Tips for travelling light(er) between sits with food supplies

I need some sage advice please from well seasoned international sitters with no car who can successfully travel light from sit to sit with cooking & grocery supplies.

We will be sitting full time in the UK from November to March. We won’t have a car and will be relying on public transport everywhere we go. We will each have a medium size suitcase, a small back pack and a CPAP machine in a small bag. We want our suitcase weight to be under 15kg each for clothes, toileteries and any foods, so it’s not too heavy for getting in and out buses when we’re in transit.

To keep grocery costs down, I’d love your ideas on carting non perishable food supplies around with us so we don’t have to keep buying new things like pantry staples every time we change homes. We will be in more than 8 sits and staying in the southern part of England. We will buy our groceries when we get to our first sit.

For example, when we fly to sits in Australia we put our herbs & spices in small snack size zip lock bags with labels & then put all the bags in a large zip lock bag. This lies flat in the bottom of the suitcase so it doesn’t take up any space and weighs next to nothing. As we are only doing one sit we leave our leftover pantry items for the owner.

What other tips do you have? Light, space saving ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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We have been doing this for over 3 years and about half of our luggage seem to be groceries, these days. In our experience most people have a good amount of spices and allow us to use them. But even oil or salt are not always there in big enough amounts, so we usually travel with at least the salt. Soy sauce is also a must for us. We would just try to avoid going shopping if you still have anything to be eaten, and sometimes we have managed to do that. But it can be challenging. PS: For oil / soy sauce we often buy 1L and then refill the rest in a small bottle when we leave (small Kikkoman bottles are great for that e.g.). We also use TooGoodToGo and it encourages us to eat the veggies / fruit rather quickly and this way we don’t overbuy. The challenge is for us more to not have too much rice, noodles, jars and cans. Small amounts also cost a lot and we need to buy some things in bulk because of the prices here. 1KG of rice in the Asia store is often cheaper than 500g in the conventional grocery store. A lot of HOs will encourage you to use anything in the pantry but unless they specifically buy things for us we only make limited use of that offer. In the UK it seems to be normal for sitters to be more fully provided with food than in other areas of the world. Sometimes we leave food (especially oil) but only if we know it will be used.

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Obviously depending on the location of your sits and easy access to grocery stores I would advise planning meals and where possible buy in small amounts (i.e. one tin of tomatoes rather than a pack of 4) and adapt recipes to use up what is left. We are British but live in Barcelona and are currently on a 2 week sit followed by a 5 week sit in the UK without transport although city-based. Apart from herbs and spices we didn’t have any ‘left overs’ to take from the first sit onwards. Decanting small amounts of grains etc before leaving home could also help as has been said elsewhere.

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We carry everything so we are very strict on weight. We have snack for traveling (an apple apiece, cut up cheese, crackers, nuts and seeds) and we carry PG Tips tea bags. A small amount of honey as a general sweetener. For kitchen items it’s a plastic #4 sized drip coffee cone and filters, a plastic-handled knife sharpener, a set each of plastic cutlery, and an IR thermometer gun to determine cooking temperatures. I have my eye on the IR thermometer ‘cause it’s heavy and I would like to ditch it, but so far all my attempts have been unsuccessful with my husband. That’s it.

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Hi @Crookie

We are all so different and manage our travel lifestyles accordingly and this is a great subject, one which will give insight into how other members plan their travel must haves.

I am a buy it there kind of traveler, that applies to almost everything except of course the must haves which are not readily available in the country I’m visiting. I think years of expat life in countries where most everything we would use on a regular basis was unavailable has made us super adaptable. I remember going to Singapore from Mumbai and being asked if I wanted to see the designer stores on Orchard Road … my reply was “No thank you take me to the nearest supermarket please”

The main thing I pack and carry are Tea Bags … you can’t ask a Brit to compromise on tea quality :wink: I can even buy Heinz Baked Beans, Digestive Biscuits and Yorkshire Tea Bags in the US in World Market stores, they are more expensive of course but I don’t eat them everyday

The UK is so culturally diverse that you can buy almost any food item but of course there are not many bulk buy stores where you can buy loose goods in small quantities unlike in the US and other countries.

