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Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

On the Road: Drink

Traveling with kids

ON THE ROAD: Part Five (of 5)

Compliments of: "Travel With Children" by Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet Publications, 155 Filbert Street, Suite 251, Oakland, CA 94607)



In parts of the world where the water is not safe to drink unless it has been boiled or properly purified, the usual advice to adults is to drink tea or coffee or commercial brands of bottled drinks. None of this advice is of much use to small children. Possibly the only tea that is suitable for children and frequently available is chamomile, which has the added advantage of calming them and promoting sleep. However, generally babies are not very enthusiastic about tea or coffee and you have long years ahead trying to persuade them not to drink too many Cokes, so you don't want to start them on a soft drink habit at sixth months of age.


Fortunately in recent years bottled mineral water (so called) has become widely available in many countries, especially in Asia. While the one-liter plastic bottles are the cause of major litter problems in some places, you can at least get safe drinking water fairly readily. You should always have a water bottle with bottled, boiled or purified water with you.


Also handy are the small individual cartons of fruit drinks, complete with sealed straw, which are now familiar throughout the world. They make a great safe alternative to soft drinks and are easily transportable so if you're traveling in a remote region it's a good idea to stock up on them when you find them.

You can also make fruit juice yourself by squeezing oranges, either by hand or with a plastic squeezer/juicer. In many places fresh fruit juices are available from stalls where you can see them being made, so you can make sure they don't add ice or water unless you're sure it's been purified.


When they're a bit older the soft drinks alternative does come in. You may not be happy having your children drink too many of them, but reputable major brands of soft drinks are produced under hygienic conditions and are quite safe. It is, however, easy to fall into the soft drinks trap, where you end up buying soft drinks several times a day because it is hot and at least the drinks are safe. We try to stick to a one-soft-drink-a-day rule; the rest of the time it is juice or our own treated water, possibly flavored with powder. The children accept this and look forward to their "treat" and we find that they will often decide for themselves they don't really want a soft drink, especially where there are good fresh juices. Forbidding soft drinks completely is difficult when you are exposed to them so often (eating in restaurants, etc.) and gives the children something else to complain about when they feel grumpy.


Milk is not as widely available or drunk as much in developing countries as it is in the West, although even in India it is often possible to find. Where it is not pre-packaged it is usually just boiled and served hot, or with a chunk of ice to cool it down. I have drunk it often, especially when I was pregnant and needing extra calcium, but only freshly boiled milk is safe to drink (avoid the ice).

Cows are not always well cared for in developing countries and the hygiene surrounding the milking process may be inadequate. The storage and transportation of the milk may also be suspect. Finally, keep in mind that tuberculosis can be contracted by drinking unpasteurized milk.

These days in southeast Asia, and increasingly in other parts of the world, you will find cartons of plain or flavored long-life milk. This is excellent and can be a real life-saver with young children. Soybean milk is also available in cartons in southeast Asia, but most brands have sugar added.

(Don't forget to check out this entire article - Parts 1 through 5.)

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