My 6 China Must-Haves When Traveling Back Home

It’s the summer travel season – and this summer, Jun and I will be traveling back to the US.

Granted, it’s more business than pleasure – Jun is court-ordered to return to Idaho to continue participating in his lawsuit. (You can learn more about that and support Jun here.)

But regardless, it’s also a trip back home, which means reconnecting with family and friends we haven’t seen in years. We hope to make the most of that.

At the same time, it’s an opportunity for me to flex my packing and organization “muscles” so to speak. After all, when you’ve lived in China as long as I have, you become accustomed to certain things – and can’t imagine being anywhere in the world without them. Even when traveling back home.

Here are 6 things from China that I always pack along with me when I return to the US:

IMG_20160710_184039#1: Chinese remedies and medicines

No matter where I am in the world, the must-have at the top of my list is my personal “first-aid kit” filled with my preferred remedies from China.

While everyone has their favorites, here’s what I always pack:

  • Sweets Golden Throat (or other herbal lozenges)
  • Fengyou Jing
  • Pain-relieving medicinal patches
  • Tiger balm (or similar pain-relieving medicinal ointment)

Fine teas#2: Tea

One of the things I’ve learned from China (and my husband) is that there’s nothing like a nice, fragrant cup of loose-leaf green tea to start your day.

But as we all know, the best green teas come from China and NOT America.

That’s why I always pack a canister of the best green tea I can afford. When I’m back in the US, it’s like a little taste of China every single morning. Mmmmmm!

IMG_20160710_183322#3: Red Chinese jujube dates

The Chinese have touted the health benefits of these tasty little dates for thousands of years. So it’s no wonder that they’re a popular snack here in China, and one of my favorite things to munch on.

But good luck finding them in the US!

So I always pack a bag of delicious dried jujube dates in my luggage (especially the dates from the Xinjiang region, which are usually sweeter). They’re a terrific snack and wonderful for sharing.

Who knows? This trip, I might just convert a few family and friends over to these fantastic dates. 😉

IMG_20160710_183108_HDR#4: Hair accessories

When I lived in the US, I always came across a familiar phrase on every single hair accessory I purchased.

Made in China.

Yes, China is responsible for producing all of those lovely hairpins, hair ties, hair clips, headbands and more. So what’s the point of buying in the US when I can purchase straight from the source?

With the convenience of online shopping, it’s so easy to find the best and most beautiful accessories in China. That means I can save my money for something else in the US…such as buying more of those delicious avocadoes. 😉

IMG_20160710_184349#5: Silk scarves

Throwing on a nice silk scarf is the perfect way to dress up your outfit, especially when you’re traveling and trying to pack light. And since China is the silk road country – with a wide selection of silk scarves at great prices – guess where all of my scarves come from?

This trip, I’m packing my favorite floral silk scarf, which will add a touch of class to my black shirt and black maxi skirt for any dressy occasion.

版本 2#6: Renminbi cash

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Why would she put RMB cash on this list?

Well, you would be surprised by the times when I’ve left China to travel abroad – and wished I packed more cash with me.

Having some cash from China comes in handy if you get stranded at a major international airport and, for whatever reason, cannot use your credit cards or bank cards. Just head to a currency exchange window and you’re set.

It gives me extra peace of mind whenever I’m navigating the uncertainties that come along with international travel.

It’s also a wonderful conversation piece for friends and family back home. Most of them have never seen Chinese money or even touched it. Americans love the novelty of red money, not to mention those portraits of Chairman Mao! 😉

What do you like to bring when you’re traveling back home?

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18 Replies to “My 6 China Must-Haves When Traveling Back Home”

  1. I’d say 老干媽 (yes, we can get that in Taiwan, they sell it at 7-11 now – it used to be in the fancy import stores only). You can get it in the US but you have to go very far afield for it.

    I also prefer 白花油 to the green stuff. That and Tiger Balm are Singaporean, not Chinese, but still great.

