• atpanda

    Oh, and DEFINITELY take probiotics with you. My husband and I swear by them for eating questionable food in foreign countries.

  • jewels421

    1. Acidophilus is a pretty good way to prep your stomach for unfamiliar bacteria (i.e., to prevent the butt-shootin’ poops).

    2. Travel in that part of the world can be a little overwhelming the first time you go, as your friend said. Hopefully you have someone going with you who you can process things with.

  • GC

    You must not leave without a sleep mask and ear plugs. The sleep mask might seem kind of pretentious and stupid, but if you get the one asshole on the plane who leaves his light on THE ENTIRE FLIGHT sitting in front of you, putting on a sleep mask is a superior alternative to murder. Same goes for ear plugs, in case that asshole is also loud, but they’ll be handy on the ground as well.

    I hope you have Malarone. Pretty much zero side effects! (In my experience anyway.) If you don’t, maybe ask your doc about it?

    I will second the advice on a lightweight sleeping bag liner. Very handy.

    And maybe Rescue Remedy? I like that stuff for when I need to calm the eff down.

    As for jet lag, sleep on the plane (knock yourself out) when they turn down the lights. If you arrive during the day, don’t stop — run yourself into the ground. No naps. No matter how tired you feel at the end of that day (and probs day two and maybe day three), take a long-lasting sleep aid.

    I am excited to read your experiences and reactions! Have a good trip!

  • WindyLou

    Wow! What an amazing opportunity. Have a wonderful time. I’m going to put in my order now for your 2012 Bangladesh/Every Mother Counts Calendar.

  • sarahdoow

    Best of luck, it sounds like an amazing trip. I look forward to hearing all about it when you get back!

  • annecat

    I know, everybody’s got advice, right? :) Mine is just to be careful if you sleep a lot on the plane because of blood clots. I have a co-worker who very recently nearly died from them after extensive flying. Make sure you don’t get stuck not really moving for hours and hours on end.

  • jathompsn

    Dude, bring toilet paper. Nothing says welcome to a third world country like wiping yourself with a wet rag that has been used by countless others. And when you’ve got the shits???? Ugh, you’ve totally stirred up memories that I’ve kept locked in the back of my mind!

  • Kansas

    I studied abroad a few years back and we had a 10 day spring break during which we had to entertain ourselves. I asked one girl where she some others were going and she said, “oh…a couple of places…Bangladesh, I think…” and I said, “Bangladesh?” “Yeah, and maybe Amsterdam…” and I said “Bangladesh? Really? Kind of by India?” and she started getting annoyed with me after I asked again, “Seriously? Bangladesh? That’s like, far away.” (We were in Italy)Finally I suggested, “Belgium? Are you going to Belgium maybe?” and you could see the lightbulb go on in her head. “Yeah! I mean Belgium!”

    And I will forever remember that exchange when someone mentions Bangladesh.

    My jet lag tips are to just go to sleep the first night you get there and wake up when it’s morning. And drink lots of water. I can’t wait for your posts!

  • Divya

    Mundane advice:

    1. Start taking multivitamins at home and then take them with you when you’re abroad – the continuity helps with completely strange food.

    2. Protien bars. I’m obsessed with them, and they’re convenient when you don’t want to seem like a weird picky eater but aren’t up to some of the food, or when you’re not going to be around food for a long time. (Though when we visit family on the subcontinent, the problem is usually leaving too full).

    3. Speaking of not being around food, there’s some glucose thing you can put in your water that helps if you’re going to be out in the sun all day. In his fragile youth, my brother passed out in the heat and then we all started drinking that. I think you can get it locally.

    4. Beware of food made with local water, like chutneys. I usually eat them anyway, but a good thing to be aware of in case you’re ever in a position where you CAN’T BE SICK TOMORROW.

    It sounds like a fantastic trip! Have a great time!

  • diane-in-amsterdam

    any chance you have a stop-over in amsterdam?!

  • RudeAwakening

    Dammit, I’m jealous. Take me with you.

  • Onewithbooks

    I am so excited for you and this trip. My best advice? Yogi tea. They have energy teas for a pick me up, Throat Comfort tea for sore throats, and they have the BEST tea called Stomach Ease that help whatever belly ache ails you (e.g. gas, cramps or “just keeps shooting out of your butt. On and on and on. It doesn’t stop”). I don’t leave home without an arsenal of a variety of Yogi teas in my bag. (Especially the Woman’s Moon Cycle, as it cures nasty cramps.) If you like tea, I would try this route. I have found them in grocery stores in the organic foods/beverages aisle, health food stores, Amazon. com and their own site.

