10 tips for Traveling with an Infant

Ten tips for traveling with an infant or toddler in the developing world.


I am someone that needs adventure on a continual basis and I didn’t want having children put a clamp on my freedom to roam. When my wife, Cloe, and I decided to have a child, we accepted the fact that there would be changes, but we wanted to continue to experience the world and its unique locations. From the time our daughter, Noor Amina now 24 months, was three months old we have been traveling and spending long periods of time in the developing world as a family, mostly Morocco where Cloe is working on rural community development projects,  Genevieve Reid, our daughter’s pediatrician and founder of Global Midwife Education Foundation (, has continually given us sound advice prior to all of our travels with Noor. Through our collective experiences we compiled the following tips. We hope they help and encourage you. Travel in the developing world is something you can still do with your child. It is time to pack your bags.


1)   Before deciding where you want to go make sure to avoid any area where Malaria is common. As a general rule if your child is under the age of five Malaria is something you need to avoid at all costs.  A quick visit to the Center for Disease Control’s ( website and you will be up to date on the current areas of concern.  Also when choosing the itinerary think about how your connection will affect your child and you. Meals and sleep are incredibly simple ways to keep the wheels from falling off and the difference in a ticket that is a little more expensive but with far less stops could mean a great deal to the travel experience. If at all possible try to make your itinerary with the least number of transitions. These all increase the number of hours you will be traveling which only add difficulty to your child’s adjustment.

2)   When packing for the trip, learn to do more with less. This rule applies to just about every item associated with your child. Clothes can be wore more than one day. One good pair of shoes is far better than several that match different outfits. Find a few key toys that can provide multiple forms of interaction such as colors and shapes integrated into puzzles. Be prepared with everything you may need in a small daypack that is ready to access. Make sure you have multiple choices of snacks not only for your child but you. Airline service isn’t worth much these days so don’t count on them to provide you and your child with what you need. Even milk is often not available so think about a small zip lock bag of powdered milk to reduce weight and bulk. Also consider this may be your child’s first time on an airplane so Anti Nausea meds are a good idea. Bring favorite toys for comfort and something new for a surprise. Depending on the length of the travel two changes of clothes might be necessary for your child. Also bring plenty of diapers and wipes along with a few extra plastic grocery bags to contain any messy clothes or items you many not want to dispose of during the flight.

3)   Traveling with a baby that is still breastfeeding is much easier than you may think.  There is no need to sterilize bottles or sippy cups, or pack formula or milk. Breastfeeding also dramatically reduces the risk of infection. If your child is no longer breastfeeding make sure you bring formula from the States, as most developing countries will not have high quality products to choose from. If your child is old enough to eat solid foods make sure all fruits and vegetables are washed in a bleach solution or thoroughly cleaned and peeled.  All well cooked meats, breads and grains are generally safe.

4)   Remember that babies are everywhere so most items are available in any major city of the world and it makes a great adventure wandering through the streets and local shops to find them.  Items like sunscreen, formula, car seats, infant Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and quality shoes should always be brought from home. However, diapers, clothes, pack-n-plays, and even strollers can often be found easily and at a low cost.

5)   When you reach your final destination make sure you give your child time to adjust to the new time zone. I find that spending more time in one or two places rather than traveling to ten will make the experience easier for all. When traveling to the Americas this is less of a concern since the time zones are similar to those of the US. When traveling to Africa, Asia or Europe plan on at least two to three days where the sleep schedule will be off. These days are not a complete loss; just maintain flexibility to allow for odd napping schedules. A good general rule would be a half-day of adjustment for every time zone you cross.  As an example, when traveling to Morocco from Montana we pass though six time zones. We usually spend three days in our arrival city of Marrakech to transition and to also purchase supplies that we need before moving on to our final destination of a remote village in the Central High Atlas Mountains.

6)   If your plans include travel where you will have access to a rental car or will be spending time in vehicles like 4x4’s, make sure you bring a car seat. All airlines allow you to check this item for free and they are not an easy or inexpensive item to find in the developing world. Most illnesses can be handled with prevention, but trauma from a car accident could mean life and death.

7)   Make sure you have a good system for both parents to carry the child. Often a stroller will not work in the developing world because the terrain is too rough so think about investing in a backpack that allows you and your partner to both comfortably carry your child plus all the items he or she will need for the outing you have planned. Depending on the child’s age and comforts some prefer more of a simple wrap which is significantly lighter. We’ve found the modern child carrier backpack to be an essential item for allowing the family to get off the beaten path. We travel with the Sherpani Rumba backpack that has an adjustable back panel to accommodate tall and short parents.

