6 Must-Have Items When Traveling Overseas

As we wait for the winter storm to end and are stuck inside our temporary house, there are a few items we packed in our suitcases that I am very thankful to have.

1. Waterproof mats
If you have a child who wets the bed, these sturdy mats are awesome! I have washed them countless times and they are like new.

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2. Our $5 silicone iPhone speaker
While I know it’s not an apple-approved product, this speaker is the bomb! It fits our 5c phones perfectly snug and radiates the sounds well. Kid-proof (personally tested), waterproof (I assume), battery-less and cordless, & cheap, this gadget is a keeper.

3. Familiar cereals and snacks
I don’t typically encourage eating packaged foods but for international travel, it’s a convenient way to satisfy your kids’ homesick symptoms.

4. Games (iPad and boardgame)
When we left our previous home we didn’t know about the snow storm. We have been stuck in the temporary house for most of each day with a short outing to another friend’s home for an hour or two of reprieve. Uno, Go Fish, racing ipad games, checkers and other games have kept our minds a bit more active despite the gray weather and jetlag.

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5. Rag towels
Really, it’s been nice to have such a resourceful item. It’s useful for the occasional spills and in a pinch is great as a blanket or even tucked as a pillow.

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6. Liquid melatonin
I was looking for something natural to help adjust the kids’ sleep cycles other than the typical Benedryl idea. A friend mentioned to me about liquid melatonin and tried it out. It works like a charm for our kids! They usually just need help to settle down and fall asleep. And this does the trick for us!

*Updated word of caution: A commenter mentioned there are cautionary side effects when taking melatonin. I am not a doctor but just write what works for us. To each, one must decide for themselves.

For us, using a low dose of melatonin 3 or 4 nights in a row was just what we needed. Others may find otherwise. Always do your own research and consider your needs and weigh your decisions.

What have you found to be invaluable as you travel?

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A Quiet Space

When moving overseas, you need quiet space.

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A time to reflect on what you left and process the changes you are experiencing. It isn’t always easy to find that pocket of tranquility but it is so good for the soul.

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Once you are able to breathe, you are more equipped to determine your priorities. Discover what your kids need. Develop new household & lifestyle habits. And enjoy the opportunities you have.

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Goodbyes are anti-climatic.

Since technology has allowed us to communicate in many different modes, the face to face hug and farewell isn’t the last goodbye. You’ve always got the final “see you later” text and even the facebook status goodbye. For this introvert ATCK, it’s easier to say one goodbye and be done with the whole process then linger over tech-savvy goodbyes.

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Don’t get me wrong. I am very thankful for the easy and cheap texts and even the facetime chats. Still there some sort of lack of finality when you say goodbye knowing you’ll be texting them tomorrow with some sort of news or tidbit.

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What do you think?

36 Hours After Leaving Our Home Country

We arrived in our new home country in the middle of a snow and lightning storm. Yes, you read that right, SNOW & LIGHTNING! Throughout our drive to our temporary house it snowed steadily and lightninged periodically.

The scheduled flights became more confusing as we weren’t able to reach our first international connecting flight. The airlines was very kind and provided transportation to and from a prepaid hotel, meals that covered over-abundantly our needs, helpful staff who kept the 20 suitcases for us at the airport and gave us hope of restful sleep.

Our hotel was an uneventful stay despite the sulfur/sewage smell in the shower and our kids flipping over flimsy chairs in the nice hotel restaurant. We didn’t have access to our suitcases so we had to rely on our carry-ons to provide any necessities. It left 5 diapers, one set of clean clothes per person (minus extra socks and underwear) and mercifully our winter jackets. We worked with what we had and pulled our underwear inside out and wore them again.

The next morning we got to the international airport smelling of vomit & body odor. Our youngest caught a bug and systematically vomited every 20 minutes for about 8 hours straight.

Evening time of our third travel day, we landed in our new home country. We had hairy teeth in great need of a good brushing & flossing and smelled stinky, still it was good to be here! Holding our groggy youngest who clutched her vomit-catching blanket, we walked through customs without too much complication.

After meeting our new friends, we were driven to our temporary house with a kitchen that had been stocked with enough food to feed us for days! I was very thankful to see one of the kids’ favorite dishes ready to be heated. It seemed to me the kids had only consumed chocolate and bread in the last few days. The mac and cheese and fresh sliced vegetables were just what this bunch needed to feel at home and ready for bed. Fed, clean and with freshly washed blankets, the kids were tucked into bed and fell asleep quickly.

Overall the trip was smooth and without major hiccups. I found a few of the kids and myself dancing in a public family bathroom to some foreign song. I guess it was an easy way to relieve any stress and extra wiggles.

Typically we awaken in the middle of the night for a few hours and finally settle back down for a longer sleeping stint. We have to set alarm clocks or we’ll sleep until nearly lunchtime.

Through any confusing situations, God has placed on our hearts worship songs and reminded us of His comforting promises. We find ourselves laughing at the silliest moments and maybe that’s how God will bless as as we overcome jetlag.

How do you handle international traveling?

*As soon as possible, I’ll begin adding pictures.

Fighting the Entitlement Worldview

When I spend time with others different from me, it grounds me. Our family has spent 1 hour of most Saturday mornings this past year with the homeless. We committed to giving up 1 hour of our Saturday morning ritual of laziness to 1 hour of intentional fellowship with others who are different from us.

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And though Satan tried to thwart our Saturday morning visits, we were able to maintain that tradition most regularly. This commitment wasn’t exceptional but it did radically change our family’s outlook on life.

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Our kids started asking why questions. Why couldn’t we have a homeless friend live at our house? Why did they live in a van? Why are we throwing a baby shower for a homeless couple? Why do we have a house? Why do we have 2 cars?

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And it grew to how questions. How can we help? How can we serve others? How can we show others Jesus?

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And hopefully it’ll continue to flourish into asking God to use us. Use our gifts. Use our talents. Use the material possessions you have given us.

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But for now with all the rush of packing, organizing, moving and planning we have had to end our tradition. And with that comes my selfishness. What I “need”. When I “need” it. My husband likes to describe the entitlement worldview as “I breathe, therefore I deserve.”

And so I am attempting to fight the entitlement view.

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