25 Jan 2018 by Olga Brighton
Asia has always been a major holiday destination. It draws Europeans not only because of its beauty and culture but also because it is definitely cheaper to travel to this continent and you get more value for your money. There was a time when only backpacking students and couples went on holiday to the beaches of Southeast Asia and the exotic locales of East Asia (China, Japan, and South Korea) and the Indian sub-continent. Nowadays, more families are opting to go on an Asian holiday and some even settle for an extended period.
Asia is an incredible destination for kids and families if you know where to go and if you plan your trip really well. If you are going on a trip to Asia with kids, bear in mind that safety and security should always be high on your agenda, no matter where you go, so visit the Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) Travelaware website for travel safety and security advice before you finalise your destination.
Besides these 11 common risks to avoid in any country, here are some of the risks of travelling to Asia with kids and how to avoid them:
Depending on your destination, travelling to Asia from Europe can take about 8 to 12 hours. If you plan to travel all around the region, you may take several flights from major Asian hubs.
Long flights raise the risk of boredom, tantrums and turbulence. Kids tend to have a shorter attention span and will want to fidget and explore. Flight length and time difference will also unsettle their routine and body clock. Keep your kids close and safe by ensuring they stay happy and calm during the flight. This will avoid stress and hassle for you and your fellow passengers. Prepare your kids for the experience of a long haul flight, including what they might see and hear, and how they should behave. Carry a couple of small items that you can surprise them with during the journey, or a new book or game and ensure your tablet is charged and loaded with new or favourite movies or games. Keep them drinking plenty of water so they stay hydrated during the flight and follow these 3 vital safety rules when travelling with kids.
If your child gets ill while travelling to Asia, it will likely be because of a drastic change in food and water and perhaps contamination. Street food in Asia might be delicious, but be cautious, avoid anything that isn’t being freshly prepared and cooked in sanitary conditions that you can see. Also ensure the stall has a good steady trade and food hasn’t been sitting around for hours. Avoid fruit that has been pre-cut and displayed, which will be teeming with bacteria. Be selective about the type of food that you eat and avoid ice in drinks. Always stick to bottled water that has a completely sealed top. Many Asian countries have high humidity, so you should keep your child hydrated at all times.
Before leaving, check what inoculations are required/recommended for your Asian travel itinerary, including planned activities. Your doctor can assist and assess which diseases you may be at risk of contracting. You must do this in good time because some shots require several weeks to administer. Also check that you have travel insurance which covers medical emergencies.
Read also: 10 Tips for Stress Free Travel with Kids
Roads in Asia are very different from the ones in Europe and other developed countries in the world. Some traffic rules tend to be disregarded in busy, crowded streets and you can’t rely on vehicles stopping when they are supposed to. Traffic can be chaotic with crazy drivers and scores of bikes and scooters weaving in and out of the tiniest gaps. Keep your child close and hold their hand at all times. Dress them in distinctive colours or a hat so you can spot them easily if you are separated and ensure they have emergency contact details on them.
Western children are notoriously well-loved by Asians, so be prepared for an unusual level of attention that your child may receive while walking the streets. Brief your child, and teach your little one how to respond to locals. Many locals may pat your child’s shoulder, pinch their cheek, or offer them treats. Most attention will be well meaning, however, stay vigilant as there is still a high incidence of child kidnapping in this part of the world.
The safety standards of hotels, resorts and even playground equipment are not the same as those that you may be accustomed to. Check your accommodation for hazards to your child, such as windows, balcony gaps, electrical sockets, sharp objects etc., to ensure that they are safe and child-friendly. Local playground equipment in Asia will frequently not meet the safety standards you may be used to. Check for protruding objects such as nails sticking out, rust or uneven and jagged surfaces that may cause a nasty injury or serious accident.
Travelling to Asia with your family will be a fulfilling and rewarding experience as you learn about this colourful, exciting and culturally rich continent. Enjoy your new experiences while keeping risks to a minimum by following these steps and preparing well for your journey. Always ensure you have Single Trip travel insurance or Annual travel insurance in place as soon as you book.
Read also: How to Keep Young Kids Out of Trouble Abroad