This paper explores involving children in Malawi in research about young people, mobility and transport, respecting their rights of participation, education, and protection from exploitation. The Malawi study forms one component of a research project taking place in three sub-Saharan African countries. A foundation of the larger project was the conviction that children are experts on their own lives; therefore seeking children’s views was essential, thus respecting the UNCRC. The authors also embraced an ethical approach, that ‘the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’. The authors reflect on challenges in putting ethical principles into practice in the inevitably messy real-world.