My Must-Have List of Gear for Traveling Internationally with Kids

must have gear for international travel with kids

For our upcoming trip to India this summer, I have put together a list of travel gear that we won’t leave home without!  Here’s our favorites…

The Joovy Ultralight Caboose Stroller is the best travel choice for a tandem stroller.  Last time we went to India we had just one baby, who was about 18 months old.  We left our stroller at home and went with a baby carrier instead. This time the tables have turned and with a 10 month old baby and a 4 year old, we decided that a double stroller was the best option for the airport.  Once we land in India, we will probably leave the stroller at home {unless we are going to go to a mall or someplace where the stroller would be useful}. We’re planning to leave the canopy and tray at home for a more compact fold.

Baggallini Crossbody Bag - I’ve been traveling through airports for many years now, and I always take a small crossbody bag for keeping tickets, passports and other essentials handy.  There is nothing worse than having to dig around for your passport or tickets while you are holding up a line of passengers behind you!  Now that we are traveling with a family of four – we have US Passports and Indian PIO cards to keep up with – it is much easier if I keep them all right with me, with easy access.  The bag is small enough that once we are safely on board the plane, I can slip the whole thing into one of our other luggage pieces, or I can keep it across me for safety.  I usually don’t keep much cash in my bag, I would recommend a money belt for lots of cash and extra credit cards.

Littlelife Baby Backpack Carrier - We have the Voyager S2 Model of the LIttlelife Backpack Carrier.  We used this on our last trip to India – and it was wonderful!  While I’ve decided to take a stroller for the airports, a stroller within India isn’t very practical {depending on where you are going} the sidewalks are generally uneven, and crowded. As a fair-skinned baby with a “foreign” mother, our little girl got lots of attention.  Sometimes it can be frightening for a young child, and the best part of this carrier, was that she was up high – away from prodding hands! The only downside is that it can be hot for the person wearing it {my husband in our case}. Ours goes up to 44 lbs – which means that our daughter {who is now 4} can still ride in this.  It also works for our son who is just 10 months old.  While we probably won’t be offering our daughter any rides in it – it is nice to know she can still fit in case she gets too tired to walk on any of our excursions where the stroller wouldn’t be appropriate.

ERGObaby Carrier - we will be tossing one of these in our checked-in luggage, and might use it in the instance where both kids need a ride or if I go somewhere without my husband.  While the Littlelife carrier is adjustable and fits me, I feel more comfortable using the ERGO if it is just me.  However, I would say it is easier to load a child into the Littlelife Backpack Carrier than the ERGO {especially our wiggly baby boy!}  Given our son’s personality he will do better in the Backpack Carrier because, he prefers to be on his own and have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on vs. strapped tightly to Momma. But the ERGO is light and portable and will be nice to have as an option if we need it. {Plus my daughter is still able to fit in this as well! You never know!}

Northface Happy Camper Backpack - Our daughter is old enough to carry her own backpack full of goodies, but a full size backpack is still too big for her.  I also wanted a backpack with a chest strap so that she wouldn’t have to fight with it falling off as we rush through airports!  The Northface Happy Camper is a great size for preschoolers, but still big enough to hold a good amount of “stuff” {including full-sized folders – a great option for preschool or kindergarten!}.  I have quite a few ideas for activities and surprises to fill her bag with for the airplane ride.  {details coming in a future post!} Our son isn’t quite walking yet – but might well be by the time we travel – so I also have one of these that I’ll throw in our carry-on luggage, in case he wants to toddle around in the airport terminal.

BenBat Yummigo Booster/Bag - I’m super excited about this one!  On our last overseas trip, our daughter was in between being able to kneel in a regular sized chair and still needing a highchair or booster seat.  We decided not to travel with one, but I really wish we had.  Some restaurants in India have highchairs and some don’t.  For those that do – the chairs are often well used, and not too hygienic! Believe it or not, we are trying to limit our luggage for this trip… so I didn’t want to waste space with a regular travel booster, but the genius thing about the Yummigo Booster is that it opens up like a suitcase and has tons of storage inside.  Basically, if we are going out to a restaurant in India {or to someone’s house for a meal} we will use this as his diaper bag.  There is plenty of room for diapers, wipes and his food/sippy cup.  I also plan to use it at my in-law’s houses, since they don’t have a booster or highchair at home either.  I look forward to seeing how much use we get out of this product on our trip.

So that’s my list of must-have baby gear for international travel.  I’ll be sure and update you with details and photos of all of these being put to good use on our 2 month trip to India!  Have you traveled overseas with kids?  What makes your top list of necessary baby items?  Have you used anything from my list?  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!

