Ethiopian travel log

We journeyed to Ethiopia to bring home our son and this is the travel log of what we packed, what we did, where we stayed and what we would do differently.

Leading up to travel:

Things to do: (this is a running list)

  • Make flight arrangements: We got quotes from two different travel agencies:

Susan Parr Travel

1210 E. Front Street, Ste E

Port Angeles, WA 98362

(360) 452-2188


Golden Rule Travel

P.O. Box 178
2617 SR 39
Walnut Creek, OH 44687
Fax: (330)852-8205

There are several locations.  The website is here.  We used Sharon Martin and are very happy with her.

  • Buy guide to Ethiopia, we ordered the Bradt Ethiopian Guide and so far are very pleased.
  • Buy Amharic phrase guide.
  • Plan side trips: We are visiting Lalibela, and Adama/Nazret.  We purchased our tickets for our flight to Lalibela through Golden Rule.  You can hire a driver to drive you to Lalibela which I have heard is a great journey and very breathtaking.  It will take you 2 days each way if you chose to drive, and it may be a little scary at times in the mountains, form what I have heard, but also worth it.  Our trip to Adama is being arranged with AAI and the social worker that is at Layla.  The trip costs about $100 and is an easy day trip by car.
  • Book Hotels, we are staying at Ritmo ($55 per night for a double) for the majority of our trip and those arrangement were made through AAI.  We are going to stay at the Jeruselam Guest House, the rate is ($46 a night for a double).  Another hotel that we looked at was the Mountain View Hotel in Lalibela which is approx ($50 per night for a double).  The night we come into Addis we are thinking of staying near the Ritmo or at the Ritmo, so that we can drop our donations off before we head back to the airport to leave to Lalibela.  Those arrangement have yet to be made.
  • Figure out how to make a phone call to Ethiopia- dial 011+251+the number you are calling.
  • Call credit card company and tell them we are traveling and our dates.
  • Arrange childcare with our families for Ewan and Anwen.
  • Get prescriptions for meds that we will need on our trip.
  • Start donation drive.
  • Fill out the I-864 paperwork for the embassy.
  • Make sure passports are valid, which you would have already done in the dossier process if I remember correctly.
  • Check baggage weight limits with travel agent, Ethiopian I think is 50 lb for checked and 15 lb for carry on, that is not very much.
  • Purchase more memory for our camera.
  • Take photo/letter requests.
  • Call health insurance company to see if we are covered overseas, if we are not get travel insurance through travel agent.
  • Write letter to Eusyawkal’s mother and have it translated into Amharic in case someone ever finds her.
  • Order pictures of Esuyawkal for the caregivers at Wanna, and for the letter to Esu’s mother.
  • Purchase 2 carry on size duffles.
  • Purchase gluten free snacks, I bought a case of Lara bars.
  • Purchase or borrow a money belt.
  • Prepare docs for my family that are watching  the kids, contact info, meds info, dietary needs etc.
  • Gather all e-mail addresses I want to use should we find an internet cafe.
  • Write up a page of phrases in Amharic that will be useful to us.
  • Borrow hand scale for the trip preparations and to take with- this was a life saver!!
  • Make appointment at international adoption clinic for once we return home.

Places to See and do:

Lalibela: It has been recommended to us to hire an official guide for our time in Lalibela, someone that can tell us the history of the churches and knows the priests at each site.

The home town trip: Adama/Nazret is Esuyawkal’s home town and at this point the only thing I know we are going to visit is Adama Hospital.  From what I have heard from numerous parents that have traveled to their childs home town is that it is a must side trip. Time and time again I have heard parents talk about how much more information they gained about their child by traveling to where he/she came from.  It is also my understanding that the social workers are amazing and hunting down info, I look forward to our hometown visit and what it reveals.

Sabahar This place has beautiful silk scarves, shawls, linens, and more.  We totally have a wish list for this place.

To be continued…

Packing list:

Esuyawkal’s List-

For clothes I am bringing as much as I can fit, planning on at least two changes of clothes a day.  Items in Orange will be left at AAI for their use if we have extra when we are ready to leave for home. The items in pink are the items we used.