Most homes have a store cupboard/larder and I’m sure you’re aware that communicating with owners on use/replacing can ultimately influence decision making on what to pack ahead.

Finally there is the Supermarket “sale” at the end of the day, Supermarkets reduce the price of many items (sell by date rules)

What time do supermarkets reduce food prices - More Than A Mummy.

Have a wonderful trip to the UK and we expect to have lots of updates … where is your first sit?

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Thanks @Angela-HeadOfCommunity, our first sit is at Emsworth, Southbourne. Most of our sits are in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex.

Our biggest food issue is transporting liquids like soy sauce, chilli sauce, balsamic vinegar etc. We don’t cook really fancy food but we do like to flavour up our dishes. Not every household has these things. We are currently at a sit that doesn’t have any olive oil.

We will have to be very flexible while working around our dietary requirements.

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Hi @Crookie If you are in the UK for an extended period and have your sits in place what about buying those condiments when you arrive they are so readily available, even in local convenience stores and they will last until you leave … there is such a selection of quality, sizes and prices.

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As you’re keeping your ‘flying’ luggage light, could you manage a shopping trolley bag between you whilst you’re here, specifically for groceries etc? Like this: https://www.argos.co.uk/browse/sports-and-leisure/bags-luggage-and-travel/shopping-trolleys/c:30497/ I wouldnt suggest it for a short trip but could be worthwhile for yours. You could donate to a charity shop or put it on Freecycle just before you depart the UK.

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@Crookie
Not too helpful here - I generally don’t take food with me on sits - I’'ve accepted spending some cash for things that I really need. I’ve found that most places I sit have a good supply of spices or substitute spices, oil, vinegar, etc. I might pack a bottle of Tabasco (but I grew up in New Orleans so put it on almost everything).
Of course it depends on how long you are sitting for - I try for at least 5 day minimum sits, but will fill in short sits if I have to.
And I know they aren’t cheap and your insurance may not cover it, but highly recommend a travel CPAP - I’ve used HMD’s Z1 for years - only 10 ounces, so less than 1 pound with the mask, tube, and power block! Works with most standard masks, unlike some of the travel CPAPS that require specific (and more expensive) masks. I think there is a newer version out.
tom

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@Ketch that is a fantastic idea! Thank you!!

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Hi @Angela-HeadOfCommunity we won’t be bringing any food with us from Australia and will get everything in the UK. My dilemma is more about how to easily transport food, particularly liquids, between sits. I do really like @Ketch’s idea about the shopping trolley.

@Crookie don’t forget the little cheat about eating out the first meal and stocking up on salt/pepper packets, soy sauce packets, ketchup, etc., that you can stash in your bag and take back home. Keeps you from having the need to stock up on items in the store and you can throw the packet away when empty. Just a little thing I always do when traveling. Amazing how much you can save monetarily…not to mention on space!

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HI @Debbie-Moderator that’s a good “shout” although I always feel a little guilty if I take extra packets. Some also collect from airlines and take a ways etc., creating quite a store cupboard. :wink:

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We don’t typically tote any food with us when traveling internationally. However, tea and coffee (easily packed) are purchased upon arrival, and are used from sit to sit until they run out. We are not cooks that require specific spices, and can try new things while utilizing whatever is in the cupboard. We love shopping in the local Sansbury, Tesco, and M&S. The shelf with the expiring products has some great deals. Part of the adventure for us, is discovering the walkable grocery stores in each neighborhood. We tend to make friends with whichever local butcher the HO recommends, and they always clue us into which one supplies the dog with free bones.

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Yes @Angela-HeadOfCommunity the take away is basically what I meant. When you go through a drive through and ask for salt, pepper, ketchup, etc., they always seem to drop a ton in the bag. Those are the “cheats” per se. And with chinese takeaway, there are usually several packets of soy sauce that don’t get used. I end up throwing them away which is wasteful to do, but if you can use them when traveling/sitting, its a great way to use them up.

Here in the UK I discovered Poundland! (the UK equivalent of our Dollar Store), but Poundland is nicer – cleaner, more attractively displayed and fun to shop in. The prices are often better than Tesco, Coop, etc.

@mars I too just discovered Poundland on my last sit in the UK and loved it!