Ready, Steady, Go!

The other day, my 4 year old daughter, “Miss A” said: “Ready, steady, go!”
A friend who was visiting, said: “Do you mean, ‘Ready, set, go?’
Jumping in to “translate,” I said: “I think in India, they say, ‘Ready, steady, go’.”
And {snarky} Miss A jumped in and said: “Well, we are Indian, so we say that!”

Whichever way you say it, “Ready, Set, Go!” or “Ready, Steady, Go!”  - IndianTies is relaunching!

I’m ready. I have been planning for a “comeback” for a while…and I’m super excited about some new ideas and direction that I have planned for IndianTies.  Even in my absence, the blog has been generating lots of hits and buzz, and our Intercultural Blogring, Desilink Blogs, has one new blog after another joining {check it out if you haven’t already!}.

I’m Set. I’ve got lots of posts planned, (see below) And I’ve been waiting for the right time for a return. So I hope you’ll reconnect with me here at IndianTies, and let me know in the comments!

And Go!  I’ve missed interacting with the Desi Intercultural Community & am eager to catch up and move forward!

we welcomed our new Indian-American Baby

Here’s what’s been keeping me too busy to blog & a quick update on our family:

  • Our son “Mr. A” was born in May of last year {he is 9 months old already}
  • Miss A is 4!  She amazes us each day & we try our best to keep up!
  • We moved!  We said a sad goodbye to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, and packed a BIG moving truck and moved across the country to…Texas!
  • My husband started a new job at a University, you probably guessed that one, right?
  • We are planning a summertime 2 month trip to India!

Here’s what I have planned for the blog:

  • Regular posts – I’m planning to take it slow for now, but look to hear from me at least once per week
  • Continuing to highlight great resources for intercultural families
  • Support for those in intercultural relationships
  • More about my journey towards “real food” & great Indian “real food” recipes
  • Resources for raising intercultural & interracial children

I hope you’ll join me for this new ride & I would love to hear from you!

Indian Yellow Fried Rice

indian-fried-yellow-cumin-jeera-rice
My hubby requested his favorite fried rice recipe tonight for dinner.  Thankfully this is a quick side dish to throw together, as long as you have some leftover rice on hand.
Yellow Indian Fried Rice
  • Leftover, cooked Basmati rice or Brown Basmati rice {2 cups of uncooked rice = 4-6 cups of cooked rice}
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 serrano chilies, sliced in half, lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 2 tsp. cumin {jeera} seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric {haldi} powder
  • salt to taste
Start with heating the ghee in a large wok over medium-high heat, test if the ghee is hot enough by dropping in one cumin seed at a time, the seed should pop.  When the oil is ready, toss in all the seeds and stir for 20-30 seconds.  Next, add the chopped onion, and cook until onion turns translucent.  Add in the salt, chilies & turmeric.  Stir to combine.  Finally, add in the rice and mix thoroughly, until all of the rice turns yellow and the onions and seeds are well incorporated.
indian-fried-yellow-jeera-rice
This is such a yummy dish on its own, or you could serve it with your favorite curry recipe!  I hope you enjoy & tell me the best thing your better half has requested for dinner recently!

 

Nice Deals on South-Asian Inspired Kids Clothes and Baby Blankets

I was browsing Zulily today and found a couple of cute collections.  The first is a beautiful line of clothing that is handmade in Nepal by local artisans.  We are heading to India soon, and my four year old daughter would love some of these colorful styles!

RISING-INTERNATIONAL-KIDS-HANDMADE-CLOTHES-FROM-NEPAL

Rising International Kids — up to 45% off! (Starting at $16.99)
Imported from Nepal, the beautiful clothing of Rising International is handmade by local female artisans and purchased through a variety of charitable and nonprofit organizations. Every piece of this exquisite and colorful collection tells a story, and you can wear it knowing it makes a world of difference. Find the deal here.

rajer-rabbit-swaddle-and-security-baby-blankets-india-nepal

The second thing that caught my eye, were these Indian-inspired handmade baby blankets by Rajer Rabbit (scroll down or search for Rajer Rabbit on Zulily)  Our 9 month old baby boy would look adorable wrapped in some of these styles! Their blankets are vibrantly colorful, bold, playful… yet soothingly simple. They are light, durable, and can be used in countless ways: cuddling, swaddling, snuggling. Made from breathable, durable and soft muslin cotton. And beautiful patterns of block printing – one of the world’s most time-honored methods of printing, rooted deep in the soul of ancient India.

In case you miss the Zulily sale, you can find Rajer Rabit blankets here on their website. You can find Rising International clothes here (they have women’s styles too!)

