Friday, October 09, 2009

Tips and Tricks: China Bound - Edition 1

Last year I put up some posts entitled: Tips& Tricks. I appreciate all that people share with me and it was fun to share it with you. Here are links to last year's Tips & Tricks posts: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4 and Post 5. I know I will use these later when Hannah is home.

This month I'm working on a new theme: Tips & Tricks: China Bound! Once again people have shared some really helpful tips and tricks with me that will help both in preparing for traveling to China and also while I'm there.

Here are some of the tips I've learned:
Place Family Day/Gotcha Day Clothes in Ziploc Bags: It's important if at all possible to leave our little ones in the clothes we receive them in for as long as we can, possibly even until the following day. A baby's sense of smell is so acute and at a time when their entire world is changing, these clothes can be very comforting for them. When I do change Hannah I am going to place her original clothes in Ziploc bags. When we move from Changsha back to Beijing, I will give her a piece of that clothing when she goes to bed that first night. Hopefully the familiar scent will help comfort her during the transition. Then, when we fly home to Canada I'll do the same thing with a different piece of clothing that has also been stored in a Ziploc bag.

Tie a Ribbon Around the Bathroom Tap: Drinking the tap water in the hotel or even just using it to brush teeth can cause a person to be sick for a number of days. None of us need that so this wonderful tip from Doris will be super helpful! In my new mommy haze and excitement, hopefully a brightly coloured ribbon on the tap will help remind me not to use the water to brush my teeth.

Mouthwash in the Shower Following along the same theme of not swallowing the water, it was suggested by M3 that I put a tiny bit of mouthwash in my mouth before hopping into the shower. I don't think I normally drink the water in the shower but I figure better safe than sorry!

Take a Metal Bowl, Colander, Rubber Gloves and Chopsticks for Washing Bottles and Nipples. I bought these items at lunch today and when Norma asked what they were for her reaction was, 'Wow! Who thinks of all these things your need to take?' You're right friend...not me! I hadn't really thought about how I would wash Hannah's bottles so I'm so thankful for M3 sharing so much with me! The next couple of tips are from her too.

Nalgene Bottle for cooling water that has been boiled for bottles. I understand the hotel rooms normally have hot pots for boiling water for bottles but this water often needs to be cooled while more water is boiled and placed in a thermos to take on day trips.

Coordinating Luggage Tags/Ribbons for Travel Group. Our travel group now has matching ribbons and tags one our luggage. Hopefully this will be helpful when we're trying to gather all the luggage together when travelling. Once the babies are added to the mix, I'm sure my focus will be on my gorgeous Hannah so Dad will be struggling to figure out which of the 50 navy suitcases going round and round the luggage carousel is mine. Hopefully these tags and ribbons will help.

I'm sure these are Tips are just the tip of the iceburg! If you have tips or suggestions for me I would love to hear them and will share them here for others too unless you ask me not to.

WOW....we're flying out in only 20 more days!!! WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! Hang on Hannah! Mommy is coming!!!

Note: These tips are ones that I believe will be helpful to myself and possibly others. If you don't agree then that's just fine but please don't post criticism about what I find helpful. Thank you.


  1. These are ALL such great tips..
    I sooo will forget these things .. but have bookmarked them..
    I am getting excited.. counting down with you.. I get to see my son in 21 days..
    Have a great weekend..

  2. We also found it very helpful to do these other things as well;

    -Pack each day's clothes for baby in each set's own larger zip lock bag. Makes it so easy to find the set of clothes for the day. These bags can then be used to dispose of icky diapers, or keep soiled laundry in.
    -Consider your own underpants and socks as "disposable" for the trip. And bring enough to wear and toss. I hated sending them to be laundered.
    -Bring 15-20 cheap toothbrushes and toss them as you use them. No sense in wondering if water got on them after use.
    -Bring several bras, and sealed travel sized delicate laundry detergent. It's HUMID.
    -Bring conditioner. For some reason, there seems to be NO hotel in China that provides conditioner.
    -For adults, bring feminine napkins, excederin, tylenol, SINUS tabs, cold meds, and anything else you can think of. If you won't need it, someone else in your group is bound to.
    -Bring enough Airborne for you and family to take 2-3 times a day. IT WORKS!
    -For baby, bring cortizone10 for dry skin on face and limbs, children's tylenol, benedryl if needed for long plane trip home, baby wipes, face wipes, burts butt cream (really works), Lubriderm lotion (great for dry skin), small blow up ball, large blow up ball, bubbles, stacking cups, large container of cheerios without the box, goldfish, raisins, gerber's bowls with lids.
    -Feed her congee in the mornings with breakfast, if she will eat it. She will be used to it, and will fight constipation. I actually thought it was very tasty, and ordered myself some one evening in room service.
    -Quarter sized ziplock baggies are great for storing each sum of money needed, then placed into the fanny pouch.
    Keep money in locked safe boxes in hotel rooms. It is safe there.
    -Bring candy or energy bars for yourself. Something you enjoy. Just in case you get hungry and have no idea what to eat.

