Alrighty, here’s an interesting list for all you packers out there: it’s the list of odds and ends that we took along for US, the grownups. Mostly it was for entertainment purposes, but there’s some practical stuff too.
I was surprised at how big the list was, but knowing us as I do (us travelling = packmules), it could have been much, MUCH worse. And most of it worked really well for us, so I can’t complain.
- Laptop: Packed and invaluable. I cannot tell you how great it was to have a laptop with us. Both BDH and I have fairly intense computers (big, heavy, lots of software, etc.) and so we went out and got a cheap, lightweight laptop for the trip. It was awesome to have. First off, we could keep in touch via email with anyone at home we needed to reach, or that needed to reach us. We could also blog, which turns out to be a big thing for quite a few people. (Hello, Peeps! 😀 ) And it was storage for pictures and video as we needed it. But another great thing was for sheer entertainment value. We brought a couple of DVDs along, and could entertain ourselves after a long day, or Stinkerbelle if she needed something fun to do. And we also had music on it, so we had lullabyes to help the girl sleep, and tunes to have a dance party with the girl… it was great.
- Power cords: Packed and invaluable. No use bringing along any gizmos if you don’t have anything to power them up with. So wherever you see something that needs power, assume there’s also an entry reminding me to bring the associated power cord (because there was. Trust me.)
- Canvas laptop bag: Packed and invaluable. Our laptop came with a kind of shoulder-bag/napsack kind of thing, which was perfect for carrying our documents, our money, our camera (and of course our laptop, when required) whenever we were out and about.
- Power converter (1): Packed and invaluable. We bought a power converter because, of course, they’re on different power and use different plugs in Ethiopia than we do in Canada. And we used it All. The. Time. As a matter of fact, it probably would have been nice to have another one, but we made do with one just fine.
- Power bar: Packed but didn’t use. Yes we brought a power bar along so we could power up several things at once, but we did not use it… because WE FRIED IT. As soon as we plugged it in, there was a big ZAP and the smell of burning somethingorother. So, our power bar spent the rest of the day on the balcony, and then got tossed in the trash.
- Canon digital camera: Packed and used… but only briefly. Because it unfortunately chose this trip to die. It would have been nice to have, since it’s an older, cheaper camera but I fear it got busted bouncing it around half the planet.
- Digital SLR camera: Packed and invaluable. This is our “good” camera. As Grammy, and anyone who have asked for pictures can tell you, we took many photos of our girl. And continue to. The kid is UP TO HERE with me taking her picture a billonteen times a day. The only thing we probably could have done better, in retrospect, would have been to leave the zoom lens at home. As it turns out, there was not much use in having it, because although we had lots to take pictures of, the smog made the pictures pretty hazy and unclear.
- Video camera: Packed and invaluable. We took video — a sort of video blog of our day — at the end of each day (well, except for days when Stinkerbelle kept us too busy). It was actually a lot of fun to do, and turned out really well. We captured so many thoughts, impressions, and events from our time away on video. I only wish we had done more. It will be awesome for our daughter to have, years from now.
- Books: Packed but didn’t use. Okay, I cracked my book, and read two pages, but otherwise… who had time to read? And it was all far to exciting, exhausting, interesting to spend time reading — and the entertainment system on Emirates Airlines was so awesome, we didn’t need books to entertain ourselves on the flights.
- Knitting: Packed but didn’t use. Same as the books.
- Rechargeable batteries for digital camera: Packed and invaluable. They also worked for the video camera, and we used both so frequently, it was good to have rechargeables.
- Flashlight (2): Packed and used. We brought flashlights in case of power outs, which — interestingly enough — we ended up seeing while in the airport in Addis. The lights went out, and we had the flashlights. Go figure. But the other cool thing is that we used the flashlight as a nightlight for midnight diaper changes and feedings. We set the routine with our daughter that once it is nighttime, there’s no fooling around, so we don’t speak to her and we keep the lights low while we feed and change her, and then it’s back to bed with no fussing. So the flashlight came in very handy for that. We set it up on end near her change table, and the light was just enough to change and feed her.
- Swiss army knife: Packed and used. This was a fun one to have, because it got pressed into service for a bunch of stuff: bottle opener (Corona for me *blush*), other oddball tool needs, and interior decorating (BDH used it to cut the top off a water bottle to use it for a vase for our flowers)… it was handy dandy.
- iPod: Packed but didn’t use. Again, there’s that Emirates entertainment system saving the day! We didn’t need our iPods because the in-flight system was so awesome, we were totally entertained the entire trip.
- iPod charger: Packed but didn’t use. See above. Not using the iPod, not using the charger.
- Nintendo DS: Packed and invaluable. But not for what you might think. There was no clock in the Dubai hotel we stayed at, and the clock in our room in Addis was not easy to set, so we just used the DS as an alarm clock, and it worked great!
- DS games: Packed but didn’t use. Well, it was being used as a clock the entire time. And as you well know, between a baby, a laptop and the Emirates ICE system, who needs a DS to keep entertained?
- DS charger: Packed and used. Of course, since we were using it all the time, we had to charge the DS. However… like the power bar, the change in power or the converter fried the charger, so we had to buy a new one when we returned home. I wonder how many others we’ll need to replace as we start to use these things agina here at home.
