Buy Before You Go

Toddler Equipment

We have found that with baby stuff, having the proper equipment is essential, especially when traveling.  We wrote about our BabyEssentials list previously, but we have some revised observations now that we're past the baby stage and have a very tall 2-year-old. Since we don't have a car, we walk a minimum of 5 miles per day and about half of that with the stroller.  Our small umbrella stroller, which we loved, broke just before we left for the USA in December, so we brought another one here that we had in storage. Unfortunately with our daughter at the upper weight limit of this new stroller stroller, it is impossible to navigate these treacherous sidewalks and our daily travels are a pain, not to mention increasingly dangerous as the wheels like to get stuck.  Thankfully, we've found a great alternative and we've picked up a Mountain Buggy Urban Stroller holds kids up to 70 lbs (I will need serious help if I am trying to push a kid that big, bit it's great for our 33 pound/15 kg 2 year old!). I am so excited!

One thing that we planned for perfectly is a car seat (~that unfortunately doesn't get much use here). When our daughter grew out of her sweet little baby seat at 9 months, we graduated directly to the Sunshine Kids Radian80 Convertible Car Seat which is FAA approved for airline use, the only foldable car seat, and the only one with a steel (rather than plastic) frame. This amazing seat fits kids up to 80 lbs.  No need for a larger seat or a booster, which new studies are finding are not much help in a crash anyway.

Yes, we bring this car seat through airports and on the plane with us. It's heavy, but it makes for a well-behaved kid in her own, familiar seat.  When not in use, we fold it and store it in a suitcase.  Can't do that with any other car seat!

Surprising as it may seem, the Radian 80 also fit rear-facing into the back seat of our Mini Cooper when we were living in the USA.  I wasn't sure that the combination of a tall car seat and a small car would work, but it did and at 5'-10" tall,  I could still squeeze into the front passenger seat.

We learned our lesson with the stroller.  Montevideo sidewalks are a beast to navigate and very hard on strollers. Our first stroller had a good run of 9 hard months here.  Kids equipment to purchase new in Montevideo is expensive and many times not the best quality. Plan ahead and purchase in advance (before you get to MVD) when looking for the big items necessary to travel with babies, toddlers and even older kids.

 

Dogs in Uruguay Part 2- Gear & Our Airline Experiences

After the paperwork and necessary shots were completed for our dogs, we had to consider how they were to be transported and what was going to happen to them during the long journey to Uruguay. We had previously looked into animal shipping companies that can handle all of the paperwork and logistics for you- including providing a crate for the animal and grooming before departure. These are door-to-door services, and as such, have a hefty price tag. We were quoted between $3500-4500 to ship the two dogs separately from us. We decided for that sort of price, we could go through the steps and handle it on our own.

Pug in Suitcase

Our first questions for the airline involved the crates: We had two plastic dog crates, one large that can hold both dogs and one small. We would have loved to put both dogs in the larger crate together since they are always together and really quite attached, but it was against airline regulations. Dogs have to be the same breed and under 6 weeks old to be allowed in the same crate for international travel. Our pugs were 8 and 6 years old at the time of our travel to South America, so that plan wouldn't work.

/>We sold our larger crate and went out to look for another small crate that would be more comfortable for a single dog and easier to transport. We found a great Bargain Hound crate that is perfect for airline travel.  Not only was the Bargain Hound crate sturdy and a perfect size, it had the following features:

  • Lockable wing nuts to secure the top and bottom together (some airlines require this)
  • Ventillation holes on all four sides
  • Carrying handle
  • Enclosed door pegs- some brands have the metal ends of the door latches exposed on the top and bottom of the crate, creating a potential danger for pets and children.  The bargain hound crate had this enclosed for safety.
  • Zip tie holes to secure the crate door during travel.  The agent at the airline check in will do this for you.  The bargain hound crate had dedicated holes for the zip ties, our other crate did not.
  • Pet travel kit with international travel stickers, water bowl and zip ties

We brought one crate to the airport for a dry run the weekend before our projected departure to make sure all of our questions were answered and there were no unexpected surprises.  I highly recommend doing this when you have pets and so much luggage.  The airline also appreciated it because they could make a note in our record of our discussions and expect us to take a while upon check in.

We packed the crates with a folded 'mattress' of fleece blankets with a towel as the core.  I figured this would keep the dogs warm when leaving MN and the towels would provide some absorbency in case of accidents. It worked perfectly. On top of each crate, I duct-taped a gallon size ziplock bag which contained the dogs leash, two meals worth of food in a smaller ziplock, a few extra zip ties in case the dogs had to be removed, a small water bottle to refill the bowls during transit and another ziplock bag with copies of all the dogs paperwork.  The top of each crate also had the international travel information sticker and the dogs name written in permanent marker.

