Since my child and I do not travel especially yet (trips to estates do not count), I want to bring to your attention a guest post from our virtual friends Gil and Yulia, who have already tasted all the charm and all the difficulties of traveling with a child in Asia.
Even before the wedding and before our son was born, we always traveled on our own. I don’t remember that we ever booked a tour at a travel agency, but we managed to travel around most of Europe, and we had the experience of going abroad, so to speak. After our last trip there, we realized that we were no longer interested there - everything is the same everywhere: a hotel, monuments, squares, cafes and restaurants, but we wanted to taste some exotic.
If the overwhelming majority of people calmly spend their lives in the format work-home-vacation-work-home, then we wanted some kind of dynamics - to find some new expensive or, if you like, unprecedented paths, or, as they say, give a chance to another life ... After all, a long journey will definitely affect you and your outlook on the world, and even if you have to return to the same place, you will still return as a different person, with different outlooks on life..
Already now we feel these changes, over time, the meaning of the pursuit of material values is lost, you understand that in the end it is rubbish, and real moments of happiness in life are rarely associated with what you have accumulated in the chest under the bed.
Let's say right away that the trip was planned for a long time, but first we needed a soft landing - a place where you can fly, look around, acclimatize and get used to Southeast Asia a little. And thus, it was decided to first fly to Thailand for 3 months, and then try to visit neighboring countries. At the time of the beginning of our journey, our son was one year and 8 months old.
Like all other people going on such a trip, the preparation took place via the Internet - forums were read, articles were subscribed from blogs and all sorts of information was collected. As it turned out in the future, most of it was absolutely superfluous. In fact, one big mess reigned in my head, and it felt like you would never figure it out. But gradually the information was postponed and somehow acquired a certain meaning, and by the time of departure on 11/08/2011 we were more or less ready to go.
At that time, our surroundings were terrified - where did it take us? They threw questions about what would happen next and frightened us with terrible stories about the fact that Thailand is a third world country, there is complete unsanitary conditions everywhere, there are no normal doctors, prostitution, drugs, etc. It got to the point that we were told about the trafficking of children flourishing in these parts and our boy could simply be stolen. Well, we, as stubborn young parents, decided not to listen to anyone and go in front of our dream and see everything with our own eyes..
Thus, leaving behind workdays and the usual way of life behind, having bought backpacks, we flew to Thailand and began to get used to it. I will not say that at first there was no culture shock, it was, but for a very short time. As a result, it turned out that it was hard to wish for a better place for acclimatization and for the beginning of our journey...
Gradually, we began to get used to local customs, customs, lifestyle and mentality, local cuisine. Since then, we have already managed to visit Cambodia, Laos and Manyam (Burma), but always returned to Thailand as home, I won't lie if I say that we are very fond of this country..
Only 7 months have passed since the moment we left our home, but during this time we saw and experienced so many wonderful moments that we had not had time in our entire life before. And our journey is still ongoing, very soon we are flying to Vietnam and China.
The most important thing was to understand that children are not hindered by travel, and if you really want to travel, then children are not hindrances. I will not say that this is easy, there are definitely difficulties - a small child needs a day's sleep and a regimen, so forget about night parties or some of your joys in life ... or look for a decent nanny among the local population.
Sightseeing trips can be significantly reduced due to your little one's mood, heat, etc. But despite all the difficulties, it's still worth it, believe me. When else would we be able to spend so much time together? Our son has learned all the animals visually, not from pictures and is not afraid of anything. He bathes in the sea of attention, which was given to him and the inhabitants give him in any of the Asian fears and in general, in my opinion, he is better here than we, adults. He is with his parents, and not in some kindergarten, where he would be ill every month or with nannies.
We are sometimes asked how does constant moving affect a child? So I'll tell you that when we travel, the child has many new experiences and emotions, and he is calm, and when we stay in one place, after a few days he starts to get bored and capricious, so it looks like we have a growing traveler.
Going to Asia with a child for a long period, you need to solve some issues concerning your family - get vaccinated against local ailments, arm yourself with a first-aid kit and take out insurance in case of trouble. If the first things were relatively simple, then collecting a first-aid kit turned out to be problematic, I wanted to have everything with me for any occasion, but in fact it turned out that almost all medicines and medicines are sold in pharmacies, and the doctor will prescribe the rest for you..
When arriving in any of the tropical countries, always use mosquito repellent and the sun, it will save you from unnecessary trouble.
The most painful topic when traveling with a child is, of course, luggage. If alone you can be completely satisfied with a 55-liter backpack and a bag for a passport and money, then a family is already 50+ kilograms in backpacks + hand luggage of 15 kilograms. And if in detail: we have 2 backpacks, one 55 liters, the second 75 liters, in addition to this there is also a rather large bag on wheels, in which all the children's things are traveling - a saucepan, el. single-burner stove, cereals, diapers, etc. With so much luggage, pedestrian crossings are limited to meters, but this is not scary, because there are always taxis or tuk-tuk everywhere, we have never had any problems with transport in Asia.
In principle, a baby stroller is needed, at least for the first time. When choosing a stroller, the most important role is played by its size and weight, because it will very often be carried on its hands, and not ride. Sidewalks in Asia - that's just the name - they either don't exist at all, or they are poorly adapted for pushing with a stroller, very high curbs or too broken. A sling can serve as a good alternative, we did not have it, but very often we thought about its necessity. We ourselves used the stroller for the first 4 months, after our baby got stronger and began to walk well on the streets himself, we threw it out.
