Since I’ve been in Key West the past three weeks, I’ve been working on my must-get-list for when I come to the states. So far:

Must Get:

  • extension cords (the ones with the flat plug – can’t find those in Costa Rica)
  • printer ink (for my hp, they are $25 in the states, $50 in Costa Rica)
  • replacement heads for my electric toothbrush
  • BIG bottles of aspirin and acetaminophen  (it’s so funny that drugs are so cheap in Costa Rica except aspirin and acetaminophen… they are really expensive here)
  • gel pens
  • t-shirts on sale
  • clothes on sale
  • sneakers
  • sports equipment – any and all. Except for soccer equipment, there is little selection.
  • electrical equipment: blenders, drills, printers, computers, everything

Re Suitcases:

  • Get two of the biggest allowable size to check. On Spirit, that’s 62": L+H+W. The height is 30" on my stand up one, 26" on the lay-down sports-bag-looking one. You don’t want to get one too big because a) they charge for oversize and b) the tendency is to make them extra-heavy which = either a charge for extra heavy and the max they will take at all is 99lb.
  • Get wheels
  • Don’t get black or blue if you can stand it because EVERYONE has black or blue. I got red and there’s plenty of those coming down the line… Other good choices: purple, green, fabric with designs, pink. I almost bought a pink bag. It would show the dirt but I only saw one. You find your bag easily which cuts down on moving other bags to see if one is yours.
  • Also, I put a colored duct tape on the handles so I can spot my bags easily.
  • I write my name and phone number in black magic marker on the outside of my bags.
  • Clearly, I am not a slave to luggage fashion.
  • Make sure at least one big bag has the strap that lets you attach a second bag to it, or bring your own strap or bungie cords
  • Get the biggest allowable carry on: on Spirit, that’s 40lb. Forty pounds is a lot of stuff.
  • Unless you are big on matching sets, go to Ross or TJ Maxx or similar store. I got three excellent, hi-quality bags today for $100 at the Key West Ross.
  • Check the comments – Paul and Teri both had good tips!

The weight limit on checked bags is 50lb. I can’t do that this trip: I need more. So I’m paying $25 extra for each checked bag – that gives me 70lbs each for only $50 more. Via USPS ground, that extra 40lb would cost almost $70 and I wouldn’t have the stuff for a week to 10 days. That’s worth it.

The carry on is limited to 40lb max.

I may have an extra bag which will be $100. I still have 20lb of room in my carry-on and I have my Personal Carry-On (my computer bag/purse). I haven’t packed my clothes yet, but don’t have that much… Maybe I’ll break down and ship one box… that would be a $40 to $50 savings over taking an extra bag… but would also mean another trip to the post office and I just don’t think I can do it. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow… it would be extravagant to pay for that extra bag. My other option is to pack one of the checked bags with 29lbs more which would only cost me $75 more. That’s what I’ll do! If I have more than 20lbs of clothes…

NOTE: I ended up bringing an extra bag for $100. So my overage fees were $135. Worth every penny!

I know this is terribly exciting, my hard decisions. But when you become an expat at retirement like all the developers of all those condos all over the world say you will, you’ll appreciate this post. One day. Mark my words. Besides, it’s nice over there outside the box. I’m looking forward to getting back. Give it a try. And bring me a big bottle of aspirin when you come. 500mg. Thank you.

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