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Thursday, March 08, 2007
Travel tips from the BTDT
I was going to write a post about surviving the wait, but you can go back and read the whole blog. The majority of it was written while waiting so you can see how calm and collected crazy I was during the whole ordeal. I only have one thing to say about waiting. It sucks. The time between trips is not easy. The longer the wait goes on the worse it gets. If you are one of the lucky ones that only waited 6 weeks or so between trips you know that at the end you were ready to go get your child. Amplify that by about 1000 and that is what those who waited months on end are feeling. All told we waited 15 months. 9 months for Little A, 2 months between not having Little A and meeting Pickle and 4 months for Pickle. 15 of the longest months of my life.

What I did want to focus on was travel tips. I've given various travel tips here and there, but I thought I'd put them all together. Mostly as a review of what I did, what I should have done and what I shouldn't have done. But I'm lazy so you get them bullet style.

  • Pack light. I cannot say this enough. You should have seen the Albatross we had between us and Kathou & Paypay. So bad we took photos. We didn't think we were going to be able to fit us and all the luggage in our driver's van. I think Paypay may have lost a limb somewhere in there. You really don't need a clean pair of pants for every day you are there. If you are afraid of smelling bad, don't. No one will notice. Russia has a distinct smell and no one will know that it is actually you.
  • Don't wear black to the baby home. I have said this over and over again. Caregivers in the baby homes wear white lab coats. (or at least in the 2 we were in) The children see people dressed in white all day long. So someone dressed in black can be frightening. Black seems easy considering I just said to pack light, but bright colors are good.
  • Learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Russian is a phonetic language. If you learn the letters you can sound out many of the words and signs.
  • Learn the polite words. Please, thank you, excuse me, hello, good bye. Even if you make a small attempt to speak Russian they are happy. You may butcher it, but at least you are showing respect.
  • Food in Russia is not that bad. There are some things that are not that appetizing, but for the most part it is pretty good. Pelmeni in a pot is often a stew like thing, as opposed to dumplings in butter. Same Pelmeni, but served differently. Make sure you try the ice cream from the roadside vendors! To. Die. Fo.
  • When they hand you forms on the airplane to fill out, do it. Don't ask questions, just fill them out. Chances are you will need it and if you don't have it a Russian customs agent will scold you.
  • Expect your first trip to be the most exhausting week of your life. Time changes, culture shock and the shear emotion of meeting your child for the first time will wear you out.
  • Take more photos than you think you will ever need. Of your child, of the town, of everything. Sure, when you get home you will think, did I really need 100 photos of the gold church? Yes. This is your child's town.
These are the main things I learned on 3 trips. The biggest bit of advice I can give anyone though is to go with the flow. Don't try to control every last thing. And make sure you take some time to have fun. You are spending time in your child's home country. Take this opportunity to see the sights and take in the culture.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great advice.

Regarding the color of clothing, it depends on the orphanage. My daughter found white extremely frightening. The caregivers didn't wear white lab coats, only the doctors wore them. She was used to dark colors.

Blogger Maggie said...
I'm in my 21st month of waiting. Aw, hell. I knew two years was drawing near, but I hadn't counted the months in a while.

Blogger Christen & Frank said...
Thanks for the tips. This is great for newbies, like me. :)

Blogger Melissa said...
This is great advice! (not being ego-centric, here, or maybe I am - haha - but I see a direct correlation between many of my recent situations and posts you have over here!) Thanks for taking the time to reflect on your experiences!!! It really is helpful for me...and I'm sure lots of other people, too! :)

Blogger AEmom said...
Great advice. I agree with taking tons of pictures, I've now made three trips to my son's town (two for the adoption, one to go back and visit his birth family, we keep in touch with), and I still have many things, I don't have pictures of.

Blogger mommyto5 said...
Great tips L,especially "packing light" you would have thought by my 4th trip I would have learned my lesson NOT still over packed:)

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