This is how all our luggage looks today, our whole life is in three bags (one was torn a little on the plane, I had to seal it with a plaster in a hurry), I don’t understand what we have at home in a container in a warehouse, because there is everything we need for life.
There are also some features of finding a house and hotel when traveling with a child. Leaving alone or as a couple, you don’t think too much where to live, as if you think too, but the priorities are completely different. With a child, there are minimum criteria for renting a house and a hotel room:
At the first stage, we were looking for hotels where it is possible to cook porridge or some kind of soup for the child, in other words, these are hotel rooms with kitchenette or the so-called Serviced appartments. They are found in Bangkok, Krabi and on the large islands, but the problem is that their number is relatively small, and their prices are much higher. Later in Cambodia, the thought came to mind, why don't we buy an electric hotplate. What a pity that this idea did not come earlier, it would immediately expand our range of hotels and guesthouses, as well as save a lot of money.
The second criterion is air conditioning and the absence of any cracks in the walls of your home. Since Julia is with us with a doctor, she cannot even allow the thought of sleeping with open windows through which mosquitoes, which are carriers of diseases, or some other poisonous-biting vermin, can fly in. We, perhaps, could withstand such an illness, but expose a child to such danger? So we always settled in places with air conditioning and without any cracks..
The safety of the home and surroundings. The houses that we rented always had either no steps and balconies, or with protective rails through which the child cannot climb out and fall, the same applies to hotel rooms - balconies should always be safe.
At the first stage, we booked hotels via the Internet, but Internet sites take a certain commission for their services, and, most likely, if you call the hotel directly, it will come out cheaper or at least at the same price as on the Internet. But if you pay attention, when booking, for example, on the Agoda website, the price is one, and when you are going to pay you are charged additional taxes, which makes the price higher by 12 percent. So find a hotel on the Internet and call them directly. In Cambodia and Laos, for example, the difference between internet and a direct hotel check-in and ordering on site was often half the price, not to mention that half of the guesthouses do not exist on the internet at all..
Baby cots are available in most hotels in Thailand, but they are rare in neighboring countries, so your child will sleep with you or on an attached sofa.
This is our first house in Ao Nang, it was expensive by local standards, but then we were still green, inexperienced, could not properly deal with the search for a house and, as they say, time was running out and it was necessary to solve something.
Food: The most difficult thing is, perhaps, to figure out how and what to feed a child in Asia, the local food will most likely not be to his liking, and then some problems will arise.
You can, of course, ask the hotel staff to cook something else in the kitchen, such as an omelet or pancakes, or go to a stall on the street where they sell food and ask them to cook chicken soup or something similar. But the best solution is to have a small electric stove with you..
Although infant formula and diapers are available in all the countries we have visited, in some of them it was difficult to find similar stores. Fresh milk is found everywhere in Thailand, but in other countries only in large stores in big cities. Therefore, it was often necessary to buy pasteurized milk. If oatmeal can be found in Tai without problems, buckwheat and semolina are not everywhere, so take your favorite cereals with you.
Moving and Traveling: Do not drive yourself to travel. When we move, we try to stay in one place for about a week or at least 4 nights. This makes it possible to get to know the place better and take a break from the move and everything connected with it. After each “heavy” (with long journeys, bad roads, etc.) countries, we stay in Thailand for a month, that is, for the entire duration of the visa. This makes it possible to have a good rest and gain strength before the next country..
Avoid long bus journeys, as they are relatively crowded and the child can get bored and naughty, not to mention that long journeys are simply tiring..
Alternatively, it's better to use trains, they have a place to turn around and are terribly comfortable. But there is a small nuance, see that you are not sold both a ticket to the upper shelves, there is little space and it is just scary to sleep at a height of 2 meters from the floor with a small child.
In many countries, it is better to get around the country by boat or ferry. If you have to take a ferry, try to get a big and slow one, one that carries cars, not a speedboat. For the high-speed ferries that run between Surathani and Phangan / Koh Samui, for example, are very sick and 2-3 hours on the ferry can turn into hell. Have your motion sickness pills with you just in case and take them before you get on the steam.
We sailed on the boat only once, but the trip lasted 2 days. It was rafting down the Mekong River from Huayxai to Luang Prabang (in Laos). In this place, it was the best way to travel around the country, the alternative was a 14-hour bus ride along the mountain serpentines. The rafting was absolutely calm, without incident, the child has a place to run on the boat, and it floats down the river slowly and absolutely does not rock, and on the sides there is beauty ... local landscapes, mountains and a lot of interesting.
Motobike: Here each parent must decide for himself whether he will use a motorcycle or not, because whatever one may say, it is still dangerous. On the other hand, if you do not rent it, it severely limits your options for choosing a home, getting around and visiting attractions in the area. We used a motorcycle bike in Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Kepe in Cambodia. If you still decide to sit on a motorbike with a child, then be sure to buy a helmet for him, such that it covers the back of the head and never ride at a speed of more than 40 km / h.
In our blog, we describe the places we visited, share experiences and of course a lot of photos. We still have few household posts, for the simple reason that, due to the large number of movements, we simply do not have time to describe everything. But as soon as we settle somewhere for a longer period, we will definitely describe everything, but for now we can gladly answer all your questions..
Some photos from the places where we were:
So, of course, you can go on and on, there were much more photos than can be accommodated in one guest post. Visit us at NashThai.ru. Have a nice day and interesting travel, friends!