- Fanny pack: Packed but didn’t use. We had a backpack-type laptop bag we carried everywhere, so we used that instead.
- Journals: Packed and used. We actually got a fair bit of use out of our journals, writing down words we learned or things we wanted to remember. But the best use of all was the idea to jot down Stinkerbelle’s schedule each day (which we still do, for her doctor and pediatrician, and to help us keep track of her days). And that way, it was portable when we were out, too. Nowadays, we do it on computer.
- Life book: Packed and didn’t use. I had started a lifebook for our daughter, but it got woefully neglected. We just didn’t have the time or the energy to write after a full day with our daughter in Addis. And I don’t know if I am going to carry on with it, either. Our friends gave us a scrapbook set, which is more along the lines of what we want to do for a lifebook.
- Pens/pencils: Packed and used. See the entry about the journals above.
- USB cable for camera: Packed and invaluable. If you’re going to take as many pictures as we have, you’re going to fill up memory on the camera pretty quick. And so, transferring it to the laptop is important.
- Firewire cable for video: Packed but didn’t use. We thought we might transfer the video to the laptop as well, but we had lots of tapes and just didn’t get around to it.
- Money belts: Packed but didn’t use. Well, we did, but just for storage. We didn’t go out shopping or anything so there was really no need to keep our money and documents close to our bodies (pickpockets being a distinct possibility in Addis). We just carried everything around in the laptop bag and that worked fine. But if we had gone out to a market or something, they probably would have come in very handy.
- Travel pillows: Packed but didn’t use. Once again… Emirates Airlines rocks. We were comfy enough that we didn’t need them.
- Ziploc bags (small, box of 100): Packed and invaluable. We used the ziplocs for everything — absolutely everything. From keeping things watertight (which turned out to be really necessary, because our bags got left out in the rain at the airport in Toronto and everything inside that was NOT in a ziploc was drenched), to parcelling out snacks before we left, to keeping things organized in our baggage, the ziplocs? They RULE.
- Ziploc bags (large, box of 20): Packed and invaluable. Even more than the small ones. We packed 4 large ziplocs, each with one outfit, a diaper, a washcloth, and a small ziploc containing several wipes for the trip home, and put them in our diaper bag and carry on. This made trips to do diaper changes a breeze. It was also a great way to pack formula for the trip home — measure the formula powder into a liner, twist-tie it shut, and pack 15 or so of them into a large ziploc with a measuring cup and VOILA, easy bottle prep. Good dog, we used ziplocs for EVERYTHING.
- Twist ties: Packed and invaluable. See the little formula packing tip above.
- Grocery bags: Packed and invaluable. We packed about 50 plastic grocery bags (25 will fit into a medium ziploc if you fold and compress them well) and we used them to pack up our garbage each day — specifically stinky diapers. It helps keep the smell down and the garbage well organized if you are spending a lot of time in your hotel room (which we did).
- Rolling luggage: Invaluable. Now, BDH and I are sports-duffelbag-kind of peeps. We have two big sports bags and that’s what we use whenever we go anywhere. But then this trip came up, and we knew we’d need something more… durable. With real sides and stuff. So. There was a sale on before we travelled at the luggage store in the mall, so we bought luggage with wheels and handles. You know the type, — the handle comes out the top and slides in when you don’t need it? Travels up on end and ypu can pull it behind you? Now, this came in handy because these sorts of bags also come with a strap that allows you to sort of “wagon-train” your bags together, and let me tell you, with a baby in the snugli and a diaper bag and other carry-ons to carry, this little wagon-train-dealie is THE ONLY way to get around an airport. It ROCKED.
- Earplugs: Packed and invaluable. The first night in the hotel was New Years Eve, so hey, you think there was partying noise to be blocked out? But also, any time we needed to sleep, we pulled out the earplugs — the squishy foam kind, that you smunch down, put in your ear, and they expand to fit your ear — and we slept really well. AWESOME to have.
- Canadian flag baggage tags: Packed and used. Again, not as you might think. Apparently they are VERY prized possessions among the staff at the airport in Addis — so much so that when we went to enter the airport (you have to go through a baggage scanner to enter the airport) the baggage handlers ACTUALLY STARTED REMOVING THE TAGS FROM OUR BAGS. While asking us if they could have them, of course, but STILL. We managed to keep the ones on our checked bags, and gave them the ones on our carry-ons (I admit I was a little annoyed that they just assumed it was okay to take them off our bags, but whatever). It would have been nice to have a few more.
There are also some things that we WISH we had brought:
- Umbrella: It was rainy season, and it sure would have come in handy a couple of times.
- Mini tripod: This would have come in handy for our little video blog. The first few, one person was holding the camera and the other was on camera. After awhile, we McGyvered a little setup so that we could both be on camera, but the mini tripod would have come in really handy.
So, yeah. There’s a big list. But like I said, we are packmules and could carry everything AND the kitchen sink when we travel. So this was a vast improvement.
Next, we’ll talk SNACKAGE. And other important food-related items. Because who doesn’t love the food? Am I right?