Family holiday destinations don’t always need to involve theme parks or all inclusive family resorts. Venturing out to more remote and less-than-first-world conditions can provide new, unique and interesting experiences the whole family will get to share together. From travel packing tips to what to prep before you get on the plane, here is the suitcases&strollers travel guide to visiting developing countries with kids safely.
Buy and double check your travel insurance. This is particularly important if you are travelling to remote destinations where you may need emergency evacuation (rather than being able to just take an ambulance ride to the local hospital) if things go terribly wrong. Make sure your insurance covers every aspect of your trip from start to finish. [For travel tips about purchasing family travel insurance, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Make sure someone knows where you are. Check with your government’s foreign affairs department about whether they have a registration service for citizens travelling overseas. It’s also worth leaving your itinerary and contact details with an extended family member or friend at home. This just gives you extra insurance in the case of emergency.
Pack for all the medical just-in-cases. If you are travelling to a country where English is not the first language, even simple items like children’s paracetamol or infant nappy rash cream may be difficult to source (and you won’t be able to read the label to vet the ingredients), so bring your own. As well as this you will need a comprehensive medical emergency kit which should include basic antibiotics. Talk to a specialist travel doctor about what to specific items you should be bringing to your destination. [For more travel packing tips for your emergency medical travel kit, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Do your research about the medical emergency facilities before you leave home. Spend some time online before you leave and search for all the major Western-standard hospitals on travel advisor websites in the areas you will be visiting before you take-off. Carrying a printed copy of this with your copies of your passports and travel insurance (see below) means you won’t be worrying about trying to find this information in an emergency.
Make multiple copies of your passports and travel insurance and store one copy in each bag. That way if any of your bags goes missing, you always have a copy of the entire family’s passports with you.
Pack sterilising equipment for baby bottles. If you can, book a room with a microwave so you can bring a microwaves steriliser.If this is not possible, bring sterilising tablets and your own plastic container to act as a makeshift washing basin (and wash using bottled water). Make sure to measure out the volume of water your container will hold before you leave home so you get the quantities right. If you really have a lot of space in your luggage, you can bring your own small travel kettle with you too to be extra safe.
Bring a surge protector electrical power board. If you have important electrical equipment with you, like expensive cameras, iPads or a critical breast pump, a surge protector will act as insurance through unreliable electrical currents.
Pack a small torch. This is useful in countries where the electricity supply is unreliable as blackouts can scare kids when they are in a foreign environment.
Pack lots of non-perishable snack foods, especially if you are concerned about poor water quality and need to avoid fresh fruit and vegetables. Be sure to purchase either small packs that can be thrown out or otherwise to bring zip lock bags to keep opened packs fresh. [For more ideas on what kinds of snacks to pack, see the suitcases&strollers story Travel-Friendly Foods.]
Practice not using the tap water before you leave. If the tap water seems like it might be unsafe to drink, remember that this also means you should not brush your teeth with it or allow the kids to drink the water in the bath. Practice brushing teeth with bottled water before you depart so everyone understands the drill and there are no mistakes.
Do lots of squats. This is not so your butt looks good in your travel photos. If you are traveling with kids to places that may have squat, rather than Western sit-down toilets, it’s best to make sure you and your kids’ know what to do ahead of time. Again, avoid messy and embarrassing situations by practicing at home. [For more travel tips on how to use a squat toilet, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Pack moist baby wipes, even if you don’t have a baby. These, along with hand sanitiser, are useful for keeping hands clean before meals or after bathroom stops. In situations where you are camping, hiking or in a remote destination and unable to access shower facilities for a few days, they are also useful for freshening up until you get to the next bathroom.
To read about one suitcases&strollers family who backpacked through several developing countries with kids, click on the story here.