    Lastly, when you get to GZ, go into a sidewalk store, and ask about the glass balls that are painted from the inside out. If you bring a picture of her with you, you wont even have to scan it. 10-15 dollars each and they are worth so much more. The artist did a hundred dollar picture on the inside of every one!

    Scroll down to on one of our first blogs to the lower part. It shows one of the globes we had made, compared to the picture we provided him with. It's truly incredible.

  3. Those are GREAT tips!! Less than three weeks until you fly out!! Holy cow!! SO can't wait to see you with your daughter and to meet her in person when you steo off of that plane. Hold on Hannah!!

  4. Take a couple of pairs of small scissors (in your checked baggage). They are invaluable in making the holes in the nipples larger and you will find out that you use them for soooo many other things.

    Don't forget about power adapters!

  5. not to disagree, but tossing toothbrushes seems extreme. i brought 2 and had a case for mine- just get a case and keep it stored in your toiletry bag. i also brought clorox clean-up wipes (travel pak) and each day after housekeeping came, wiped the counters in bathroom- b/c they use tap water. this was probably overkill. none of us got sick though :O) (i just had bad jet lag). i didn't tie anything around sinks or use mouthwash i guess my memory stayed in tact. every hotel supplies 2 bottles of water in your bathroom. a nice reminder :O) and getting bottled water is easy. your guides help too.

  6. ps. we used the butt cream and our girl had a reaction to it. bring back up of lotrmin ultra and brown A&D ointment for bad diaper rash- put lotrimin on first (lather) then A&D on top. works so well, pediatrician recommended for us. cleared up in 2 days.

  7. My only comment to add is about raisins. When opening my daycare I had to do lots of boring training classes. In one they gave us a list of the top 10 foods not to give kids under 4. Raisins is on it. They ca expand in your throat when swallowed and cause choking. They also stick in kids teeth for hours after eating and that puts all that sugar right where you don't want it for all that time. Other things I remember from on the list are grape (just cut them) carrots cut in rounds and popcorn. Now my 3 year old son has had all of those things with no problems but I did wait until he was on the older side from most of them. I just thought I would share.


  8. Great tips. I would just add that we asked the front desk at our hotels for adaptors and received them. I brought my adaptors but they weren't powerful enough so the hotels provided adaptor power bars. Much more convenient.

    Enjoy all the preps.

  9. Oh, one more thing. Careful the water doesn't go up your nose in the shower. It did for me once and I suffered for a few days because of it. Nose clips would work. I didn't have them.

  10. I am so excited for you. I found you through Ro and Ree's story. You are amazing and I can't wait to see you united with your darling daughter.
    What wonderful friends you have and what great showers.
    I am a bio Mom to 5 and adoptive Mom to 3.
    Wishing you a wonderful trip. I know it will be unforgetable.

  11. I can't wait to read the rest of your tips and tricks! What handy dandy little tidbits here! ;)

    AS I read through your blog, I was not at all surprised that you have a love for all things Disney...and Hannah has Mickey Mouse shoes. God is in the details, huh?!?! Wow! What a confirmation that she is yours! And she is so gorgeous - those bright eyes and gummy smile! COunting the days with you!
    Angie in Tennessee
    LID 1/31/07

  12. Don't forget to bring bathing caps if you plan on venturing into the hotel pools (it's a great way to get close to your little one!). We didn't bring any, and they charged us $15.00 US for each of 3! $45 US for 3 bathing caps was outrageous! But we were already IN the pool, and we didn't want to get out. We'd looked forward to it all day. :)

    I put everything into ziplocs. Everything. I may travel like that for EVER. I never had to hunt for anything in my bags.