  • Pants
  • Onesies
  • One piece outfits
  • Socks
  • Booties
  • Light coat
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • PJs
  • Sun hat
  • 1 case of diapers (planning on 10 diapers a day) I used about half of what I brought and left the rest at the Ritmo.
  • 3 packages of wipes- used
  • a few toys-used
  • Blanket
  • Disposable bibs-used
  • Disposable changing pads-used
  • Scented bags for diaper disposal and for messy clothes
  • 3 bottles that are the drop in kind- with 9 nipples
  • Lots of the drop-ins for the bottles
  • Teething tabs (Hylands)
  • Gas drops- Left at Ritmo
  • Fever all (suppositories to bring down a fever in case liquid meds prove to be difficult)
  • Box of latex gloves (for changing diapers if Esu has Giardia).
  • Baby carrier
  • Lotion
  • Baby wash
  • Disposable wash clothes
  • 2 cans of formula, because he is eating solids we can take less.
  • Rice Cereal
  • Baby food- about 10 jars mostly for the trip home
  • 1 sheet saver
  • 1 formula dispenser
  • Binkies
  • Infant Tylenol- I left the unopened meds with Ivy for her son.
  • Infant Motrin- I left the unopened meds with Ivy for her son.
  • Diaper ointments
  • Lotrimin- in case Esu has a yeast infection or some other thing on his bum.

Our List- (once we start packing this list may get cut down;))

  • 2-3 skirts
  • 1-2 pairs of pants
  • 2-3 long sleeved shirts
  • 2-3 short sleeved shirts
  • PJ’s- Warm pj’s because from what I understand there is not typically heat in the hotels/guest houses.
  • 2-3 tank tops for under other shirts
  • 2 shrugs- (I only used one)
  • Socks
  • Underware
  • Bras
  • Good walking/hiking shoes/sandels
  • Scarf/wrap

Brian’s clothes list:

  • 3 pairs of pants (one pair are nice khaki’s for the embassy appointment)
  • button down shirts
  • socks
  • shoes
  • light zip up sweat shirt
  • underware
  • PJ’s

Non-apparel:  The Items in purple are items I actually used.

  • Feminine products- just in case
  • Sinus meds in case of infection
  • Ginger for nausea or car sickness
  • Acidophilus- in case I need to use the antibiotics, I don’t need a yeast infection too!
  • Asprin for the flights- to help avoid a blood clot from lack of movement.
  • Handi-wipes- these are wrapped individually so so that I can have them in my travel bag.
  • Anti-bacterial gel
  • Tylenol
  • Advil
  • Vitamins
  • Toothpaste
  • Flossers
  • Breast pump- yes I am still nursing and hoping to nurse Esuyawkal
  • Lara bars, fruit bars, granola bars, drink mix
  • Deodorant
  • 2 Shampoo- one for carry on and one for checkable bag.
  • 2 conditioner- one for carry on and one for checkable bag.
  • 2 Body wash- one for carry one and one for checkable bag.
  • Pepto tablets
  • Throat/cough drops- it is very dusty and polluted in Addis
  • Sleep-aid- for plane ride to Ethiopia.
  • Airborne- to take once every day to try and stay healthy, one in my carry one and one in my checkable bag.
  • Chapstick
  • Q-tips
  • Prescription meds- If you take meds on the plane you must take the original package it came in from the pharmacy.  They want to make sure it is legally your medication.
  • Inflatable neck pillows
  • Ear plugs
  • Money wallet
  • Travel wallet that can hold my passport as well as my wallet contents
  • Vaccination record- this is important!!
  • ipod
  • Cell phone- mostly for clock function
  • Solar backpack- we are not sure yet if we are going to take this- we can charge small devices with it and it would be great to have but we are also not sure what security will think of it.  We are not too keen on it getting confiscated.
  • flash light
  • Imodium AD
  • Converter/adapter
  • Hand scale
  • Rain coat
  • Toilet paper
  • Lots of travel kleenex
  • Gallon and quart size bags
  • Fold into itself back pack for day trips and to use as Esu’s diaper bag
  • Fold into itself bag for when we are out shopping.
  • A big bag of dum dum suckers for the kids at layla


  • Malaron is an anti malaria medication and you can take it while breast feeding a child over 11 lbs.
  • Azithromax is an antibiotic that can also be taken by nursing mothers.
  • Crisp new 100 dollar bills need to be ordered in advance, at least by some banks.
  • If you are taking prescription medication on to the plane it must have that prescription label on it that has your name.
  • If you are flying Ethiopian Air here are the weight limits for luggage:                                                                                                                       1 passenger gets 2 carry on pieces that are under 15 lbs each.  If you go over 15 lbs you must check the bag and that costs $150.  Each passanger also get to check two bags, each weighing under 50 lbs.  If you go over 50 lbs but stay under 70 lbs the fee is $60.


