I recently went to India and Pakistan with my boys who are 12 and 9. This was their first trip and I have to admit I was nervous of everything… will they get sick, will they find it too crowded, what will they say to the poverty, will they understand Hindi or Urdu spoken to them by elders etc. I was more than surprised by their genuine love and respect for the people there and felt I was truly blessed…
Here are some of my tips:
- Talk to the kids about realistically what to expect – “it will be crowded and overwhelming, you will see poverty but also tell them the positives the love and genuineness you will feel you won’t get that the same way anywhere – your relatives can be strangers but will have lots of love to give you. The love and genuineness you will feel you won’t get that the same way anywhere – your relatives can be strangers but will have lots of love to give you.
- Tell the kids that they may not understand what elders always say so just nod and say “gee/ha-gee and ask mom later don’t say “WHAT??” – tell them about some of the social graces so that they don’t feel out of place.
- Take snacks – granola bars, goldfish, Gatorade powder etc some familiar stuff – but now you can get chips etc there as well so not too much
- Get their shots and dukoral as well as Tylenol, I found the bands for nausea helped as well and of course vitamin C
- Let them indulge – so they can’t have the water – my kids loved that they could have fanta when we were out
- Take wipes – sanitizer doesn’t cut it – just makes the dirt more watery – EW!!!
- Don’t expect to get lots of shopping time – try and seize the moment but really think of the trip as for the kids – if they leave with a positive experience you will be able to go again…
- Depending on the weather take the necessary clothes – if it’s December – it can be cold in the north (Delhi, Lahore etc) so stock up on dollar store gloves, fleece, long johns and a hat. If its warm then use Skin so Soft my Avon – it’s a natural insect repellent and not loaded with chemicals like Deet.
- Try and hit a McDonalds or Pizza Hut at least once – the menu is so much better and it’s great for the kids to try it in that part of the world.
- Lastly and most important – be a role model for them if you pooh-pooh or ew-ew on everything than they will too. Know that they are watching you for appropriate behaviour and will inevitably model your behaviour.