The older and more independent children become, the easier it gets to go on a dive trip with them. Even long flights can be fun as being on a plane itself is a great adventure for most kids. My children love travelling and they love staying at hotels. When they are old enough to snorkel with you, it gets so much fun that you’ll be tempted to skip dives just to snorkel with them.
I’m always well prepared for long flights and hotel time when mummy and daddy are diving. I take plenty of coloring pages, crayons, modeling dough, their favorite books and films and plenty of sand toys. My children love listening to music and pretending they’re adults, so i-pod and earphones is a big hit for them. That alone is enough to keep them quiet during all the waiting time at small, ugly airports. As much as I dislike and disapprove of computer games, I have to admit that i-pad, i-phone or any computer comes handy when you can’t find anything else to occupy them. Especially when they’re tired, hungry and you can see a tantrum coming.
Talking about hunger, I’m also always prepared about food when travelling. We can’t always find something kids would like to eat at all the airports and sometimes we don’t have time to stop for a meal. Kids meals of most airlines are not healthy, filled with packaged chips and candies. So I always carry some healthy snacks for the kids in my back pack. Mixed nuts, raisins and other dried fruits, fresh bananas and apples, homemade cookies and small sandwiches are alternatives I prefer. As I mentioned in the previous post, cheese and yogurt are not easy to find in remote areas in Asia. If they’re an important part of your child’s nutrition, you’d better take these with you.
You should take emergency medicine with you as well. I always pack antibiotic, paracetamol, ibuprofen, anthihistaminic, something against diarrhea, something for insect bites, basic first aid stuff and vitamins. If you’re travelling to areas with dengue fever or malaria risk, you should get plenty of mosquito repellent lotion and patches. I find that patches are not so effective, but they don’t have direct contact with the skin. There are organic mosquito repellents for children, Johnson&Johnson also has a deet free lotion for children which you can find easily in supermarkets. Citronella oil is a natural repellent, but again, it may not be very effective. We always try to spray the room before we sleep on the first day. Since we can’t take aerosols with us on the plane, we ask the person that helps with the transfers to stop somewhere on the way to the hotel to buy Baygon or something similar. Don’t forget to spray at least 3 hours before you go back to the room, so that you have enough time to get rid of the spray and fill the room with fresh air before you sleep.
Asians love children. It’s not hard to find someone to play with them, but in order not to give any disturbance to anyone, we always arrange a nanny with the hotel or resort in advance. We brief the nanny about our rules e.g. no swimming without mummy or daddy, hats should be worn at all times, etc. If the dive boat is suitable (has a shade, big enough, not very crowded) we take them on the boat as well. Our children can swim, but they also don’t jump into the sea when they’re told not to. So we feel it’s okay to leave them on the boat when we’re diving. We snorkel with them between the dives which we all enjoy a lot.
These trips are great opportunities to create your own family traditions and memories. Our travel traditions include buying postcards for friends and family from, keeping a holiday journal and collecting seeds or leaves from every destination. They used to draw the picture of a memory each day in their holiday journal. Now my daughter can write, so she writes, my son still draws.
We love going on dive trips with our children. There are limitations to where you can go and what you can do for sure. I will write my reviews about the places we’ve been in Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey in a separate post. Bottom line is, it’s what you make out of it. It’s a great experience to discover the world through the eyes of your children, to get excited over a tiny clownfish, to be amazed by a blue starfish. It is a lot more tiring than a dive trip without children, but the satisfaction cannot be compared. Take plenty of pictures, run after the tiny crabs on sand, be amazed by the pink particles in the sand, put flowers in your hair, watch the sunset and milky way.