As Indians, we tend to visit a lot of small towns, hill stations during our vacations – visit our cousins or ancestral village or just chill out during the summer in a cooler place – both of us (A and me) lived in cities that have a beautiful shoreline, a few beaches.
A worked in the middle east for 4 years so he has gone around the GCC region (Gulf Cooperation Council) during that period. Come 2009 and he moved to Miri, a town no one would have heard or dreamt of in their wildest dreams. Miri served as a lovely place for both A and myself to start off our married life. A small oil-town, with very less population (approx 500,000) the place opened up travel vistas for both of us. Hardly a year into our marriage, we were soon expecting our little girl in 2011.
True to her genes, our little girl S was and is a very outdoorsy girl, always loved open spaces, loved going to the neighbourhood park/garden EVERYDAY! Yes, we had to take her out everyday else she would be very upset. Although her first travel was when she was 3.5 months old, India to Malaysia, we also flew back to India to attend a family wedding when she was 6 months old. But her first actual “travel” happened when she was 9 months old. We visited Penang, the Pearl of the Orient for about 3 days with her.
The next trip came in the form of an international trip to Bangkok and she was 11 months old. From our experience, we know she thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a bit tough on us, since she was very stubborn and wouldnt sit on her stroller, so for both her Penang and Bangkok trips, I had to carry her all the way around. Being a heavy child and myself, a not-so-big-frame mum (am on the leaner side), it was a huge challenge to carry her in my arms all through the trip. (I didnt know about baby-wearing at that time, I regret it now 🙁 )
Where else have we been to with her?
A major chunk of our trips happened with S and we had to tailor it to suit her needs. Places we have been to with her include:
India – Cochin, Mumbai, Chennai and Mahabaleshwar
Challenges we faced when travelling with baby/toddler/Challenges you can face when travelling as a family
- At times we have had to compromise on baby’s sleep, our sleep.
- Jetlags – we didnt face much since we travelled so far only in Asia and the time difference isn’t much.
- Choice of places to visit becomes slightly limited – You might have to skip the amusement parks, reduced shopping
- Timing has to centre around baby’s sleep/feed timings
- Luggage becomes a problem – baby’s stuff dominate!
- Too many things to carry if you are travelling with a baby – diaper bag, stroller (two huge pieces of luggage)
The cost factor will increase when you travel with your child – until the child is 2 yrs, you might need to buy “half-ticket” to just place the baby on your lap, sigh! After 2 yrs, some planes charge full rate while others charge a child rate, so you will need to work on that.
When booking rooms at hotels, if you have been travelling solo/as a couple and prefer backpacking, at times you might want to skip that for your little one. So hotel charges might increase as compared to what you spent earlier.
Luggage – apart from diapers, extra clothes, food, for the child, you will also need to foresee any medical condition that might affect your baby or yourself. So, packing also includes extra medication, if your baby has any allergy, documentation with regard to that, medicines relating to that allergy also need to be packed.
From the above you might conclude that travelling with a baby is a HUGE headache. Yes, it is at times, but you are giving your child a splendid gift in the form of travel. Children adapt easily, it is very essential to start them young. They begin to appreciate different cultures, way of life, they might want to learn different languages, new and interesting stuff about history of the place you visit. In short, you are giving them wealth in the form of information and first-hand experience every time you travel.
So, start today, start now! Your child will thank you tomorrow.