Travel Tips: Southeast Asia travel with kids

Nga Do
Traveling with children can be a burden on your trip but think more positively and smile because you are on holiday.

For families looking to plan a Southeast Asia adventure, or really any trip to an exotic locale, I’ve included my top 10 tips for a successful journey with kids below:

1. Book as far in advance as possible for better rooms. 

When traveling with your family, getting that coveted family room (or at the least, connecting rooms) in your hotel can make everything easier. The sooner you book, the better chance of having all room types available.

2. Ensure the street food is cooked 

If your child is going to get ill while travelling to South East Asia it will generally be due to contaminated food or water.  We ate plenty of street food throughout our travels and I highly recommend it, but be selective and ensure any meat is freshly cooked and hasn’t been sitting there for a long period.  If you are unsure, just put the food back on the grill for a little longer or choose a vendor that has continuous customers.  Locals eating there is a good sign that not only the food is tasty, but it is fresh.

3. Always drink bottled water

Most restaurants, cafés and street vendors will have complimentary water on offer in jugs on the table. Don’t drink it! While many do you bottled water, you can’t be sure and it is not worth the risk with little people.  Carry with you bottled water at all times and ensure they are totally sealed when you purchase the water.  There has been stories of people filling the bottles with tap water and reselling them as bottled water.

4. Keep an eye on them

Western kids are loved in South East Asia and you will be surprised at how much attention your child receives whilst travelling, especially if you are heading out of the resorts and major tourist areas.  While we never felt Jack was in any danger, the locals have no problem about taking him from you to show him to their friends, take photos or offer him treats.  We found Jack was much more comfortable with the attention when he could see us and vice versa.

5. Keep your child hydrated

Kids can get dehydrated really easily especially if the humidity is high and by the time you may notice, they are probably well and truly dehydrated.  While fresh juices can seem appealing, the best way to keep your child hydrated is by regularly drinking bottled water.  It is also worth packing some hydration tablets just in case.

6. Play safe on the water

If you are planning on going on boat tours with your kids, check when you purchase the tickets whether they have lifejackets available for your child.  Most companies will be required by law to provide lifejackets and you will need to wear them particularly as you leave the dock.  But we found most didn’t have a life jacket for Jack and he had to wear an adult one.  If you are thinking of regularly heading out on the water with your kids whilst on a tour of South East Asia, you might want to consider purchasing a lifejacket that will actually fit!

7. Be selective with the choice of fruit

Avoid any fruit that has been pre-cut and sitting on display.  Whilst it might look appealing and is a handy snack for kids to eat, it can be a great source of bacteria.  Choose fruits that you can peel yourself.

8. Bring snacks. 

Before embarking on any long journey, whether that’s the flight out or a long day trip in the middle of your vacation, be sure you have easy snacks on hand that you know your kids will eat. It’s one thing to pull over at a roadside food stand and find something you’ll eat, but it’s another thing altogether to find something that will please picky kids.

9. Carry insect repellent

Insect bites are never a pleasant thing for young children. If mild, it can be painful, swollen, itchy, severe, can cause allergy, fever, coma. So in long trips, especially in mountain climbing, camping in the forest, in addition to wearing long-sleeved clothes, wearing closed shoes, vials of insect bites are things to bring. It will help the skin where the bite of children cool and somewhat reduce the pain.

10. Let your kids in on the plan. 

Tell them in advance where you’re going and what you’re planning to do while there. Let them help pack their own suitcases (with your help). The more kids feel like they have some measure of control, the more they will relax and enjoy the ride.

Depending on your child's preferences and daily life, you can best plan your family's trip to Southeast Asia. Have fun!

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