    Cheers to a healthy adventure!


  • adamsrice

    I hope you’re practicing your Bollywood dances. I image they do flash mobs on the street a lot like in the movies, and you need to be prepared.

  • Jawnbc

    Hiya Heather,

    I travel a lot–a lot–and have done most of the insanely long flights out and about. Like 24 hours on one plane from Australia to Europe via Singapore. OK they let us off the flight in Singapore…for like 20 minutes. Part of my travels brought me to India once–big honkin’ Mumbai and rural urban centre Nagpur. Not extensive, but not a stopover either.

    Bangladesh: expect to be sensorly overloaded for at least a day–maybe longer, maybe the whole time there. Everything is magnified there: colour, noise, scents. And poverty. The grinding poverty is almost as distressing as the average middle class South Asian’s propensity to ignore it (or at least not demonstrate any awareness of it). It’s a cultural thing–not universal, there’s lots of South Asian folks fighting poverty even if they themselves are affluent.

    Long flight: Get your doctor to write a ‘script for immovane/rhovane/zopiclone. These are hypnotic sleeping pills: longer lasting than an ambien and easier to snap awake from if you need to. One caution: they can take 5 minutes to kick in or an hour.

    Long red-eye flight plan
    1. get your ear plugs, eye mask, slippers, water bottle in a handy dandy place
    2. Figure out if there’s anything on the in-flight you want to watch. Otherwise figure out whatever you wanna watch on your tablet/laptop
    3, Read a bit before dinner
    4. Eat dinner. FYI Asian vegetarian meals are often nummy nummy veggie curries
    5. Sleep or watch a movie or read

    When you’re ready to sleep:
    1. go for a wee wee
    2. While in the ‘loo make your eye mask a bit damp (from the sink, not your wee wee)–it’ll cool your head a bit and make it easier to fall asleep
    3. take your pill
    4. At your seat get yourself comfy. Taking off shoes often helps (hence slippers or thick socks), position the chair, put pillow where you neeed it to sleep. Note: if you fall asleep sitting straight up with the sleeping pill that’s the position you’ll stay in.
    5. earplugs in, mask on (if you can go right to sleep) or on your head while you read.
    6. AS SOON as you feel drowdy, pop the mask on and just relax

    The pill will keep you asleep longer (easily 5-7 hours) whether you need it to doze off or not.

    When you get to your destination, stay up until a reasonable hour to go to sleep, take another pill and you should sleep most of the night. The next night take half a pill. If you need to, one more night with the other half pill should get your body clock sorted. Taking the edge off the jet lag also takes the edge of the crazy…something we share. :)

    I’ve refined this after flying to/from Asia, Australia, India, Europe, Africa. 9/10 friends who try it find it works for them. I lost a couple years of my life to jet lag because I wasn’t aware of those magical little “footballs.”

    And I’ll be using this on Sunday when I fly from Vancouver to Serbia.

    Have an os-some time!

  • SMudgal

    For jet lag, I second what devanshi_shah said. Don’t drink. Walk about the plane every once in a while.
    About the diarrhoea-stick to bottled water, NO uncooked food like salads and raw fruits and veggies, use hand sanitizers and you should be fine. Toilet paper, YES. But if you are going to be put up, even for a short while, in one of the more reputed hotels like Sheraton or Best Western, they will have toilet paper and will tell you where you can buy them in B’desh. This way you save some space in the luggage to carry stuff to give away-bubble makers, small toys.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY-Forget about expecting to get shocked or crying. Just go with an open mind. It’s a different world, but like you said more than 150 million people live there and survive every single day!

  • REBottoni

    My lifelong friend, an RN, goes to Myanmar every two years (also a 24 hr flight with many many plane changes) to work in an orphanage. She raves about the beautiful children.

    My husband had a Pakistani phlebotomist who came to the house to draw blood every couple of weeks – he would go back “home” every two years and he said he always counted the days until he could come back to his “adopted home” – he said all of India is DIRTY. For instance, a person walking down the street eating a banana will just toss the banana peel on the street.

  • katdenk

    Jet Lag major helper: Melatonin. You can get this in the vitamin section at walgreens or your local drug store. It’s the hormone your body makes to regulate day and night. Can’t stress this enough. Melatonin, it’s amazing.

    And have fun!

  • rosie260

    Bangladesh was the first place I traveled outside the us. Get prepared for a TOTAL mind-freak, which has tured out not to be such a bad thing 10 years later. This will change the whole way you look at the world.

