Hello! This is a real niche topic but I was very interested in it during our move to Portugal so I thought I would share in case it's helpful to others. We recently moved from the US with our 10 and 7-year-olds and only brought checked luggage on the plane.
Since we chose not to ship anything, every inch of luggage space was precious! Below is what I'm glad we brought in terms of household items and things for the kids as well as what I could have left behind!
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5 Items I'm Glad We Brought to Portugal
These Koodee Stainless Steel Water Bottles are seriously the best. I just checked my app and we purchased them 14 months ago and we are still using them daily! We have the 16-ounce size but they also make a 12-ounce and 22-ounce one. (When I go back to the States, I'm getting a 22 oz for me!)
4 reasons I love them:
- Actually leakproof!
- Keeps ice cold for 6+ hours... really!
- Spout makes it easier for my kids to drink more water
- No extra pieces to clean (my kids are a little older so they don't need a straw cup.)
- Has a handle that is perfect for school.
- Small thing, but I like that it comes with a 2-inch high silicon sleeve. It's removable but I love having it because the stainless steel doesn't get as dented and it's not as loud when kids inevitably smash them down on the table.
I first saw this Lemon Juicer at my sister-in-law's right before we moved and loved it so much that I immediately bought one. Portugal has amazing citrus and we've enjoyed using this with oranges from the Algarve, lemons, and more. Most importantly, it has caught 100% of the seeds!
(Also my sister-in-law gave us stainless steel measuring cups which I also brought because I haven't quite moved over mentally to the metric system yet!)
#3 Family Games
Naturally, games in English are harder to find here so we brought some of our favorites and I'm so glad we did!
- Outfoxed - a cooperative board game kind of like Clue including a decoder! For ages 4 and up and my 10-year-old still enjoys it!
- Taco vs. Burrito - a hilarious card game! I didn't understand how a card game could cost this much but now I get it. The whole family loves this and we usually play with anyone who comes over! For ages 7 and up.
- No Stress Chess - this is the way we taught our kids chess and now they play weekly (or more!) Says ages 7 and up, but we started with my son at 5.
- Settlers of Catan - classic game! We left our expansion packs back in Virginia but will bring them when we visit.
- (Puppy not included!)
#4 LEGO and LEGO Organizer
LEGO is much more expensive here! I'm so glad I read about this on a forum before we moved so I could bring a lot of our LEGO with us. We recently went to a birthday party and checked out Toys R Us and LEGO seemed to be 20-40% more expensive, I was shocked!
We also really like this cheap Plastic Organizer for my son's smaller pieces. A store employee at the awesome DC toy shop Labyrinth told us we should grab this cheap organizer from a craft or hardware store and it was a great tip! Of course, you can buy plastic organizers here in Portugal but it's nice to have sorted before the move to not lose those tiny pieces.
I could write a whole blog post on my love for our Berkey Water Filter but needless to say, I planned the number of our suitcases around this thing! We've had ours for over 3 years and while it is initially a lot of money, I think it's worth it. We use ours of course every day and the taste of the water is great and noticeably different. My in-laws have even done the red dye test which Berkey shows on their YouTube! You can see that it even filters out food-safe coloring dye.
Water where we live in Portugal is not bad but a lot of people use bottled water. This filter has helped us save the expenses, environmental impact, and microplastics.
5 Items We Did NOT Need to Bring to Portugal
(Beyond the big things like furniture and electronics)
- Kids clothes - They are all pretty inexpensive here if you go to the local Hiper stores or non-name brands in the malls. We've also shopped at H&M Kids, Zara Kids and C&A.
- Kids shoes - I thought that these would be more expensive than the States but we've found really reasonable kids' shoes. Of course, the US brands are more expensive because you have to pay for the import fee. We did buy Sketchers for my son because he has wider feet. They were around 45 euros.
- Picture frames - Tons of reasonable picture frames and decorations at many stores, flea markets, and even hardware stores like Leroy Merlin. And when all else fails, there are a couple of IKEAs!
- Desk Drawer organizers - Why did I think I needed to bring my plastic drawer organizers? lol. This is probably the only superfluous item that we brought that I've seen at so many stores and also, I don't use it all that much!
- Books in English - This one is kind of half and half but I have been so surprised by the number of English books at every bookstore as well as expat Facebook groups that offer to swap books for similar-age kiddos. I still brought a lot of books but nice to know we will never run out of options!