We arrived at the airport the day of our departure to find that the check-in agents were waiting for us.  We had our own dedicated line for check-in and it was very much appreciated.  The agent asked at check-in if we were interested in a short-check for the dogs and we had never heard of this before.  Since we were flying from MN to Chicago, Chicago to Miami, Miami to Montevideo, we could check the dogs for all or only a portion of the journey.  Our longest layover was in Miami and since that was almost halfway according to the overall transit time, that would make the most sense for a short check.  We could claim the dogs in Miami, walk them and have them out of the crate for a while, then re-check before our flight.  We opted to check the dogs all the way through to avoid the stress on their part (and ours) to have to put them back into the crates for another check-in and long flight to Montevideo.

After all of our bags and boxes were weighted and tagged, it was time to take the dogs for a final potty break and get them packed up.  After I removed the dogs from the crates, a TSA agent came over to inspect both crates and bedding. I took the dogs to their approved area outside the entry (who knew there was such a distinction?) and came back to find the inspection completed and the agents ready to seal the dog crates.  One last kiss to the pups and in they went.  The crates were zip-tied, water bowls filled and away the Pugs went.

We all traveled safely and securely- and were reunited in Montevideo.  The dogs were happy to see us and anxious for a potty break and food.  Thankfully there were no messy dog crates, which I had feared.  We hired a truck at the airport to transport us and all of our things to the hotel- and our adventure in Montevideo began...

Next up in the “Dogs in Uruguay” series: Dog culture in Montevideo, licensing and the cost of dog food.

Email Us With Questions!

We have had a great response to our blog and receive email frequently from people who are interested in moving to Uruguay and are looking for more information. I've been corresponding with a woman from the United States who was looking for info about a possible move here with two kids. I wanted to include a few excerpts from our email conversation regarding the most expat-friendly neighborhoods and costs of goods/services in Uruguay.

Thanks for the note! To address your questions about the Pocitos, Punta Gorda and Carrasco neighborhoods:

We love the Pocitos/Punta Carretas areas. They are considered higher end, safe and very expat friendly areas that are still close to downtown. We live on the border between the two "barrios" listed previously and are within walking distance to just about every service and store that we could want. Cabs and public transportation are excellent, so we have no problems in this area without a car. There are a lot of high rises in this area and nearly all the buildings are attached to each other. While we know of a few people with small yards here, it does not seem to be common. Our house does not have a yard. Instead, we have a small front garden and a back patio.

Carrasco is gorgeous, with big houses and large yards that feel more like any United States suburb. You would definitely need a car in Carrasco it is around a 15-20 minute drive from where we are living (on a good day with no traffic). Punta Gorda is one barrio/neighborhood closer to downtown Montevideo than Carrasco and from what I hear, it has a similar feel to Carrasco.

If you click on Google Map Montevideo, you will see the names of the different neighborhoods (you may have to zoom in) and you can get some perspective to their relationship to one another. The little pin on the map is between Punta Gorda and Carrasco. If you follow the coast to the left you will find Pocitos and next to it at the point near the bottom of the screen, Punta Carretas.

To address your question regarding items that are less or more expensive than the US: Cars and gasoline here are very expensive, as is most technology including computers and home electronics. Kids/baby stuff here is also extremely expensive (2-3x more than what you'd pay in the US). I just looked for a potty seat for my daughter at a local shop and the only decent one I found was a Safety 1st model that is $50 here but only $23 on Amazon.com. On the flip side, food, most services, child care and medical are all much cheaper than what we experienced in the US.

The lifestyle is definitely different in Uruguay. We love it but we also know people here who are having problems adjusting. They expected it to be more like the US or Europe, I guess. With such a small market in Uruguay, many consumer goods are not the quality that you'd get in the US and the imports are insanely expensive due to all the import and sales taxes. Plan trips to Buenos Aires or the US to get anything you can't find here. While you technically could ship anything here, there is a very hefty price tag attached!

Good luck with your decision and feel free to email with any more questions- Lisa

If you have any specific questions and would like to email us directly, please use the 'Contact' link at the top right of the site, or feel free to leave a comment on this or any of our posts. Thanks!

Get Your own Toll Free Number

Expat Travel Technology: OMG! My Hard Drive Crashed! Now what?!

Well, if you don't want to answer this question- Get Mozy!  It's a small application that will back up unlimited data from your computer to an off site server in the USA.  You schedule a backup time and it  does it's thing. You don't have to think about it ...unless you want to. I've been using this service since Mozy launched

Expat Travel Technology: VoIP Phone Solutions

Lisa and I both need an inexpensive and simple way to speak with family and clients in North America and around the world.  The fantastic thing about this is that we didn't have to change anything to do it.  We have been using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for several years.  It's a phone system that uses the internet to carry conversation rather than regular phone lines.  There are countless

Expat Travel Technology: How do I get my mail?

