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Old 10 Apr 2002
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Travelling with kids

Having half planned a trip to the Gambia on a BMW twin for this winter, my girlfriend and I have found that we're probably two wheels and a baby seat under equipped.

The trip this year is now definately out, but I was wondering what the score is regarding infants and the sahara, travelling in a modern 4x4...

Thanks in advance, Baldrick

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Old 10 Apr 2002
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This guy did a 1-year trip from SA to the UK, with his wife and daughter (9 year old), in a not-so-new 4X4:


Desert Crocodiles of Mauritania: http://cibio.up.pt/crocodilos/en
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Old 11 Apr 2002
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Don't compare a 9 year old and an infant!

I have not been in the Sahara..... yet. But I know the stories of infants dying in cars from heatstrokes when people leave them to go get something 'quickly'.
I guess you can compare the conditions in the Sahara with a car being parked in the sun. Off course you can depend on a airco, but what if it suddenly fails in the middle of no where...
I would be very carefull and get some serious second advise. Ask a pediatrician or a doctor. They know best what an infant can take.

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Old 11 Apr 2002
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Kids and travel - read oil and water!
I would not do that route with any child that was not old enough to talk and tell you he/she was not feeling well / hot /cold.
Some years ago my one year went from crawling around the camper hapilly to two weeks on a hospital respirator in the course of 90 mins on the Dover - Calais ferry. We were all going to Kenya the following week!.
Even when they get a bit older its not much easier. My four year old daughter had non stop tantrums in Italy recently because she was away from familiar surroundings.
Good luck!
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Old 11 Apr 2002
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Secondly, I met a couple in Malaysia who had set off from the UK to drive overland to Australia with their 2 month old baby.

Trevor, Melodie and baby Samuel (good choice of name!), you can get them on simonstravels@hotmail.com.

They are now back in London.

Find out what they think...

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Old 11 Apr 2002
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We have been to the Fezzan with our 3.5 year old daughter two years ago, it was a superb trip, all of us enjoyed it. The pace of the trip was much more relaxed than what we normally do, and we focused on leaving time for her to do the things she enjoyed - in a way the sahara was for her like an enormous sand box on the playground. Then again, she has demonstrated on previous trips (we have also travelled with her when she was 9 months, and 1.5 & 2.5, though not to the sahara) an exceptional adaptation to different environments, which may not be the same for all children.

However a year old toddler is a different matter, I would not do it. In the first year the little one is pretty much an extra piece of luggage, little affected by the environment, but needing LOTS of attention, that will pretty much spoil the trip even if nothing goes wrong. Folowing that they still sleep a lot, espacially in the car, and tolerate the heat remarkably well (all trips were to places with temp in the 35-40C range).

A major problem is in hot climates you have to change those diapers immediately when something gets in them to avoid a bad rash (or have nothing on,like local kids, which is much better, but that's not an option in the seat).

Additionally, under two little children have an alarming tendency to come up with varied new symptoms you've never seen before. You're no longer worried with the second child, but with the first you want immediate reassurance from the doctor that everything is all right - most of the time it is, but a few times it's more serious, and needs immediate treatment. (What do you do when all of a sudden your 1 year old has 40C fever 200 kms from the nearest town, a full day on those roads, and the only available doctor only speaks arabic and berber?)

I suggest you do the trip when the little one is big enough to enjoy it too, and go to some more tame destinations in the mean time.

Happy Travels,

Happy Travels, András
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Old 19 Apr 2002
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Just a thought:
When traveling with a little child or infant in a 4x4 on off road conditions SIS might become an issue. SIS stands for 'Shaken Infant Syndrom'. Doctors in the emergency rooms only recently discovered this thing. It finds it roots in the rather sad fact that some infants are shaken to death by there parents. They do not do this on purpose.
The problem is caused by the head of an infant that is enormous is comparisation to the body. The neck mussles aren't strong anough yet to hold the head firmly in place while being shaken. Eventually brain damage occures. In severe cases the infant went into a coma and death followed quite soon.
I can imagen that a day in the back of a 4x4 on an off road might have simular effects. As an adult you might not notice it (our head is in comparisation to our body a lot smaller) but for the infant it might be really bad.
It is just a thought I came up with while reading an article on SIS in the newspaper recently. Found I had to share it.
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Old 20 Apr 2002
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I would leave travelling with sucha young child until he or she was a little older - 18 months to two years - and even then not tackle anything too ambitious.

You will probably need to allow time for a child to do things he or she wants to, and not try and force the pace too much. Kids tend to get bored sitting in a vehicle all day and whilst you may be having an absolute blast crossing the desert they are not. If they're not happy, pretty soon you aren't happy.

Having said that, the Arabs love children and you will find that having small children with you may open doors that otherwise would remain firmly shut.

Good luck,

Jon Harbour

Middle East Off-Roader
Jon Harbour

Middle East 4x4
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