Have Heart, Will Travel


Tips for travel: Long Flights and Challenging Conditions--with kids!

Helpful hints, UgandaNancy1 Comment

If you have read this page about me, you will know that one of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage others that you can take the "hard and far" trips with your children.  It is not easy, but it IS worth it, and I am here to help! I will be getting into a few very specific items to bring and things to do in this post, but I'm going to start with the most important thing you need to have to make travel successful (with anyone) and I want you to hear me out: A good, adventure-seeking attitude.  That is the secret.

If you can only bring one thing from this post, bring an attitude that is ready for the journey, not just the destination and it will revolutionize the way you travel.

I know--believe me I know--that delays and frustrating events happen during travel and it is impossible to actually be happy about all of them. However, if you are prepared for some bumps along the way, it will certainly help.

As for your kids, they are going to pick up your travel attitude.  On our recent trip to Uganda, we did not tell Petunia that unfortunately we had very long flights, but if we could just suffer through them, we would have fun when we arrived.  Not at all!  We told her about the exciting things that were going to happen because we got to take such a long flight.

On those long flights, you will get to your seat to find a little gift waiting for you.  On Emirates, which we flew to Uganda, there is a little zippered case with socks, toothbrush, and even an eyemask!  Now, you may not get that excited about such gifts, naturally, but why not?  Get to your seat and unpack it with your kiddo. Share the awe that you are getting a present before you even take off!


One of the greatest advances in international travel in recent years is the onboard entertainment.  In my teens, I crossed the Pacific many a time when my entertainment consisted of the books I brought on board and the two, chosen-for-everyone, firmly scheduled movies that would be shown during the flight.  And you know what? I survived!  (I did not know any better, but I digress...)

Now, international flights with kids are a breeze.  On the several major ocean-crossing airlines I have been on the last several years, there are individual screens so you can watch movies, television series, play games and listen to music to your heart's content.

own screen

There was a very wide choice of movie options appropriate for her and, on our longest flight, she watched four. That certainly helped the time go by.

We also make sure to travel with at least a couple books and some kind of pen and paper.  You could certainly get delayed either in an airport (no personal screen!) or on board at a time when the entertainment system cannot be turned on.  Be prepared to kick it old-school and read, write or play games.  Also, use that paper and pen to make your old-enough-to-write kids jot down a few thoughts from every day.  It is hard to slow down enough to do that while you're having fun, but you will all be grateful later!

Covering all our bases, we usually also try to travel with a Kindle Fire that is loaded up with a few games and shows.  Something like that comes in handy for the non-traveling part of trips where you may want kids to wind down or be still.  We love our Kindles in our house and they are quite inexpensive now. Petunia pretty much played all day every day in Uganda, but sometimes watched a short show while laying down getting settled to sleep.

Find out if your airline does anything special for kids flying with you.  Emirates was great at this! As you can see here under "Young Flyers", they do go out of their way to make the flying experience fun and memorable for kids.  Between the many flights, Petunia got to collect a few monsters, several World Cup wrist bands, and got attention from the crew like this:



One final thing to say about that airline, between meals you could walk to the back and help yourself to water, juice, fruit and full-size candy bars!  That was a favorite flight feature! Still, be prepared like a scout and bring some yummy, healthy things your family can eat in case everyone sleeps during a meal or is hungry for the munchies during one of those great movies.

When we returned home and exited our second 15 hour flight of the trip, Petunia's aunt asked her right away, "How was the flight?"  Her answer: "FUN!"  That speaks volumes about the airline, our preparation, and hopefully, our attitude.

So, you have made it! Welcome to your destination which may present some challenging situations.  If you travel to Africa, you do just have to be prepared that some things we take for granted may not always be available.  How do you keep your family as safe, clean and comfortable as possible? Have some wet wipes and hand sanitizer in your bag if you are going anywhere you will be eating and may not have running water. I hate that some foreign travelers make such a big display of using this that hand sanitizer is sometimes called "mzungu soap." No need to make a show, but you want to stay healthy. Wipe your hands with a wet cloth to remove any dirt--in Uganda it is the beloved but ubiquitous red clay--and then use a little sanitizer.


Traveling where there may be malaria?  By all means, take your malaria pills!  As an added precaution, I use a little of this essential oil (Purification by Young Living) to help keep the mosquitos away.  It has citronella and other natural oils in it and works wonderfully.  I don't like to spray myself down with a chemical-laden repellant unless I know we will really be going somewhere heavily infested and that would be a good choice.


Even under our mosquito net we would hear a buzz some nights. I got up and put a couple drops of this oil on our exposed body parts like ears and wrists.  The buzzing went away!


