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Trip Report Unusual but Effective Packing List for China

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My husband and I just got back from spending the month of April in China. After reading quite a bit on Fodor’s of what to expect, I developed this unusual packing list. It worked out well. We used almost everything we brought. We met some Americans traveling in the opposite direction from us and they described some of their problems with travel. When I told them what I packed they said they wished they had my list in advance. So in case it helps someone, this is what I brought:

1. Thin inflatable mattresses used in the pool.
My DH and I cannot sleep on a hard bed. We have trouble in US hotels if the mattress is hard. These were tremendously helpful. Most times we put them under the bottom sheet.
2. Foot Pump. We had to inflate the mattresses every time we changed hotels. This was a quick way to do it. It also helped with the last of the deflating. I also made silk sacks to store the mattresses and foot pump in.
3. Bed liner. Have you seen the silk bed sacks they sell on tv? I made one. Actually I made 2 twins with snaps down one side and across the bottom so that you could convert it to a king by opening them both up and snapping them together. This came in handy because the Chinese do not use top sheets. Basically you get a thick comforter. If it was too hot, there was nothing to cover you up. These bed liners came in handy as a blanket and also as peace of mind if the linens were not lily white. I also made silk pillow cases.
4. Net book. Almost everywhere had free internet which came in handy for communicating with home and for making airline/hotel reservations while traveling. We also uploaded our photos every day. We will never travel without this again.
5. Electrical adapters. Almost all of our appliances (mostly battery chargers) are international meaning they automatically take 240v. The Chinese wall sockets take just about any plug except polarized or three prong. We had a three socket expander plug that we got at home depot. It was polarized but we ground down the wide side to match the thinner side. (This was easy because of the way the wide end was made wide). Then we could put any of our polarized plugs into that. We also bought a three to two prong adapter at home depot for our netbook charger.
6. Gortex suit and hat. These water proof pants, jacket and hat came in handy when it rained and when it was cold. We wore the pants over our street pants. The brim of the hat extended over our collar in the back. You don’t get wet. We also had super mini folding umbrellas that had decent coverage when open.
7. We brought all quick drying clothes. (3 undies, 2 pants, 2 short and 2 long sleeve shirts we could layer, 3 pairs of socks, 1 sweater, 1 night shirt) We did some amount of laundry in the sink every day. They dried overnight in the bathroom. We got them at Magellans and TravelSmith. We had three small bottles of liquid laundry detergent we found in the travel/sample section at a store like Walmart or Target.
8. Go Girl.
Check it out at Magellans. This is a device for women to allow you to tinkle standing up. It was very helpful if you had to use a squatty potty.
9. Street maps of the cities. Enormously helpful in navigating. We even had a few taxi drivers ask to see our map once they spotted it hanging out of my bag.
10. Hand Sanitizer. This is kind of a no-brainer. However our friend in Shanghai told us that this is not liked by the Chinese. We still used it under the table in restaurants.
11. We brought 2 pairs of walking shoes each. We used both but we could have lived with one.

Things we brought but did not use:
1. Unlocked phone. This probably would have come in handy about 3 times for local calls, but we never could find a sim card. A few times when we found the card, the person didn’t speak English and we couldn’t understand what we were getting, so we didn’t bother. We lived without it.
2. Steripen. I thought it would come in handy in making tap water drinkable. Never used it. Bottled water is cheap and readily available. Some hotels even give it to you.

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