I was so thankful for all of the information on our conference calls leading up to our ACT trip to China because they did an amazing job letting us know what to pack and what to expect. I've only been to China once and it wasn't even very long of a trip but I thought it would be good to blog what I learned and what I would try to remember for when we return!
-All hotels are different in the amount of outlets they offer but ours did not have many. I'm going to remember to bring a small power strip so that I only need one adapter to plug in several things. I also assumed that there would be a hairdryer and there wasn't so next time, I'm going to bring my own. I will be buying several small outlet adapters just to be on the safe side.
-I'm so thankful for my cousin advising me to get a VPN service before we left. I used it both on my phone and computer so I could access Facebook, Twitter, etc that are blocked in China. I didn't make any voice calls while I'm there but I was able to use Facetime over wifi at the hotel on my iPhone.
-Our hotel did not have Western breakfast options on the buffet and my stomach just can't do noodles and broccoli at 8am so I'm very thankful I brought protein bars and peanut butter crackers. We only had Chinese food except for one McDonalds break (something I very grateful for even though I don't eat there at home) and I was glad I had some other options in my luggage. I also brought some energy/vitamin drink packets that they sell at Costco so I could add to my water bottle to keep up my energy and have a different flavored drink.
-The security while flying domestically in China is different than in the US and other international airports. They do not allow any liquids in carry on luggage. Not just less than a certain number of ounces...none from what I could tell. So I packed all of my toiletries in my checked bag. They also do not allow batteries. I had the little battery that is supposed to be a back up charger for my iPhone taken from me. Thankfully, it was just $5 at Five Below and hopefully it is bringing the "Chinese TSA" agent that took it from me much joy!
-Be prepared for any medical situation. Bring a first aid kit and any medications you could possibly need. When we go back to adopt our child, I will also bring children's ibuprofen because you do not want a low grade fever to keep you from leaving the country. I brought ibuprofen, Imodium, Themocare heat patches and Benadryl this time. I had a little stomach discomfort one day, took one Imodium and felt all better. Its better to have more medication, then to be in China and not have something you need. Chinese pharmacies are very different than ours.
-Next time I'm bringing a fanny pack. Yes, I know how they look but when I have a larger camera around my neck, I don't need another bag hanging off of me. Fanny packs are a great way to have money, your passport, and other small items handy. They even have some with water bottle holders so everything you need would be right where you need it. It also is easier to keep safe in places where you might encounter pickpockets like the Great Wall.
-Instant coffee is a must if you are a coffee drinker. Our hotel did not have coffee but it did have a hot pot in our room. Once I got a mug, and make sure you read the mug story, I was able to boil water from my water bottle, mix in a packet of Starbucks instant cafe mocha mix and have a wonderful treat in my room.
A small list of my must bring items for next time:
- small umbrella
- hanging toiletry bag
- comfortable shoes
- light rain jacket
- fanny pack
- Instant coffee
- powdered creamer
The best thing is just to be flexible and prepared. Our hotel's air conditioning wasn't as cool as we were used to so we bought a $7 fan and it was much more comfortable. Most things you can find at a nearby market if there was no way to bring it there but just don't expect the same offerings as your local Wal-Mart.