In this article we cover how to travel with kids in Asia without getting sick (or at least avoiding it as best as possible!).
By Grace Koelma | Dare List Mama
Travelling with young kids in South-East Asia is an absolute blast. There's something weird and wonderful to look at on every corner, the locals love kids and give them lots of attention, and it's so much fun exploring a new place with your child. Especially if it's a beautiful beach like this one.
But travel with kids grinds to a halt when they become sick or injured. Little scrapes often can't be avoided, so we've made a big list of survival items we'd recommend bringing so you're not caught out when the inevitable chaos strikes.
Note: we've only mentioned and linked to products we've tried and tested (believe me, they've been through what we call the 'toddler-wear-and-tear-test'!)
Travelling in cars
In most of south-east Asia there are very few child restraints or carseats used. While travelling in taxis, we found it safest to strap our 2-year-old son to us using the Baby Bjorn, then put the seatbelt on over it.
Side note: the Baby Bjorn is a great way to keep toddlers still on aeroplanes and in airports too. It can pack down into a tight space in a backpack, and be pulled out when you check in your stroller.
We bought a Trunki ToddlePak toddler harness from eBay for Leo. Many of the harnesses looked pretty flimsy but the Trunki brand is reputable and this harness is no exception. It feels lightweight yet strong, and I love the ease with which the harness clips on and off. You can let your little one run in open spaces and quickly clip the harness on to keep them close by when you need to. Leo loves the lion, and there are other animals too.
Stroller or baby carrier?
A bit of research told us not to bother bringing a stroller to SE Asisa, and the advice was spot on. The footpaths in many cities are uneven and there are deep drop-offs, drains and large gaping holes where the pavement has fallen in and hasn't been repaired.
It can be a bit dangerous if you don't pay attention, so I'd advise you to carry young ones in a sturdy carrier or backpack, and keep your eyes on the pavement as you walk.
Cheap luxury villas in places like Bali and Thailand are awesome, but many have unfenced in-ground pools right next to the house. If you have young ones, make sure you keep doors closed and children under supervision at all times. Floaties are great for the pool, you can buy them in Asia or bring them with you.
Alternatively, you can sometimes hire pool fences. Just Google the location you're staying in with the words 'pool hire' or 'baby hire'.
Many beaches in south-east Asia don't have life guards, so practice caution when swimming with children. Look for rips before you enter the water and stay close to shore.
Even though the Asian sun isn't as intense as the Australian heat, still wear hats and sunscreen. It will take you longer to feel like you're burning in Asia, which isn't a good thing really.
Maintaining health and treating sickness
Sometimes, getting sick is unavoidable, but there are some things you can bring with you to stop it in its tracks.
Only drink bottled water
In many south-east Asian countries the tap water is untreated and drinking it will likely give you a tummy bug. Buy big bottles of water or look for accommodation that has water filters installed on the taps or in a separate water dispenser.
Make sure your child doesn't drink water when showering or bathing, and teeth should be brushed with bottled water, too. Wash fruit in bottled water and peel fresh foods like carrots, apples, pears and cucumber.
Sterilise cups, cutlery and plates
It's a good idea to sterilise any kid's cutlery you travel with. I found these microwavable Medela bags an easy way to sterilise on the go. Just make sure the item you're microwaving is microwave safe as well (our poor CamelBak water bottle died a sad death this way)!
Tip: I also have a packet of anti-bacterial wipes in my bag so I can wipe Leo's hands and face after meals at restaurants.
Tell the mosquitoes to back off
Staying in South-East Asia means you'll have to be prepared for mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes carry the malaria and dengue fever viruses.
If you're bringing a portable cot, buy a mosquito net that can fit over the top. We used a large net with weighted corners, designed to cover spreads at picnics as it was the perfect size to fit over our travel cot.
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. You can spray yourself with tropical strength mosquito repellant and burn the citronella mosquito coils, but we found the best option was to wear these awesome, hassle-free PARA'KITO mosquito repellent bands.
Adult sized band
Child sized band
Bring a few key medical supplies
Some of the items below may be available in SE Asia, but the experience of going into a chemist with a sick, overheated, screaming baby on your hip, and trying to read labels in a foreign language and convert prices in your head was enough to deter me from foreign pharmacies for life. So now, I've got a mini pharmacy in my bag, including:
- an infant or child formulated priobiotic powder
- vitamin C powder or tablets
- baby teething gel
- cough medicine
- children's paracetemol x 100mL bottles
- a general antibiotic like Amoxicillan just in case
- Hydralyte electrolyte powder or iceblocks in case of gastro or heat related-dehydration
- bandaids or plasters (we didn't find any good quality ones that don't peel off)
- my preferred nappy rash cream and baby wipes
If you're breastfeeding, keep it coming!
I can't finish this list of recommendations without putting my hand up for the merits of continued breastfeeding (if you still have a toddler).
I've been feeding Leo (20 months) twice a day throughout the trip so far, and am finding it a wonderful added immune booster for him, not to mention its calming effects on plane rides and when waiting in long lines in immigration. What's not to love? It's free, it's portable and readily available.
What tips have you found helpful to travel with kids in Asia without getting sick? Comment below.
Grace is a writer, designer, digital nomad, mum (otherwise known as toddler chaser), slow traveller, wild things appreciator, culture immerser, coffee opportunist... She frequently uses big words (some of which are definitely made up), likes long walks and even longer books, and her focus on wellness in 2017 means she is learning to obey her FitBit. Except when she's glued to her computer!
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