• RovingAcres

    Bangladesh is amazing. I spend 3 months there studying endangered gibbons up in Srimangal and have never met nicer people. Be prepared to drink a lot of tea and get offered jackfruit by everyone you meet. They are predominantly muslim so beef is ok, pork is not so much but no one I met ever made a big deal about religion. I never felt the need to cover my head for instance, but I would have if I had been visiting a mosque.

    You’re going to be there in monsoon season (I was too) so be prepared for endless pouring rain and seeing drowned animals (and sometimes people unfortunately) in the streets. Especially if you are going to be in Dhaka a lot. Also be prepared to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer chaos of the cities. All the colors and crowds and smells after being in a plane for a day are just too much sometimes. I went to bed early the first night, with the help of ambien, and was much more ready to face the world the second day. Also they have terrestrial leeches, but not in the cities.

    Things I was really glad I brought:
    -A mosquito net with permethrin
    -Gallons of DEET
    -Comfortable, water resistant shoes
    -Raincoat/rain pants
    -extra toilet paper
    -hand sanitizer (Did you know it kills leeches? Very useful)
    -Body powder (like Gold Bond)
    -An open mind and heart

    Get some biryani and some gulub juman for me! Or the little white cake ball things. Mmm. Bangladesh has the best sweets.

  • Midnight

    I’m sure a hundred people have already said this, but if you can, avoid alcohol on your flights and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. Also, reset your watch to the local time in Bangladesh and try to get as much sleep in flight as you can.

    Once you arrive, try to immediately adapt to the local time, rather than going to sleep and trying to sort it all out later. I believe I’ve heard that if you can get out in the sun for 15 minutes or so that it will help reset your circadian rhythms.

    Have a terrific trip!

  • WarsawMommy

    What an amazing opportunity…..

    I went to Bangladesh several years ago, when I lived in Asia. A few things that caught me by surprise:

    1. The lack of women in public places – many, many times I looked around a market, or busy street, and I was the ONLY woman as far as the eye could see. I expected to see some, out in pairs, with a husband or male relative, and sometimes I did – but far more often, no women to be seen at all. It was jarring to my eyes, to say the least.

    2. As a white woman with blue eyes travelling alone, I attracted loads of attention everywhere I went. It was totally normal for me to be surrounded by a huge group of men (and yes, I do mean completely surrounded, like encircled) as I made my way around. They did not enter my personal space, and shuffled to keep the circle huge while still moving. The only time a man would enter the circle was if he spoke English, and then they politely approached and asked if they could talk to me. When I said yes, they’d ask me questions and shout out the translated answers for the other men. This was a surreal experience, and once I took a photo of all the faces staring back at me (after asking permission, of course). Whenever I show that photo, women freak out, but truly, they were very respectful and polite. They were just very curious. I also got the sense that they were trying to keep me safe in places like train stations, and acted like an odd group of shuffling bodyguards.

    3. The poverty. This is indescribable. I had spent time in India and thought I was prepared, but I was not. One image that sticks with me to this day is the towering mounds of garbage in the streets of Dakha, with small children rooting through them for food, and fighting with wild boars for the best scraps. This is the truth, so be prepared for sights like this. They are even harder to bear when observed from an air-conditioned taxi, so be prepared for feeling some guilt, as well.

    4. The early morning calls to prayer, blaring from loudspeakers on each street corner. Too. Early. Gah.

    All in all, my time in Bangladesh was amazing and yes, life changing. Take care, be prepared to see some hard stuff, but trust in the welcome and kindness of the people. In my 3 weeks there – alone – I never felt myself to be in any danger (despite being a Western woman on her own), and rarely felt uncomfortable.

    Safe travels, Heather.

  • LittleWeeOne

    Whenever I travel to Southeast Asia, I do not sleep the night before and take two melatonins on the flight. Then I conk out.

    I recommend having a pdf of your passport in the clouds. It SUCKS when you lose it.

  • karahmarie

    Don’t forget you can’t use ice cubes, either, unless they are from purified water. We didn’t have a lot of drinks on ice over there.

  • doublebuttons

    Melatonin….OTC and won’t make you crazy. So safe, my 5yo uses it (he has ADHD and would never sleep otherwise).

  • doobrah

    You’ve probably already left, but one thing to keep in mind in a Muslim country is how men regard women. Many look right through you. If space is tight, and one is walking toward you, they do not get out of the way. You can either walk into them (once you get really tired of their treatment) or get out of the way yourself. You will see many women walking a step lock-step behind their husbands. Very subservient. If you buy something, hand your paper money to them by the corner and don’t touch them if you hand them change. It’s a respect thing: the men do not touch women they don’t know. Cover your decolletage, dress loose and conservative (covered).

