Things to know before taking your child to China

By Doug Williams
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Things to know before taking your child to China

Doug Williams
 
A village on rivers in Shanghai suburban, China. Author - Fanghong - 
CC BY 2.5
A village on rivers in Shanghai suburban, China. Author - Fanghong - CC BY 2.5
 
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Traveling anywhere with small children can be challenging: even a trip to the library can leave you all exhausted. If you are contemplating traveling with your children to China, it can be quite a daunting idea. Chances are that the airplane trip will be the worst part of the ordeal. You probably have some very relevant questions.

Here are few advice on some concerns you might have.

Diseases

Visit your doctor for advice before you travel and make sure your children follow good hygiene to avoid your trip being spoiled by illness.
Visit your doctor for advice before you travel and make sure your children follow good hygiene to avoid your trip being spoiled by illness.

The biggest worry for parents, particularly of very small children, is the likelihood of them contracting some horrible strange foreign disease. This is no more likely in China than anywhere else in the world. Good advice would be to visit your own general practitioner before embarking on any trip overseas.

While you are not required to have any special vaccinations for exotic diseases, you should still take some wise precautions. To ensure that you are completely well before you leave, take vitamins and be sure to get plenty of sleep. Being on any long haul flights can be the cause of infections more than a visit to foreign climates.

It is always a good idea to wash your hands frequently. You can also use disinfectant gel or sterile handy wipes. These are readily available in stores in China too. Washing your hands regularly is surely your best defense against germs.

Take it easy

Exploring China
Exploring China

Do not become overtired at any time and remember to stay rested. Do not push yourself or those traveling with you to try and see everything too quickly. The chances are, you will not see everything anyway. China is full of things to see. The time zone difference naturally will be difficult to adjust to, even more so with young children. Dealing with jet lag can be an issue for everyone, and the adults will probably have to fit in with the children for a day or two and sleep when they do. It will take about three days to adjust fully to the time difference. Portable DVD players, tablets and such like are life savers and rules about screen time can possibly be relaxed somewhat for a time, for your sanity and theirs.

Older children probably will be able to entertain themselves quite easily with toys and books. Take it easy and do not put too many demands on yourself or your family, things will come right in time.

Water

Bottled water is readily available. Keep an eye out – in some parts of China you may well see crazy loads like this being carried on a bike or scooter. Author – Leideomangeos – CC BY-SA 3.0
Bottled water is readily available. Keep an eye out – in some parts of China you may well see crazy loads like this being carried on a bike or scooter. Author – Leideomangeos – CC BY-SA 3.0

As far as drinking water goes, bottled water is readily available. Water served to you in restaurants in a glass will be from a large cooler tank and not directly from the tap.

Public toilets

The ablutions in China have had a bad reputation for many years and with good cause. The public toilet facilities, however, have improved in the last few years. They have undergone many renovations. However, you will probably come across long drop “squat toilets” which are in common use in China. These can seen a bit daunting so maybe imagine it as if you have just dug a hole out walking in the woods, just remember to check that your cellphone is securely zipped into a bag or pocket before you approach the hole!

Food

Exploring a street market is a great way to introduce your kids to the different foods and culture
Exploring a street market is a great way to introduce your kids to the different foods and culture

China is full of interesting and different foods, and it would be great to encourage your children to be adventurous and try new things. There are large supermarkets, candy stores, convenience stores, and street stalls to explore. There are also many stores selling goods from home. These are established to serve the large expat community.

Diapers

If your child is very small and still wearing diapers, worry not. These are readily available in China. There are the brands you know in the expat stores, but the locally produced variety are quite acceptable. The weight of the baby for sizing, however, is quoted in kilograms and you will need to do the conversion yourself.

Make some unforgettable family memories
Make some unforgettable family memories

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