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Last Updated: April 2008

My Advice On Traveling With Children

Charlotte Ryan, Peter Ryan, Zig-Zag and Jerome Ryan wait at the airport for our flight to Paris

Charlotte, Peter, Zig-Zag and I wait at the airport for our flight to Paris

Monk and Peter Ryan at Rongbuk Monastery near Everest North base Camp

Peter and a monk at Rongbuk Monastery near Everest North base Camp

Peter Ryan and Dawa at Shishapangma Checkpoint

Peter and Dawa at Shishapangma Checkpoint

Children can be wonderful to travel with, and can add tremendous enjoyment and experiences for you and them. We've traveled with our son since he was 6 months old. He's traveled with us every every year since, getting more and more adventurous.

Here are my observations and recommendation on traveling with a child:

1. Everybody loves children

  • Children open the hearts of people everywhere. People will be much friendlier towards you. You will experience the local people in a much more open and relaxed manner.
  • Many people from monks to other tourists will want their picture taken with your child.

2. Prepare for the experience

  • Help your child to appreciate what they'll see and experience by teaching them in advance. For example, before going to an art gallery, I'd buy a book of the most popular paintings and then review one each night for a few months. When we got to the art gallery, Peter would run around looking for them.
  • Prepare your child for any unpleasant things they may see, especially in a third world country. Be sure to remind them, however, that they are people too, with the same desire to be happy - they've just been born into a more difficult situation then us in the West.

3. Bring lots of medicine

  • Read thoroughly travel guides to see if there are any specific health issues in the country you are visiting
  • Visit your doctor and get prescriptions, just in case. It was a scary challenge to go to the emergency in a hospital in Mexico City and attempt to communicate Pete's illness using my rudimentary Spanish, and then to understand the instructions on how to take the medicine.
  • Pete really hates taking the Diamox altitude medicine.

4. Bring lots of snacks, toys, games and distractions

  • Kids don't have the same attentions span as adults.
  • The younger your child, the more toys and distractions you should bring along. If they're older, a hand-held game system like Gameboy DS or PSP can keep them busy for hours.
  • Bring along power adapters and batteries for their toys and games
  • Take along a lot of snacks for long trips, like planes and cars.

5. Leave some free time

  • Don't schedule your full day with adult-only activities. Leave some time for your child to decide what they want to do. One time in Switzerland, my son just wanted to sit in our hotel room and practice his math book.
  • Try and mix up adult things with kid things
  • Most kids love swimming pools. If possible, book a hotel with a swimming pool.