The challenging thing about this trip for the boys was seeing third world poverty. It was not as extreme as you will see many of places in the world. Only in Kathmandu did we see any children begging. They were very polite and in no way aggressive. They were not disabled in any way. Just unfortunate. My boys were not uncomfortable mixing with those or any other children they met. They went off to play football (soccer) with boys they had just met on several occasions. However, driving by road side shacks, seeing children who were dirty and unkempt all made an impact on them. It wasn't a problem and in fact made them aware of their extreme good fortune. But it was worth being aware of the discomfort thatrealization can cause.
Our youngest was 8 when we did this trip. Given the significant distances traveled, the variety of accommodation, and the huge cultural differences, this seemed a good minimum age.
• Bring lightweight clothes as it gets hot in the valley and layers for when it is colder in the mountains
• Wear comfortable shoes and bring moleskin in case of blisters
• Hydrate! There can be a lot of altitude changes and one of the boys got sick from dehydration
• When planning a trek with children be aware that the altitude gain listed is the difference between the start and finish. But it doesn't tell you thetotal amount of gain and loss in the trip. We learned Nepali Flat meant "a little up, a little down". So our five mile hike was far more strenuous oneday than we would have imagined.
• Be flexible. We had to change our plans a lot in Bhutan because people were tired or something no longer fit in the schedule. We went with it and had some great experiences. No one got frustrated or bent out of shape.
• Bring some small candies or gum for kids to share when they meet other children. If you can pack an inflatable ball, do so. Both are great ways to make friends even with no common language.
• Be aware there will be little variety in the food from day to day. It was tasty, it was fresh and it was local. But it was pretty much the same day in and day out.
All of our trips with the kids have been inspired by books we were reading and this one is the trip that began it all. My oldest son started thinking about it when we has seven and we read Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider . Cornelia Funke wrote this tale full of mythical creatures and a search for sanctuary. The dragon Firedrake sets off in search of the ancestral home in the high Himalaya called the Rim of Heaven. He is joined by a mushroom loving Brownie and an orphan named Ben. Along the way they are helped and hindered by all manner of creatures and one very nice professor of archeology. A great read.