    Get some good scarves, the blond hair will attract a LOT of attention (trust me).

    Also – plan for some serious reintegration disturbances when you get home. It’s almost harder than going, the coming back.

    Preparing myself to relive the experince through your eyes.

  • missusclark

    Oh, my. What a great, mind-blowing, emotional experience that will be!


    Jet lag blows. You’re gonna feel wretched the first day, no matter what. But… Try to sleep on the plane.I recommend Benedryl and 1 cocktail (just ONE, Heather!). Do remember to hydrate. The sleep mask and earplugs are very helpful. Once you arrive, try to stay on the local schedule.

    Anti-bacterial wipes and probiotics also endorsed here. Pepto is a life saver. You won’t want to miss anything!

    Make sure you take all your meds. In fact, you may want to check with your doctor on dosages, since A.) you body will be stressed, and B.) you mind and emotions will be stressed.

    Don’t forget that basket Christy’s gonna need to haul you outta there…. On the plus side, you will appreciate the richness of your own life so much more.

    Go safely and come back safely.

  • leappiah

    As a semi-veteran of long, trans-continental flights, my advice for jet-lag is to sleep as much of the flight as you can (if you’re like me, by a few hours in, you’ll be unable to wake up, which is NOT a pleasant feeling, but does make the trip go by faster). I have also had great success taking melatonine pills. It will be far worse coming back than going. Also… don’t be surprised if your period decides to accompany you the entire time you’re there, whether it’s scheduled to or not.

  • Geneva M. Wilgus

    I’m so excited for you! I did a similar trip (my first trip out of the US) to Tibet to work with a girls orphanage… which meant dealing with 12 hours of time change + altitude. My biggest piece of advice: bring sleeping medication to help you fall asleep and stay asleep in your new timezone. Don’t be afraid to power nap (no longer than 30 min), and stay crazy hydrated so that it’s only pee shooting out of your body all the time (there’s an image).

    Cannot wait to hear all about it! Best of luck!

  • stephaniekaloi

    I haven’t been to Bangladesh, but I did visit India for three weeks a few years ago. I will say this (which was advice from a professor of mine who is from India): when you see kids begging on the streets, one of the best things you can do is give them FOOD. If you give them money it most likely goes to the person who is sending them out there in the first place. If you give them FOOD (or candy! We would keep little treats in our pockets and give them to small kids, who loved it. It’s not good for them health-wise, but it’s something they never get..it just felt nice), it’s instant gratification. We also encountered a few mothers who needed something for their kids, and we gave them food as well.

    Seeing the sheer number of children on the streets was the hardest part for me. Seeing kids with diseases that are eradicated in the States was hard. Having tiny little fingers tapping on my elbow and looking down to see a four-year-old asking me for money was hard.

    I’m sure there will be so many experiences you’ll have that will be monumentally challenging, especially since you’re going to be visiting maternal health clinics — I can’t even imagine. But I also believe you’re going to see so much that is amazing and humbling, and have wonderful discussions with people. You’ll get to share baby photos and stories, all of that jazz. It’s going to be awesome.

  • ExSchutz

    My husband and I went to India in January. Here are a few tips that helped with the travel. Everyone told us we would get sick, but miraculously we didn’t.

    Plane tips:
    Bring an eye mask to help you sleep.
    Get up every few hours on the long plane flights. Your seat mate might be cursing you, but your legs will be thanking you.
    It’s easy to get dehydrated on long flights, bring a bottle of water with you and every time the flight attendants pass out water, take some and drink it even if you don’t want to.

    When you get in-country:
    Adjust to local time right away. Don’t cheat. Stay up the full day.
    Eat the yogurt. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it will help your stomach safely adjust to the local bacteria.
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. You will stick out, so make the most of it!

  • Daisee

    How wonderful! I cant wait to see photos of this exciting trip! Happy travels! Be careful and safe!

  • ljos

    Not for jet lag, but musts for travelers to developing countries: Cipro(for the traveler’s diarrhea) and if you are at all prone to motion sickness, get a couple Scopolamine patches. (I believe it’s prescription only.) If you’ll be doing any traveling by bus, there’s a possibility of seriously bumpy roads which, for me anyway, cause serious motion sickness. The patch works wonders, but drys your mouth a bit so take gum or hard candy to help counteract. Sounds silly, but Scopolamine saved what could have been a totally ruined trip to rural Nicaragua for me. Dramamine works too, but makes most people sleepy.

