Travel Part 2: Things I Wish I Had Packed

Honeybee was very happy to be served this glass of tea (note the pile of sugar sitting on the bottom).

In my last post I shared a list of Things I’m Glad I Packed, so today you get my list of the Things I Wish I Had Packed. Some of these items are things we had planned to take, but didn’t, and some are things we thought of once we were there.

Things I Wish I Had Packed:

1. Power Strip and Adaptors – Russ planned to take a power strip, but in the final rush, it was forgotten. With one adaptor and the strip we would have been able to charge camera batteries, video camera batteries, phones, etc. all at the same time. Unfortunately, without it we were constantly trying to figure out which item should have priority. We took an adaptor, but wished we had taken at least one more since we were continually charging a battery for something, I also used it for my hair dryer, and Honeybee needed it on the two occasions when she watched a DVD.

2. Warmer Clothes – long sleeve t-shirts, more socks, a sweater (or two) and/or a fleece pullover all would have been helpful for Rainy Season travel.

3. Lonely Planet Guide to Ethiopia – yes, we own one; no, it wasn’t in our suitcases.

4. Rain Jacket with Hood – Since Russ backpacks, he has a great rain jacket, and due to friends who give us fabulous hand-me-downs, Honeybee has a great jacket too. I, on the other hand, took a running jacket, which seemed like a decent idea but was no match for the torrential downpours. A rain jacket with a hood would have been a good thing to pack.

5. Activities for Honeybee – Up until the day we picked her up, Honeybee’s life had been filled with children, nannies, drivers, teachers, and other folks. She had spent eight years at her orphanage, so life with Mom and Dad was a little quiet. There were times when we were busy trying to read email (nearly hopeless), arranging drivers, visiting orphanages, etc, when she would have enjoyed having more to entertain herself. I packed colored pencils, drawing paper, a journal, and more items along those lines (all things that Dimples adored), but Honeybee had no interest in them. The one thing she loved was her CD player – which reminds me, I wish I had packed more batteries because the ones we bought from the little shack at the end of the road seemed to last for approximately three hours.

6. Picture Books – I wish I had packed some simple picture books to read to Honeybee, such as a children’s Bible, simple stories, and books that identify items by their English names. I think she would have enjoyed cuddling in my lap as I read to her.

7. Food – I wish I packed more nuts, dried fruit, instant oatmeal, noodle-type meals such as Ramen, peanut butter (in a tube – you can squeeze it onto bread), chocolate, and other familiar treats. We shared what we had and nursed our last chocolate bar for days, but in the end a little more would have been nice – chocolate was our ultimate comfort food when we had spent our day in exhaust fumes while walking past heaps of goat heads, and piles of goat legs.

8. Ambien – I’m no doctor, but my opinion is that sleep-deprivation is not conducive to happiness, attachment, or anything else. Both times that I traveled to Ethiopia, I had difficulty adjusting to the ten hour time difference. Most nights I could fall asleep just fine, but then at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, my body would wake up as if the night was over and I could not fall back to sleep until 5:30 or 6:00. This was even more miserable given the fact that I was not at home lying in my own comfortable bed and I couldn’t go downstairs to read my friends’ blogs.

I talked with a physician who was also a guest at Addis Kidan and she gave me two Ambien from her supply. Her advice was to break a tablet in half, take one half when I went to bed followed by the other if I woke up more than four hours from when I wanted to wake for the day. Since I had no difficulty going to sleep, I only used 1/2 an Ambien if I woke up before 2:30 in the morning. I was amazed by how much better I felt after doing this two nights in a row. It was like a cloud lifted off of me.

I know that other people use Tylenol PM or natural sleep remedies. I would encourage you to talk with your doctor and other travelers you know to get their advice about how to adjust to the time difference. This is what worked for me.

I’ll try to write more soon!


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Andrea
    August 19, 2008

    I just LOVE your list. I am so thankful for people like you and Erin to make our trip easier. I have to say though with me traveling all by myself and packing all of that you recommended, I am not sure where to squeeze donations as I have to pack for 2 children also. That girl LOVEEEES her sugar!

  2. Angela
    August 20, 2008

    Wow! Great tips!! Thanks so much! i’m counting down! only 2 weeks, 3 days… 🙂
    who do i contact about taking over donations? 🙂 would that be you?

  3. small world
    August 21, 2008

    It was great to talk to you the other day. It will be fun to see what God has in mind for the container and/or money donations. Let me know what you find out. Hang in there with the adjustments, you are doing such a great job even if it does not feel like it all the time.
    Theresa VanWetten

  4. darci
    August 21, 2008

    hi lisa, i just came back on to copy down your lists for my ‘optimistic’ travel list i’m starting. thanks so much for sharing’s very helpful. praying things are well for you and hoping sweet honeybee is settling in nicely. love all the pics you’ve been able to share.

  5. Thankfulmom
    August 21, 2008

    Thanks for the comments! Angela, you can contact Cat at about taking donations. Theresa, I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from our Director in Ethiopia.


  6. Jenny Ruppel
    August 22, 2008

    I have just visited your blog for the first time in a while. Tears, as usual are filling my eyes. You are an amazing woman, your family is filled with the love of God and it shines through every picture and word. Thank you for the care you take in all that you do. I saw Michelle at my hubby’s checkup and she said you were home…had a wait until time to sit and savor. God’s blessings to all of you.

  7. Betina
    August 22, 2008

    I was so so thankful for the mild sleep aid I took while in Ethiopia. I can’t remember the name, but it helped so much with my jet lag and time adjustment. I am a BEAST without the proper amount of sleep. Drugs did the trick to keep me functional and at my best during my short stay there. I wanted to drink it all in, so I was glad to be alert.

  8. Kelly, Mom to the Putty's
    August 25, 2008

    This is so helpful. We know nothing. We leave in 4 days to go pick up our 4 year old son in ET. We are pretty much clueless. Thanks for the great tips. I will use every one of them.


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