Over the years I have found that less is more when packing a carry on bag! The more activities you have to do, the less time you spend on each of them.
The plane trip to and from Ethiopia went pretty well for us. It is a long flight, so I don’t think it would be fair to say it was enjoyable, but it was tolerable.
Packing your carry on bag is easier if you break it down into three categories:
1) Important Papers/Things you Cannot Live Without:
* Passport- We always have several copies made and put them in two different places. Also we leave a copy with our go-to person at home.
*Adoption papers. What you need to bring should come from your agency but in general a copy of the adoption decree is a must.
*Paperwork that we took over for our agency. Mailing to Ethiopia is expensive and sometimes impossible. We felt it a privilege to take over correspondence since others had done the same for us.
*A small bag of medicines. I had chewable Tylenol for kids, Tylenol and ibuprofen for adults, Pepto tablets, heartburn tablets and Dramamine. With our party of 5 people over and 7 people back I can honestly say that we used a little of everything during our flights!
2)Activities to Do While You are on the Plane
*Most people enjoy taking something to read. Since it is such a long flight I recommend taking one or two books and a magazine.
*Mp3 players are amazing and sure do beat the music on the plane!
*Cards or electronic games – Mind numbing activities that make the time go faster!
3) Items to Make Your Flight More Comfortable:
* Most international flights offer ear plugs, face mask and socks to wear. Check with your airline. It’s nice not to have to pack these comfort items.
*Gum or Comfort Snacks. I like trying new foods, but not on an airplane. I like to stick with my favorite snacks.
When Packing for Kids Going to Ethiopia
Again, I stress less is more! If you are taking kids to Ethiopia I’m assuming they have been your kids for a while if not homegrown and you know them well. Allow them to choose three items that they want to take (all have to be approved items of course!) and pack a couple of surprises. For example, Meg choice to take her MP3 player that had music and books on it, and two books. She took a book on England (we stayed a week there before going to Ethiopia) and a book on Ethiopia. Meg is very studious, so these were fun items not books mommy makes her read! I also through in some bead work to keep her busy. Keep in mind that Meg was 8 years old on this trip. Elle was only three. I helped her chose what to take. She took a travel case of Polly Pockets, a doll and something to write on. I also slipped in some Crayola Color Wonders markers and paper. If you have never heard of Color Wonders you need to go get some! It is not the cheapest of activities ($about $8), but it is wonderful as the markers only work on the special paper! No coloring the walls of the plane!
I have to say a word on DVD players and small kids on flights. I’m not a fan of portable DVD players I must admit, but I do know that they have their place. I once took a DVD player on a trip to California with Meg and Elle and I will never do it again. They spent the entire trip switching out movies and arguing on what to watch. If you have an older child or are traveling with only one kiddo you may have better luck. Just remember that the flight to Ethiopia is long and your DVD batteries only last so long!
When packing Your Newly Adopted Kids Carry On Bag
Keep it simple! I cannot stress that enough! Our Ethiopian kids have never been in a plane before (just a guess, since mine hadn’t even been in an elevator!). All the gadgets and buttons are overwhelming!
Both Mita and Enu had a backpack. I gave them each MP3 players one the flight took off and we were settling in. This new toy was amazing to them and kept them very busy. I had loaded them with Ethiopian kids music so they would have something familiar to listen to. (From my days living in Peru I remembered how listening to something in English was so relaxing after trying to speak and listen to Spanish all day.) They had a deck of cards to play War (a favorite of theirs)and something to write on. I also picked up a few comfort snacks for them, so they had familiar food. We flew Ethiopian Airlines, so we were surrounded by Ethiopians, which made it easier on them as well.
Each child had a change of clothes, which Enu needed as she vomited during our landing in Rome. I had the dosages of Dramamine written down by weight handy and she was healthy the rest of the trip.
Have the best positive attitude you can and remember you will get home someday!