Second semester is almost here—which means either you or a bunch of your friends are packing bags, digging up passports and leaving roommates behind while prepping for the very best semester yet. Whether you’re traveling to Europe, South America, Asia or Australia, you’re about to experience the never-ending food coma of a lifetime. Pastries, chocolate, drinks and more—unlike anything you’ve ever tasted here at home—await you.
There are, however, a few items that aren’t available abroad that you will, undoubtedly, start to crave. We’ve compiled a list of items that you can (and should) take with you for when those cravings call and the thought of waiting months to have your favorite food seems too much to bear.
Take it from those of us who’ve been there—it’s worth squeezing any of these foods that you can into your suitcase, no matter how many times your parents tell you that you’re being ridiculous. Unfortunately, bagels, self-serve frozen yogurt machines and chipotle burritos don’t travel well, but these foods do:
1. Protein Bars
If you’re a protein bar fiend like myself, you’re going to want to bring a suitcase solely for your Luna, Cliff, Pure Protein, Kind and Quest Bars. In the rare chance that you do find a protein bar abroad, it’s coming from condensed milk or nuts (which comes with tons of fat). These’ll come in handy in between classes, for quick breakfasts or for when your host family serves something you’re not so fond of. Throw as many as you can into your suitcase without going over the weight limit, then have anybody visiting you from the US re-stock you when they come.
Breakfast in many other countries consists of toast, cheeses, meats and foreign-labeled yogurts—so when you wake up hungover and wanting a comforting, sweet and brown sugary bowl of carbs to get you through the day, you’ll be glad to have oatmeal on hand. Instant oatmeal packets are light and easy to layer in between clothing, so don’t hold back on throwing a bunch in your bag.
Mac ‘n cheese, especially Kraft, isn’t sold in supermarkets abroad. Bring a few cups of easy mac or some boxes of Kraft spirals and thank us when you need that taste of home.
4. Peanut Butter & Peanut Butter Cups
It’s a travesty, but for some reason that anyone hailing from the US will never understand—peanut butter is basically non-existent abroad. Yep, you heard us. Our peanut butter and jelly sandwich is their cheese and ham sandwich, our Reese’s butter cups are their Kinder hazelnut-filled bars, and if you want to eat peanut butter straight from the jar—well, you’ll just have to resort to Nutella (or Vegimite if Australia is your new home). Bring some Skippy with you, no matter where you’re travelling.
Okay, you can easily find gum just about anywhere—but it’s not like the gum you’re used to. Even the same brands that are sold here, like Five and Orbits, seem to loose flavor in a minute or less. Stock up on the good stuff while you can.
6. Goldfish, Chex Mix and Pretzels
There are tons of new, bizarre-flavored snack items to try abroad, and I fully encourage purchasing every flavor of Lays or Doritos that you can get your hands on. But if you’re one of those people that has an addiction to a certain American favorite—like Goldfish, Chex Mix or Snyder’s—you probably won’t find ‘em abroad.
If you’re not doing a homestay and are cooking for yourself, superfoods like Quinoa haven’t yet become trendy overseas. If you’re into things like Quinoa or Flax or are gluten-free, bring any and all of them abroad that you can.
8. Salad Dressing
You can’t fully appreciate the beauty that is a customizeable salad bar until you’re deprived of one overseas. What’s more, when you do order a salad it will probably come bathing in a pool of olive oil and vinegar. Don’t bring a bottle of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette around with you to restaurants, but if you’re cooking for yourself (and making a salad), you’ll be glad to have it.
Don’t let this list scare you—once you learn what European gelato, Belgian waffles, Spanish Paella and French croissants really taste like—you’ll hardly miss most American foods. These are simply the most basic of items that you will (trust us) want or need on occasion. Our last piece of advice is to remember that calories don’t count when you’re abroad—this is a once in a lifetime trip and you just have to eat it all, and then bring this stuff home with you.
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