No…traveling with kids is not easy!
Traveling with newborn
April 2009 : Ashtamudi lake with my 3-month old son.
It was a sunny afternoon and we decided to go boating, which supposedly should have been a 30 min sojourn, and I didn’t care to take the diaper bag along for such short stints (after all, still a 3-month old mom). As soon as we started, sky turned overcast and started changing colors. And then on cue, my little one pooped in his diapers. Add to the thrill, it started drizzling, promising to build into a downpour.
One of the other two members on the boat offered me her drape (dupatta) to shield my son from rains as I wasn’t even carrying an extra wrap. We desperately wished to get back but in vain. The weather got worse, growing darkness all around and heavy rains. It still was a long way back to hotel on those undulating wavy lake waters. My son was crying heavily.
I prayed hard for some 21st century divine intervention….and then, somehow the boatman managed to steer the boat to the lake shores, though still quite distant from the Hotel. The boatman anchored, went quickly to a house nearby, had some quick dialogue with the owners and they welcomed us in. I took my son inside to feed & comfort him. As I closed the door of the room and looked back, I read a message on the door “Don’t worry when Jesus is there.”
May 2009 : Goa, my son a 4 months old kid now. We went, no, not in an airplane but on an overnight train till Hubli followed by a 4-hour car ride along the coastal highway.
Aug 2009 : Coorg, now 8 months old. My son’s first long drive in our car.
Traveling with toddler
November 2009 : winters. My 11 months son, takes his first international ride as we took to our annual vacations, this time to the triangle of love – London, Amsterdam and Paris.
I had to feed him anywhere & everywhere. He was like a sulking Advani in UK cold, a perennially cribbing Kejariwal in Amsterdam and thankfully a tolerant Manmohan by the time we reached Paris.My son was becoming the symbol of India’s vibrant democracy.
Nov 2012 : Gujarat, a first time solo trip for the mother and son (w/o daddy in tow). He was now an expressive 3.5 yrs old lad. He could say that he wouldn’t walk. He won’t eat! Ironically, the same kid who would heartily eat many a times at roadside places and could enjoy the sad omelet served by IRCTC on Indian trains, now needed atleast a four star property to crap . And for puke, Providence chose the Taj at Gir for his earthly outpurings.
We were ambling around on the Gir market road when he started feeling queasy. He insisted that he wouldn’t do it in the shrubbery by the roadside. Nearest stood the Taj and we went in even though we were not staying there (we were booked at the Club Mahindra). No sooner than we entered Taj territory my son started upon his symphony. He hardly left any room from the lobby to the restaurant to the wash rooms.
The lady lobby manager at Taj at the time turned to be an angel in true sense. She got me medicine prescribed by my Doc in Bangalore, packed some khichdi (Indian dish) for my son and got everything cleaned happily. God bless her.
Either we are travel ambitious-ruthless parents or lucky to have an accommodative son because our stories don’t end here. We have traveled to Kabini national park even when my son had caught fever the previous night. We have traveled to deserts with more than 48 degrees outside and to snowy places in less than 2 degrees. Our son along with us has waited for hours together on small Indian railway platforms.
There are instances when our son has had to travel on rickety buses along with us and manage without food on time. And many a times, we have literally dragged him out to join us when all he wanted to do was to be at the hotel & watch TV.
Despite all this, leaving my son at home is more difficult than taking him along. He is so much a part of me. Last time I asked my son that people wonder how you take the strain of traveling. He said, “the way they travel, I also travel”. Simple answer.
This ruthlessness on part of parents is not new; for me it has been passed on. I remember my father walking us to a place called Darmarra in Satpura forests near Pachmarhi for a trek and picnic. I remember the name only because it was so difficult to reach for kids of our age – almost a half day walk one way. Getting back home , we swore in the name of God not to ever go back there again.
However, I still recall the beauty of the place, the purity of its water and the feeling of having reached. I think I loved my parents’ ruthlessness:-)
Not sure about my son, but as of now he loves traveling , Club Mahindra Fun Zones , our DSLR (he won’t use his point and shoot). He has travelled to more countries than his age and has been to 15+ states in India. He has used all kinds of transports from helicopter to tonga. He has been on elephant rides, camel rides, horse rides (strongly dislikes) and the latest one is a Yak ride.
Sure, it’s not that easy to travel with kids as there are many adventures that can’t be done with kids along, however it is still worth a try to have them around for such trips. The amount of exposure, learning and fun that they can have must deservedly be provided to them. And funnily enough, the moments of ruthlessness become memorable memories.
Some of our moments captured in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Simla, Manali & Singapore in 2014. Me, my son and our camera.
Tips for traveling with kids
- Carry everything. It rains when you don’t expect it to.
- Sanitizer, wet wipes and hand wash are a must, irrespective of where you go and what you do.
- Carry food & water, short eats, biscuits or nuts.
- Download a couple of your child’s favorite movies in your laptop / tablet for long distances.
- Make lists before packing. It always helps.
- Prepare a toy bag and let your kid only stuff it.
- You don’t always need a helping hand to take care of your kid when holidaying. Traveling with your kid alone can be very personal
- Last but not the least, trust God for protection and perfection in everything. Just go with the flow’.
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