is an American Journeywoman who, with her husband, is writing
a book about taking their twin three year olds 10,000 miles
- from Shanghai to Istanbul along the path of the Ancient
Silk Road. They travelled with backpacks for six weeks by
trains, cars, buses, taxis, boats, and airplanes. Before
their trip, this family lived in Shanghai for a year and
a half. We asked this intrepid mom to share her tips for
travelling in Asia with young children. Barbara writes...
Chinese love kids...
is a great place to travel with kids. The Chinese
love children, and in every city, even the smallest
village, you will find parks, kid's rides, little
amusement parks, and toys for sale. Many city parks
in China will have ponds with little paddle boats
or other types of boats you can rent. Our kids just
loved these. Chinese gardens are great fun to simply
run around or play hide-and-seek in (a wonderful way
for kids to get rid of their excess energy).
absolutely loved the Chinese attitude towards children.
Since the Chinese love little ones, they seemed to
be very easy-going about having our children run around
their restaurants or hotels (doing things that in
other places of the world would not be appreciated).
Perhaps they were just trying to be nice to the foreigners.
However, this certainly kept our parental stress levels
down, down, down.
doing trips that involved multiple legs of the journey,
we would start with toys for our kids that were not
very valuable that we could leave behind at our first
stop. Then, at every city we stopped at, the kids
were allowed to buy one new (cheap) toy, which they
would play with until our next city (about the time
they got tired of them, anyway). Of course, this was
easy to do in China because cheap toys are so plentiful.
love our DVD player...
often travelled with a small portable DVD player and
a couple of new DVDs and at least one kids DVD. That
way, if we were ever stuck in a hotel room for "nap
time" we would have something to do while the kids
slept. This was a life saver on one of our trips when
our kids came down with the flu -- the cartoons we
brought and played over and over kept their minds
off being sick. Also, while the kiddies slept we,
too, were able to watch movies when we were stuck
in the hotel room with only Chinese TV.
little band of four travelled with a roll-up mat or
thin blanket for rest periods. We would simply find
a private spot at a city park to spend our kids' naptimes.
The twins would sleep while we would take turns -
one of us reading a book and watching them, the other
walking the nearby streets or shops or the rest of
the park. Or if it was raining, we would sometimes
hop on a city bus and ride it long enough for our
kids to catch some zzz's and get refreshed. This way
we could at least watch the city as we drove around
it with the kids getting their naptime, too.
P.S. My husband
and I would try to do only two main sight-seeing events
in a day and one of them would always be for the kids.
So sometimes we would skip seeing some fantastic historical
site and instead spend our time in some unknown park
(and really have more fun doing that, anyway).
we there yet?
our 50-hour train ride from Shanghai to Western China,
we made a long train with 50 train cars on several
taped-together pieces of paper. We brought a bunch
of little pictures cut out from magazines that fit
the size of the little train cars on the paper. Each
hour that went by, the kids got to glue another picture
onto their train. We taped these up inside our train
compartment. This way our three year-olds could have
a visual picture of how far we had gone and how much
longer we had - so they wouldn't be asking "are
we there yet" all the time!
Final note: If you
can afford flying everyone there, I highly recommend family
vacations to China. However, I must admit that the year and
a half spent in Shanghai prior to our big trip was a great
help in preparing us for our journey. Have family fun, everybody!
travelling with kiddies...