Travelling with children in Egypt

Children evoke a warm response in Egypt and are welcome more or less everywhere. It’s not unusual to see Egyptian children out with their parents in cafés or shops past midnight. The only child-free zones tend to be bars and clubs frequented by foreigners. Most hotels can supply an extra bed and breakfast. Pharmacies sell formula milk, baby food and disposable nappies, and the last two may also be stocked by corner stores in larger towns. Things worth bringing are a mosquito net for a buggy or crib, and a parasol for sun protection.

Potential hazards to guard against include traffic (obviously dangerous), stray animals (possible disease carriers), fenced-off beaches (probably mined), elevators with no inner doors (keep small hands away) and poisonous fish and coral in the Red Sea. Children (especially young ones) are more susceptible than adults to heatstroke and dehydration, and should always wear a sunhat, and have high-factor sunscreen applied to exposed skin. If swimming, they should do so in a T-shirt, at least for the first few days. Children can also be very susceptible to an upset tummy, and antidiarrhoeal drugs should generally not be given to young children; read the literature provided with the medication or consult a doctor for guidance on child dosages.

If children balk at unfamiliar food, outlets of all major American fast-food chains are always close at hand. Ice cream is cheap and ubiquitous, as is ruz bi-laban (rice pudding) and mahalabiyya (a blancmange-like pudding made with powdered rice).

Children should enjoy camel, horse and donkey rides, but choose carefully – AA Stables in Cairo, for example, has a good reputation. Activities such as felucca rides, snorkelling and visiting a few of the great monuments can also be enjoyable.

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