    They lost one of my bags, so put the really important stuff (like an extra pr of undies!) into your carry on. My bag eventually came to CQ from BJ, and I was never so happy to see it!

    I tied a plastic bag right over the tap. A ribbon wouldn't stop me! LOL

    You're going to have a great time!!
    Snick :)
    dd Sunshine 8 Viet Nam
    dd Brilliance 3 Fuling CQ China

  13. Great tips Catherine! Thank you.Love, Kristy

  14. i didnt see baby size nail clippers, or visine on your list ;-P mrs k

  15. Just relax and enjoy....!!!

    All those tips, and many of them are just over the top.
    China is modern in many ways, and you can buy get anything there if you forgot something.
    We loved our journey to our daughter, and even the improvising brings back beautiful memories.
    Just focus on Hannah and everything will be okay. She won't mind if you didn't bring a 1000 ziplock-bags or a million extra toothbrushes....

    So again: RELAX & ENJOY.

    It's gonna be the most wonderful journey you'll ever experience. And the most relaxed you are the most relaxed Hannah will be.

    We were in China exactly two years ago, and from the moment we held our daughter in our arms everyhting was GOOD.

    Have a great journey to precious Hannah!!!!


  16. My tip is to bring the puree'd Gerber or Beech Nut prunes for baby in case she is constipated. Many of the babies in our group had this issue and only a few of us brought the prunes with us. People in our group could not find prunes anywhere at any of the stores. Just a thought. Sooooo excited for you!


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  18. Thanks Stace! Earlier this evening I bought prunes for just that reason. Think I might add that one to my next Tips and Tricks: China Bound post.

  19. So excited for your upcoming trip. I will be checking my computer daily to follow along on your journey.

    You may already have these tips but here goes:

    -I divided my money up into snack size zip lock backs and labeled them, orphanage donation (this was back when they didn't wire it ahead of time), province fees, spending, emergency, etc. and carried it in my money belt.

    -I packed a cardboard mailing tube and filled it with baby socks, toiletries or whatever would fit in it. On the way home I use it to store some of the artwork that I bought. This way it didn't get bent, ripped or creased.

    -I also packed some bubble wrap, it is very light and used it to wrap fragile items on the way home.

    -While in China I bought 18 items for my daughter, anything from little pin boxes, a comb, a babydoll, chop sticks, a book about her province. Every year on her Gotcha Day, I give her one of these items. She is 6 this year and I gave her the little pill box because she is just starting to loose her teeth. I thought she could put her tooth in it and put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy. She really looks forward to these little gifts. I also bought her a lace hankie for her wedding. In Beijing I bought her a pearl necklace & earrings, not sure when she will get these, Prom, graduation or wedding.
    -If you plan on buying gifts for people at home, I thought the granite etchings were awesome. Take snapshots from home (like Victoria & her friend or your brother and his family) and have etchings made, these make great gifts. Also chops were pretty inexpensive and made great gifts with the family name on them. I got both the chops & etchings in GZ (at Micheals) but ordered them soon after we got there because it can take several days to have them made.

    Have many more tips but this is getting rather long and you may already have the same tips. Enjoy your trip and take many pictures!

    Jodi in Michigan

  20. These sound like great tips, especially keeping Hannah's original clothes in a baggie. You are right, the sense of smell is accute in babies and toddlers. Newborns will even turn toward a nursing pad with their own mother's milk on it vs. the milk of another woman.

    The bathroom faucet ribbon might seem over the top to some, but with jet-lag and heightened emotion, it's easy to accidently fall into one's regular routine and use the tap water, so the ribbon is definitely a good idea.

    I love the mailing tube tip. I've read on many blogs that the artwork is exquisite and affordable in China.

    As a seasoned international traveller who has lived in hotels in Japan and the US for months on end and babysat in these hotels, I recommend having your diaper bag/carry-on bag packed and ready as if you were getting off the plane to meet Hannah. Also include a complete change of clothes for yourself in your carry-on. Too many times, luggage gets lost. My agency has also had two instances in one year where the families arrived and were met at the airport and were taken directly to their babies. It was very unexpected. I saw the video. The parents looked more dazed that the babies!