  • mfm

    Have a wonderful trip.

    For jetlag when your legs ache, try putting your legs up the wall. Lie on your bed with your butt close to the wall and put your legs straight up the wall, old yogi trick. It works and you look like a crazy American while doing it, it’s a win win.

  • tallhottie

    My Dad travels A LOT to india (and I know you’re not going to India, but these tips might help).

    -Used bottled water to brush your teeth. Even that small amount to rinse your toothbrush can make you sick where “poop just keeps shooting out of your butt. On and on and on.” And try to take a quick shower and keep the water from going in your eyes and mouth.

    -Like other people said, stay awake until it is bedtime where you are visiting. It reduces jet lag significantly.

    -Don’t give money to the children beggars. I know it’s tempting, but once they find out you have money they’ll swarm you.

    -Antibacterial hand gel goes a long way.

    -Enjoy yourself and take a lot of pictures!

  • specialkrispy

    I hope that going to Bangladesh with Christy Turlington doesn’t make you too good for us, Fancy Lady.

  • jeccat

    If you will have a free afternoon in Dhaka, visit Hindu Street. There is a famous harmonium shop (Jatin?) that has been making harmoniums for 100+ years. ALSO: Take a local (male) guide if you can. There are very very few women (read: NONE) walking around by themselves in the non-international part of town, and you will not be comfortable going without a male companion. Really.

    Be prepared to spend long hours in traffic jams.

    If you visit ICDDR,B (International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh), say hello to Dr. Pradip Bardhan for me!

  • lh

    Christy Turlington totally went to my high school. You should probably ask her about Danville, California. If she describes it as a sick blend of Pleasantville and Desperate Housewives, you owe me $5.

  • Just Jill

    Awesome advice from everybody. Well, I guess it is, anyway as I’ve never left the US for anywhere near that exotic! But if I ever become a world traveler, I’ll have to remember some of this stuff.

    I just have a small request: I want you to kidnap Christy’s husband Ed, and bring him home to SLC for me. That dude has been #1 on my list for a long, long time… but he’ll probably be staying home with their kids, huh? Damn.

    Be safe – and may this experience be totally enlightening for you!

  • Rebecca from Texas

    Oh hugs! So happy for you! Have a wonderful time – can’t wait to hear ALL abou it when you return. Safe travels & much love from Texas

  • soniawings

    What an incredible opportunity! So excited for you.

    Here’s what you need:
    – Benadryl (for any random allergies you might discover, as well as to help sleep to get over jet lag)
    – Non-drowsy allergy meds
    – Pepto
    – Melatonin for jet lag
    – Tissues

    Whatever you do, don’t drink tap water. If someone brings you bottled water, make sure it’s sealed. I’ve been served tap water in bottles in India – tricky! Tap water is a surefire way to have a great story for Travel Clinic Lady to add to her excitement.

    Can’t wait to see photos!

  • CathyJean

    Someone who is into nutrition and natural remedies told me that they never travel abroad without taking grapeseed extract (GSE) (to avoid/lesson the affects of foreign cooties/viruses). I’ve not tried it, but it sounded like a good thing to look into. Have a fab time! Can’t wait for the pix! ;-)

  • scorpio21

    Hi, I’m Bengali American. I’ve been to Bangladesh a few times and I still experience culture shock when I go there. I hope you have a great time, you should definitely do some shopping and buy salwar kameez for the girls and a sari for yourself. A fair warning, the weather is extremely hot right now and there is a lot of dust in the air. Traveling by car (in Dhaka) can be a pain because traffic sucks.I know visiting a foreign place can be intimidating and you should definitely be careful with what you eat, (keep anti-bacterial wipes, and a first aid kit with you at all times). However, Bangladesh is a fascinating place to visit, the people and the lifestyle is very different from the US. You will have a very enriching experience. Travel Safe.

  • pandabear

    The solution to jetlag is to manipulate your body on the plane so you can enjoy it on the ground. That area of the world is exactly opposite us – 12 hours’ difference. When I went to Nepal we changed time zones the second we got on the plane both ways, suffering to stay awake in one direction and taking Ambien in a sleep mask to force sleep the other direction.

    Also: devastatingly humbling. Life-changing. You will truly never look at your own life the same way again.

  • francabollo

    Speaking as someone who has never been to Bangladesh … listen carefully.

