Egypt with a toddler!

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Jan 14th, 2006, 12:42 AM
  #1
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Egypt with a toddler!

Hi all,

My Wife and I are planning a two week trip to Egypt in Nov 06 taking in all the usual sites (Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria, etc). My one concern is travelling in Egypt with our two year old. Has anybody out there done this? Do any of you who have been to Egypt wish to comment? Any information would be most welcome.

Thanks in advance
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Jan 14th, 2006, 02:42 AM
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Are you doing trip independently or on a tour? Either has advantages, but I am not sure how well-received your toddler might be on a tour.

Whether to do it or not, in my opinion, depends on consideration of several issues. First, mobility. Walking distances can be too much for a toddler, so you would need to use a stroller. Is s/he OK with sitting in a stroller? Roads, sidewalks, access to historic sites are not especially stroller-friendly, though. Few curb cuts, there are cobblestones, sand, etc.

Health. While heat in November should be reasonable, the sun is always strong. I would be ultra-careful about food and water that you gave to him/her. A 2 year old with severe gastrointestinal problems would be both dangerous and unpleasant.

Safety (not the terrorist kind). While in Cairo, you would have to have very good control of your kid - drivers are insane, crossing the street is an adventure, many areas are very crowded. I don't think anyone uses a car seat, and I doubt cab drivers would be patient enough to allow you to install one. (They are not even patient enough to wait for a green traffic light)

How well does your kid adjust to schedule changes. Sometimes there are reasons - weather, special pass availability - that visits are made to sites at strange times (like leaving at 5 AM to avoid crowds or get pass into pyramids)

And finally, assuming you are coming from US, the flight itself to Egypt is grueling - 12 hours from NYC. You would have to buy him/her a seat unless you want to be insane after the flight.

Not telling you not to do it - we have traveled with our kids since birth - just giving you some things to consider.
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Jan 14th, 2006, 03:45 AM
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Gail makes some great points. Taking a toddler to Egypt is not an easy thing.

Some other considerations....

1. There are very few places where you will be comfortable letting your child run around. There are very few parks and most available playground-type equipment is old and rusty.

2. Egypt is wonderful - but it's very dirty! You will be constantly wiping hands to keep them from getting into the mouth! I always carried hand sanitizer.

3. If you plan on a Nile cruise, be aware that the boats are probably not going to be very child-friendly. There are steep stairs and open railings. ALso, meal schedules can be an issue. The time between 1 pm lunch and 7pm dinner is VERY long to a hungry kid! While we were usually able to order some french fries when my kids were hungry, it wasn't always possible. Fortunately, I had stocked up on snacks and they were a lifesaver. And as Gail mentioned = you are often up early to get to sites. There is a lot of down-time in the afternoons, but it won't be very relaxing if you're chasing a toddler around the boat.

4. The availability of diapers could be an issue. You can find them in Cairo because of all the ex-pats living there, but it might be harder in the other places. Now, if your child is potty-trained by that time - there is another problem. The toilet facilities are not the most pleasant. My boys needed to go at Abu Simble. My husband checked out the WC and refused to let them go (they were 9 and 10) because it was so awful.

5. In Aswan, the tours usually include a felucca ride. A felucca is a small sailboat that generally seats 20-25 people. Getting to the felucca often involves climbing over several other boats. Once on it, you sail around for 30-60 minutes (just depending). Can your child handle sitting still for that long on a boat?

6. Adding to Gail's comment - I'm not sure how well-received a toddler will be to the other travellers. We just returned from Germany and (while I adore kids) I was annoyed at the young kids who were allowed to scream and talk and act up during our tours of Ludwig's castles. Some parents tried to quiet the kids; others didn't. I couldn't hear anything that the guide was saying.

Now, on the positive side.....Egyptians LOVE children. They will want to play with, talk to, and touch your child. If you're child is blond - they are likely going to stroke it's hair (for luck). They will provide special treats and make interesting "creatures" from the hotel and cruise towels. Your child will be well-entertained.

I won't tell you NOT to do it, but I would think long and hard about it. I don't mean to paint such a negative picture, but you need to have a full understanding of what travelling in Egypt is like to see if it is something you and your child can handle.

Truthfully, your child is not going to "get" anything of educational value from this trip. If it were me, I would find someone willing to babysit and I would enjoy the wonders of Egypt as a couple. The sun setting over the desert as you cruise along the Nile can be quite romantic! Then return to Egypt when your child is 10 or 12 and the usual fascination with Egypt (pyramids, mummies, etc) sets in.
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Jan 14th, 2006, 04:37 AM
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I agree with what above poster said - as a sidenote - we took our kids to Egypt when they were 12 and 16 and it was an incredible experience for all - there was an overwhelming almost spiritual moment when we went inside the Great Pyramid with them.
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Jan 14th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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sandi
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All of the above has been well stated. Most importantly, the child will not remember any of his time in Egeypt for more than the time you are in Egypt. Generally, children don't appreciate travel anywhere until after age 5.

You may wish to contact Debbie Senters of Casual Cairo Detours. An American living in Cairo about 8-years, with her own company; she can offer you useful information and guidance re travel with a child. If you can, should, when and where? Or not!

Her direct email: [email protected]
 
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Jan 15th, 2006, 12:26 AM
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Another thing occurred to me last night......medical issues!

While there are many fine doctors in Egypt (often US or British trained), the hospitals are not always up to US standards. Some are fine - others aren't.

To be fair, I've known several people who either chose to have surgery or needed to have emergency surgery in Cairo - and all went well.
But you have to be very, very vigilant about everything that is done.

Another problem is that child-size equipment and child-appropriate medication is not readily available.

Of course, the chance of a medical emergency is small, but they do happen! My mother-in-law fell and broke her leg while visiting us last year and it was a mess! Fortunately, we had our company's health unit to turn to. I don't know what we would have done without them.

Just a thought......
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Jan 15th, 2006, 07:13 PM
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As others have said, getting around in Egypt is not smooth. No elevators, cobblestones and steps at temples and museums and lots of sand. I'd do a custom (private) tour rather than a group tour unless you know other children would be on the tour. And, as has been said, outside of the hotels, toilet facilities are iffy.
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