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Travelling With Children To Gambia

Going on holiday to The Gambia with small children & babies can be difficult at the best of times. There are issues involving air travel, hotel accommodation & that you should consider prior to your departure, while en-route & during your stay.

Airline Travel: Flying with children to Gambia who are under 2 can be really tough going on any parent, despite their reduced air fares, especially when you consider that it's about six hours of flight time from the UK, when they are liable to throw a tantrum.

On & Pre-Flight Suggestions
If you are travelling with a baby, arrange a bassinette or hanging cradle.

Ask for seats near an exit or bulkhead seats, to provide your child a safe space to play on the floor.

Arrange in advance for kid's meals.

If you are a lone travelling parent, ask the airline if they can arrange airline assistance for boarding and un-boarding at various stops, and at Banjul Airport.

Do pack their their small toys, computer games, books etc. in your hand luggage.

After boarding the aircraft encourage your child to drink lots of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Put brightly coloured clothes on you kids so they can easily be seen in a crowded airport.

Your child's ears might hurt due to cabin pressure changes during take-off and landing, so get them to drink or eat something during those times. Failing that give them a candy.

Finally do ask your travel agent or friends for advice on the most child-friendly airlines flying to The Gambia.

Hotel Accommodation:

Child friendly hotels are in the majority of establishments in Kololi, Kotu, Bijilo, Cape Point, and the other beach hotels along the coastal strip. They very often have kids' section swimming pools, playgrounds and a few have babysitters. Quite often you can simply ask for a small bed to be placed in one of the bedrooms or the living room without extra charge.

Do keep a compact LED lamp near you, so if the electricity cuts out, you can rapidly get light, so the sudden darkness doesn't frighten them. A pram is useless here unless you are staying within the vicinity of your hotel. Try a baby sling or a baby backpack carrier.

Children's Travel Health:
If you are staying for two weeks in one of the coastal resorts and don't intend to venture out far, then except for malaria, you can allay your worries about your children contracting tropical diseases in The Gambia. Some people do suggest yellow fever vaccination for kids, though this is optional. It is however advisable to take your child for an early medical check-up and to follow your doctors advice and instructions regarding any medications, including anti-malaria drugs. Also make sure that your child is up-to-date on all routine childhood vaccinations and boosters such as the Td/IPV (UK).

If however you choose not to give them prophylactic medications then remember that you are less likely to contract malaria in the coastal areas  than further inland.

But do be vigilant and remember to spray or rub them with mosquito repellent in the early evenings, or if they are about to venture into bush area. Also ensure that their bed comes with a mosquito net - the best way of avoiding the disease. If they are staying here long-term, then consult your GP in the UK or physician in the USA.

Malaria has an incubation period from a few days to several weeks, so as a precaution be vigilant and be alert for signs of lethargy, high temperature, headaches, flue-like symptoms etc. exhibited by your child. Take them straight to your doctor if you notice anything untoward.

Mosquito Nets etc.
Check that your accommodation provides mosquito nets over beds or insect screens on windows. If in doubt then pack at least one portable net. Also consider plug-in mosquito repellent sprays and creams.

Heat & Sun
When going sightseeing or lazing about by the beach or pool, when the sun is hot, then it's a good idea to get your child to wear a hat of some sort, as well as maybe UV sunglasses. Keep them hydrated by keeping cool bottles of water nearby. In order to reduce the chances of getting sunburn you should rub their skin with a good sunblock cream.

Warm Clothing?
Along the coastal resorts, between December through to February, it can get quite cold in the early mornings and evenings,  therefore you should consider packing a couple of medium thickness jumpers or a jacket for your children, as well as body moisturiser.

Excursion by Canoe
Most pirogue rides don't come with a lifejacket so it's important that if they are non-swimmers you should not allow them into any small boat.

Always get the advice of your doctor before deciding to take or not to take any medications or precautions for yourself or any member of your family or friends.
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