What to take to Iraq?
December 13, 2005 8:42 AM   Subscribe

What should I get for my son to take to Iraq

he is in the army and leaves in a few months. Will he be able to use a laptop? I have no idea the availability of supplies like batteries, on line access etc. I assume once he gets there it will be hard to get things to him and I would like to get things now.
posted by InkaLomax to Travel & Transportation around Iraq (11 answers total)
Goggles. Handi-wipes. Lotion.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2005

(from our own experience)
1. My son did not take his laptop because the sand would destroy it very quickly. He does buy personal dvd players and considers them disposable - when the sand gets to one he buys a new cheap one.
2. He has access to all kinds of batteries and supplies through the px. I think it is quite a walking distance, so it is a pain. But still everything available. Including any kind of snack he could want (so we no longer send food like we did his first deployment). In fact he is eating too much. The food is very good where he is - it is catered.
3. He has faster Internet access than we have. Access to the shared computers varies widely. It is especially a hassle when new people arrive as they tend to want to spend a lot of time emailing family and friends. So he stays away from the computer labs at those times.
4. It's not hard to get things to them at all. And the shipping time is usually less than two weeks. We order from Amazon all the time. They have the mailing to an APO down. You should read their instructions on filling their form out for APOs. The Apo goes in the city field? I can't remember. But you have to fill that out correctly.
5. Of course you can't send alcohol, pork products or porn because it will go through the Iraq postal system so we go by their rules (although the British soldiers are allowed beer and porn I am told).

The most requested items from him have been: fly swatters, powdered gatorade, baby wipes and reading material. He can't get enough reading material. 2nd deployment all he has asked for is books. I try to send books I think will appeal to a wide range because he will be leaving them behind for others.

You can email me at my username at gmail.com
posted by 9000.68 at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2005

As stated above, you should be able to get things to him pretty easily once he's over there.

My sister-in-law's boyfriend recently returned from Iraq, and he said that the most useful items were handi-wipes (they don't get to shower very often and these are good for quick, effective clean-up), books/DVDs, music CDs (we burned a whole spindle of CD-Rs and sent them over, rather than send individual discs in jewel cases), and magazines. The soldiers loved getting magazines. Consider subscribing to a few favorites (Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, etc.) and sending them over every couple of weeks. One problem with magazines, though, is they can be heavy to ship. Also, I'm not sure what kind of disposal system they use over there; we don't want our legacy to be landfills stuffed full of Entertainment Weeklies.
posted by arco at 9:39 AM on December 13, 2005

I've had two friends over there recently. Here's what they liked best:
  • Baby wipes - yes, everyone's mentioned these but they are very useful.
  • Books - these will get passed around and traded. I tried to avoid war stories, but up to you.
  • Porn. Yeah, I know.
  • Eyedrops - a few bottles of these since they go off quickly in the heat once opened
  • Inflatable (soccer) footballs and a pump, pens, pencils, rubber balls - to give out to the local kids. Not sure what the US rules are about this, but the UK guys liked doing it. Nothing that could be confused with official 'humanitarian' aid, mind you, just something to make the kids smile.
  • Powdered hot chocolate / Ovaltine - (UK) army hot choc has caffeine in it...
  • Lip salve with high SPF - skiing lipsalve is good.
  • Moisturiser / vaseline / camomile lotion - sandstorms blast your skin raw
  • Sunglasses - they break so easily it's good to have a few pairs. Make sure they're polarised.
  • Cheap flip flops - as you can imagine, the showers are dreadful
  • A magazine subscription is a great idea, wish I'd thought of that
More if I think of them
posted by blag at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2005

Ear plugs
posted by blag at 10:37 AM on December 13, 2005

My brother wanted baby powder for similar reasons people above mentioned baby wipes (Gulf war 1). We sent that and Gold Bond over, but the original scent was more popular with the guys. Maybe it was homey.
posted by oflinkey at 11:21 AM on December 13, 2005

I spent a year in Iraq with the 101st. Two obscure items I recommend:

1. Loofa. I couldn't get clean enough with just a bar of soap.
2. Headlamp. Indispensible.

I also recommend:
3. USB flash drive. He can use a friend's laptop to compose thoughful letters in Word and later send these as email on one of the shared computers. It saves time. Also, he can cut and paste your emails and pictures for more leisurely viewing on this friend's laptop.
4. Laptop. As long as he's as careful with his laptop as he should be with his weapon, it'll be fine. I had my parents ship my Powerbook over in September, 2003. It still runs like a dream.
5. Some sort of investment or savings account. If he's single, he should be socking away some serious cash. Make sure it's working for him. If he rents, terminate the lease and move everything into storage. Cancel his car insurance if possible. There are very few reasons he should not be debt free by the time he gets home.

Good luck.
posted by viewofdelft at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2005

My boyfriend is there. He has his own laptop and has a good connection ( most of the time). Besides that he loves his mp3-player most. Boardgames, dvd's are all good. Digital camera, webcam, headset are often used.
Depends on where he goes, most px sell baby wipes. But they are something he should bring!
My bf is with the US army and is not allowed cellphone, alcohol or porn.
If he needs anything I send it , or he orders it online. ( the mail goes pretty quick)

He is not online now, but if you want I can ask him about things that are handy to have there. Send me an email if you want me to ask ok?
posted by kudzu at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2005

Body armour sounds like a good thing.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:59 AM on December 13, 2005

Kickstart70: these Kevlar blankets are often send from home or taken with them.
Also sand scarves are useful to take.
posted by kudzu at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2005

All of the above are great suggestions, obviously, but along the lines of a savings account -- I work in banking and we see too much of people not being prepared to take care of things that soldiers can't deal with while deployed. Power of Attorney. File it with his bank(s) and anyone else you might have to deal with. So many people I've dealt with just didn't do it when the Army/Navy/Marines told them to, and then they spend a lot of time trying to work it out with the poor guy/girl who's really got limited time/resources/etc to deal with this stuff. POA is a magic ticket and it's dead easy to do. Being someone's spouse or mother isn't sufficient (unless you are the other person on the account/policy/whatever) -- you really, really, really need this document. I can't emphasize this enough.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2005

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