Dooms Day Prepper or Expat?

You know those crazies that buy loads and loads of thing in case the zombie apocalypse (or something?) comes and they want to make sure they’re prepared? When we were getting ready to move to Scotland, I might seem I became one. E (and my friend Sarah) would say I 100% became one.

Our expat package had an air shipment for things to arrive a couple weeks post our own move (500 lbs worth), and then it had a sea shipment with everything else going 4-6 weeks later. I think it actually came like 10 weeks later so don’t count on it people. There was some sort of pound limitation to the sea shipment, but in our 2 bedroom condo there was no way we’d hit it even if we brought EVERYTHING. And we didn’t bring everything. We left behind all things with plugs, 2 desks, a kitchen table, TV stand, coffee tables, a massive sofa, a portable kitchen island-type thing, and even though my Sarah doesn’t believe it- I did leave behind clothes and shoes!

Anyway….so as everyone knows, everything is cheaper in the United States. Plus, you know what you like in the states. I couldn’t remember all the things that were available/unavailable/was missed from my time studying in London…and I’m sure it’s changed anyway. So I had already planned on stocking up on quite a few things before we moved. And then when we had our go-see we met up with an AWA 4th of July party….where we were pretty much told to bring and hoard and stock up on everything you could! No offense ladies, but you really played it out like you could get no basic necessities in Scotland….that we were dealing with near third world country conditions.

So as we are looking to move in the summer (not out of Aberdeen, but into a new house) and I’m dealt with all the things we still have 7 months later (because mind you, we didn’t get all of our things until the end of September).


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So what did we bring? And what do I think about what we brought?

Here we go, keep in mind almost all these things are from Costco (so a big pack of them)…And there’s a Costco in Aberdeen….

  • Foil – Um foil is always good right. We bought 2 extra large rolls from Costco. I guess they saved us money and they fit under the sink, so no harm no foul.
  • Ziplock bags – Before our sea shipment got here we spent over an hour trying to find
    “ziplocks” and even asked 2 different people who could not seem to comprehend the idea of sammich baggies. Eventually we did find them and they suck. So glad I brought real ziplocks, although it’s possible that real ziplocks are at the Costco here.
  • Diced tomatoes – Like 3 cases. Unnecessary. There are diced tomatoes all over every single grocery store here.
  • Black beans – Okay so these are harder to find in Scotland (and when you do they are in boxes, no cans) and I use black beans so much…I don’t regret it.
  • Mac n cheese – We would have mac n cheese maybe once every other month in the states, so it’s not like I have an obsession. But it’s kind of nice to have some processed American food every now and then. But either due to the Costco case of mac n cheese or the fact that food here goes bad so quickly right under our noses, we’ve definitely eaten more of it.
  • Laundry detergent – We brought one giant thing of it. We still have some. Don’t bring it. Here they always use these little detergent pods. They’re great.
  • Deodorant – Bring it! E is loyal to like 2 things, and one is Cool Rush Degree deodorant. And I can’t remember the other. If you are like solid, white deodorant you need to bring it. They use spray deodorant here and while you might be able to find one solid somewhere, it’s not worth it. And it’s less expensive.
  • Shampoo – I brought some (2 sets) of Sheer Blonde shampoo & conditioner, about 3 big Head & Shoulders, and 3 massive salon-size sets of Biolage. The only thing that was necessary was the Biolage. They don’t have it here. But I probably will never need to buy shampoo & conditioner here.
  • Razor Blades – of course you can get em here, but they were hella cheaper in America.
  • Toothpaste –I brought insane amounts of toothpaste. Like 20 tubes. Unnecessary and insane.
  • Ibuprofen – brought 2 500 tablet things and my mother is bringing me another in a week. The quantity of which you can buy ibuprofen here is ridiculous. This was definitely worth it since I am quite the pill popper.
  • Nyquil – brought 2 or 3 LARGE bottles. They are all gone. Again, the mother is bringing another bottle. You can’t get anything with a sleep aide here- so if you rely on Nyquil- bring mass quantities.
  • Gummy Vitamins – These are yummy and nutritious. We haven’t used all of our yet, but we always had a hard enough time find them consistently at our Costco, so I don’t really regret it.
  • Dishwasher detergent – see laundry detergent? Same thing.
  • Garbage bags – I mean, I guess it saved a couple bucks. But I know for a fact the Costco here sells the exact same box we brought from ‘Murica. Oye.
  • Dog food – I guess it was a constantly for Stella, but stupid. Dog food is cheaper here anyway.
  • Quinoa – I am quinoa obsessed so it’s never a bad thing to bring about 10 lbs of quinoa….but you can get it here.
  • Marshmallows – although insanely overpriced, you can get it here.
  • Graham crackers – SCORE! You can’t get these here. And how else you gonna make s’mores this summer? With digestive biscuits? Yeah right.
  • Oats – At said 4th of July party, I was convinced porridge is not the same as oatmeal. These people are insane. Porridge oats work for any of your recipe that calls of oatmeal oats.
  • Dog treats – I stand by the 10-15 bags of Charlie Bear’s we brought for Stella. They are super cheap, tiny, only 3 calories, and they’re already hard so they don’t go stale. I haven’t been able to find anything comparable yet.
  • Pumpkin hand soaps, candles, puree, and pudding mix – You can get pumpkin! But not soaps, candles, and pudding mix. That being said, I have all the pumpkin candles I can handle at the moment.
  • Tea – This is a country of tea! But I brought my favorite flavored teas from Trader Joes and other places- I love spicy, “fall” teas.
  • Gum – I’m sure you can get gum at Costco, but it’s not like it takes up a lot of space.
  • 100-calorie popcorn bags – Wish I had more! Especially kettle corn! They haven’t got on the 100-calorie microwave popcorn train and it kills me.
  • Peanut butter – You can get big Skippy’s in Costco and small ones in the normal grocer, but they are way expensive. And at Costco it’s just one jar, not the double pack like America.
  • Equal – You can’t get equal here. Of course there are other 0 calories sweeteners, but if you’re keen on equal, bring it. Also heads up, I found cases of equal cheapest at Wal-Mart.
  • Tomato Paste – Not necessary. And it’s most easy to get it in a tube here….brilliant.
  • Lotion – I guess it saves some money….but no, not worth it.
  • Body Wash – See above.
  • Contact Solution – You can get it here, but my contact solution is special (because I have special eyes) and costs a ridiculous amount, it’s something I have to use EVERY day, so I’m happy with stocking up and saving loads of $.
  • Britta Filters – Well this would save a load of money, IF OUR BRITTA FIT IN OUR TEENY TINY SCOTTISH FRIDGE.
  • Poo bags – We had to buy UK poo bags once, and they sucked. Poo bags are something we’ll run out of sooner than later so we’ll have to make the switch.
  • Garlic – I like the big plastic jars (okay, pretty much jugs) of crushed garlic. So I brought one. And it’s fine….but they do have it here at Costco.
  • Chicken broth – I brought one big thing of chicken broth…I should have brought a case! You can’t buy canned or boxed or tinned chicken broth here. You have to make it by adding hot water to a little gelatin thing. And for whatever reason is annoys the sh*t out of me.
  • Cliff Bars – Can’t get em here. Bring em by the case.
  • Kind Bars – Same as above. If you have a specific ‘bar’ you love (I miss Quinoa bars too!), bring em. Although, some gyms are selling Quest bars I’ve found….
  • Flavored Coffee – You can get some flavored coffee grounds. They are a little hard to find and not all the exotic flavors that you can get in the states. But for your pod coffee machines- Tassimo or Nescafe…you’re super limited, as in pretty non-existent. Even though we have great flavors for Tassimo in the states- doesn’t happen here. I just got one SPECIAL EDITION Vanilla Latte. UGH. Same with coffee syrups, you’re not getting pumpkin or coconut here- so bring it with.

