I'm someone that needs adventure and I didn't want having children put a clamp on my freedom to roam. When my wife, Cloe, and I decided to have a child, we accepted the fact that there would be changes—but we wanted to continue to experience the world and its unique locations.
So from the time our daughter, Noor Amina, was three months old, we were traveling and spending long periods of time in the developing world as a family—mostly Morocco where Cloe works on rural community development projects. Dr. Genevieve Reid, our daughter's pediatrician and founder of Global Midwife Education Foundation, has continually given us sound advice prior to all of our travels with Noor. Through our collective experiences we compiled the following tips for travelling in the developing world with your child.
Avoid Places With Malaria
As a general rule, if your child is under the age of 5, Malaria is something you need to avoid at all costs. A quick visit to the Center for Disease Control's website and you will be up to date on the current areas of concern.
Fly as Direct as Possible
When choosing your itinerary, think about how your connection will affect your child and you. Meals and sleep are simple ways to keep the wheels from falling off. The more expensive ticket with fewer stops could mean a great deal to the travel experience. If at all possible try to make your itinerary with the least number of transitions. These all increase the number of hours you will be traveling which only add difficulty to your child's adjustment.
Do More With Less
Clothes can be worn more than one day. One good pair of shoes is far better than several that match different outfits. Find a few key toys that can provide multiple forms of interaction such as colors and shapes integrated into puzzles. Be prepared with everything you may need in a small daypack that's ready to access. Make sure you have multiple choices of snacks—not only for your child, but also for you. Airline service isn't worth much these days so don't count on them to provide you and your child with what you need. Even milk is often not available so think about a small plastic baggie of powdered milk to reduce weight and bulk.
Make Sure You're Prepared
Anti-nausea meds may be a good idea. Bring plenty of diapers and wipes along with a few extra plastic grocery bags to contain any messy clothes or items you many not want to dispose of during the flight. Bring formula from the States, as most developing countries will not have high quality products to choose from. If your child is old enough to eat solid foods make sure all fruits and vegetables are washed in a bleach solution or thoroughly cleaned and peeled. All well-cooked meats, breads and grains are generally safe. If your plans include travel where you'll have access to a rental car or will be spending time in vehicles like 4x4s, make sure you bring a car seat. All airlines let you check this item for free and they're not an easy or inexpensive item to find in the developing world--most illnesses can be handled with prevention, but trauma from a car accident could mean life and death.