Cute Apps to Learn Hindi or Bengali

Many people have asked how we kept Miss A entertained on our long trip to India and through Europe.  I planned ahead and brought some light weight toys and small books that would travel well.  We were already waaaaay over packed, so I really tried to go light.  But 24+ hours en-route with a not-quite-two-year-old toddler could wreck havoc on your nerves if you aren’t prepared.  So aside from her new love of all things Elmo and Sesame Street (I brought some cute little figures of her four favorite characters – big hit!) – I loaded up our iPad (and iPhones) with some new toddler-friendly apps.  Miss A was playing these apps just the other day when I heard it start speaking in Hindi, so I investigated and realized she had changed the settings.  I never would have known there was a Hindi option otherwise!

Jobs – Guess Who? By Ripple Digital Publishing
Animals Premium – Guess Who? By Ripple Digital Publishing (there is also an Animals lite/free version)

Both games feature animals or jobs and the child has to click through the rotating images when the written word matches the correct image. After they click correctly, the name of the animal or job is spoken.

You can choose from sixteen languages, including Hindi and Bengali, and you can set the written language to a different language from the audio language.

All in all these are cute apps and I’m all for these kinds of apps with an educational value – especially when they promote learning Indian languages!

Do you know of any good apps that help kids (or adults!) learn Hindi or another “Desi” language?  Any tips on keeping kids occupied on long trips?

My Indian Reading List

Somehow I’ve managed to collect several Indian novels {otherwise known as Ladki-Lit} over the past few months.  I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to actually read these books.  I keep staring at them on my nightstand and think, “Maybe I’ll get to bed early tonight and have time to read a few chapters.”  Of course that never seems to happen!  Anyway, in case you’re interested, here are the books I’ll {hopefully} be reading soon{ish}…
A Golden Age (P.S.) • Tahmima Anam
Corner Shop • Roopa Farooki
No Deadline For Love • Manasi Vaidya
Ever read any of these?  Stay tuned for my take on them and also a giveaway or two!

Easy Butter Paneer Masala Recipe

What do you do when you need to cook dinner and you have nothing fresh in the house?  This recipe came about on just such an occasion. We were having last-minute company for dinner and I had nothing… I dug around in my pantry and found a carton of Organic Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup, a can of diced tomatoes, and then I found the very last onion in the house… and of course I always have Indian spices on hand.  This is the recipe that came out of that near-disaster (almost an “order pizza night”).  I give you…”Easy Butter Paneer Masala.”
Much to my surprise this tasted good (even to my Indian husband and our Indian friends)! We like the flavor that the soup base gives to the dish.  Feel free to add more of the soup (it comes in larger cartons as well) depending on how much “gravy” you like. I usually make Indian food from scratch, and stick to a tried and true recipe, but this turned out really well & I’ve made it several times since.  Of course the second time I made it, I couldn’t remember what I had done the first time I made it…
So let me know if you give it a try.  How about you, ever come up with a great recipe to get yourself out of a bind?  If so, are you able to recreate those truly inspired recipes a second time? Or do you prefer to stick to those faithful old family recipes?
Easy Butter Paneer Masala
Ingredients:
  ● 3 tbsp ghee
  ● 8-10 oz. Paneer (Indian cheese), cubed
  ● 1 tsp. onion seeds
  ● 1 tsp. jeera seeds
  ● 1 large onion, diced
  ● 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  ● 1 stick of cinnamon
  ● 1 green chili, split in half
  ● 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  ● 16 oz of organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup
  ● salt and pepper to taste
  ● 1 tbsp flour, mixed with warm water to thicken curry
  ● 1/4 cup fresh cream
  ● 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
Directions:
Melt the ghee, add in the onion, onion seeds and jeera seeds.  Add onions and cook until onions are translucent.  Add in the diced tomatoes.  Stir in cinnamon stick & ginger garlic paste and green chili.  Add paneer – stir until paneer starts to brown.  Add in roasted red pepper and tomato soup.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow to reduce a bit.  Mix in the flour and water paste and stir until thickened.   Stir in the cream and garnish with cilantro just before serving.  Serve over rice or with naan or chapatti.

Modeling: the new family business

You might remember that my mother-in-law has done some modeling work in the past. While were visiting India recently, the photographer that she works with stopped by the house… he was looking for some kids and a grandmother to model for his shoot the following day.  He took one look at Miss A and her two older cousins and offered them the job.