There were other things we brought that I’m sure I forgot about, but I feel this is a pretty good list.  Are you an expat that stocked up pre-move?  What did you bring?  What do you wish you brought?  Or are you moving and wondering if something specific can be found in Scotland- let me know!


  1. Claire

    Good to know. I’m also fiercely loyal to my deodorant. Ha. I’m wondering about Aveeno– I’m assuming that if it is there, it’s way more expensive (and it’s already stupid expensive here in America, but it’s the only thing my sensitive skin will tolerate). That’s the only one I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll come up with more to bother you with later. 🙂

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      I do think they have Aveeno here- I’m not sure about at Costco but Boots might have it- I’ll have to be on the look out. They do have that Simple Skincare line..I know in the last year or so Target started stelling it but it’s originally a UK/Boots line. And it’s pretty cheap and supposed to have very ‘pure’ things in it. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Aveeno though!

      1. Claire

        Thanks! I’ll have to look into Simple. I appreciate the help.

  2. Deserae

    This is a good and helpful list. Especially the contact lens solution. I use that same kind at least once a week.

    It cracks me up that they told you to take Oatmeal to Scotland. The land of oatmeal, where they even have contests for it. I get that porridge might not be the same, but I’ve always preferred it Scottish style, anyway, so I’m set. 🙂

    I stocked up on a ton of stuff to store away for later freight when we went abroad. Stuff I was used to using. After a couple of months in France and another couple in Ireland I came back and reassessed my stuff for the freight to Scotland. I ended up ditching half of it to save freight costs. Some things like the toothpowder I use instead of paste, and my signature fragrance, I was happy to have, but I realized I became less brand-loyal when I was thrown into a different situation.

  3. rhona @

    “Cliff Bars – Can’t get em here. Bring em by the case.”
    You can get these in the supermarket! Tesco at Danestone and Asda at Garthdee both stock them for individual purchase, as do running and outdoor shops – Run4It, Tiso, Cotswold Outdoors etc. If you can’t face leaving the house then dozens of online retailers have them, but Wiggle sell them cheap by the case and you get a free bag of Haribo with each delivery…

    Britta filters? I have to ask…why are you filtering our lovely Scottish water?

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Haha! I did see Cliff bars in France and occasionally here but I think I only noticed them at Run4it- and they are so much more money here!! But not Kind bars- tear. But good tip on wiggle….I love free gummies to boot!

      The Britta was from Chicago…I liked Chicago water but I did like to filter it and have the pitcher in the fridge to make sure it’s nice and cold…but we’ve been drinking the water from the tap here just fine and I do like it…but mentally, if I can filter, I would just to remove..umm whatever stuff filters remove, haha. Clearly water filtration marketing has worked on me.

  4. Kristen

    i love to stock up. For no reason though because I live in the U.S. and have a Costco and aldi in my town.

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      I would do normal costco stock up in the states…like booze, quinoa, chobani, chicken breast… but never really non-food items before. I have enough time, I should figure out how to be a coupon queen.


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