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She Travels With Twins In China


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. Barbara writes...

The Chinese love kids...

China 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).

We 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.

Toys, toys, toys...

When 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.

We love our DVD player...

We 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.

Creative naptime...

Our 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).

Are we there yet?

For 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!




Back to Travel with Kiddies



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