Here is one of about 3 bags of oils I traveled with. I love several essential oils and used them for fighting infection, staying calm while traveling, tummy issues, and so many things!

A reality in traveling to the more rugged destinations is that you may encounter bathrooms (or squatty potties) without toilet paper.  I used to prepare for this by just tearing a bit off and putting it in a small ziplock.  But I am glad I discovered Tissue on the Go!  The rolls are small and do not take up much room, but helps the paper stay cleaner and dispense easier.  Definitely worth the few dollars it costs, in my opinion.


Similar to the wipes above, but a little more specific, be prepared with some facial wipes and enough wet, disposable cloths that you can use for other strategic cleaning areas, too.  Let's just say that you may go a few days without water or electricity and bathing can become a challenge, if you are someone that loves to go to bed feeling clean. (<---- me)


 Of course, part of the experience and adventure (remember the attitude part?) is embracing things that arise. In that vein, Petunia certainly will be keeping a strong memory of a very cold shower she just had to take after a couple days of playing with friends, dirt and goats with everything she had.

I hope some of these tips and products may be helpful in your next adventures. If you have more, please share! I would love to expand my bag of tricks!



Memory Monday: Courageous

Life lessons, UgandaNancy1 Comment

ImageSometimes it's not about how far we've traveled, but what we had to overcome to get where we are.

When I think of courage, I think of Petunia.  While this is posted, she is wrapping up her first week ever in Africa and I'm sure has been both delighted and heartbroken in ways like she never has before. We realize in making this journey as a family, there is no going back. She has seen what she has seen and now knows what she knows.  May her tender heart, sharp mind and courageous spirit, all gifts from a God who created her perfectly, help guide her along with her loving and proud Mama and Daddy in whatever lies ahead.

Memory Monday: Girlfriends in Africa

Memory Monday, UgandaNancyComment

ImageIf everything has gone as planned, I will be hanging out on these same steps soon.  They are the front steps of a place that works God's miracles here on earth: Serving His Children.  Here, Renee Bach, along with a medical and house staff, help treat malnourished children, while teaching their caregivers not only about proper nutrition, but also about a God who loves them.

I sure had fun with these compassionate, funny friends of mine while serving there together a few years ago with our church. What a memory!

"Yes, for vacation..."

Life lessons, UgandaNancy3 Comments

That is an answer I find myself giving a lot these days when telling people that we are going to Uganda.  I don't blame them. It's kind of weird 'round these parts to go to East Africa for vacation.  The nurse giving Ainsley one of her shots was reading my paperwork back to me as if I'd filled it out incorrectly. "You said here you're going for vacation, but you mean mission trip, right?"  She is a travel nurse who gives vaccines all day long and we were strange even to her.

At the bank I requested newer, clean bills because the country we were going to, I explained, "...is very picky about bills they will exchange." She was curious where, so I told her. She thought a minute and asked, "Are you going for {pause while she thought of a possible reason someone would go} business?"

But when you're going with your family to have fun and visit friends, without a set agenda...that's a vacation, right?

I will grant that there will be a ministry visit or two involved. Because that's where our friends are.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, we will be spending most of our time with my friend Renee, the founder and international director of Serving His Children, an organization dedicated to "breaking the cycle of malnutrition one life at a time."

Uganda_July2011 188

Brenda Moses Nancy














Malnutrition sometimes looks very different than we would expect in Uganda.  There are the babies that just don't get enough food at all and have super skinny limbs and a distended belly, but there are other babies who just do not get the right types of food and it takes longer to tell that they are sick.  Recently a wonderfully talented friend of Renee's spent a good time at Serving His Children and was able to capture this story of Blessing.  I hope it blesses you and helps you see the dear people with whom we're going to get to spend some time.


[vimeo 94221354 w=500 h=281]


So, yes, maybe I should acknowledge this isn't vacation like, "Hey, kids, we're going to Disneyworld!"  (For the record, I love Disneyworld!)  I know it will be different.  I know it will shake up Petunia's world.  I know we will learn things as adults as we look at this new world through our daughter's eyes.  I know our family will grow closer over shared heartbreak, adventure and gratitude.

That's why I want to go.

Memory Monday: There's no de-Nileing it...

Memory Monday, UgandaNancyComment

...I'm ready to return!

africatowacospringbreak2011-398-1 edited


We're getting ready to leave for summer vacation very soon...to Uganda!  It will be Petunia's first time going with us and I am beyond excited to experience this beautiful land with her.  So, for my first Memory Monday, it seemed fitting to share a picture from my first trip to Uganda in January 2011, overlooking the Nile River at Bujagali Falls.