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The Peters' Packing List & Vietnam Travel Suggestions

Billy was 4 months old. May, 1997.

Glad I had:

  • A bouncy seat - they cost about 25 dollars and can come apart enough to fit in a large suitcase - Billy used his A LOT - at least an hour a day while we were there. Still one of his favorite things.
  • A snugli - although it was hot, this was a great way to get around with him, and he loved it.
  • An inflatable or collapsible bathtub - many of the hotels do not have bathtubs, and the sinks are small and free-standing. You may be able to get a plastic tub from the hotel, but several people borrowed our inflatable tub.
  • A large fanny pack - I got one at a luggage store for $20 and worried I wasted my money, but it became our diaper bag.
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Alcohol swabs for quick "sterilizing" nipples
  • Burp rags - Billy was/is a spitter and I actually bought more there
  • Scissors, duct tape, Swiss army knife
  • Washcloths
  • Bottle insulator - Billy did not like room-temperature formula.. Most of the time we could ask for boiling water at a restaurant and mix it with bottled water to get it to the right temp, but I ended up buying a bottle insulator there...
  • Heating coil - quickly heated up bottled water - we didn't use this until we got to Bangkok, but I wish we had - it worked really well. A hot pot would be okay too but the coil was easier to pack.

Wish I had:

  • THE RIGHT KIND OF BOTTLES AND NIPPLES. We had been warned by IMH that the small children were not able to handle the playtex disposable bottle nipples, but I thought the orthopedic ones would be okay. Wrong. I had to borrow a regular (Evenflo) bottle from the Rupps until we could go to the western store and buy some cheap ones there. He's always only accepted the long nipples with the round ends. The Weiners had the same problem with their 4 month old daughter. Even now, I keep trying with disposable bottles every so often, but no go.
  • More blankets, warmer one than I brought for airplanes and a/c'd rooms.
  • A couple long sleeved outfits for the same reason
  • A plastic container to carry one serving of formula around in
  • A money clip
  • Notepads, pens and pencils
  • More baby nighties
  • A portable bed - Billy spent his first night in one of the Rupp's suitcases, but after that he slept in one of our 2 single beds with one of us
  • Gifts for older children in the orphanage - I brought tons of rattles, but in Tu Liem orphanage in Hanoi there were 5 or 6 boys about 5-8 years old, and I wish I had toy trucks, or yo-yos, or something more age appropriate for them.
  • More small bills. We used up all our 1's and 20's and at the end had to cash a 100 dollar bill the day before we left because that's all we had left. Ten dollars goes a long way in Vietnam. We brought 1,000 in cash and another 1000 in travelers' checks - we never touched the checks and I think only spent a little more than half the cash. (We spent the rest of the cash in Bangkok - we were there 6 days and did the Planet Hollywood/Hard Rock things.) Our hotels did take a credit card. In VN, meals are cheap, souvenirs are cheap. With IMH, all our adoption expenses came out of the fee we paid before we traveled.
  • More gifts for men. I brought 5 men's gifts and 5 women's gifts, ran out of men's and ended up leaving things for the maids in both Hanoi and Bangkok. Maybe 7/3 or 8/2 would have been better.
  • Another book to read. Believe it or not, I did a fair amount of reading while Billy slept, etc. I read "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places" by Le Lai Hayslip (I think) which I HIGHLY recommend, on the way over and while we were in Hanoi. I then borrowed The English Patient from another family and ended up finishing it in Bangkok. So I spent $15 US on a $5 paperback in the Bangkok airport (which I never ended up reading anyway, it was a Stephen King and the best I could do at the airport, but I had 2 or 3 books back here in my bookcase which I wish I had had with me).

Things I didn't need:

  • A second crinkly skirt, one was plenty
  • Pants, but I could have worn them if we were anywhere at night where mosquitoes could have been a problem
  • 4 T-shirts, 2 would have been plenty, I had 4 blouses also, only wore 3
  • Laundry soap - I used dw liquid
  • Most of the medication I brought - I was a veritable drug lady, and used almost nothing. I did take a couple of pepto tablets every day per my dr.'s recommendation and did not get sick at all. We also took vitamins every day, and I did use some antibiotic cream and band aids when I burned my finger on scalding hot water.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Rooms (in Hanoi anyway) are VERY small - ours had no window, 2 single beds, a free-standing wardrobe and no dresser. It was literally probably 8' by 15'. The bathroom was large, but the shower is part of the room, not a separate stall, when you take a shower the water drains on the floor (you could actually take a shower and sit on the pot at the same time - a potential major-league time saver if necessary!)
  • There is a 5 kg weight limit on carryons from US to Bangkok.
  • There is a very limited TV selection - we had Asian MTV, a Vietnamese station, and ABC (AUSTRAILIAN Broadcasting Network - lots of rugby and soccer and Australian business news, etc.)

You can meet the Peter's son Billy in the FCV Photo Gallery.

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