Let's get this out of the way. This isn't one of those tongue and cheek articles where I give cutsy reasons why you "shouldn't" go to a place like, "the people are too nice, you'll gain weight because the food is too good, and your eyes will hurt from all the beauty".
I'm writing this so you're well prepared for your trip with your little ones Since Sri Lanka has been hitting the top of every "Places to Go" list recently, it should be known that this country is absolutely worth a visit. Sri Lanka was our favorite trip we've taken as a family of three and up there on my favorite places of all time. Collectively, the people were some of the nicest and most helpful we've met, so I'm writing this for you, but also to spare the wonderful people of Sri Lanka an unhappy tourist.
You should keep in mind that this post is for those that travel on a budget and go local for the most part. If you are springing for a private driver and a luxury resort, you won't experience many of these challenges.
For those that plan on doing Sri Lanka on the cheap, here are some things to prepare for.
Traveling on the cheap, Born a Backpacker style.
In a lot of countries, you can pay a few extra dollars for the luxury bus. Not in Sri Lanka. The buses are blinged out school buses with no AC, and the bus drivers drive how I play Mario Cart. They barrel down the roads going insanely fast, ignoring any and all rules of the road, and disregard every other vehicle. I know I sound like an uptight grandma, but the rides are terrifying. They do get you to where you're going at record time for literally pennies though. We spent 3 weeks traveling around the entire country and I don't even think we spent a total of $10 on transportation between all of us.
Train travel is also a great way to get around Sri Lanka. Depending on where you go, there are trains available with a second class and more comfortable seats. The picture oabove is in third class because we'll do whatever we can to save $0.30 and get an authentic experience. The train from Kandy to Ella is a different story and may be too crowded to bring a baby on board.
Brightly colored and lively bus stations.
There was also a lot of waiting on the side of the road for a bus. That was actually enjoyable for us
because we met so many people while we hung out.
Oh my goddddd the food is good in Sri Lanka. It's one of my favorite cuisines. For a baby, however, it is spic-y. It was sometimes hard to get Zay a good meal that consisted of something other than straight carbs. If you go to proper restaurants, you will be able to find something for them, but if you're looking for that $1 meal from a food stall with pre-made dishes, they will most likely all be spicy. Just be prepared and bring some squeeze packets with veggies and protein, buy snacks, have fruit on you,.and know that meals consisting of only chapati are temporary.
Documented: the exact moment Zay realized the dhal was spicy
His Sri Lankan buddies have a higher heat tolerance than I do. Start 'em young!
We didn't see a single high chair in Sri Lanka. If you have a little one that still needs one so you can enjoy a family meal, I would bring along a portable one. I love My Little Seat when we're traveling. It's lightweight and super portable which makes this challenge a non-issue.
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We met very few people who spoke English. Of course it depends on where you're from, but for the most part, the language in Sri Lanka will be drastically different from what you're used to. The good thing is that communication is so much more than speaking. We found everyone to be incredibly helpful, kind and hospitable. Children seem to have their own languages, so Zay could make friends fine and he was also the perfect ice breaker for his awkward parents since people flocked to him.
You might not get everything you want across with the language barrier, but it won't hold
anyone back from giving your baby love.
And an invitation to sip arrack (coconut liquor) on the beach with the guys
Besties even though they couldn't speak a word to each other
The mosquitos were killer in some areas. Bring bug spray that has picardin in it to protect you and your babe. A mosquito net could potentially come in handy, but in most cases the places we stayed provided one for us. If you're bringing a stroller or carseat, you might want to consider a mosquito net made to cover it like this one. But again, I don't think it's necessary. Just cover up and load on the bug spray at sun up and sun down.
Shot of the boys sleeping to show we had mosquito nets in even the most inexpensive places.
Temperature is pretty consistent throughout the year in Sri Lanka, it's the monsoons that dictate the change of seasons. With that said, in the coastal regions it hovers around the 90s (30 degrees Celsius). So, basically, it's super hot and humid and you'll be sweaty. In the mountains, it gets nice and cool in the mornings and evenings, which is a nice change of pace.
For those hot days, keep your baby cool by going swimming, taking a cold shower before nap or bedtime, wearing a hat, lathering on sunscreen, and sit in front of a fan for a bit. Also be sure to give them plenty of water throughout the day. I don't think we encountered AC while we were there, but we also stayed in very economical places. If you want to pay a little extra, rooms with AC are available everywhere, but I didn't think it was necessary if you're looking to save a few dollars.
It was so hot in Sri Lanka, Zay had his first haircut in country.
So with the heads up and a few tips, I hope you travel to Sri Lanka well-prepared and have the most incredible time in this incredible country. You can also check out our Staying Healthy page for additional tips on traveling with your little one. If you have any other questions, comment below!