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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Packing list for families traveling to Ethiopia for an adoption

Our packing list for our adoption trip to Ethiopia. We were there for 10 days in the rainy season and traveled there with 4 people and home with six. We planned to have our laundry done at the guest house. This is a bad idea unless there is a dryer. Nothing was dry by the time we packed up. We had worn all the remaining clothing several days while waiting. It was a pain. They ended up ironing dry one outfit for us to wear on the last day we were there. I had reserved one outfit for the plane, that is a good thing. Dry season, this would not have been a problem. Check to see if there is a dryer before opting for this. We did NOT use the things in red and we DID use everything not noted and the things in orange which have a special note for various reasons. Green things we wished we had more or would have had it at all.

Clothing for each person traveling:

underwear for every day we are there, plus one
socks for every day we are there, plus two
2 pair pants Mom and girls
5 pair Capri's Mom and girls, ***more pants would have been better
6 pair pants Dad
6 short sleeve shirts
3 long sleeve shirts
1 sweater Mom and girls ***wished we had taken two
1 sweatshirt*** wished we had taken two
one airplane outfit to be reserved for coming home
flip flops for in the bathroom
crocks for outside ***(wished we had two pair)
tennis shoes
nice shoes for airplane (worn both ways)
casual skirt and top outfit Mom and girls
casual nice outfit Dad
pajamas one pair *** wished we had taken two
swim suit *yes we used it.
hats (winter) the boys used them
shorts for some **did not use any
plastic or paper bowls **did use
baseball cap for Dad

First Aid and Meds:

scabies cream ***we DID use it
kids antibiotic ***we did NOT use it
adult Cipro ***used when we got home
sleep aid ***did NOT use
allergy meds
kaopectate tablets
Tylenol kids
migraine Tylenol
Advil adult
cold meds for all
topical anti-fungal for ringworm ***we DID use it
band aids
cortisone cream
benadryl gel
Tylenol pm
acidophiles ***taken every day one week before and every day there, I feel it DID help
motion sickness meds ***did NOT use
children's anti-diarrhea ***used
powdered anti-fungal **did not use there but needed at home.
acne cream

Other Bathroom needs:

mini travel TP rolls ***yes, we used it, I carried it in my fanny pack along with some of the following 3 items and we used each thing.
travel wipes
travel Clorox wipes
purell in tiny bottles
feminine supplies
sunscreen ***did NOT use
pull ups for the boys
bug spray ***DID use
shampoo in a tube all shared one
conditioner in a tube all shared one
lotion in a tube all shared one
toothpaste in a tube all shared one
toothbrushes for everyone
make up
comb and brush we all shared one
hair ties and clips for the girls
curling iron and hair dryer ***ended up not using as the adapter we took ended up being broken
kids vitamins
adult vitamins
chapstick for each person
razor and shave cream

nail trimmers and file
liquid soap ***did NOT use
safety pins
Qtips ***I think the boys had never had their ears cleaned. It was absolutely necessary.
Shea butter or cocoa butter in a tub for kids skin ****we should have taken

leave in condition for boys hair  ****we should have taken

pick for boys hair ****we should have taken 


We did not need so much, left much at the orphanage when we came home
fruit snacks **rejected
dried fruit **rejected
candy for fun and bonding
granola bars **big hit
trail mix
drink mix tubes ** not used
beef jerky **big hit
instant oatmeal **very glad for this
breakfast mix drinks **not used
HIGH PROTEIN energy bars **big hit
peanut butter
red vines
fruit roll ups **rejected
chai tea
sunflower seeds
slim Jim beef sticks **rejected
tuna and salmon packets **Not use
**We wished we had taken: dry soup mixes, mac and cheese, ramin soup cups.

Things for the Orphanage:

bouncy balls
blow up beach balls ***BEST
children's medicine (donated by friends at the adoption shower)
matchbox cars
school supplies ***BEST

gift for teachers/caregivers
agency rep and orphanage director
Asthma medication for agency rep.

***We also took monetary donation and sent some more later. The girls raised a total of $2300 for the orphanage. It would have been better to just take money, not so many things. Also to buy fruit on the way to pass out to the kids is the BEST idea. Gifts for the workers would be best given in a monetary donation to the orphanage on their behalf. Little trinkets things are not of much value.

