Le Sportsac Bag: We were focused on travelling light, and so I turned to my Le Sportsac bag. This is one of my very favorite travel bags because it is light, bright (the above is similar in design, but not the one I own), and easy to tote. I like to use it as a carry on because it holds a ton of stuff, weighs next to nothing, squishes flat if you need to tuck into your luggage, and .... drum roll.... you can throw it in the washing machine! I bought mine at a sample sale in NYC several years ago, and wish I'd bought two.
The Peapod by Kidco: OK, this may seem a little weird, but bear with me. We were travelling to a foreign country, and there was no way we were going to haul our big, heavy pack-n-play. Heck, we weren't even bringing a stroller! Given that Big J is a wiggler, and I had zero confidence he would get through even one night in a regular bed without the possibility of a traumatic brain injury, I had to find some other solution for bedtime. Enter the Peapod. It's just what it looks like - a mini tent for your little one. It has an inflatable pad that is secured inside an integrated zippered pouch, it zips closed on top, has mesh panels for breatheability, and everything packs down into an 18" round carrying bag. AND it weighs about 3 lbs! We actually ended up packing it into one of our small rolly bags, and it worked out GREAT. The only hitch is that it got mega-hot in the jungle (it was steamy outside to begin with), and those mesh panels did not breathe really well without a little circulation in the room. Still - it was an awesome solution, and one I would recommend to parents travelling with little ones.
Ultrathon: I was super-worried about bugs in the jungle. No need to be - I packed Ultrathon! This is a super-concentrated bug repellent that I purchased at REI. It looked and smelled a little like Elmer's glue, but once you smeared it on exposed areas, there was no need to worry about those little biting critters. Yes, it has DEET in it, so we were vigilant about washing our hands after application. At first I thought it was a little expensive for bug repellent ($10.50 for a 2 oz. tube), but you really can't put a price on being itch-free.
Paci Plushie: Yes, I know I have blogged about this before. But it really is a lifesaver! Big J has taken to giving Monkey little hugs, and totes him around like a BFF. Although I can picture the day when we are paci-free, until then, I am fine with their relationship.
Gerber Yogurt Melts: Until about a month ago Big J was ambivalent to these little treats. That is no longer the case. I like these because they are relatively healthy (Come on! It's yogurt!), pre-packaged, and lightweight. We brought 3 packs of them, and should have brought 5.
Coppertone WaterBabies Sunscreen Stick: This was my first experience with stick sunscreen, and I have to say that I am a fan. Don't expect to cover your body with this, but it's great for swiping on wiggly faces without fear of an inadvertent eye trauma. It doesn't run, and is waterproof. Plus, it's small enough to stow in a pocket. Genius.
Playing cards: In the jungle, sunset arrived at around 7pm, and we always found ourselves with a little time to kill each night. Big Daddy taught Big Sis how to play War - and she quickly mastered the game. They spent many hours in battle, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kelty Country Carrier: We've had this for years (purchased at a steal of a price by the Grandparents), but never really put that many miles on it. It certainly came in handy on this trip! With no stroller, and Big J getting too big for the Baby Bjorn, we turned to the backpack carrier. It was nice because Big Daddy and I could trade off wearing it (just a few quick adjustments to be made), and we were also able to gate check it - so we could use it all through the airports. One of my favorite features is that it stands securely on the ground, so we were even able to use it as a makeshift high chair. These are not super cheap, but like so many things, if you look around, you can find a used one for a reasonable price.