Since the Vachette arrived on the scene, Mr. Mad Cow and I have had an unfortunate tendency towards overpacking for our trips to Karpathos. The first trip, when the Vachette was one, in addition to two massive suitcases, we lugged along a stroller, a carseat and a travel crib.
The second trip with the Vachette, we minimized a bit, but we still had a cumbersome load: one manageable suitcase, one massive suitcase, a stroller and a car seat. This year, however, I was determined to be minimalist. Achievement unlocked! Two manageable suitcases, a booster seat, and our carryons.
Now to achieve this, I had to seriously think about what was worth bringing and what was worth buying on the island. Our house has a washing machine, so that helps keep the clothing load manageable. Mr. Mad Cow brought exactly one pair of sandals, while the Vachette and I brought equal amounts of summer footwear: two pairs of sandals and one pair of flip flops.
First of all, we decided to leave the beach tent and beach blanket at home. Most of the beaches in Karpathos have lounge chairs and umbrellas that you rent for 7 euros a day. And in gorgeous Lefokos, on the west side of the island, you can get them for 6 euros a day. So this year we decided to not bother with our own set up and support the locals who a great job running the beaches. Sometimes, these chairs can fill up fast, especially in August. However, this is not a problem for us. The Vachette is an early riser, so we always have our pick when we get to the beach.
Beach toys are another thing that don’t need to take up any space in your suitcase. Our first night here, we let the Vachette pick out a new set of sand toys at one of local shops. We also bought her a kite at the toy store. These purchases together were less than HALF the price of a meal out. And going out to eat in Karpathos is a very reasonable affair. Definitely not worth bringing with us all the way from the US.
It’s also not worth bringing a month’s worth of sunscreen with you. I brought one partially used bottle from home for our visit to Athens, but once that ran out, I’ve just been buying sunscreen from the pharmacy. Also, I’ve heard European sunscreen is supposed to be superior to American varieties*.
But here are two items we wish we had brought with us: 1)tupperware in an assortment of sizes and 2) one of those big blue plastic Ikea bags. The Ikea bag was an oversight on my part. I completely forgot how perfect they are for lugging a family’s worth of stuff to the beach. In its place, we’ve had to make due with Mr. MC’s backpack and an assortment of flimsy plastic bags, which the Greeks give out like candy. The tupperware, however, is available to buy here. It’s just really expensive, especially compared to what you can find at TJMaxx. The Mad Cow family is more than happy to do its part to support the Greek economy, but not for overpriced poor quality tupperware. Instead, we’ve been carrying our beach snacks in an assortment of plastic bags. At the bright side, the bags make it for me to dispose of watermelon rinds.
*For example, Mexoryl was approved in Europe over a decade before it was in the US.