We actually debated on whether or not they should do it.  We thought it would be fun, but we only had a limited number of days with family and this photo shoot would take the whole day!  We finally decided to let them do it, not because of the money they would get paid, but because the photographer agreed to take a formal family photo for us.  Getting a nice “frame-worthy” family photo was on my list of priorities while we were in India, so this was a great opportunity – getting a professional photographer to do it for free?  Sign me up!!

I was curious to see how an Indian photo shoot would be.  I am a graphic designer and have worked for a couple of different magazines in North America, so I have seen my fair share of photo shoots.  We had to drive over an hour to get to the location.  The photo shoot was to advertise new apartments that are for sale. I was very impressed with how the shoot was handled.  There were many assistants, an older man who was playing the role of the grandfather, my MIL who was the grandmother, and two other children who were models, in addition to Miss A and her two older cousins.  Miss A was the youngest by far!  The photographer had a list of shots he wanted to get… they included the kids playing and posing on the bed in the bedroom (pictured above), a birthday scene, a balcony scene with the grandparents, a shopping scene (pictured at left) and some outdoor shots.  He kept things moving very quickly so there was very little “down time.”  The photographer’s assistants had all of the props well organized.  They also provided lunch for the whole crew.


Miss A wasn’t in all of the scenes, because of her age, but they used her as the one who cut the cake for the birthday scene,  she did well until they started spraying foam confetti EVERYWHERE  and the photographer was shouting “Give me MORE!” (referring to the confetti).  It scared Miss A so badly, she burst into tears… although he kept shooting!  After she recovered from that, she got to sit in the shopping cart – where they got some cute shots of her.  All together it was a fun day!

I was also very impressed with the apartment complex we were shooting.  This is beautiful new construction and very high-end living!  They have a grocery store at the bottom, which you can see is stocked very well.  The grounds were also beautiful.  I could live there for sure!  Too bad we didn’t get a discount on an apartment for doing the photo shoot!

Since I’m sure you’re wondering….the kids got paid Rs. 2500 each (around $55) and the adults got paid Rs. 5000 (around $110).  Not too bad, I suppose?  It was Miss A’s first paycheck – in Rupees!  And I got my family photo – which I LOVE and can’t wait to pick out the perfect frame, I already have the perfect spot reserved on my wall!

*The photos above are not the professional photos, these were snapped with my iPhone while I observed the shoot.  The family photo is the one provided to us by the photographer.  Please do not copy or reproduce any of the images posted on this blog.

International Celebrities


Surprise, Surprise!  While we were in India on our recent trip we woke up one fine morning to THIS in the morning issue of The Hindu newspaper!  Actually my mother-in-law woke ME up at 6 in the morning to show it to me!  I know it was breaking news and all, but I could have waited another hour or so to see it…
We had attended a deaf rally the day before.  (Although we almost didn’t make it, the three of us were traveling to the rally with a cousin’s family and we had a flat tire on the way there!)  My MIL works as an English teacher at a local deaf college, and they were thrilled to have our whole family attend the “International Day of the Deaf” rally.  I suppose we were the “International” part, which is why our picture showed up the next day.  I have to say it isn’t the most flattering picture, because they stopped us and asked us to smile and show the sign for “I Love You,” but they had us facing directly into the sun, so I was squinting!  
We had a good laugh, especially because they cut my husband out of the pic, and only his hand is visible.  When Miss A saw it, we asked her who was in the pic, and she said her name and pointed to herself, then she said “Momma” and pointed to me, then she said “Da-da” and pointed to my husband’s hand!  At which point, everyone cracked up.    
We also showed up in a local Telugu paper, they were kinder, because all three of us were there, although in their photo my husband was in the middle of Miss A and myself.  
What do you think, were we “news worthy” or just a spectacle?!  (I tend to think the latter…)

Gift ideas for Children with Indian Heritage

With the holidays coming up I thought it might be nice to put together some gift ideas for little ones, especially gifts that have some sort of connection to India, without having to hop on the next plane to India… I’d love to hear any ideas you have to add to this list!

Girl and Boy from India Paper Dolls
Namaste Boy & Girl T-shirt Designs
Hearts for Hearts Girls – Nahji from India and Chai Time with Nahji: Sari Outfit & Tea Set
Ticket To Ride India: Expansion Pack (preorder) and be sure to get the original game to go with it Ticket To Ride (This is the best game ever – we love it!)
Henna Tattoos (stocking stuffer?!)
A ghagra choli/lehnga for American Girl Dolls (I was an American Girl fan growing up, sadly they don’t have an Indian American girl yet, this is the next best thing, I guess!  They do have Sonali, but she seems to be sold out.)

Who am I kidding, I’m going to put a couple of these things on my list!  How about you, any ideas to add for the kids (and the big kids!)?