I recently spoke about these experiences at a travelers meet here in the city hosted by an enterprising travel company called F5 Escapes which along with group tours for families and individuals specializes in travel for women. They always seem to have a list of compelling tours for women planned in their dossier. It was also exciting to hear other stories at this #JustGo event from other women travelers on their journeys and travel experiences.
It is true that I expected to have traveled as much as I could before my baby was born and then probably stay in one place and ‘ settle down’. But the truth is that since he was born we have traveled more and much further. So far since my kid, we have managed to tick 7 countries from our list and have actually lived in 4 of these countries for a couple of months. Not bad for a 2 and half year old rt? Now the next milestone we have is when my toddler will start school and as friends with good intentions tell me that once the kid starts school we will have to put away our suitcases for the next 10 or more years. This of course remains to be seen.
You will need a lot of enthusiasm as you will in evidently end up chasing a toddler around an airport.
We gave birth to a born traveler who happens to be more at ease and amicable on the road than anywhere else, home seems to be the last place he wants to be in. We aren’t strangers to long haul flights, sleeping at airports and making the best of the available food though I do follow some basic rules like always keep three things handy eats, entertainment and enthusiasm. You will need the last one a lot as you will in evidently end up chasing a toddler around an airport.
It has been our experience that kids adapt fast and sometimes better than adults and we experienced this first hand as my then 9 month old baby fell in love with noodles in Singapore, waddled in his thick fleece jacket with us around China and charmed many locals, hmphrrd like a hippo in Kenya and trekked with us in South Africa at Cape Point. Traveling with my kid has been quite different from traveling solo or as a couple as our first thought before we travel to a new destination is his well being.
Young ones are sturdy they managed the difficult trip down the birth canal didn’t they.
The reactions from different people in these various countries have also been very welcoming. We have posed for umpteen photos with strangers in China, have always managed to get special service at restaurants as my kid managed to charm waitresses and sometimes cooks. Have had staff at hotels give us small gifts for the kid and many interesting conversations with locals. We have had some small scares on the road too like being stuck on the road with four consecutive flat tires in Kenya, being pulled aside by the authorities at the airport because the kid was running a slight temperature, falling sick in China even after ensuring that he ate only hygienic food. Our positive experiences out weigh any small bumps we might have on the road. I would quite wholeheartedly recommend that families travel with young children beyond theme parks, you never know what adventures you might run into.
A couple of years back; I was on one of my first International trips. The lady sitting next to me was wearing a white suit which was well cut and a white hat. I was pretty impressed with the way she looked and carried herself, I wished I could look like her. Consecutively, I tried to amp up my style while traveling but all my efforts to emulate her were pretty much in vain. I tried wearing boots but was fed up of having to remove them at every security check. I then experimented with some necklaces with had a similar outcome.
After a lot of trial and error,I think I am finally onto something which I can safely call my travel style.It happens to be printed cotton pants and a longish cotton top! This attire is comfortable, doesn’t ride up or down without my permission and dries up pretty fast in case of a toddler related accident. I have a couple of variants of this combination in dark colors because dark colors don’t show baby spit up as much. I sometimes team it up with a jacket, if we were going some place cold. It ensures that I don’t land and freeze to death in case the airline forgot my baggage.
When traveling with a kid; surviving the trip takes precedence to looking stylish. When my baby was younger, I preferred wearing him inside a cotton wrap so that I had my hands free to tug luggage. I had this amazing K-Tan wrap that would let me wear the baby close and comfortably. It was also very easy to wear/wrap which is must while traveling with a baby. Here is how I looked at airports when I traveled alone with my baby; I would be in my cotton pants and shirt, I would have a baby tied in front of me, a back pack on my back with my laptop that could not go in check in baggage and a largish diaper bag with necessities for the baby.
The diaper bag though helpful during long trips, was a cause of concern for my friends and relatives as we always looked like we were going to shift into their homes instead of just visiting. But it held things that I could not be parted with at the time, like my nursing cover, diapers, extra food, extra clothes, multiples of wipes because babies don’t magically stay clean. Now my diaper bag has been retired because my baby is a toddler now and the sling wrap been tucked away into a corner in the cupboard. Traveling with a kid requires a lot of planning but the more one travels it starts becoming easier.
Now that my kid is at an age when he can run around at the airport like on of those Duracell bunnies, I kind of miss our K-Tan wrap days. Very few airports/train/bus stations are truly baby friendly and China makes the list of baby friendly airports. Airports in China had play areas for toddlers, luggage carts that looked like cars that they can ride on and special seats for babies/kids inside the toilet so that moms can take a leak without having to hold the kid. To be fair most big airports these days have started having baby changing stations and feeding rooms which is great. But I wish more airports would follow China’s example and be a little more thoughtful. Till then I will have to continue choosing function over fashion when dressing for travel.