8)   Sippy cups are an important part of keeping your child hydrated and you clean during long travel.  Even in cool climates, bacteria can quickly grow in the cup’s small crevasses and gaskets causing diarrhea or an upset stomach. When on the road bring one sippy that is designated for water and two more for milk and/or juice.  When you reach your final destination wash the cups with local water and soap then soak all of the individual parts of the cups in a Tupperware or bowl with a solution of bleach water.  Throughout the day wash and rotate the cups in the bleach solution never reusing a cup that has had milk or juice in it. We travel with a MSR Miox water treatment system, which creates a hydrochloric acid solution to purify the water. The device is lightweight and portable using only rock salt and CR123 batteries, which can be found at most generic camera shops throughout the developing worls. You can quickly mix up a large batch of clean water to wash fruits and vegetables, eating utensils, or just about anything that needs a cleaning.

9)   Serious illness in young children from travel is very rare but think ahead and identify where you can find care if you did need it. Fortunately most cities in the world will have fully trained medical professionals that speak some English. Blue Cross Blue Shield has a comprehensive internet listing of private clinics throughout the world. Also think about Global Rescue insurance incase you do have a major problem that requires evacuation or that would be better handled in a first world nation. A comprehensive Medical kit as well as the knowledge to use it will provide you with more confidence to take on the worst of the situations. Before you make any plans to travel first consult your pediatrician regarding specific concerns in the region and check with the Center for Disease Control on vaccinations or special concerns like Malaria. If your infant or toddler under two years of age does develop diarrhea medicine is often not the best solution. Simple oral rehydration solutions, that you can make from common kitchen ingredients or find in any pharmacy in the world, are your best defense against dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting. Make sure you know the correct dosage for Ibuprofen or Tylenol and any Antibiotics you plan to travel with.

10)  Last but not least remember to pack a lot of patience. It’s not easy traveling in the developing world as an adult and the difficulties are guaranteed to be greater with an infant or toddler.  But, remember you are there to have fun and provide an enriching experience to yourself and your child. We have found that traveling as a family opens new doors that previously never appeared. People around the world love children and understand the difficulties of traveling with them so don’t be surprised if people want to help with your child or luggage.


Pakistan Winter Sport - The Waiting Game, this landslide isn't going away


I've been traveling on the road since the beginning of 2010 and just recently returned home. I can't tell you how nice it is to be home and sleeping in my own bed. Throughout my constant travel with recent adventures on three different continents, all creating some very intense situations, the landslide in Pakistan earlier this winter is one of those epic moments encountered along the way and is still effecting thousands of people. 

This is the last of the videos that we produced from the expedition and it revisits the landslide that is still a major problem in the Hunza Region of Pakistan. Just a few weeks ago the water breeched the top of the debris and is slowly eroding the earthen dam away. The Karakoram Highway will be blocked for was has been months and possibly could be years, derailing massive efforts by the Chinese to develop this highway with large scale infrastructure improvements currently underway. For more current information on this epic disaster please log onto Dave's Blog and check out the current images of the new earthen dam. There is additional information available at the Pamir Times' website with most days providing coverage of the disaster and it's effects on the thousands of residents in this area.




6. The Waiting Game - 2010 Pakistan Winter Expedition from Kristoffer Erickson on Vimeo.



Pakistan Winter Sport - more landslides, this time on us

As part of our work for the Shimshal Climbing School we went in search of local ice climbs where we might be able to take students and teach techniques for longer routes. And of course, we always love to climb a beautiful waterfall. The climb featured here is just outside the village and a beautiful climb. After struggling to get to Shimshal thanks to the Hunza River landslide, we encountered our own issues with rock fall.

In 20+ years in the mountains, this day would be one of my most dramatic. And lucky.

Thanks for checking out my videos and please read Herve's account in word below. It's powerful stuff.


5. Badur Di Falls - 2010 Pakistan Winter Expedition from Kristoffer Erickson on Vimeo.


CLOSE TO DEATH by Herve Bermasse

I have always tried to steer away from the topic of death, as if the subject doesn’t concern me, as if somehow I am immune to it’s danger. Yet I know perfectly well the history of alpinism teaches us the exact opposite: for those who spend time in the mountains, death is often not far away. And when if it happens knowing the true cause of the death was just an error of technique or judgment, we give the responsibility for the death to fate or to destiny only because it’s easier to start climbing once again; to turn the page; to return to the mountains as soon as possible.

And what if this climb, the one we are now on, were the end? How many times, before starting a route, have we stopped and considered this possibility? With professionalism and detachment we are always able to rationalize the danger in other people’s ascents while not comprehending the risks that characterize our own.

