by Prachi Gupta
As the stick turns blue (or pink) you gear up for the arrival of a baby, only instead of worrying about nappies and sleepless nights you find yourself worrying about travelling with the baby. Instead of figuring out how to get that figure back, you find yourself wondering if your wandering days are over. You wonder if this baby will ground you till he grows up? Will it mean NOT being able to experience the thrill of new places, roam new and ancient streets and taste amazing delights? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, then this post is for you.
I was this mom and I think we overdid the travel in our zeal to prove that this will not happen to us! I have learnt along the way what works best for my little traveller. So, here are ten steps to start and keep travelling happily with your kid. Consider this post as more of a starter kit than a detailed how-to.
1. Catch them young, start early!
- Start as soon as the baby is allowed to travel which is usually at 2-3 months old. For now they really do have fewer needs.
Catch Them Young
2. Start easy, pick a baby-friendly place
- The first few times, pick easy-to-do places and treat each trip as a bit of a test project, to figure out what works for your little one. Go to places with shorter flights/ drives; places you are familiar with; places that are kid-friendly. Travelling with family or like-minded parents is also a good way to initiate.
Let Them Enjoy
3. Plan it to perfection
- Even if you are going for a short beach holiday to just splash, snooze and come back – researching and planning it well will help minimize delays and chaotic situations that could make your child uncomfortable.
- Be aware of the travel time including stops and layovers, so that you can plan for your child’s needs for that duration.
- Every query you may have regarding the child’s ticket, luggage allowance, meals, availability of bassinets – call and check with your airlines / transport provider in advance.
- For all the hotels, restaurants, local transfers you plan on using, it is a good idea to check if they are child-friendly and the specific facilities they will provide. For theme parks/ museums, checks if kids are allowed and whether there are any age/height restrictions. In a lot of places, the hotels provide excellent child-related services. Check for these in advance so that you can go to a place which will allow you and your kid to do more.
- Research your destination for information on availability and ease of getting some basic things like fruits, milk, diapers, emergency medical supplies, etc. Also check for the entertainment options for your child’s age group as these may not always be listed under general tourist information.
4. Pack the punch
- Do this well ahead of your travel to give yourself time to consider and shop for things you may need. Doing a mental walk-through of what will your child need from the time she wakes up in the morning to bedtime at night will help you make a list of things to carry. Take the weather into consideration too. Once you go all list-ninja and do this a few times, it will work more smoothly and sound less crazy!
- Thinking about the activities you plan to do will help you pack specific things like pool gear, beach wear, water-resistant shoes and toys. Walking shoes, Sunscreen, hats, mosquito repellent creams/ patches for the outdoors.
- A full medical kit is a must, since a specific medicine that works for your child may not be available in a different country or even in different states across India.
- Carrying a wide scotch tape will help you secure any low electricity sockets or loose wires in your hotel room so that the tiny hands cannot get to them.
Packing Made Easy
5. Keep them happy on-the-go
- Packing the hand-baggage smartly could make the difference between a happy camper and a screamfest. Have enough of entertainment (books, toys, music, travel activities), food and the basics (diapers, change of clothes, meds) to last through even in case of a delay. Bringing a favourite toy or snack could help you with the take-offs in a flight. For me, it works to bring a new book for my little one during the must-sit time.
- A tid bit to munch or suck can also help relieve the sudden pressure on ears during take-off and landing.
- Packing a small folding bag that opens into a carry bag is a good idea. While exiting you can collect and pack toys and snack boxes into it for a quick exit.
Happy & Gay
6. Equip yourself
- The child travel-systems industry is a multi-billion dollar one, across the world, for a reason. The stroller, the car seat, the baby carrier, the baby cot, the chair harness – consider these to see what works best for you in travel and during your stay. The key is to work out what will you need, what you can take with you and what can be rented/ requested for at your destination.
- It is likely that your kid will be comfortable using these only if you use them regularly at your home location as well. So getting your child acquainted and comfortable with the equipment you plan to use will ensure his co-operation during travel.
- In three years of travelling with our little dude, the car seat on a road trip (it is not mandatory in India) and the stroller everywhere has been on my must-take list. The stroller keeps me hands-free at airports, lets him nap when he wants on sight-seeing and shopping trips, acts as a handy feeding-chair in places with no highchairs and is not bad as a shopping cart!
7. Give and take itineraries
- The beach, the train rides, the outdoors, the pool, amusement parks – while it is definitely about introducing your little one to new activities and experiences; also try to fit-in things you and your partner like to do, so as to make you feel that it’s worth it. At times this may mean one parent spending time with the child in the pool or at the beach while the other goes for a spa treatment.
- Check and book in advance the baby-sitting services, if available, so that you can have the flexibility to discover the places where kids may not be allowed.
8. Thought for Food
- Just have a plan for the next meal/ snack at all times so that when s/he is hungry it is not a crisis.
- It may help to identify the easy-to-find foods that your kid likes which are also easy-to-carry. For example, for my son the main stays were boiled eggs, plenty of fruits, milk/ juice boxes, cheese & bread, Idlis (steamed rice and lentil cakes) while on the go and I would pack enough of these at breakfast to last till the evening. Everything he tried and liked during meals with us was a bonus and we carried packs of ready-to-eat mac n cheese pasta, oats, etc. to ensure we have a meal that he liked if nothing else worked.
- Do not hesitate to ask airline or hotel staff to reheat any food or formula you are carrying. Most hotel kitchens will cook ready-to-cook packed foods your kid likes, when requested.
- Even if you belong to the rarefied ranks of parents whose kids are non-fussy eaters, lugging some of the kid’s favourite foods as back-up is worth as they may eat differently once out of their regular routine.
9. Back home with happy memories…
- AND learnings!! Prune and refresh your lists after every trip. Some trips will be smooth sailing and some may have a few wrinkles. With each one you will know what works and what does not.
- As the kiddo gets used to travelling with the pack, so will you. You will grow together as fellow travellers do, learning the ways of each other, wondering why you were doing it in the first place but loving it overall! Once you are there, there is just one more step to go –
Happy Travelling With Kids
10. Do it all over again!
May you have many and happy travels!
Catch Them Young: Supershuttle
Let Them Enjoy: The Gurdian
Happy & Gay: Calgarydaddy
Packing made easy: miastylemama
Happy Travelling with Kids, Amawestworld
Prachi Gupta Suri: a poet, writer, researcher, traveller, mother, camera-wielder. A nomad at heart, if she is not travelling, she is planning for it. With a score of trips – numerous trains, road trips and flights with her little dude across continents, in less than three years; she is determined to raise a little world traveller!
Posted by Sudha at 8:41 pm