  21. I took water purifying tablets and a plastic bowl. I could then safely buy gorgeous fruits on the street - some of which I'd never seen before like Longans. I soaked them in the purified water and we found they made refreshing snacks in the heat. Obviously we peeled them too.
    Also a tiny battery operated fan and a personal 'misting' bottle' to spray cool water over us and baby Mei Mei when out and about or in cars and taxis which had no AC when I was in Gz in 2005.

  22. Congratulations your daughter is precious. My best advice to you would be do not make the mistake I did and carry an open topped bag for your daughter...I thought it would be convenient but dropped things through every airport was terrible. Enjoy perparing for the trip, take time to look around and live in each moment of the next few weeks and months.


  23. My thoughts are don't forget about yourself. If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy.

    I'd have EACH person in your party have a full change of clothes and a couple extra socks and underwear in your carryon, in case of luggage loss. It is next to impossible to find adult-sized (by big american standard) cloths, shoes, socks, etc, if you are anything over about a size 8. This is key in the event that your whole party's luggage is lost.

    Then, spread the risk....mix up your, your traveling partners stuff and babies stuff in all the pieces of luggage. If just one gets lost, the person will be OK.

    Lastly, bring a second pair of comfy shoes, in case you're out in the rain and they get soaked, you'll have a second pair to wear. I'm an american size 9.5 or 10. Shoes that big don't exist in china, or if they do, I had no idea where to find them.

    Happy packing!

    p.s. how's the baby's room coming along?

  24. Lots of great tips. We (along with everyone in our group) used the baby nail clippers quite a bit and I wish I would have brought a small pair of scissors. When your socks come back from being laundered they are sewn together and I kept ripping holes in them trying to tear them apart with the nail clippers. :P
    I also recommend some small pouches of powdered Gatorade for any abdominal illnesses that may come up. And don't forget the baby thermometer. I also checked with a pharmacist before I left so that I would know the correct dosages of OTC meds I brought. They based it on her weight and age.
    Good luck and have fun!

  25. We brought Gerber Graduates Fruit Puffs. They were better for Annie since she had no teeth. They dissolve in the mouth and she loved them. Cheerios were too hard for her.
    Remember cold medicines for the adults. Many of the adults in our group developed cold symptoms. We ran out after a couple of days. I wished I would have brought more than one package.
    Make sure everyone in your travel party has carry on luggage with wheels. There are some airports where you really have to walk and there are so many important things in the carry-ons that they get heavy. They do have just about everything you need in China! Have fun. So excited for you!!

  26. Don't forget a cheap pair of flip flops, they are great to wear in the shower & when you are pipping around the hotel room.

    I wrapped a whole towel around the faucet & taps just in case I forgot & started to use it.

    Have a great trip!!!!!

  27. I love the idea about the pink ribbon. I accidently brushed my teeth with the water and I paid for it for 2 days. If I would do it again I would not worry so much about boiling water. You can find water anywhere in bottles. Our group guides gave us each 2 fresh bottles each day just for brushing our teeth. Don't worry so much about Hannah because she is use to the water!

    I did bring LOTS of ziploc bags...LOTS!!! I even took some to breakfast and put some congee and eggs (or fruit) in it for later. I swear by the time we got back to the room, she was hungry again. Just drop the bag in boiling water for a few minutes and it was good to go!

    I also used the ziploc bags for just about everything else including packing extra baby formula. I found out the kind LiLi was use to. Then I bought a ton of it. I opened up each canister and put the formula in the ziploc bags. I must have looked like a drug mule when I came back but it paid off! I had formula from China for a few extra weeks that I mixed with the American formula.

    Just remember to do what you think is best for your child. As soon as you see her, your mommy radar will kick in and you will know just what to do. Boil, don't boil...bag, don't bag the will know what to do.

    I can't wait to see every moment of your trip! This is probably the most exciting wait I have ever watched.



  28. Such wonderful tips! Makes me wish I was packing for another trip to China!

    I'll add my one little tip to the mix: Bring suction hooks.

    When you're living in a hotel for a long time, the bathroom becomes your kitchen and your laundry room. The suction hooks attach to the mirror and/or bathtub walls and let you get a bunch of stuff up off the counter top. It sounds minor but it REALLY helped keep me organized and a bit more sane during our travel.


    Our blog: Double Happiness!

  29. Taking MAJOR notes here!! Thank you Catherine and all the commenters!


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