hairdryer.
  • My favorite moisturizer, because my skin is finicky about these things.
  • My computer, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, and Nexus 5. My new Bose earbuds. A rechargeable bluetooth speaker. A LimeFuel power brick with 15,600mAh of power and four USB ports. Multiple wall chargers and cables (lightning for the iOS devices, micro USB for the rest). US->European plug adapters. Two power strips, one specifically rated for 220v power.

Here’s what I didn’t bring:

  • Soap/shampoo/toothpaste and other basic toiletries, all of which are easy to get there.
  • A voltage transformer. All of my electronics do just fine with 220v power. The only thing I needed the transformer for last time was my Sonicare toothbrush, which I replaced with a simpler non-rechargeable version for this trip.
  • An electric blanket, tempted as I was. My apartment in Dubrovnik tends to be chilly, and I’d love to have one. But that’s something you really want to buy with the proper native voltage, so I’ll have to see if it’s possible to acquire one in Zagreb on my way down to Dubrovnik.
  • An international plan for my phone. I’ll keep my phone number “live” in my absence, but calls will be forwarded to Google Voice. I can receive texts still, which is critical because so many two-factor authentication systems require me to receive a text message, and switching all of those over before I left would have been a huge pain. Receiving texts internationally is free, it turns out; it’s just sending texts that incurs a charge. And I’ll get a Croatian SIM for my Nexus 5 when I arrive, and will use that for mobile data while I’m there.

I’m sure there will be things I’ll wish I’d brought that I didn’t think of, but I’ll be in Paris and London in March, so it seems likely I’ll be able to acquire anything else at that point (if not before then in a weekend trip to Split or Zagreb). And I’ll update this post with that information, too 🙂

25 January Update: I wasn’t able to find an electric blanket in Zagreb, though I didn’t look very hard. When I got to Dubrovnik, I ordered an electric mattress pad from Amazon.co.uk for about $50 including shipping, and it should arrive in about two weeks. I did find one in the department store here in Dubrovnik this weekend, but it would have cost over $60, so buying it from Amazon was a better deal.

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