Long haul trips often inspire as many feelings of dread as they do excitement, especially for parents traveling with kids. To help ease the worry, here are a few handy tips for anyone planning an amazing Asian adventure with young children:
1. Leave the pushchair at home
While most of the cities in Southeast Asia are extremely developed, futuristic places, many of the destinations are not exactly pram-friendly. Sidewalks, when they do exist, are rarely smooth and forgiving so unless you have a multi-terrain pram with built-in suspension, we’d recommend a baby carrier like the BabyBjorn. There’s also varying airline / airport policy on strollers and push-chairs, and they can be tricky and bulky to carry.
2. Pick the right flight
While you may prefer direct flights to get the trip over and done with in one go, your children may not have the same patience boundaries as you. After all, you know the end result of sitting uncomfortably for 12 hours will be worth the trouble, but that’s probably not how your child will see it. While infants are better off with the direct flights, kids old enough to move around freely will likely want to do this as much as possible. Therefore, planning a long journey with a stopover will give them the opportunity to stretch legs and expend some energy.
3. Keep them occupied
When traveling before your kids came along, your only worry once onboard your plane was the battle against boredom. Taking care of your kids (and all the drama they get up to) is now the cure for your boredom, but your concern now is how to entertain them. Obviously iPads loaded with games and their favorite shows are incredibly useful to have, but if you prefer a more traditional approach, bring along some new toys or books they don’t know you have and wait until your child reaches boiling point before you whip them out. Beware though: smarter children may work out the link and experiment with more strops to see what they ‘win’.
4. Be prepared for popularity
One of the positive aspects of traveling in Asia with children is that you may well receive a much warmer reception than traveling alone. Be prepared for locals to be even warmer and friendlier to you because of the kids – especially if they are blonde! Foreign children are fondly received and often made a fuss of in Southeast Asia. If your child likes attention, try to teach them a few phrases in the local language, wind them up and let them loose – the prefect cultural ice-breaker!
5. Food & hygiene
Wet wipes are possibly the most essential item you’ll need during your time in Asia. They are useful for washing on the go, cleaning toilets and wiping cutlery and tables in restaurants. Also, always try to remember to clean your hands after touching money – coins are especially notorious for transmitting germs. While your immune system may suffer from the change in climate and cuisine, it’s nothing compared to what your little one will go through. If possible, stick to your child’s usual diet (many Western brands are available throughout Asia), or stick to plain fruits, rice or vegetables – or simply foods with no spice.