    I think anyone travelling to Bangladesh understands they will experience an emotional impact from witnessing the plight of the Bangladshis and therefore try to prepare themselves so as not to be overwhelmed. But what is forgotten, especially by someone like you who shares my deep compassion for animals, is the shock that comes from witnessing their mistreatment. Maybe knowing this before you go in will help steel yourself.

    On a lighter note … Snacks! Take lots of high protein snacks.

    Safe travels.

  • kathrynlurie

    Heather! Congratulations! What a terrific adventure. I can’t wait to read all about it.

  • TropicalPopsicle

    Well what great timing! A friend of mine just told me last weekend that the best cure she’s ever found for diarrhea is Pringles! She’s traveled around the world and she says you can find them anywhere. Eat a can of those and it’ll plug you right up!

    Congratulations on the amazing opportunity!

  • tallnoe

    Awesome. I cannot WAIT to hear about it!!

    Take garlic pills (they don’t smell, promise) and B vitamins to try to get the mosquitoes to stay away.

    And I echo the sleep sheet idea. If there’s an REI in SLC, GO TO ONE. I left the country for an undetermined amount of time a few years ago and the best things I bought in advance were: sleep sheet, chacos and my backpack.

    Sleep sheet is AMAZING.

    Have a great time. So excited for you.

  • emmajames

    1) Have an amazing time!
    2) Accept you can’t fix everything.
    3) Remember that every single thing you DO do will be of great value.
    4) Be prepared for the seeming incongruity of meeting people who may be in the midst of the most abject poverty but express a capacity for joy rarely found among those who have everything. Try not to let that lead to an existential crisis.
    5) Be prepared for as much culture shock upon your return to Utah as you experience upon your arrival in Bangladesh.
    6) Consider switching sexual orientations, because Christy Turlington is a goddess inside and out.

  • Chloe

    I never experience jetlag traveling west to east (Pacific Northwest to Italy is my usual route). Coming back it’s a problem. I can hit the ground running and never look back.

    Don’t drink alcohol on the plane – I know that’s contrary to what everyone is telling you but it dehydrates you too much – drink lots of water, walk around, gotta watch for that deep vein thrombosis.

    If you arrive and it’s light outside, stay awake until it’s dark. If it’s dark, go to sleep.

    My MIL told me about “tush wipes” – that’s the name – too late to get those now but individually wrapped Cottonelle wipes are great to carry when faced with no TP. Don’t freak out if you see the “hole in the ground” toilets – I’ve seen them in posh restaurants in the middle of Milan – but hope you have good balance.

    I’ve tried everything on planes to “sleep” and nothing works – your experience may vary. Love the planes with the individual screen at each seat with the games and movies on demand.

  • Mindy Lee

    Heather, I simply cannot wait to read about your experiences on your upcoming journey.

    You’ve received excellent advice already, so I will just say “safe travels.”

  • Cecily

    I’ve heard Melatonin helps jetlag. I swear by the stuff.

  • msmona

    We’ve always affectionately referred to traveler’s diarrhea as “The B.U.” (boo), which stands for “butt urine.”

    Perhaps a bit too descriptive.

  • duchess

    Hi, I am from Bangladesh. We go there pretty frequently and I go all the way to the village, not just stay in the city.

    A few tips – most flights arrive early in the morning (like 4am) so if you can, sleep on the flight, and then take a nap after the noon prayers. It will help you make it to a sane bedtime instead of passing out at 7pm.

    There are bunches of bottled water. MOM is the most reliable one. Try the others at your risk.

  • dkat

    jet lag sucks, keep super hydrated. It sounds pretty simple, but it seriously helps. LOTS OF WATER. Before. During. After. Also, when I first went to London I got super sick, only ate oranges for 4 days straight while I was there, anything else I would throw up. Came back and found out my body was just under stress (go figure!), since then I always take low dose dramamine. You wont be drowsy, 1 tablet should do. Have TONS of fun and stay focused in the moment.

  • lfar

    Dooce, when I’ve traveled in places where showers and clean water aren’t always available, I found the only thing I needed sometimes to feel clean was a face wash. I recommend you bring some face wash towelettes, just for the times when you don’t even have access to water to splash your face! I never knew how much I valued having a clean face until I couldn’t wash it. (I sound so spoiled!)

  • Laura Mauk

    Wow. I’m impressed and in awe and envy. Such a wonderful opportunity. It WILL be life-changing…and just think how much you will have to share with your daughters–and us!–when you come back! Can’t wait to hear–and see! Laura@ lauramauk.blogspot.com

  • mcsturm

    Be careful with your photography– that’s a hard thing to do when traveling with privilege.