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Tips for traveling to China with kids!

Our family was very excited to be going on the Pandas, Warriors and Cities tour in June of 2013! Months prior to the trip, I was already thinking about what to pack and looking into tips for traveling to China with kids (ours were 6 and 8 years old when we went). Here are a few travel and packing tips to get you started.

Food & Beverages: Chinese Food is not very sweet, so if your kids have a sweet tooth, you may want to take along some of your favorite candy. Tip: Most restaurants have an English/Chinese menu in the bigger cities, but in a small town, we suggest having someone from your hotel write some foods your family likes in both English and Chinese; your children will enjoy showing the flash cards to order their meals! (An all-time favorite is chicken (pronounced “chee”) with noodles, but don’t be surprised if you get beef as the restaurant may be out of chicken. Also, do not let your children eat food from a street vendor, as the lack of sanitation and refrigeration, combined with primitive fertilization methods make the food unfit for consumption by sensitive Western tummies.

Water: Do not drink tap water -- either buy a reputable brand of bottled water or boil the water …even when brushing teeth! (Most hotels offer an electric thermos to boil water for tea).

Milk: Unfortunately, with the September 2008 milk scandal, it will be difficult to trust Chinese milk brands. To be safe, if you want your child to drink milk, bring along UHT milk, from home.

Safety: It’s worth mentioning something about safety in China. Given the crazy traffic, congestion in shopping areas and train stations, etc., in the event your child get separated from you or get lost, we recommend that your child carry a note (preferably bilingual), with important information for the police or anyone who may find that lost child. When crossing the street, hold your children’s hands and wait for the green light and always check both ways even when the green walk light is on. Stay alert and move with the locals!

Use of car seats? If your child is still an infant, then yes, bring a car seat. Chinese taxis typically don’t have useable back-seat safety belts so you won’t be able to buckle the seat in. If your child still uses a booster seat, and if most of your tour involves the use of a private car, then yes, bring your seat. But if this isn’t the case, leave the seat at home as it will be more burdensome than it is worth.

Overcoming Jetlag: While there is a lot to see in China, the time difference is a big adjustment, especially for little ones. When you land, make sure everyone gets rest and try to adjust slowly to the time difference to avoid anyone getting sick. Also, try to sleep when you children do, or bring a portable DVD player or ipad, so they can watch something while you sleep.

Packing Essentials - If you are traveling in the bigger cities of China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, you can easily find most western brands in upscale supermarkets. If you plan to travel to the countryside, then definitely plan on packing the essentials that you need for you and your family. Below are a few recommended items to pack if you are traveling with young children:

  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes (both are available in China too!)

  • Tissue Packs - come in handy when using public restrooms.

  • A medical kit with remedies for upset stomach, allergies, band aids and insect repellants. (note, you can buy children’s rehydration powder to mix with bottled water, incase your child gets an upset stomach, but bring what works best for your family)

  • Favorite snacks from home (especially if your kids are picky eaters!)

  • Take half the clothes you think you will need as most hotels have one-day laundry services.

  • Small tokens from home, such as pens, candy, that you may want to share with friends you make along the way.

  • Power adapters.

  • Travel games that your family can play while traveling and to get over jet lag (also may draw interest and conversation starters with locals)

Is your family interested in joining us on our upcoming Pandas, Warriors and Cities trip? Please contact us for information at

Have you traveled with children to China? Do you have any travel or packing ideas to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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