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Claudiaexpat tells us about the photographic round robin of transitional objects organized by Expatclic with lots of success!


Amongst the many photographic round robins that we regularly launch on our FB group, recently we asked participants to engage in sharing pictures of one or more “transitional objects”; specifically those objects that are carried in our luggage whenever we relocate. The ones that make us feel instantly at home when we pull them out of the suitcase the moment we arrive. Maybe they have been traveling with us for years, giving us a sense of continuity and affection throughout a fragmented life. Of course, an object remains an object. It is however, amazing how such things that would hardly be noticed in a sedentary life, can become extremely important to those who have no steady address. It is human nature to seek a sense of security, not necessarily amongst physical walls, but in the many small rituals and symbols that ease the transition from deserts to high altitudes.

transitional objectsSo what are these famous transitional objects that the women of the Expatclic community always pack in their suitcases? To start with, coffee pots! Yes! Believe it. Out of 32 pictures, there are 12. Some women take with them coffee pots of different measures. Moreover, most of the coffee pots are famously Bialetti. That familiar little man of the brand is completely oblivious to his intercontinental moves! Of course we know that the ritual of coffee is important to Italians, as is anything related to food. Indeed, amongst the various transitional objects we find a rolling pin (wonderful!), a coffee cup (small and easy to transport) and racks for ladles and spoons (to make you feel at home in your kitchen).   Apparently, weight or size does not deter us in our choice of totems : a yogurt maker, a robot, the unmissable machine to make fresh pasta, and even an electric slicer!

transitional objectsWe don’t only find cumbersome transitional objects coming from the kitchen. Some of you would not give up your mountaineering skis very easily, even if the move was to a country where the snow is only artificial :-). We are even aware that a sofa is an absolute must to haul around the world whilst others are content with a scuba diving flipper!

Sometimes a blanket or comforter perform the perfect function. Transportation is easy and a house that is still a bit empty, can suddenly feel like home. The same goes for fridge magnets. Serena says: “They take up little space in the suitcase, you can place them exactly as they were in the previous house, and they make you instantly feel at home!”. Michela even buys one at each holiday destination, giving them an even deeper meaning.

Books are also important. Alessandra always puts a specific one in her suitcase, whilst others only feel at home after assembling their bookshelves.

Some objects can be quite personal, like a battered alarm clock, a little puppet, a screw for glasses, playing cards, a sewing machine and an old suitcase (which of course has certainly traveled a lot).

Family pictures are another favourite transitional object. Giulietta tells us: “[…]my dad’s picture, the special one to put on the fridge. It is a bit worn out and full of fingerprints. He has been following us this way for 12 years, and when I pull it out of its box and hang it in the kitchen, it means we have arrived…[…]

Winner of the round robin is a picture of Paola, which shows her father as a young doctor in Tanzania, “listening” to a sick child – an image that has become the emblem of her family, and that has been with Paola forever in her travels.


transitional objects


We wish to thank all friends who participate in our round robins and find the time to send us their photos.


Claudia Landini (Claudiaexpat)
Jakarta, Indonesia
March 2016
Photo credit ©the wonderful women of the community of Expatclic


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