Shimshal Valley, 22 January 2010.

Cubic meters of rock pass over my head like projectiles. I cling to my ice picks with the last ice screw placed many meters below my feet. I can do nothing but look upwards and hope that I won’t be hit. 

Unwillingly, I am in the midst of a war and I am fighting to survive.

I am certain that within a short while I will be dead but at the same time I don’t want to surrender as I try to stay immobile, ready to dodge any strikes, ready to throw myself into the void as a last resort.

I see an avalanche of snow and debris starting. My gaze turns to stone. I clutch the ice axes even tighter, I lower my head to look towards my feet and I wait for the impact that will sweep me away, towards my death.

It is often said that when one is certain they are about to die, visions of their past rushes before them–a film of life, highlighting the most important moments. None of that is true. In that moment there was only room for one thought, “I must live.” And I asked myself, “If the hope of building a future doesn’t exist, what sense is there to have this present moment or even my past?”

With the ruthless will of someone fighting for survival and with all the strength I have in my body, I managed to hang onto the vertical wall and avoid the chaos as pieces of mountain ripped over my head. For a moment all is silent, all is tranquil. The silence is soon broken by the shouting of my partners calling for me to come down as soon as possible. It seems to be all over until I look up and see an enormous piece of rock, the size of a car, coming towards me.

Now I am certain.

Now. It is definitely over.

My body is paralyzed by the chills. The sense of clarity I had up until that moment disappears. Strong jolts of adrenaline don’t allow me to think clearly. I get as close as I possibly can to the wall of ice, gripping the ice axes as hard as I can and, with my eyes closed, I await the blow. Something grazes me, I’m hit by snow. I open my eyes and take a few steps down.

Is the nightmare over?

I’m still alive.

I put a screw into a layer of ice on my left and I quickly descend to my partners who take me into their arms with a maternal instinct and guide me towards the cave that protected them.

I can’t stay still. The adrenaline pervades my body and, in spite of everything, I maintain a brazen attitude. Before the stunned eyes of my friends, I act as if nothing has happened. They definitely must, rightly so, think I am crazy.

Several minutes pass and I am overcome with a sense of emptiness. In silence, confused, I make my way towards Shimshal.


Pakistan Winter Sport - Shimshal Live and Climbing School

3. Shimshal Life - 2010 Pakistan Winter Expedition from Kristoffer Erickson on Vimeo.


Shimshal Climbing School: A School of Hope by Herve Barmasse

 Throughout the history of Himalayan alpinism one constant links all of the expeditions: the work of the porters. With great professionalism and commitment, adopting whatever means are required of a situation, the porters help realize the dreams of many passionate alpinists.

As it took place in the Alps in the 1700’s, here in the Karakorum, this population of highlanders, experts with vast knowledge about their land, will become the future professionals of the mountains, the future mountain guides.

It is a history which repeats itself, to which we can contribute. We are seeking to hasten this process slightly by allowing some mountain families to live briefly off the tourism our expedition brings to their valley.


Shimshal Valley, 23/25 January 2010.

It’s the second time I have come to Shimshal. The first was with Simone Moro in the summer of 2008. It was Simone who got me involved in the Shimshal Climbing School.

The reality of the Shimshal Climbing School is something quite rare, if not non-existent in other parts of Pakistan. In fact, this mountaineering school even allows the active participation of women.

After the big scare, we dedicated a number of days to the school with theoretical and practical lessons on knots, tying in, anchors, and climbing on ice. New technical equipment supplied by Kong was presented, we watched films on mountains and, thanks to the collaboration of Dr. Marco Cavana, there were lessons on how to intervene in cases of altitude sickness.

Forty students took part in the lessons. Twelve of these were smiling young women, with curious gazes, rosy complexions and hands roughened by work in the fields and from the bad weather. They were seated before me and I couldn’t help but look curiously at their expressions as they tried to understand the use of expansion camming units. I was moved by a feeling of tenderness and hope. Perhaps in the near future one of them will climb K2 and create a new chapter in the history of Pakistani alpinism.

4. Shimshal Climbing School - 2010 Pakistan Winter Expedition from Kristoffer Erickson on Vimeo.


The process for emancipating women in Pakistan started long ago, but the reality is still far from what can be defined as equality. The majority of women in Pakistani society are deprived of fundamental human rights. For now, equality between men and women remains an illusion.

Only in the last few years have we caught a glimpse of some concrete changes: women study, go to university and, thanks to the Aga Khan Foundation, primarily here in the Baltistan Gilgit region, women can assume defining roles in changing this country.