As we know there are many challenges to moving abroad. One of those is what to do with your postal mail. Should you have it forwarded to your new home in your far flung land? Maybe your 90-year-old mother will take care of it for you. Maybe that shifty-eyed cousin? For the most part, thanks to technology, you can eliminate most of your postal mail

Expat Travel Technology: An Introduction

Get Your own Toll Free Number

There are many challenges in moving abroad.  One is technology.  What do I bring? How will it work?  Will it work at all?  Do they sell that in Timbuktu? If yes, do I have to give up my first born to get it?  The answer to that last one is...maybe.  Technology abroad--for the most part--is expensive.  

expat-technology-helpTech--as it's always been--is a blessing and a curse.  There are an incredible number of options, but at least we have options.  I give Lisa's mom a hard time for coming over on "the boat" in the '50s from the Netherlands.  They actually flew with several stops, including one in Greenland. Either way, it was no picnic.  So even if my computer crashes or my VOIP goes down...I did not have to come over on "the boat".  Again, options. We can communicate locally and internationally even if that means I have to walk down to the nearest restaurant or McDonalds with WiFi (wireless internet) if my Internet crashes.  WiFi is even available in the parks here in UY and some buses  I'll have to try that albeit discreetly --if that's possible-- as I don't want my computer to be relieved from my possession.  You can even sit down at the McCafe and have a "meeting" across the table via webcam.  So you can continue those Starbucks-style meetings if you like.

One challenge involves staying in contact with your "home" country.  For some this may not be an issue if they are severing ties to the homeland.  In our case, we need to work with clients in the United States to allow us to maintain our expat lifestlye and keep up with family.  Thankfully it has never been easier to maintain this connection as an expat.   Even three or four years ago this transition was far harder than it is today.

There are many issues to consider: receiving postal /snail mail, personal and business phone, computer hardware, backing up your computer, power supplies, what technology to bring, watching your favorite TV shows from home, hiring developers or independant contractors. Fortunately there is a tool, a download, a website, or a physically piece of equipment that can address all of these issues. Even if you're a baby boomer retiring abroad and technology is not your best friend, there are still many tools that are worth the small investment.  I will provide information on several of the travel technology tools that I use everyday in Montevideo... many of these we were using well before the move because they're just great services. The technology we use untethers us from a physical location and thereby is perfect for a traveler on the go or an expat...well...that's flat out gone. 

I'm sensitive to you Mac folks...I have not yet joined your ranks, but most of these tools play nice with Mac...probably better.  

I will also talk about some of the challenges of limiting the interuption to my business while navigating the set up process in a foreign country.  There have been pleasant surprises and of course headaches.  I will share it all here.  I may not be able to wait until Monday...there's so much good stuff!!!

The Baby List

Geneva in the toy bin

We have been recently corresponding with a couple who will be moving to MVD shortly with their daughter. They've asked great questions about traveling abroad with a baby and what to bring, and we've responded with our experiences thus far.  Another couple with a little girl just commented on this blog yesterday (what's with all the baby girls? They're the best, I know. But baby boys are portable too!) and I thought this would be a great time to publish our very extensive baby packing list.  

Whether you're moving to Uruguay, the UK, Australia or UAE (or wherever in the world your journeys take you) this list should help to plan out your move with a child.  Appropriate for birth to 2+ with some minor modifications, this is what happened to make the journey with us. 

I had been planning this packing list since shortly after Little G's birth.  We visited MVD to scope things out in March 2008, when Geneva was 3 months old) so I could really get a feel for what is available here and what is not. After talking to people here last year, I found that baby stuff in particular is not the quality that we are accustomed to in the US.  I wanted to bring as many things as I could that were portable, good quality and will grow with the baby.  I also brought a bunch of small stuff that I knew I could probably get here, but didn't want to worry about going out and finding it right away. I regret absolutely nothing in this list. Here goes:

  • Tripp Trapp® from STOKKE® Highchair with baby rail and cushion. Packs flat.  You can adjust the seat/foot rest to grow with the child and eventually become a standard chair that holds up to 300 lbs. Is a great design and we'll use it forever.  We have a 2008 model in red with the white baby rail and art stripe cushion.  The 2009  models are changed slightly so be sure the chair and accessories work together. 
  • Sunshine Kids New Radian 80 Convertible Car Seat   The only car seat that has a metal frame, FOLDS flat for storage/transit (great for getting through airports and into airplane seats) and fits up to an 80 lb kid. No booster seats here! This will be the only seat we'll ever need.
  • BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light I mentioned this one in a previous post and it really has been incredible. Set up takes about 30 seconds and pack up takes about a minute. Weighs a mere 11 lbs and comes with a sturdy bag that can be airport checked, or packed in a suitcase. Geneva loves the thing and we are still using it.  I wanted to get a "real" crib when we got settled down here but I am starting to reconsider if we really should get anything else.
  • Two mattress pads and few crib sheets including two jersey sheets that work well for the travel crib.  I didn't buy the baby Bjorn sheets because I just couldn't justify $30 each...
  • Clothes: 18 month summer and 24 month in both summer and winter- I get everything in lots off of craigslist and have the next two sizes boxed and ready to ship here if needed. 
  • All the sippys, plates, silverware to get her through the next year.
  • Cloth diapers- several different varieties including All-in-One's (AIO's), prefolds, fitteds, PUL covers and wool covers. See note below about diapers.
  • 4 packs disposable diapers Nature Babycare Eco-Friendly Diapers and several packs of wipes to get through the first few weeks
  • Chicco C6 Stroller Comes with a storage bag and shoulder strap.  Great for checking it at the airport.  We left our larger stroller behind and brought this one to MVD both times.  Was great when G was 3 months old and still great now with that she's 16 months old.  
  • California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Body Wash I brought two 8.5 oz bottles and wish I had more because I use it as a face cleanser, too. I like this because it is unscented, biodegradable and tear free. 
  • Baby proofing stuff for cabinets and door knobs- A big help in the hotel rooms, too. 
  • Baby toys, books (English and Spanish), etc. Another post to come of some specific toys as well as the items I brought with us on the long plane ride here!  3 flights and almost 24 hours of travel,  I  had to have a few tricks up my sleeve!! 
  • Geneva in the tubSafety 1st Kirby Inflatable Tub Lots of hotel rooms and houses here only have showers (but they do have hand-showers).  I received the tip to bring an inflatable tub when we visited a family here from Canada.  It's been wonderful.
  • Clock Radio with white noise feature- We used this in MN and its been nice here to block out noises and create a great sleep environment for Geneva. We need to use it with a transformer since it is from the USA, but it's what she's used to, so we packed it up with everything else. 
  • Closetmaid 2 Pack Fabric Drawers Blue Cloth storage bins that fold flat.  I had used this style for my socks/tank tops, etc before baby and ended up getting two for Brad in blue and several for Geneva in a deep pink color.  They're great for toys, books and clothes (or the baby, as pictured at the top of this post) and once again, packs flat for transit. 
  • Small photos and momentos from home to keep a similar look to the room that she is used to
  • Several blankets including a few that were mine when I was a baby
  • Big Kids' Halo SleepSack - Pink This is the walker version with holes for little feet, rather than just the sack for infants. It will be great for cool nights where blankets get frequently kicket off.  I got the 2-3T size and it is huge on our tall girl.  Something to grow into!
  • Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 (Black) and Vision Pro for Mac Webcams are a must to stay in contact with the grandparents and other family back home via Skype.  We purchased one for us and 4 to give as Christmas presents this past year.  The reviews for this camera are outstanding and we have had the best experience with this after returning a previous webcam and giving others grief after also purchasing another brand of webcam.  This is the best!
  • There are also several other items that I will include in the next packing/toys post
Note on diapers: 
Disposable diapers here kinda suck. We've heard that from others here and discovered it ourselves. I actually know of one family that bought most of their disposables from Argentina.  We used a combination of cloth diapers and Naturebaby Care biodegradable disposables in the US.  I brought 4 packs of disposables here and all of the cloth diapers that we had been using.  We've tried a few brands of disposables here and the absorbency just isn't the same and one brand seems to be a very slim fit which has leaked badly for us. Sounds weird, but I can't wait to get some decent laundry detergent so I can start cloth diapering again. 
Thinks that I wish I could find here: 
  • Cheerios for the baby (or an organic/natural equivalent) - there is nothing similar down here except for sticky honey covered stuff. 
  • Unscented/natural laundry detergent- I'm sure we'll find it, but we haven't yet.  Everything readily available is scented
  • More California Baby shampoo/bodywash.  See note above.
  • More suppy cups.  Baby chompers are sharp and like to chew...

If you have traveled or moved abroad with young babies/toddlers, we'd love to hear your ideas and what has worked for you.  If we become friends via the blog and you're coming in this direction, be warned. We just bay ask you to bring something from our wish list!

* Note: All of the links above are Amazon because in preparing for this move, we hopped on Amazon all the time when there was something that we needed. We heart Amazon and are "Prime" members so we got free shipping in 2 days on most items.  Plus, there are reviews of all the products so you know what you are getting.  Brad had a good time practicing his HTML skills placing code for all of those links!