Similar gifts for our Compassion child and his family and the Compassion center he attends. Again, sending a cash gift when you get home is best. You can send a site gift and family gift. We bought him a soccer ball and he LOVED it!

Other things we took:

Bible (mini)
adapter (it was broken, we had to borrow one while there and it was not too good either)
water bottles ( this is handy if you use a UV filter but if not just buy water in bottles)
umbrella's **would have been useful but were inconvenient and we did not use them.
detergent ** I DID do laundry by hand and that was useful, but it was a pain, it took several days for it to dry (I'm talking about underwear and socks, not jeans or heavy things!!)
line to dry things on in our room
word cards (I made cards that had a photo of a common need like drink, eat, toilet on them. Then we wrote the English word and Amharic word for them on it. Very helpful!)
extra photo books in case they lost theirs ***did NOT need
phrase book and Amharic for adoptive families book **used
flashlights and headlamp **used
extra camera card ***we had to buy another one while there because of a back up problem with our lap top. Check out your connections BEFORE you go!
tons of AA batteries ***indispensable /must have!
video camera (don't let your 9 and 10 year old take most of the video, you will be very disappointed when you get home and you only get one chance to video this event).
duct tape (we took just a little wrapped around a dowel. We used just a little.)
pens and pencils
ergo carriers **used once, not too practical for quick use
UV water filter from REI ***BEST thing we took, it is a light stick and we used it several times a day.
sewing kit
pop up laundry bags for storing things like coats, shoes, dirty laundry and toys in our room ***Very handy
wash cloths *needed more
small towels****we should have taken

roll of paper towels ****we should have taken

zip lock bags of all sized-we packed in zip lock bags of all sizes, even the huge ones for clothing. This was a great idea and proved to be very useful later and helped things compact well for travel. ***excellent
plastic forks and spoons ***used
swiss army knife
camera chargers
photo copied pages from travel book of things we wanted to see or do
extra copy of every paper we needed to take and passports and birth certificates for the girls and travel itinerary and of course all of the papers for the adoption.
list of email addresses in case I could not get mine of yahoo. **did not need, know others who did
laptop computer in order to download photos and videos to. Also you can journal on it. But, no connection to Internet. Check to be sure your camera adapters are working properly with it before you go.
Note cards to write thank you notes for the donations and shower gifts and hand me down clothes.
disposable cameras in case and yes we needed at least 3 of the 9 we brought.
phone numbers of things there and at home in case you need them.
cash in envelopes marked with what it is for.
pop up laundry bags and cubes. This is great for organizing and keeping things put away while there. Breathable! *****Excellent

clothing for the boys aged about 3 or 4 (the size 2 was a bit big on them, but worked fine):

size 2 and 3 shirts long and short sleeved, really only needed long /10, ***needed more
size 2 pants 10 pair **wished for more
sweatshirts and jackets **wished for two each
shoes in size 10 and 11
socks and underwear
one pair PJ's each **wished for more
swim suit for each
nice embassy day outfit each
airline home outfit each

Kid's fun things for at the Guest House:

coloring books, crayons** good
maze books
optical illusion book
kid cameras (disposable is fine too if you want to print them all)
note books
seek and find books **good
kid music on i pod **did not use
mini dolls and animals
little pet shop
blow up balls **good
matchbox cars **good
soft flying disks
bear for each boy
blanket for each boy
small card games and battle ship travel game **good
we bought two soccer balls there and the boys played with them and have them at home now.
toy cell phones **big hit
board books (even for older kids who don't know how to treat books) with simple plain English story. My first animals, trucks, letters, etc..... great for introducing simple language and reading together.

For flight:
coloring books and crayons
etch a sketch
mini dolls and animals
board book for little boys and reading book for big girls
i pod **not used
journal book for big girls
drawing books and art pencils
20Questions game ball
all in their own back pack. Tiny ones for the boys.