Pakistan Winter Sport -2 of 6

Pakistan Winter Sport by Herve Barmasse

Once The North Face agreed to sponsor our expedition called “Pakistan Winter Sport,” I felt happy and motivated for this new adventure. But, at the same time, I felt a great responsibility upon me. Not only did we have the lofty alpine objectives of opening of new ice routes and long descents on skis in unexplored mountains, we sought to embrace humanistic and social motivations. As a mountain guide instructor and rescue specialist my goal was to share this knowledge by teaching at the Shimshal Climbing School. The intention was to help the high-altitude porters in this community progress, both in terms of safety and skills on technical mountain terrain. Furthermore, thanks to the collaboration of Dr. Marco Cavana, we were to organize a clinic to deal with medial problems linked to inadequate sanitation in the area.

2. Land Slide - 2010 Pakistan Winter Expedition from Kristoffer Erickson on Vimeo.

The Pakistani Winter, Shimshal and its porters

Shimshal Valley, 20 January 2010

We are only the fifteenth winter-alpine expedition in the history of Pakistan. I’m accompanied by alpinist Eneko Pou, photographer and alpinist Kristoffer Erickson, journalist and alpinist Oscar Gogorza and Dr. Marco Cavana. We are in the North, in the Baltistan Gilgit region, close to Afghanistan, near the border with China.

Unlike the summer, when fields of grain, trees and green pastures contrast the brown color of the rock and dry land, everything is now gray. It seems to us like a black and white film. It is even cold at low altitudes and above 1600 meters it’s completely frozen.

We creep along in our Jeep on a bumpy, disjointed road similar to a mule’s paths. The access road to the town of Shimshal was literally ripped into the mountain, thanks to the will power of its inhabitants. It was constructed without mechanical means over 23 years of hard work with a pick and shovel. This spectacular off-road adventure alone justifies a trip to Pakistan.

Shimshal is a village of 2000 people, which has remained nearly completely isolated from the rest of Pakistan for 600 years. Although maintaining the Ishmaelite tradition, these people seem less rigid and more open than other muslims of the Pakistani mountains. Even the women allow this feeling to hold true when they respond to our waves with a smile. In the village there is no running water, no telephones or televisions. Only a few families have installed small solar panels that guarantee one meager light for three hours at a time during the long winter nights.

There are three mosques and a school where students go after having gathered wood, which, here in Pakistan, is quite rare. All the students learn English and those who can afford it, at the age of 17, will continue their studies in Gilgit. There are no doctors and the nearest hospital (now you can get there in an hour, before the construction of the road it took six days) is in Gulmit, where a general practitioner oversees all the emergencies without the use of “sophisticated” medical equipment.

The community is very united and the inhabitants help each other as in a big family. Any problem is a problem for Shimshal and not for one single person.

Potatoes, rice, chapatti, dal, peas and beans are preciously rationed to make sure that they aren’t left without supplies before the next replenishment. Once in a while they get to eat goat or yak meat. Unlike the summer, there are not chickens because they wouldn’t survive the harsh temperatures of the winter months. The yak is also a characteristic of Shimshal. It is rare to encounter these animals in Pakistan but in the Shimshal valley, along the border with China, thousands of them exist in the wild.

The “malida” (chapatti, cheese, butter and salt), the “graal” (chapatti, spices, butter and salt) or the “chalpindook” (chapatti and cheese) are considered dishes of the poor in Pakistan and are typical of this region. They are eaten nearly everyday.

The temperature during the five winter months is consistently well below zero—from minus 12 to minus 20. Even inside around the hearth, it rarely gets above 5 degrees. During the winter, the landscape and it’s people patiently await the summer in the same way our ancestors did in the Alps, hundreds of  years ago.

Every house has a particular structure featuring a single room with a wood stove in the center and an opening in the roof. Each home welcomes the entire family: grandparents, parents and children. In the same room they cook, sleep and live their daily lives for generations. For the inhabitants of Shimshal the winter days always pass by in the same manner. In the morning the women prepare breakfast with tea and milk with chapatti dipped in melted butter. Before going to school the daughters go and collect wood or water. A spring, the only one that is not frozen, guarantees drinking water to the entire village. All day long women patiently wait their turn to fill their water jugs. The men build and maintain the houses, cut wood, put up the walls and await the summer to work as porters and high-altitude porters. In the village of Shimshal more than 40 people have climbed a mountain of 8000 meters and Rajab Shan, the only Pakistani to have climbed all of the 8000-meter peaks of the Karakorum was born here. He is considered a real hero in all of Pakistan.