WHAT I TOOK WITH ME TO HAITI:
- Small disposable flashlights in case power goes out (which it does frequently) and generators don't work
- Extra toothbrushes in case you put yours under the sink water out of habit. Better to throw it away and use a new one.
- Wisps --those little disposable toothbrushes with the tiny mint in the brush. We traveled for over 24 hours, it was nice to be able to sort of brush our teeth without needing water.
- Speaking of traveling for 24 hours, we had an overnight in the Miami Airport. I brought a cheap throw blanket and some fuzzy socks -- boy am I glad, it was FREEZING in the airport. Next time I am bringing a small pillow and ear plugs as well.
- Bottled water -- buy a big one for each person before you get on the plane bound for Haiti so you have enough drinking water to get you through a few hours once on the ground. It is hot and you may have to stand in the sun, and who knows when you will get someplace with clean water.
- A few bars/snacks/nuts to get you by when you get hungry. But I did not share these with Christina or other orphanage kids -- their tummies are not used to our food.
- Starbucks VIA instant coffee packets (I carried a few for both hot and cold water). Because I need good coffee, and this is easy to carry and add to hot/cold water!
- Small washcloths -- enough to be able use a clean one each night. I covered my face (and my daughter's face) each time I took a shower so I wouldn't get shower water in my nose or mouth. It was nice to have a dry clean washcloth to put over my face each night.
- With that said, both times we have traveled we were given one big towel each, no hand towels, no beach towels, no washcloths. If you plan to swim or go to the beach, you may want to pack an extra towel or two. Or if you like more than one towel when you bathe.
- Antibacterial Wet wipes. Lots of them. We each carried our own packet with us.
- Hand sanitizer. Several. I carried one with me at all times. I even used it after I washed my hands in the sink.
- Several freezer sized Ziploc baggies. You never know when you need a big baggie. For soiled clothes, for wet things, a throw up bag if someone gets sick (my kids get car sick -- these come in quite handy for that!).
- Balloons, stickers, cheap plastic necklaces for the kids in the orphanage. These seem to be the things they loved the best, and they travel well.
- Enough room in my carry-on so I could bring back Haitian art, bowls, etc.
- Medicines I carried with me: Tylenol, ibuprofen, Cipro (an antibiotic you get by prescription, in case you get a bacteria from food/drink that makes you sick beyond what Immodium can treat), Immodium, Benedryl (we have food/bee sting allergies) eye drops (in case we needed to flush an eye), Gas-X, Pearl Probiotic pills (hey, I wanted to make sure my stomach was protected!)
- First Aid kit, including bandaids, a cold pack, ace bandages, atibacterial ointment, alcohol wipes.
- a fabric measuring tape to measure Christina's height (I will also measure her head circumference next time)
- Insect repellent
- Address where we are staying in Haiti, and phone numbers for our adoption agency contact the the US. (Actually, we did not have the address of the guest house, which caused a delay at customs. You have to write it on the custom sheet on the plane before you land, so carry it with you.)
- Also make sure someone at home has contact info for you in Haiti (guest house/hotel number) and your agency contact in the US.
WHAT I TOOK FOR CHRISTINA:
- Pull ups. I guessed at her size and they fit fine (size 3-4). Lots of orphanage kids wet the bed even if they are potty trained. Saves having to deal with wet sheets and pjs.
- Summer outfits/ pjs for each day we were there. The orphanage packed a bag of clothes and toiletries for her, but she enjoyed getting to wear the clothes we brought. She happily picked out her own outfits each day.
- Several pairs of underpants (which I then left there for the orphanage to use)
- A pair of shoes (which I also left there)
- Ipad games and kid movies (she loved to watch the movies, even though she couldn't understand the words.)
- A matching game -- she loved playing with this!
- Coloring book and crayons
- Stuffed animal which we left with her
- A photo album of us and our house, which we left with her
- A little blanket for her crib
A COUPLE MORE TIPS:
- Keep the green customs card that they hand you at customs when you first arrive. You HAVE to have it to leave Haiti. I kept it in my passport.
- If you do check baggage, make sure you have the bag claim ticket handy when you arrive in Haiti. You have to have it in order to leave the airport with your luggage. They will check as you walk out of the airport.
Even with that huge list we were able to pack everything into carry-on bags. I made sure all of our liquids/gels/etc were 3 oz or less and fit in a quart sized bag so we could carry them on the plane. I wanted to make sure our luggage arrived with us and nothing "disappeared".
What I DID NOT take:
- curling iron or hair dryer. The power is spotty, and I felt it was a waste of their scant electricity. Besides, it is hot and humid and your hair is gonna look terrible anyway. So I just dealt with bad hair for a few days.
- Jewelry or my engagement band. No sense in losing it or giving someone the idea to try and steal it.
- My purse, or more than one credit card. I carried a sturdy backpack with all of my supplies in it. And I carried cash and my passport everywhere I went. We did not have the opportunity to use credit cards anywhere, although I know some places will let you use them. If so, call your bank so they can make a note that you will be out of country so they don't freeze your card when you try to use it.