    Wherever you have a layover, if it’s a reputable airport (Dubai, for example), they have many Western items that are safe to eat and drink. I recommend the curries on the plane — they are delicious.

    If you happen to fly Gulf Air, the food is delicious and their version is muzak is excellent.

  • Vivienne

    There was a study a while ago that showed that jet lag was closely linked to meals. So if you regulate your meals so that they match those of the destination, you can get over jet lag very quickly.

    I guess the trick is to not eat very much on the plane, and then immediately match you eating habits with your destination’s time zone.

  • carepackagegirl

    No Jet-Lag.
    That’s the name of the product. I’ve had friends travel from California to China, Thailand, and all over Europe and all of them swear by this stuff.

    Should be safe with prescription meds too.

    Envy envy envy.
    Bangladesh. Wow.

  • mamaguru

    I’ve traveled to Aisa many times and I’ve always adjusted well to the time difference. I switch my watch over to the new time zone as soon as I board the plane and try my best to conform to the new time. I know conformity is not your strong suit, but try.

    I don’t want to freak you out, but in India (& maybe Bangladesh) a lot of people sell bottled water that seems unbroken and new, but is really from a local tap, so use those purifying pills or boil for 5 minutes. Beware of ice.

    You will have an amazing time! It will be beautiful and horrible and horribly beautiful. I am so excited about this cause and wish you and Christy the best. Let me know how I can help. I’d be happy to post something on my website or participate in any fashion. Safe travels!

  • Carolyn H.

    I just took a trip to India a few months ago and I searched the Internet high and low for anti-jet lag tips before I went. There are actually some people who believe that by not eating for extended period of time (like 12 – 18 hrs.), you can reset your body’s internal clock and avoid jet lag. I was not about to pass up the 6+ meals you get served when travelling around the world, so that wasn’t an option for me.

    Instead, I recommend:

    1. Drinking as much water as possible. Literally, it is not possible to drink too much water when travelling.

    2. My jet-setting boss sets his watch to the destination time from the moment he gets on the plane and then tries to start living by this time. (For example, sleeping if it’s night in India, even though he’s in Minnesota.) He swears by this.

    3. I believe in getting as much sleep as possible on the plane, which involves using the earplugs and eye mask they give you. And, in my case, also putting a blanket over my head. I’ll never see these people again. I don’t care what they think of my blanket head.

    4. Getting up every few hours on the plane (when not sleeping) and walking around, doing stretches and squats, etc. (Again, who cares what my fellow passengers think about that crazy lady doing squats and stretches over in the corner.)

    5. Starting to do things on local time from the minute you arrive. (If you arrive at 2 a.m., go to bed. If it’s noon, grab lunch.)

    6. Getting out into the sun as soon as possible. The sun is so helpful in re-setting your body’s natural clock.

    Have a fantastic trip! That sounds like an amazing opportunity.

  • tksinclair

    My mother invited me on an all expense paid trip to Europe for three weeks. I was going to say no. You just made up my mind for me…I’m worried about EUROPE being so far away from the kids and work and how will the world all hold together if I’m not holding all the strings and you’re going to Bangladesh and taking poppy medication….I think I can let go and drag my poor self to Europe…yes, it’s coach, no business class…and rough it through Paris, London, Spain, Portegal, Italy, Gibraltar yep, I’m going….leaving next week. Thanks Heather…you made up my mind for me…

    Yes I will be sharing a room with my mom for three whole weeks which should equal out your exposure to typhoid, malaria, dengue fever and travelers diarrhea…..I’d say we’re on an equal playing field now….

  • xuanla

    Be safe. Be well. Sounds like the experience of a lifetime! i think so

  • jholland

    I spent six months in India and I can tell you from firsthand experience that the emotional roller coaster in indeed intense, but so well worth it. I can’t wait to see the photos you bring back. Just remember – brush with bottled water.

    Have an amazing time!

  • Sirene786

    WHAT? My parents are from Bangladesh! I’ve been there tons of times to visit my relatives. Let me know if you have questions!

  • goodhousewife

    WOW as a midwife I am both envious and appreciative of such a worthy trip, would love to hear more about it and would love to be involved in something like that myself one day!

    Love your site


  • brekee

    magical jet lag cure? AMBIEN.
    also, you might want to bring some antibacterial hand soap.

