If you’re coming to Asia for an extended amount of time with kids in tow, here’s my survival list of what to bring, keeping in mind that you will be lugging all this and more on your back.
- Embroidery Thread: Lots of it in many colours, because you will eventually break down and learn how to make friendship bracelets. (Also useful when your kids’ clothes fall apart and the nearest Old Navy is 13,000 km away).
- Coloured Beeswax: Useful for leaving gobs of in the back seat of taxis, leaving the driver thoroughly puzzled as to what that purple blob is stuck to his vinyl seats.
- Pencil Crayons: Even the kid who never draws at home will reach new stages of boredom from hours in hotel rooms and will discover nothing beats drawing stick figures.
- Scissors: 101 uses, including cutting up paper into 1,000 pieces and throwing them all over hotel rooms until your mother makes you pick up every last scrap.
- Five Large Packs of Beef Jerky: Your kids may need help transitioning to Asian food. Five packs of jerky should buy you about four days, by which time they will be so sick of beef jerky they just might eat dal baht.
- Larabars: See above.
- Jumbo Pack of Bandaids: You will go through several packs of bandaids before your kids learn to walk on broken sidewalks.
- Kindles: Because you love to carry around 500 page Harry Potter books.
- Homework: Something they can do on paper, because trust me at some point there will be no Internet.
- Calcium-Magnesium Capsules: Daily. Because your naturopath said so.
- Vitamin C Chewables: When they’re starving, doubles as a food source.* The fact that it boosts their immune systems is an afterthought.
- Stackable Cups: When one of you has a 4-week cold from pollution, you will be glad you don’t all have to share the fun by drinking from the same water bottle.
- Knife with Sheath: Forget your penknife. It massacres pineapples.
- Toilet Paper: Because invariably you will be in that place where there is none. And you don’t want to see the look on your kid’s face when you tell them that.
- Natural Zinc Sunblock: Since you’ll be traveling in countries that still have msg on their ingredient lists, it’s highly doubtful you will find this stuff anywhere.
- Digestive Enzymes: Because you hope there is such a thing as preventative medicine.
- Tablet or PC: For chess, backgammon, checkers and connect four. Also useful for forcing your children to watch Paul Simon videos.
* Perhaps the most challenging thing about travelling in Asia with kids is that no matter how many times you tell them to load up on breakfast, they will still tell you one hour later that they’re starving.