Not all long distance relationships come from works separation, going to different schools, or working abroad. Sometimes they come from the brave men and women who choose service in the armed forces – the ones who have to spend months away from those they love as well as put themselves in danger.
Here are some ideas of what you can send your overseas hero as well as other useful tips.
ADD A THEME
Care packages don’t just have to include necessities; they can be something that uplifts the mind and heart. They are reminders of love and why they are fighting. They are comforts and smiles. You CAN just send a plain box, but there’s so much more you can do that makes a world of difference.
- Send an “Open When” box – if they are homesick, ill, had a really bad day, etc.
- Have a “Count Down” box for when they are coming home.
- Use holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries to decorate the inside of your box and wrappings to make it extra special. Yes, your Halloween gifts might come in Christmas but they will still have the same impact. Also think of theming something around a hobby they love.
TOILETRIES & PERSONAL ITEMS
You might think our fighting men and woman have all these things provide or included, but that’s not always the case – or they are generic brands of the lowest quality. Consider sending name brands or your partner’s favorite brands. They are small luxuries that have a huge impact.
- Air fresheners or odor spray (closed spaces or lockers can get stinky)
- Baby wipes/body wipes– if they can’t get to a shower in certain situations, these are very useful.
- Bedding/pillows – some places either don’t provide bedding or it’s very low quality. Sending them something nicer can make their nights a million times better.
- Body wash/soap
- Contact lenses – daily disposable
- Dental floss
- Eye drops
- Feminine hygiene products
- Gel insoles (they are on their feet all day)
- Glass wipes – many say that these are amazing to clean goggles and field glasses and much more useful than their t-shirts or jackets.
- Hand sanitiser
- Hand/feet warmers
- Lip balm (SPF extra useful)
- Mouth wash
- Q tips
- Shaving cream
- Socks (good ones, these are ALWAYS wanted)
- Tide pods
- Tooth paste
- Underwear packs
FOR ILLNESS OR INJURY
- Canker sore treatment
- Cold strip for forehead
- Cough drops
- Cough syrup
- Icy hot
- Neosporin/Polysporin creams
- Tissue packets
- Vicks rub
- Zinc oxide ointment
Sending big bottles of liquids is just impractical, that’s why POWDER drinks are the best. They take up less space, last longer, etc. Also think about including a shaker bottle so they can have something to mix it in.
- Energy drink
- Hot cocoa
- Iced tea
- Instant coffee
- Tea bags
Troop life is always active and they might need quick and easy pick-me-ups during the day. However, be aware of which country you’re sending dried meat products. Some cultures, for example, will be offended with the consumption of pork products etc. If you’re not sure, you can ask.
- Energy bars
- Granola bars
- Tuna fish
- Beef jerky
- Summer sausage
- Slim Jim sticks
- Canned chicken
MREs or canteen foods have got considerably better over the years, but they still aren’t what you get from home. Sending condiments (especially something your partner loves) will help add joy to every meal.
- Cheez Whiz
- Hot sauce
- Peanut butter
Not just proteins but yummy comfort food (healthy or otherwise) are wonderful reminders of home and just plain scrumptious.
- Graham crackers
- Regular crackers
- Non-chocolate candy
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Cup noodles
- Sunflower seeds
- Deck of cards
- Music gift cards
- Small electronic devices & batteries
- Travel board games
- Considering (and if they have access) filling a thumb drive full of their favorite songs, sporting shows, talk shows, homemade movies etc.
PERSONALIZED & COMFORT
THESE are what they look forward to the most – make sure you always add something(s) that are personal and from home.
- Home baked cookies (high moisture content)
- Kid art
- Letters and notes (these are the most requested)
- Reminders from home
- Stuffed animals
WHAT NOT TO SEND
Aside from things that locals/countries might find offensive, some things are just plain illegal.
- Adult entertainment
- Alcohol or drugs
- Aerosols or pressurized products
- Firearms or ammunition
- Perishable foods
- Religious materials
- An entire box of the same thing, give them variety
HOW TO SEND
- You cannot send large boxes – the size of a shoe(ish) box is around the safest size.
- Seal liquids in zip lock bags or the kind of plastic wrap you press your finger along to seal. Besides, the bags can be reused for other things.
- Get a collection of SINGLE SERVINGS – large containers are harder to carry, space wasting, and might not get consumed fast enough before spoiling.
- Send priority mail (flat rate priority) if you want it there in 1-2 weeks (but there might be circumstances with delays, especially around holidays).
- Include the name/address of the service officer and a list of contents inside the box – so if things get damaged, it can be put back together and still delivered to the receiver.
- Even if you know what country your service member is in, do NOT write that on the package. Instead, you always use APO/FPO.
- If you’re not sure how to send, look up military or diplomatic package sending sites. They will have plenty of information.
- You don’t have a lot of space – use it wisely.
Any other ideas for what can be included in a military care package? Share in the comments!