What I Packed

What to bring and not to bring is a big topic of conversation among the families.  Here's my list, which relied heavily on Susan Clegg's site for ideas.  It is for a single parent traveling to get a six-year-old.  Another friend joining for part of the visit will bring an additional bag, which will allow me to bring more things for the orphanage than I would otherwise have been able to do.


One large wheeled garment bag, 66 pounds total.
One Fedex tube containing an Ikea playtent and tunnel, for the orphanage (6 lbs.)
One very heavy carry on, small enough to fit under the seat.
One briefcase with a copy of the dossier, all immigration forms, and reading material.

In a week, a friend is bringing a 35-pound duffel back with supplies for the orphanage and a few clothes for Nikolay.  That is the bag Nikolay will end up taking home, though he will be limited to 22 pounds for the domestic flight from Pavlodar to Almaty.  I will inventory those items when they get here.

Note:  Flying from Germany directly to Pavlodar, I was allowed 72 pounds of checked baggage as that is an international flight.  Flying within Kazakhstan, the weight limit is reportedly 55 pounds of checked bags for me and 22 pounds for each child (I assume with a seat).  I will easily be under the 55-pound limit without orphanage supplies and gifts when I leave Pavlodar.  Families with over 55 pounds of checked luggage per adult, flying from Almaty to Pavlodar (as most of us are routed), will pay excess baggage fees.  Another family in the hotel with me just paid $172 in excess baggage fees.

What I Wore on the Plane for Two Days (or, Waaaaay Too Much Information...)

Black jumper
Short-sleeved mock-neck shirt (crew neck would have been better)
Long black coat with hood
Fur-lined leather boots
Sygvar support stockings (which make a world of difference in the comfort of an int'l flight)
No metal (to get through security faster).  (Plan on taking shoes off going through security.)

Electronics (all carry-on)

Digital camera with three 128MB Smart Media cards
Digital camcorder and four tapes
USB card reader (to download photos)
Dictaphone tape recorder (to record caregivers at the orphanage)
Sony Walkman tape recorder (for learning Russian)
Sony Walkman CD (to entertain Nikolay)
PDA (for email addresses and backup telephone for emergencies)
Cell phone with international SIM card (90 cents incoming calls, $1.80 outgoing)
One voltage transformer, three adapters
30GB portable USB hard drive (with all adoption info and also files to work at the Internet cafe)
Rechargeable batteries and chargers (AA and AAA)
Timex watch with dual time settings and alarm (left the nice watch at home)
Drivers for Windows 98 (what the Internet Café machines run on)

Note on the Internet Cafes: There are two close to the hotel, across the street from each other.  Eat breakfast before you go; there is no café,  just a room with several computer stations, not unlike Kinko's.  The café on the north side of the street seems to have broadband access; the one on the south side seems to be 56K.  They all run on Windows 98.

Clothes (other than the usual)

Layers (very warm inside, quite cold outside)
Misook brand and Tencel fabric (takes up little space, easy to wash, doesn't wrinkle)
Fur-lined black leather boots (more comfortable on the plane, and in case of snow)
Walking shoes
Jeans and running shoes (to wear in the hotel room)

Toiletries (other than the usual)

Wet Ones (used a lot while in transit)
Quick-dry towel
Laundry detergent (didn't need  hotel does the laundry)
Travel toilet tissue (there's only an outhouse at the orphanage)
Mask (in case someone on the plane next to me has SARS)
Two plastic garbage bags (in lieu of plastic mattress pads)
Fleece sleeping bag for Nikolay
Measuring tape (to help get clothes)

In Briefcase/Carry-On

Food (protein bars, peanut butter)
Medications and toiletries for a week (in case of lost baggage)
Extra passport photos (needed four already)
Timetables of flights (in case of missed flights, which happened twice)
Eye shades and inflatable pillows (for red-eye flights)
Extra pens (that won't leak in flight)
Highlighters, Post-Its, 3x5 cards
Portfolio with copy of dossier, a completed and blank copy of all immigration forms (I-600, I-604, DS-230 I and II, I-864 notarized along with the INS memo saying we should not need this form, DS-2000 notarized, consular registration forms), tax returns, maps, Kazakhstan travel info, extras of key documents like birth certificate, I-171H and letter of invitation.
Printouts of travel and adoption info from Susan Clegg's and Dept of State websites (including consulate information, etc.)
IJet  travel report for Kazakhstan for this week (available at Amazon.com)
Emergency contact information


Magazines I can throw away when done
Books to read to Nikolay and/or leave at the orphanage
Learning English and Russian CDs and tapes
Music CDs (kid and adult)
Books, puzzles
Cards and flash cards
Silly putty
Miniature soccer ball
Journal to record the trip
Pavlodar's first geocache (to be hidden with Nikolay)

First-Aid Kit (because it is a long drive to Walgreens)

Allergy medicine
Pill cutter
Lice treatment
Dextrose tablets
Digital thermometer

Security Items (for a single woman traveling alone)

Money belt
MCI phone card (51 cents a minute to or from Kazakhstan)
Capsicum (pepper spray), buried in checked luggage
Travel Momentus (a weighted 40-oz collapsible golf club, better than a bat but great for exercise)
Extra business cards in each bag
Medical insurance information, emergency numbers, and identification easily accessible
Water filter and purification system (for emergencies)


Lots of cable ties
Zip-lock bags
Plastic bags
Duct tape
Theraband (great exercise, no weight)
Disposable camera (for pictures to give the court)

Things for the Orphanage

Sugar-free gum
Sacajawea dollar coins
Play tent and tunnel from Ikea
Jump rope
Building blocks
Growth chart in meters and inches
US-Kazakhstan flag lapel pins (for court day)
Gifts for other kids in our group sent by their families
Disposable suture guns and sutures
Surgical scissors
Letter from physician explaining suture guns, etc.
From Costco:
Children's vitamins
Indispensable list of questions to ask the caregivers from EEAC site
Notepaper for caregivers to write notes for Nikolay's scrapbook
Stickers with Nikolay's picture and address to give to friends at the orphanage (like business cards, but printed on Avery labels)

                    What I Didn't Bring (Intentionally)

Hair dryer (got a haircut that did not need it)
Laptop (Internet cafe is open 10-9 every day and costs $1.10 per hour)
Jewelry (other than costume)

What I Got in Frankfurt

Euros (from ATM machine)
Passport photos (4 for 5 Euros, in the Frankfurt train station)

What I Bought in Pavlodar

Heating coil (to heat water or milk in room)
English-Russian children's books and CDs

Shots I Got Before I Left

Measles, mumps, rubella
Diptheria, pertussis, tetanus
Hepatitis A and B
Pneumococcal virus (PCV)
Flu shot

Please check back here soon for an updated list.
October 21, 2004