We are bringing donations with us based on a list that our agency circulated.  We are bringing between 40-50 receiving blankets for the babies, 10 boxes of rice cereal, and 10 cans of formula.  We are also bringing suckers as a treat for the children at Layla.  We did a donation drive at Brian’s work and we also told our families about what we were going to be bringing.  They all helped us collect what we wanted to bring.

Packing tips:

  1. Zip lock bags are your friend:) They are a great way to organize your smaller items and you can usually get most of the air out so things lay pretty flat.
  2. Don’t pack stuff in boxes, eg. medication, tampons, food.  All of those things can be taken out of their boxes and put into your friendly gallon/quart size ziploc bags.  For medication what I did is break down the box and pack it with the medication in a, you guessed it ziploc.  I have found that things are easier to pack when they are bendable. Boxes are too rigid to be able to pack efficiently.
  3. Think it over several times if you really need what you are packing.  For example, I have naturally curly hair, which usually needs to be tamed by a hair dryer, but to take a hair dryer was going to add other things I would need to pack just to be able to use the hair dryer.  I decided that I could forgo the hair dryer to save space and time and much needed energy.  So do you really need everything you are packing
  4. Pack with doing wash in mind, this is how I packed my children’s things.  They have enough outfits to get them through the first part of our trip but then there clothes will need to be washed.  I also packed some skirts with washing in mind, they are thin and I think will dry pretty quickly on a line.
  5. Wear our heaviest clothes on the plane.  Your hiking shoes and your jeans your sweater, they are not going to weigh you:)

Once we are home I will report how well our packing did and what I would do differently.

Post trip:

Now that we are home and I have had some time to unwind from our amazing trip here is what I would do differently with regards to packing.

  • First of all the hand scale was awesome and I recommend at least borrowing one if you can, it really helped to put me at ease while we were packing.
  • I did not need all of the food I packed for myself  but I also really love Ethiopia food so we ate mostly that during our trip.
  • I did not need some of the clothes that I packed because the women that work at the Ritmo Guest House will wash your clothes for you if you ask them to, so we did that a couple of times and that worked well.
  • The roads are rough and not like dirt roads in America,our dirt roads are nothing compared to what the streets are like in parts of Addis and other areas of Ethiopia.  That being said if you are going to bring sandals or flip flops as I did make sure they are sturdy.
  • The baby food I brought for Esuyawkal was much needed!  I am really glad that I brought it because there would have not been much other than banana and avacado for him otherwise.
  • Toilet paper really can be hard to come by even in places like Bole airport so have plenty of the travel tissue with you.
  • Make sure you check and double check the resolution that your camera is set at, we took most of our pictures at the lowest resolution by mistake.
  • Keep a pen and small pad of paper with you so you can make notes about names, contact info,fun facts you learn, etc.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah Owens
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 21:29:04

    Thank you so much for posting all of this! We are still a ways out from traveling, but I have been concerned about not knowing what to pack etc. This was so helpful to read over, and I probably will continue to use it as a reference when I am packing to leave. Is there anything else you wish you would have known before?


    • ewegrant
      Jan 30, 2011 @ 11:15:50

      Sarah, as far if there was anything I wish I had know before, I think the thing that caught me most off guard was how hard it was going to be interacting with the older children. It was very emotional for me to look into their faces, knowing that many of them did not have families yet. They older children really left an impression on me.


  2. Sarah Owens
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 11:33:19

    Yeah, I guess I never really thought of that. I can see how that would be hard. I saw on here that you started a support group at your church… I was wondering what city that was in? I am wishing there were things like that in and around the Rockford IL area. I’ve been trying to research all this now in order to be as prepared as possible.


  3. ewegrant
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 12:56:27

    I live in Chicago, but I belong to a group called the Ethiopian American Kids Community. We do a culture camp each year up near Lake Geneva and we also do other events locally. There may be people in the Rockford area that also belong the the EAKC, and you might be able to connect up with them through the yahoo group that the EAKC has. There is a link to the EAKC website under adoption websites on the right side of my blogs main page.

    If you ever have questions feel free to ask, I am always willing to help another adoptive family. I have written a few times about bonding which you may want to read, they of course our my personal experience but shared by many in the adoption community.


  4. Sarah Owens
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 15:51:40

    Thanks! I will follow up on each of those things! You and your blog have been so helpful. Thanks too for being willing to answer questions, I will keep that in mind as we get closer to traveling and when we bring her back. I am sure I will be in over my head and needing advice!


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