We have just traveled and toured our beautiful Pakistan in July for 2 weeks. (Islamabad-Astore to Deosai and then to Hunza-back to Islamabad). Overall it was a fantastic trip with stunning scenery and exhilarating views, but it did come with challenges for kids. Here is my list of essentials that can ease some of the problems you might face up north with children, especially if you’re an ex-pat. For reference, mine have aged 8 yrs and 2yrs old.
• The numero uno thing you must bring with you on your journey to Pakistan is a sense of adventure! You simply cannot travel without it; trust me on that one.
• Flexibility. You know bedtimes are delayed, and mealtimes get mixed up when traveling. But when traveling up north, things tend to get stretched out even more; it is completely okay. When you’re on the road for 7-8 hours, and each pitstop is 2 hours away, you just need a bit of planning and flexibility with food options. Take a deep breath and have a look around you. The gorgeous views that are perfect for a bit of meditation will calm you right down.
• Car seat for kids under 3. I cannot stress this one enough. It was a lifesaver for all those long hours on the road when the baby would fall asleep.
• Friends to travel with! We are so glad we went with some friends. It made the whole adventure, the journey, and the destinations much more joyful for adults and kids alike.
Now that you are equipped with the 4 most important things you’ll need, I’ll categorize the other things that we need for traveling with children. Your other essentials would be on a separate list.
It depends on how many days you’re going for. We packed 1 outfit for each day for the kids. It is best to take layers for the cold as it can get quite hot during the day:
• 1 thin jacket with a hoodie for evenings/1 thin sweater and a warm cap would also do.
• 1 thick jacket with a hoodie for places like Deosai plains/Babusar top/Lake Saif ul Malook/shogran evenings.
• Shorts for the day, pants for evenings.
• Slippers/Crocs for the room
• Shoes with sturdy grip for when out and about
Dry items are your best bet. They’re easy to carry and do not require any special storage—most of the stuff we carry from home. I have mentioned the ones you’ll get locally.
• Granola bars
• Goldfish crackers
• Biscuits and cookies. Marie biscuits/Gala/Prince/Tuc were available at various small stores along the way, so you can easily stock up on these at your pitstops. (these and the chips are the only things you’ll find locally. The rest we all brought from home)
• Chips (Lays/Kurkure available at stores up north). If you want Pringles, you can find them in Islamabad or at some petrol pump stores in Hunza.
• Baby snacks like oat fingers, date cookies, and melty puffs in Ella’s kitchen were also quite helpful.
• Whenever you get to your hotel, ask them to make some french fries, and hopefully, the fussiest of eaters will also enjoy them
• Omelette sandwiches for lunch! On the days we knew we had a long road trip ahead, we would ask the hotel’s ever-accommodating kitchen staff to make extra omelets, take the bread, and pack sandwiches in Ziploc bags for the kids. They last well in a small cooler bag for a couple of hours and are easy to eat if you don’t feel like feeding them at whatever restaurant you end up at. French toasts would also do.
• Rio Mare sultana do cans of tuna in different recipes. You can also make sandwiches from those. You just need to buy bread, and a perfectly nutritious meal is ready within minutes. Easy to find at all big hypermarkets in Dubai.
• If all else fails, buy fresh hot naans available at every restaurant up north and enjoy with a cup of chai.
• Milk. Koita and Arla do small milk packets in different flavors for Dubai peeps. Ideal for carrying. For the rest of the world, you can find out which of your favorite brands are doing small portable sizes of tetra-pack milk.
• Cereal like cheerios
• Aquafina water bottles. Good to stock up whenever you find them.
• Last but not least, local fruit!! Pakistan has the best, freshest, and tastiest fruit in the world. So please take advantage of that and have those cherries, apricots, peaches, figs, apples, lychees, raspberries, and mangoes anywhere and everywhere. Kids picked cherries, apricots, and raspberries directly off trees and bushes and had them. Best organic snacks ever!
Above are general ideas of what you can take with you. You can change according to the taste and preferences of your children.
Please ask your doctor for prescriptions for the above medicines, and kindly do not ask me for brand names. You and your doctor will know what’s best for your family. Alhamdulillah, we did not need most of these, but good to have them for peace of mind.