20 Jun Care Package Ideas for Friends or Family Abroad
When we were in Peace Corps, we loved getting a care package from home. Living abroad means being away from the people and places you care about. Even when things are going well, you can feel isolated and homesick. A small token from home can mean the world!
In this post, we put together our best care package ideas and strategies to show your friends and family overseas that you’re thinking of them. These are great for long-term volunteers abroad, study abroad students, missionaries, military, expats, fellowship interns, or gap year students.
International Care Package Considerations
It’s wise to do a little research about the mail situation in your destination country. Reliability of the postal service, customs fees, and regulations vary from place to place. No one wants to put so much time and effort into a package that never gets received!
Box vs. Padded envelope – You can estimate the cost of postage for envelopes, flat rate boxes, and other packages on the USPS website to find out which option would be more economical. Remember, care packages don’t have to be huge to be appreciated.
For delivery, the type of packaging tends to matter more in developing countries. Sometimes boxes are more likely to get held up at customs. Or theft might be an issue for packages that look valuable (in this case, we’ve seen many places recommend writing “religious materials” on the package to dissuade thieves).
Availability and Affordability Abroad – It goes without saying that you should fill your care package with things your loved one really likes. But with high international postage rates, it’s wise to maximize that precious space with items they can’t get wherever they are. Peanut butter can be hard to come by, even in Europe. Clothing can be found cheap in Thailand but because it has to be imported to Jamaica, it’s expensive.
What does your loved one miss from home that either a) isn’t sold in their area or b) is much more expensive there? It’s hard to know what those items might be without asking.
Arriving Clean and Dry – Packages usually get tossed and bumped around en route, so make sure everything inside will arrive in good condition. We’ve had boxes arrive covered in sauce or with items broken inside. Find out how long it usually takes packages to arrive and leave out any perishables accordingly.
It’s always best to send non-perishables, non-meltables, and non-leakables. If there’s any chance that something might break or leak, do whatever you can to protect it and limit its ability to affect the rest of the package’s contents. Wrap things up in their own sealable plastic bags and pad breakables so they have no room to shift around.
Ideas for Care Packages
- Tea bags
- Hot chocolate packs
- Spiced cider packets
- Cake mix (assuming they have access to an oven)
- Taco seasoning or other powdered sauce packets
- Popcorn (microwave or stove-top, depending on what they have)
- Dried fruit
- Trail mix
- Hard candy
- Breath mints
- Fruit leathers
- Just Fruit bars
- Granola bars
Avoid these things if you suspect the package might not arrive within a week.
- Rice crispy treats (wrap in syran wrap)
- Cookies (especially ones that don’t crumble too much or melt)
- Posters to decorate their room
- Gift cards they can use online (Amazon, iTunes)
- Socks and underwear
- Calendar with photos from home
- Pens, markers, crayons
- Stickers (for young families or people working with kids)
- Blank cards (so they can write back to you, or to others)
- A pack of cards or other small board games
- Seeds for planting herbs (like basil)
- A set of “Open When…” letters (written from you, sealed in envelopes with instructions to open under specific circumstances – first day of school, when they’re feeling homesick, etc.)
- Photos of you
- Compact holiday decorations they can use in their new home
- Newspaper clippings of events they missed
- Letters or drawings from kids they love
What are your favorite things to receive or send in a care package? We’d love to hear your ideas and add them to our list.
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