Also In each kids carry on:
one set of clothing
as many underwear as fits
swim suit
snacks reserved for flight
water bottle **not useful as you have to dump it at every check station. Just buy one.
pull up for boys

Other ideas for toys:
mini Lego set or magnetix, mini set of anything you have to put together and take apart.
play dough
a string and paperclips, beads, etc...
rubber bands
fun flashlight
wikki sticks or Bendaroos
magnetic drawing board, mini size
dry erase book with markers and eraser
mini game pads like dot/box game, dot to dot, tic tac toe, etc.
fidgetz toy
Tangle toys
mini magnetic dolls
peel and stick face book or scene book
flatsie dolls
Cracker Barrel restaurant has great travel items for kids.
Just do a search at Amazon for the most amazing travel toys. There are some great ones!!!! Do not hesitate to take toys YOUNGER than the age of your child. They do not know how to play with toys anyway and it is good to start with the younger age toys and work up. They will not mind at all. Never seen any of it.

adult carry on's and personal bag:
lap top
note cards
important papers
phone numbers
things to do copies
one set of clothing
swim suit
things we do not want to loose like adapter, UV filter for water, etc....

we used large duffel bags to pack the checked luggage in
Each of us had a carry on back pack or satchel
I used a huge fanny pack for my purse, no one questioned it not even once. Dave took one too as his personal item, it was fine.

Packing tips:
We would suggest packing in large duffle bags. In each bag put some of each group of things. Each bag of ours looked something like this: in sandwich size to gallon size ziplock bags- bathroom items, meds, snacks, toys- all this went into the HUGE ziplock bags and then in the bags. Other things in the duffle were clothes for each person, diapers.
So everything was spread out so if we lost a bag we would not loose all the donations, all the meds or all the clothes, snacks, toys, etc.....

In our carry on's went: swim suits, pajamas, underware, toothbrush, hair brush, prescription meds, laptop, cameras, adapters, reading material, a set of toys for each child, one change of clothes and pull ups -basically the non replaceable items and things we will need on the plane. ALL the papers, money, important information, numbers, etc.....

Hope this helps!!!
Jill K

Ideas for babies
(we did not bring home a baby so this is gathered from other lists, so it is not complete, just a place to start.)
diaper rash cream
baby meds like gas, tylenol, cold, benadryl, diarrhea meds, orajel
same scabies and ring worm creams listed above
baby wash
a baby bath, blow up type
leave in conditioner for those of you who have babies with hair, and shea butter or cocoa butter in a tub for their sweet little bodies. You really need a hair product and a skin product. If it contains mostly shea or cocoa butter for the body you will be doing well. Avoid oils in the hair as it attracts dirt and can cause scalp irritations.
sweaters and long pants and sleeves on babies is respectful of the culture so plan that in your wardrobe
sleeper jammies
hat and jacket
bottles, take a variety of nipples
formula, if you don't know what to take, take a variety. You can always leave the ones they won't take there at your guest house or orphanage
hot pot to boil water for formula and wash nipples
baby finger foods
baby spoons and bowl (even disposable)
baby dry mix cereals
sling or baby carrier for you to wear your baby
stain stick
extra clothes in case of blow outs
diaper bag backpack or belt pack

Click here for a post on those comfort items for the flight.


  1. We're leaving July 1st to pick up our little boy, 3 1/2 yrs. old. I googled ethiopian adoption packing list and found yours - it's awesome!!! I've been gathering and packing for the past 2 wks. and your list is helping me fill in the cracks and think about how to organize everything. Thank you so much for posting this!

  2. Hi! We're leaving July 1st to pick up our little boy, Jonas, 3 1/2 yrs. old. I googled "ethiopian adoption, packing list" and found your great list - it's awesome!!! I've been gathering and packing for the past couple of weeks and this list is going to help me fill in the cracks and organize everything. Thank you so much for posting this!

  3. Thanks, Jill! You are a blessing to SO many people, and especially us!!! Love, Joli

  4. I just googled "Ethiopian Adoption packing list" and your blog popped up. Thank you SO much for posting!!

    I wish everyone did this. We have a court date in 12 days and hope to be traveling in June. Trying to figure out if it will be rainy season when we go...

    Thanks again for sharing!

  5. I just googled "Ethiopian Adoption packing list" and your blog popped up. Thank you SO much for posting!!

    I wish everyone did this. We have a court date in 12 days and hope to be traveling in June. Trying to figure out if it will be rainy season when we go...

    Thanks again for sharing!

  6. I know this is a long shot... But any chance you have a electronic file with the Word Cards you created and be willing to share? We are preparing to travel in the next few weeks for our about 5 year old son. I need to make these, but don't want to reinvent.

  7. I think I still have it. email me at and I will be looking for it. Glad to share!!! And thanks for reading this blog.


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