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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri

2.20.2010

Traveling Alone

I have had many people ask me about traveling alone to China.  I thought I'd use this post to share some things that I learned.  I am not an expert on international travel, but will share my opinion and experience.  Ultimately, you need to do what is best and what works for your own family.  I would have preferred that all of us go to China, but financially, we could not afford it.  Hindsight...I wish I had paid more attention on our other adoption trips.  We always followed Mike through the airports, never paying any attention on how things are done.  Mike always took care of the exchanging of currency and purchasing items in China.  So, I learned to do it all on this trip.

*I decided to take our PC because I felt I needed to be in contact with my family (since I had 5 children and a husband at home).  Plus, I wanted Ivy to be able to "meet" her family via skype during my 2 weeks in China.  Other than that, I wanted family and friends to be able to experience our joys with this adoption.  If those are not your concerns, definitely leave the PC behind.  It was a heavy piece of equipment to lug around in my backpack along with a file of paperwork, purse, and cameras.
*Since I was not traveling with a group, I was able to make my own travel arrangements, including hotels.  I also paid a guide fee once in China and took taxis everywhere I went.  So, I think that saved me some money.  The negative of this is that I had to get myself from the airport to the hotel upon arrival.  Actually, my agency would have gladly arranged for airport pick-up, but where's the adventure in that?

*I had to go through 4 airports.  You would think that since I already went through security in one airport, I would not have to go through them again.  Not so.  Be prepared to go through security numerous times; shoes off, back packs emptied, computer out of bag.  My hand sanitizer got confiscated at one airport.  I think it was HK.

*Neither my guide nor I was aware that when only one parent travels, the Bank of China will only exchange $5000 US per day.  All of you adoptive parents know how much money you need on that first day and $5000 was not enough.  I borrowed a family (thanks Marie and your father!) who was already at the bank to help me out with the funds above $5000.  Hopefully, your agency will wire the funds for you.  Our previous agency did that for us, and it was a load off our backs and purses.

*By the time I left China, it was very easy converting Yuan to US Dollars.  I was even doing it in San Francisco on our return trip.  It just became second nature and really was not too difficult once I got going.  I loved figuring out that Ivy could eat dinner for $2 US.

*I did not have any video of the moment I met Ivy.  That is disappointing, although I have many pictures (thanks again to Marie's brother!).  It all happened so quickly.  We were a bit late heading to the Civil Affairs Office, so Ivy was already there waiting when I arrived.  Plan ahead.   Maybe your guide can be of service.

*If you are adopting older, I highly recommend getting your child a digital camera.  I purchased one from Discovery Kids at a local store.  It really helped Ivy and kept her distracted during paperwork time and grieving time.

*I had my guide write down some places I wanted to take Ivy to see.  We handed it to the taxi driver and off we went.  Taxis are easy to get and very inexpensive.  Just because my husband was not with me, did not mean I had to stay in the hotel room.

*I was very glad I stayed on Shamian Island in Guangzhou.  Everything I needed was within walking distance. 

*I'm glad I did not have the early flight out of Guangzhou to Hong Kong.  I always felt miserable getting up before 5:00 a.m.  

*Enjoy your time alone with your child.  It was good bonding time with Ivy, and she grew to trust me over those 2 weeks.  She knows that she is safe when she is with me.

*Regardless of what anyone else says, if your are a Hague adoptive family, your child will return home on an IH-3 visa and become an American citizen upon arrive at your port of entry.  You also only need to fill out the I864W along with your I800.  You will need your Power of Attorney notarized and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy before you leave for China.  I did not need copies of tax returns as some people do for the I600 process.

I'm sure I will come up with a few more things, but right now this is what comes to mind.  I hope this helps at least one person out there, ready to travel on their own.

3 kind words:

Our Faith Walk

Cheri;

I just wanted to thank you for your posts...especially your posts about Ivy (love her name!).

We are waiting for an older child referral (3-7 yr. old girl) and your blog has been so encouraging and helpful.

I appreciate the honesty of both your successes and struggles (especially the struggles, as that is what really helps keeps things real and in perspective).

Blessings to you and your family.

Gretchen

Thanks so much sharing! As you know, I will be traveling alone as well. Still hoping hubby can go to province at this point, but I will definitely be alone in GZ. Thanks for the tips!
Also, what kind of camera do you use? Your pics are amazing!
lwjtwo from RQ

Wife of the Pres.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! At this point, my DH is planning to travel alone for our waiting son! I plan to have him read this … of course he did the $ exchanging before like your DH, but the part about the limit is good to know ahead.

We already have a camera for our son … was a Christmas gift from his grandparents! Glad to know it was worth taking. I hear ya on the laptop but I gotta be able to see and talk with our son, and hope it will be worth my DH dragging it along. He already says he is leaving the video camera behind, but I will make sure it is in the suitcase.

We are going to be packing so much less though. So many things can be bought there.

Again, thank you for sharing. I loved following your journey.

Leslie (from RQ)

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