  • jessiCat

    Have safe and happy travels, Heather! And try to avoid taking pictures of Christy while she sleeps, I hear she frowns upon that. :)

    I can’t wait to hear your stories and see the pictures from this journey. I know you will capture them perfectly.

    I don’t say goodbye, so I will just say this….send me a postcard! have fun! don’t eat anything that is still moving! don’t forget your bug spray! Bon Voyage, my dear!

  • devoyka

    How amazing is this? Super-freaking amazing! Good for you, good luck and come back safe!

  • ADDGirl

    What an incredible opportunity! I think a good cure for jet lag is totally mess up your sleep before you go, and make sure you don’t sleep during any “awake” hours when you are on the plane. Good luck!

  • amybonk

    Try Melatonin for jet lag. But give it a whirl at home one night before your trip. I have a friend who is on antidepressants and was told that melatonin can make you groggy in the morning if taking certain medications. Other than that, it’s a life saver.

  • OKMom

    Have a great time!! You will come back a different person. (I think that’s a good thing?)

  • barbara

    Wow! How incredible!

  • MissMita

    Toilet paper or packets of tissues. I know it sounds silly, but when I lived in China public bathrooms didn’t have it. And it’s all sorts of sucky to be caught unprepared.

    And tampons if necessary.

    Have a GREAT time. It will be amazing.

  • hmdean

    Eight whole days? You might be over the jet lag by the time you leave for the States.

    I speak from experience — I’ve been to India a few times, once for just a week. It’s key to sleep on the plane, and the key to *that* is wine and benadryl.

    You are going to have such a shocking, amazing time, one that will change you and stay with you.

    Safe journey.

    p.s. Take a few packs of antibacterial wipes. They come in handy more often than you’d think.

  • Schmutzie

    Fabulous. Just fabulous! I must admit to a hefty dose of jealously on this one :)

  • The Dalai Mama

    Congrats on this opportunity. I am sure it will be amazing and life changing. When I traveled to Ethiopia, I thought I was ready for the poverty, conditions, etc. I wasn’t. It is hard.

    Have an amazing journey.

  • theurbancowgirl

    Mind.Blown. That is just so, so awesome!

    I went with the Gravol (I think it’s Dramamine in the States) and wine induced sleep on the plane to stave off some jetlag. Then just stay awake until bedtime in India. The first day might be rough, but so long as you do that it should be mostly okay.

    Again. Wow!

  • koskersidlewild

    First, I was totally expecting a post about Dora with that title.

    Second, bon voyage! Trip of a lifetime FOR SURE!

    Third, I have had success with taking an OTC sleeping pill (actually Tylenol PM, but my RN hubby hates when people use that instead of just a sleeping pill) ON THE PLANE during the destinations’ nighttime (it’s ok to drool on your seat buddy). When you arrive, change every clock on your body (please let us know if there is more than 1 ’cause that would be fascinating). Take one more sleeping pill your first night. VOILA… you are on the right schedule!

  • Gulliver1

    Excited you’re going and more excited to hear about it when you get back! Your blog may begin to take a whole new direction!

  • annstarrr

    If you’re arriving during the morning, the key is to sleep on the plane. (Read: Ambien, followed by coffee and/ or Adderal on arrival)

    If you’re arriving during the evening, the key is to NOT sleep on the plane and then crash when you get there. (Read: coffee and/ or Adderal, followed by Ambien on arrival)

    The idea is you use the time on the plane to get used to the local time zone.

    Have fun!

  • Lauren3

    That Christy Turlington is one smart cookie.

    A) She started what is clearly a wonderful and needed organization. And she didn’t even have to, because she has a hawt bawdy.

    B) She smartly picked you, Valedictorian of Blogging, to help her bring attention to it.

    Plus, she probably wants you along for the ride because she thinks you’re funny and entertaining and crap, who knows. ;)

    Best wishes, H-dawg!

  • Fifi Coon

    I just read her (Christy Turlington-Burns) article in More magazine. WOW. You go girl!!!

  • c_girl

    Re malaria, DON’T LET THEM MAKE YOU TAKE LARIAM. It makes people crazy–especially people who might be, for example, prone to anxiety and depression.I once thought I had a nervous breakdown that was really more of a Lariam-lunacy episode, but didn’t put the pieces together for years.

    Also, tangentially related but equally important, you should take the new Ann Patchett book, State of Wonder, with you. It’s about traveling to somewhere unsettling and it is amazing (and also features Lariam!)

  • meltem

    I would suggest bringing some PeptoBismol with you. Also, I don’t know if you can get this in Bangladesh (I found it in India) but there is this mosquito repellent called Odomos that’s way better than anything I’ve ever used.

