Barbara 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.
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
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
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!