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The Phalen Packing List
Based on two adoption trips to two different locations in two years, our packing recommendations:
- Baby blankets: (2) flannel for cool weather or cotton for hot weather.
- Baby carrier or sling. We like the EZ carrier from One Step Ahead because it will accommodate a baby/child from 5 months up to 40 lbs.
- Baby shampoo. Adult toiletries and hair dryer provided in hotels.
- Backpack diaperbag
- Books, magazines To pass time on the plane ride and late nights.
- Bottles and disposable liners. Easier than washing bottles. Put 100 liners in a small wipes container.
- Calculator Vendors in cities have them, but handy in outlying areas or to do your own calculations.
- Camera and film We took 20 rolls, plus a digital camera and video camera Ė but you can also buy film there. We also took a small Polaroid camera and film for the stone carving picture and to take pictures of us, baby, and caregiver for her.
- Changing pads, 1-2 upon which to change diapers on the fly.
- Clothes, parents and baby Donít overpack as laundry is cheap outside the hotels (arranged by agency guide) and you wonít be able to resist buying some baby clothes there (good prices). Donít forget hats for you and baby. My favorite packing tip -- clean out your underwear drawer and pack all those holey, stretched out, not-your-favs underwear, then wear them once and throw them away! Very cathartic and practical and makes a lot of extra room coming back for the souvenirs you'll buy in China.
- Credit cards, major (not Discover)
- English/Chinese Phrase book. I recommend "Essential Chinese for Travelers" by Fan Zhilong, available at Amazon.com (my full review of the book is listed there).
- Dish soap, a small container of anti-bacterial dish soap.
- Disposable diapers one unopened sleeve or 2 - 3 day supply. You can purchase more there, but look closely and make sure they have the velcro tabs as some Chinese brands do not and use pins instead.
- Electrical adapter. A full set of outlet/plug converters. Electricity is 220 volts/50 cycles. Most hotels have these that you can use.
- First Aid/Medical Kit
- Immodium for diarrhea,
- Cipro for anything very bad that comes along (including serious diarrhea),
- Insect repellent,
- Benydryl (liquid and cream),
- Tylenol, aspirin/ibuprofen/etc. (Excedrin Fast Tabs are handy Ė no water needed),
- Pepto-Bismol tablets,
- Lotrimin cream for yeast infection or foot fungus,
- Antibiotic ointment and liquid,
- Syringes: You may not need to use them (we didnít twice), but take a few along in case you do,
- Sterile Tongue Depressors
- Pedialyte, or better yet Kaoelectrolyte, which is a powdered electrolyte product.
- Cold Medicine, for adults and child
- Flashlight with batteries packed separately in your luggage for airport security purposes.
- Foodstuffs In major cities you can find most items, e.g. Diet Coke, KitKats, Pringles (try the curry ones - wish they had those in the States), even Dove ice cream bars! But sometimes you just donít want to go foraging so take a small supply of quick eats. These are what we took: oatmeal packets, quart-sized ice tea bags, granola bars, snack cheese/crackers, corn nuts. Packed them in a small quart plastic pitcher that we used to make iced tea in.
- Gifts and red bags/envelopes. Officials gifts. We gave money to everyone that we could because it is easier and preferred. We also took good quality pocket tees and a sharpie for the entire group to sign as an extra special gift for our agency guides (with the group number on the pocket), if addition to cash, of course.
- Inflatable baby travel tub. Essential for our first daughter who was terrified of the bathtub. Our second used it a couple times but was less afraid Ė even so it takes up very little space going over and we used to with some air in for packing fragile items on the way home. Both times we were glad we had it, and it was also used by another couple whose baby had similar "big tub" fears.
- Money belt (for carrying larger amounts) and Fanny Pack (easy access).
- Paper goods, small Kleenex packs (for use in public bathrooms) and pre-moistened towelettes.
- Phone numbers for pediatrician; your doctor; internet access; phone access; congressmen. We also had a separate sheet with our credit card and travelerís check info and contact numbers in case they were lost or stolen.
- Stationery items. A clear envelope for your consulate appointment and a thin accordion file for all of your important documents. Small quantities of paper clips, blue and black pens, rubber bands, scotch tape (strip refills #90), duct tape, files, envelopes, a small stapler, and a sharpie pen. Youíll be amazed what all you use this stuff for.
- Swiss Army pocket knife. Indispensable! Put in checked luggage for security reasons. Also small folding scissors and cork screw, if not on your knife.
- Thermos all steel, 12-16 oz., for hot water to make bottles when traveling.
- Toys. Simple, age appropriate. Stacking cups were the big favorite with both our girls. Our second actually preferred playing with an empty photo canister with a rock in it!
- Travel guide info on China. Photocopy only guide book pages describing the cities you will visit.
- Umbrellas or rain jackets, if traveling during rainy season.
- Utensils. Tongs for sterilizing nipples in a hotel glass or ice bucket -- although the second time we went (2002) both hotels had tongs. Chopsticks and a few plastic spoons and forks for in-room eating. Drinking straws.
- Zip lock bags. All different sizes. Another thing you will be amazed at all the uses for. I packed each personís clothes in really big 2 or 3 gallon ones Ė you can compress them into a small space that way by squeezing the air out. I used them to pack fragiles on the way home with air in them. Dirty diapers. Snack kits. Ice packs. Film Ė exposed in one; unexposed in another; you pull them out of camera bag for hand inspection at airports. And a zillion other uses.
Donít bother taking formula (you can buy what she is used to there -- better than upsetting her system changing formula there); a stroller (China streets are not stroller-friendly); U.S. phone cards or satellite phone (agency guide can get cheap phone cards that actually work where you are); or computer (cheap and easy internet access at hotels and internet cafes).
This may look like a lot of stuff, but with efficient packing we got it all into one large and one small roller suitcase, a camera bag, the diaperbag backpack, and a small carry-on bag. We also packed a empty soft-sided duffel that we filled with things we bought in China, but you can also buy extra luggage there cheaply for that purpose if you need it.
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