  • Brandy in Canada

    Melatonin will help with jet lag AND give you vividdreams!! Can’t wait to see the pics!

  • Sian – MummyTips

    Hey, I’m new here at your blog.
    I went on a trip to Bangladesh with Save the Children last summer. You will have an amazing time but be prepared to return a different person.
    Christie’s film is AMAZING. I watched it through tears having seen these things with my own eyes.
    If you want to read a little about my trip – here’s a link to my blog. http://www.mummy-tips.com/2010/09/inside-bangladesh-village-home.html
    My tips.
    1. Travel light. if you have to go anywhere by sea plane (you will) they have tight weight limits. We were allowed to carry 5kg of baggage. My camera and computer etc weighed in at 11kg, so I left EVERYTHING behind in the city.
    2. Buy yourself a lightweight sleeping bag liner. It’s hot and if you do have to ditch your belongings you will still have somewhere clean to sleep.
    3. Pack your bag full of bubbles for the children. The soapy kind that you blow. They LOVE them.
    4. Don’t cry.


  • kristanhoffman

    WAY. COOL!

    (Btw, the trip seems a bit shorter if you look at the map the other way, with the Pacific Ocean in the middle instead of Africa. But I don’t know which way you’re flying, soooo…)

    For the jet lag, try to schedule it so that your body will be exhausted at the right times when you land. Like, if you’re landing in Bangladesh at 5 pm, try not to sleep too much that way you will be EXHAUSTED by the time you get through customs, have dinner, and settle into your hotel (or wherever) so you can just CRASH that night and wake up more or less on schedule the next day. Alternately, if you’re landing at 9 AM, sleep as much as you can during your travels so you have energy to push through that first day. Other than that (and the help of caffeine) there’s not a ton you can do.

    I can’t wait to hear about your adventures over there, and about Jon’s here, hehe. Best of luck to both of you!

  • Sian – MummyTips

    btw… you dont need anti malaria unless you are going into the inner wetlands.

  • sherrye22

    Yeah, Xanax is your friend for a long flight like that. Also, a First Class ticket. Although I assume Christy Turlington is helping you out with that one. If not, well, Xanax AND Ambien.

  • inimitablej

    Seconded/thirded the handwipes and toilet paper. DEFINITELY take toilet paper.

    I’d also add a couple more tips:

    * to help with jetlag on the ground: if it’s before noon, take a nap. When you get up, eat lunch, and stay up as late as you can. If it’s after noon, stay up as late as you can and eat at normal times for your destination time zone.

    * take a microfiber washcloth. Face towels are often nonexistent in Asia.

    * to keep from dehydrating, eat as much fruit as you can – the fiber helps you retain the water contained in the fruit longer than drinking water by itself.

  • slappyintheface

    Buy a ginormous bag of starlight peppermints and ginger candies …. NOW!!!

    and please don’t take sleeping pills … the last thing you need is to appear doped up on a “mission trip” – get some tart cherry extract capsules instead

    have fun … take lots of pics (duh) and don’t mention hamburgers

  • the transient 1

    baby wipes. seriously. no good soldier leaves home without them.

  • sherrye22

    Also, your blog post about the Every Mother Counts organization prompted me make donations to it in lieu of Mother’s Day gifts for my mother, MIL, stepmother and stepMIL. 4 new midwives will have the materials they need to practice when they graduate!

  • armarti

    You should go punch your vaccine lady – you can actually take the typhoid vaccine in oral pill form AND it lasts longer than the shot.

    Loved the documentary – so thrilled that you’re adding to that work.

  • JWysok

    Be safe. Be well. Sounds like the experience of a lifetime!

  • KirstenPR

    I would recommend Juice Plus for the trip. I could Fedex it to you or if you are traveling through Los Angeles, I would be more than happy to drop it off to you. What is Juice Plus? 17 fruits and vegetables in a capsule. http://bit.ly/d4vaHD

  • atpanda

    Jet lag is a b*tch. I travel to Europe from AZ a lot for work. My advice: don’t drink on the plane (alcohol, that is), and if you have an overnight flight, SLEEP on the flight. The first night in a country on the other side of the world is MISERABLE whatever way you look at it, but night 2 will be much better. Promise. What an amazing experience!

  • ChickWhitt

    how awesome for you!

  • devanshi_shah

    Oh wow! Have a great trip. Cant wait to see pictures from trip.

    For jet lag the key is to set your watch to the destination time as soon as you board the plane and try to follow it. If it night at destination, force yourself to sleep and if it is day, force yourself to stay awake. We try this everytime we go to India.