    From Taiwan I always bring Muji socks (I know Muji is Japanese but they are so popular in Taiwan it hardly matters), house slippers because after a decade in Taiwan I can’t imagine wearing shoes in the house, the aforementioned White Flower Oil, my blue “protest” water bottle (covered in stickers from various Taiwanese protests – people often read them and ask who “Bumbler Ma” is), stationery, which Taiwan excels at, and Taiwanese tea – we make the best high mountain oolong, hands down.

  2. Another good one to bring from China if you cook is flower pepper for Sichuanese food. Even in Taiwan, so close by, they are not that common because they’re imports. Unless there is a Chinese grocery nearby, in the US you’d have to search very hard to find them. But my dad loves Chinese dishes with Sichuan flavors so I always bring them to cook.

  3. A timely post, Jocelyn????. Thank you.

    I never thought of silk scarfs as a present. It wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy and economical to post, too.

    Have a great time in the States.

  4. Lovely article, Jocelyn. What’s Fengyou Jing?
    Have a safe journey home and am thinking many positive thoughts for Jun’s court date.
    Hope you’re feeling much better now (-:

    1. Thanks Ava! No court date yet…we are returning home for other case-related business.

      Fengyou jing is a deep-green medicinal essential oil that’s terrific for all sorts of things. Dab some on your temples and it can relieve headaches or calm you. Got a mosquito bite? Just apply and it will disappear. It can even help you breath better (dab some around your nostrils) or relieve cough (apply to your chest and neck). Here’s a post with a picture of it: (You will also notice that the small green bottle in my photo is indeed a bottle of fengyou jing.)

  5. Can’t really say much to this as we are always only for a few weeks in CHina but we do certainly take much tea with us back to Europe each time. Besides that we take about 2 big suitcases full of snacks!!

  6. The medicinal patches are great! I used them once that I got back pain and I also gave to my mum, who complains of neck pain. I also can’t live without tiger balm, I use it for mosquito bites.

    When I go back to Spain I usually bring some cookies and sweets, it’s not that they are especially tasty comparing to the ones we have in Spain but the packaging is always cute. The small mushrooms (chocolate cap, biscuit foot) are always a hit, haha. My brother loves the Orion chocopies (Korean, I know…). Last year I brought silk scarves for all my aunts and they loved them. For my cousins I got that hand cream with the packaging like the 1930s Shanghai, and also face masks, which are not really common in Spain!

  7. Tiger balm… I miss you!

    Tea is a great present! Tea was one of the (or maybe the only) things I bought in bulk, because tea in China is so darn good. Even in Asian stores here it’s hard to find the flower teas, which are my favorite. Pu-er can also be bought at a much lower cost in China… here in the USA, pu-er is such a hard find and it’s crazy expensive!

    Have a good trip back to the states! The circumstances aren’t so good, but I’m wish you and John the best of luck!

  8. I’m lucky to live in the Seattle area. Good loose leaf green tea from China, Taiwan, and Japan are easy to find here. There are two good tea stores within walking distance of my house. I buy dried Jujube dates from a store which is a 10-minute drive away.

    Looking at your Golden throat lozenge makes me wonder, can you buy cough drops in China that have no sugar and no artificial sweetener? I know, I’m probably asking for the impossible. I have an asthmatic cough, and I hate to ingest too much of either sugar are artificial sweetener.

    I hope you enjoy your trip back to the States. Best wishes.

  9. yeah,agree with you. i really love the tea from China. when i went there recently, my partner would prepare a hot tea for me every morning similar to the one you have posted above. when i back to my country he bought a tea for me but too expensive. i’d like to post the photos to share but i do not know how to attach here. take care on your travel.

  10. I love to bring back tea. There are salted, dried orange peels from Shanghai that I love. They clear the mouth after a meal kind of like gum. My mother-in-law makes a soup from the dates. They are very good!

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