Hello after a long break 🙂 In social media we often can see parents traveling with children around Asia. The popular directions are Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Short time ago my good Ukrainian friend – Ruslana went to Sri Lanka. She was accompanied by her six-months old son. If you want to go to Sri Lanka, but you became parents just a few months ago and you have doubts, read this article. I’m convinced 🙂
BIBI ON BOARD: Ruslana, nice to hear from you again! How’s going? I see, Sri Lanka wasn’t the first destination with your son. Before you visited various European countries, for example Switzerland or Germany…
RUSLANA: Everything goes well, thank you. I’m enjoying the maternity leave and I’m trying to spend this time as active as possible. My baby “supports” us with this – he lets us go for smaller and bigger trips from time to time 🙂
BIBI ON BOARD: Let’s begin with the preparation for a journey. Did you organize your holiday by yourself or maybe through travel office? Do Ukrainians or other Europeans need a visa to Sri Lanka? How do you solve insurance case? And the most important – do we need some additional vaccinations?
RUSLANA: We usually travel alone, without the help of tour operators. In this case, we also considered the option of separately booking air tickets, transfers, apartments, etc. … and finally all what we wanted we found in the package offered by the travel agency.
You can get a visa to Sri Lanka at the airport upon arrival. It’s around 40$ per person. You can also apply for a visa online (LINK). It’s 5 $ more expensive, but in this case solving the issue is much more convenient, than staying in the queues at the airport, where you may waste much time. Our visa online and insurance was solved by a tour operator. They also provided information on the country and leisure options. We made sure about vaccinations at the pediatrist– there wasn’t any need to be additionally vaccinated before journey (LINK).
BoB: Many parents are afraid before their first journey with baby. They often hear various warnings from their older family members or friends who have never been to that country. Did you hear something like this from your relatives?
RUSLANA: Fears and prejudices from family and friends is probably the worst thing, we face before each journey with our child :). Here the most important is to make a decision basing on your own feelings. The reasons to stay at home will be a lot, but for whom it will be “better”? I know from personal experience, that temporarily changing the environment brings benefits to the child every time. And after returning we can see the next steps taken on the path of development.
BoB; I know those those prejudices from the authopsy 🙂
RUSLANA: If you aren’t sure and you’re afraid before a journey, you don’t have to obviously hurry up with long tours and you can start from short trips. We went fort he first holiday together when our son wasn’t 4 months old yet. It was a flight to Germany and one-week car ride around Switzerland. Everything went great and probably that’s why we were brave enough for next journeys.
That’s why certainly there’s nothing scary in travels with little children. The most important thing is to really want it and be prepared for it. Those journeys are obviously different than those without a child and in this case you need to plan your holiday in different way – you need to adapt plans not only to your needs, but above all to the youngest family member. But it’s all worth it! Every day of holiday wasn’t only full of our enthusiasm from a new place, but also happy moments of our little one!
BoB: Actually I agree with you in most of aspects. I remember, when I went to Malta with my Daughter to celebrate her first birthday. Most of people was sure, this journey was unnecessary, because “child won’t remember anything”. Maybe not, but when I reminds myself, how much she enjoyed swimming in Blue Lagoon, I’m only convinced, it was worthy!
And what airlines did you use? How long did the flight last? How did your son feel during the journey? And, as a mom, what do you think about this this airline? Would you recommend it for young parents?
RUSLANA: We went to Sri Lanka with Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA). This was the only direct flight option from Ukraine. We decided, it would be easier considering a journey with a little one. Our flight lasted 9 hours. Our son slept in the bigger part of journey, because we flew there at night. The return way wasn’t that easy – our flight took place during day, so our baby slept two hours in total. The rest of the flight we had to play with him 🙂
BoB: Ruslana, could you tell me about the situation with the hotels there? Can your accommodation be considered as child-friendly?
RUSLANA: We chose Club Hotel Dolphin suitable for families with children. We were completely glad of it. There was everything what we needed – child room, playgrounds, animations, pools with different depths and obviously trolley platforms. And we especially praised the attitude of employees to children – kitchen staffs included. They offered us to prepare a special menu for the toddler.
Everything, obviously, depends on hotel. Choosing a place of accommodation, we should consider its adaptation to the needs of guests. In Sri Lanka there are plenty of options and everyone can choose a place depending on personal preferences and expectations.
BoB: What kind of transport did you travel around Sri Lanka?
RUSLANA: We usually spent time around the hotel. Going to the city center we were using local taxi TUK-TUK (left-hand traffic applies in Sri Lanka, author). Planning longer trips in turn, we were ordering private transport, because group tours with little children were not offered. This was argued as a potential discomfort for other tourists. Furthermore, in case of a private excursion you can stop the tour and return to the hotel while necessary.
BoB: Talking about sightseeing – where in Sri Lanka you can freely go with an infant? Or maybe there are some recommended places for children? And on the other hand – what kind of sightseeing, in your opinion, should we postpone until our child grows up?
RUSLANA: Sri Lanka offers a wide range of trips, entertainment or active leisure. While our stay on the island we visited a garden where the spices are produced, Tea Land, Udawalawe National Park (so-called “the park of elephants”), Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, and also we went on a few hours trip by boat to the ocean to search for whales and dolphins. Probably, the last one was the biggest challenge for us, but we weren’t the only parents with infants and children felt great on the board. They even took a nap, thanks to which our impressions after seeing dolphins and whales will remain the brightest holiday memory.
From the proposed optional excursions, we immediately rejected the safari trip (although it’s definitely a very exciting experience) because we were not sure about the comfort and safety of the child. Moreover, this trip would take a long time. It would be difficult for a child to withstand such a long route in a hot climate.
BoB: Have you noticed any differences between European shops and those in Sri Lanka? I mean, the stuffs for little ones.
RUSLANA: In case of supermakets (there aren’t so many of them), the range is quite wide. There’re the stuffs for infants such as meals, diapers. We can’t say this about little family stores (much more frequent in Sri Lanka), where you can buy only necessary things with a long expiry date. We can find everything if necessary, though we wanted to protect ourselves and we took everything with us.
BoB: Tell me three things, you liked the most in Sri Lanka and three you didn’t like at all.
RUSLANA: In short, I liked the climate, friendly people and the possibility to relax according to your preferences. From negative sides: I saw poverty in a large part of society, sometimes dirt and rubbish outside the tourist areas. And the duration of the flight there. Despite this, I wanna come back to this country!
BoB: And finally – what should you pay attention to before traveling with your toddler to Sri Lanka?
RUSLANA: Before going to Sri Lanka during winter I advise you to consider significant climate change and be ready for possible decrease of the child’s immunity during holiday. In our case everything went smoothly. However, after our coming back home, we were avoiding crowded places for some time due to viruses frequent during winter. If you aren’t prepared for this, you can postpone your journey to Sri Lanka until warmer season, where the temperature difference after changing the climate zone won’t be bigger than 10 degrees (in our case it was 50C difference!). This country is a great holiday destination at any time of the year, maybe except a few months while rainy season.
Talking about traveling with baby, I’d like to add, you must be prepared for attention, your child will be taking from the locals. They will often want to take a foto with your toddler. In the beginning we didn’t know how to react, but we understood later, that the white-skinned child is something special for them and we should take the mentioned attention as a compliment 🙂
BoB: Ruslana, thank you very much for this inspiring interview. I’m wishing you all the best and more splendid journeys!
* translated from Ukrainian.
** photos – Ruslana’s private archive.